Letters from readers, August 1966

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N.B.—Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them.—Ed.

MOTORISTS AND THE EXCHEQUER

Sir.

It may be of interest to note that in 1965, through taxation, the motorist contributed over £1,000m. to the Exchequer, viz. £671m. in fuel tax, £235m. in licence duties and £140m. in purchase tax; in all £1,046m.

From one section of the community this is a fine effort but unfortunately only 25% of this sum is spent on road development and other road transport matters.

I would have no objection to paying more tax for my driving and paying toll fees for motorways, if all the £1,000m plus was spent on roads, etc., but to spend only 25% of this total on roads must surely be a case of misappropriation of public funds by the Exchequer.

Maidenhead. P. R. TYRRELL.

Sir,

What an interesting letter from K.Y.B. in your June issue; he has my sympathy and I hope he may gain some comfort from the knowledge that he is only one of many hundreds of thousands who have been treated in this manner.

One must realise that over one million motorists were fined last year and if the average fine was only one-fifth of that in his case the total involved would be £5,000,000, and one would have to be naive beyond despair not to appreciate that the people who are dipping their bread in this lovely gravy are very happy indeed about this situation and will be content if it continues, and more content if it increases.

So we don’t have to wonder why that perfectly clear safe stretch, coming after 1/2 mile of thick slow traffic, where everyone changes up to top and promptly gets “done” is restricted to 30 m.p.h.—just think it out for yourself, consider who suggests the sites for the limit signs? Who gets a percentage of the fines imposed? Who gets promotion for such zealous pursuit of defenceless citizens who could well have never broken a commandment in their whole lives? Who, indeed, has a direct financial interest in fining as heavily as possible?

As I mentioned before, over one million motorists were fined last year and from my own investigations I will declare that out of that number, due to their treatment at the hands of the mobile police and magistrates, at least half are now “disaffected” and lost for ever from the ranks of what one might call good citizens; if one allows that each one also infects a minimum of four other persons (say wife, two children and one friend) we have a position where 2 1/2 million persons a year believe the law to be crooked, justice a farce, and have a feeling that “if that’s the way they want it” the last thing they’d ever do is to help the law or the establishment in any way whatever.

There can be little doubt that the increase in crime, the widespread contempt for the law and the establishment generally is traceable straight back to our ludicrous magisterial system—can we afford this folly any longer?

It has often seemed strange to me that under our much vaunted British law an honest citizen with an unblemished character of 50 or 60 years or so can find himself hauled up before a bench of legally unqualified persons and invariably have the word of a young, inexperienced mercenary (with a club down his trouser-leg) accepted about some piffling technical matter in preference to his own (shades of Sgt. Challoner!).

I suppose it’s something to do with tradition—anyway, its certainly “sown the wind” in this country.

Surbiton. T. C. ROLFE 

AQUAPLANING AND HEAVY VEHICLES

Copy of a letter sent by Mr. P. F. Pyle to the Minister of Transport on 10.6.66.

Sir,

The Daily Telegraph this morning provided frightening news that has left me aghast. Mr. Colin Dryden states that a 16-ton lorry is uncontrollable at 50 m.p.h. when aquaplaning is induced, even in the hands of a skilled driver. If this is so (a photograph “seems” to prove it), then it is clear that aquaplaning can be induced on any commercial vehicle (and the accident rate of one in three being caused by aquaplaning appears to support this), then surely it is time some official action should be taken. In view of the dangers to all drivers using unsuitable tyres on lorries and buses on the motorways may I beg you to impose a ban on all commercial traffic using the old Dunlop tyres on motorways in wet weather or restricting them to a speed of 40 m.p.h.

From my own observations on the motorways, some vehicles fitted with other makes of tyres do not appear to suffer this problem, for example, long-distance double-decker buses which maintain a steady speed on wet roads of 60 m.p.h. or more— are they really out of control? A great deal of praise must go to the lorry drivers of this country for managing to cope so well with these unseen hazards.

I believe that some commercial vehicles weigh as much as 30 tons, in which case what will be the results if these skating monsters enter corners and roundabouts in the same manner as some small car drivers do—as suggested in the last but one paragraph of the excerpt?

Isleworth. P. J. PYLE.
[Apparently the cure is to fit the new Dunlop Highway 707 ribbed tyre which can move 12 pints of water a second to ensure that the tread maintains contact with the road. But, as our correspondent says, what about commercial vehicles using earlier types of tyre?—ED.]

CARS IN BOOKS

Sir,

I have recently read “The Great War at Sea,” by A. A. Hoehling, published by Arthur Barker at 30s. In this interesting, somewhat pro-American book, the author writes of an armed liner, the Kronprinz Wilhelm. The captain, Paul Thierfelden, managed to keep her continuously at sea in the South Atlantic for about six months, somewhat of a record. She was interned in Newport News, having put in to refuel and to take on stores. I quote:

“On board were a number of small English sports cars that had been removed from the holds of one of his victims, sunk by the clumsy method of ramming, one of his favourite tactics. On calm, quiet days he had allowed his men to race the little cars around the broad promenade deck of the spacious Hamburg American liner. Now, he took them ashore for less restricted courses.”

It would be interesting to know what cars they were and what happened to them.

Wareham. A. A. LAW.

SATISFACTION FROM A B.M.C. 1100

Sir,

The correspondence on the B.M.C. 1100 finds two readers comparing it unfavourably in terms of reliability to the Minor 1000; surely this is not surprising in view of the greater simplicity of the 1000? For someone looking for a simple and reliable car the Minor is a reasonable choice, but for a better all-round performance and a higher cruising speed, and considerably better handling, stability and comfort, surely the 1100 is the answer, even at the expense of an increase in running costs.

I took delivery of mine in February of last year, since when it has covered just over 44,000 miles and has only twice had drive-shaft trouble. One Birfield c.v. joint was replaced under guarantee at about 20,000 (along with the gearbox, also under guarantee) and one Hooke joint at 42,000. Other replacements have included the clutch, track rod ends, valves (twice, with springs on one occasion), disc pads (twice), tyres (twice), throttle and choke cables (both twice), and of course assorted plugs, points, condensers, wiper blades, bulbs, filters, fuses, fan belts. hoses, a windscreen, two radiator caps, the horns, etc., etc etc.

The original five C41s did 15,000 miles (nine punctures) and the four 155 SP41s which replaced them 24,000 (two punctures), the second set of SPs being only a little worn.

The only occasion in all these miles when the car actually stopped on the road was when a throttle cable broke and I had to drive home on the ignition after wiring the throttle open; 1,199 gallons of premium fuel have been consumed (36.8 m.p.g.) plus large quantities of Duckham’s Q (now New Formula Castrol XL), the consumption of 20/50 oil being one quarter that of ordinary grades.

The fuel consumption I think is rather good but this is offset by the high maintenance costs, however the car is always enjoyable to drive, splendidly stable, and very comfortable. I have done solo trips almost non-stop to and from my home in Aberdeenshire (560 miles) without fatigue, and regularly do shorter trips of three or four hundred miles. The car was extremely impressive on dry powder snow in the Cairngorms this winter, and the stability on slippery surfaces is remarkable although on sheet ice I suppose studs are the only answer as the 1100 will spin like any other car.

Like other “cooking” B.M.C. cars the 1100 has an insufficiently powerful engine and is therefore under-geared, and the brakes, to put it mildly, inspire no confidence. I find the steering hopelessly low-geared so what it must be like to try and turn a corner in an 1800 I cannot imagine! In spite of this the 1100 really comes into its own on winding roads where the tremendous sure-footedness puts it way above other cars in its class which I have tried, including Viva, Herald (help!), Anglia, Cortina, A40, etc.

Long may my 1100, and Motor Sport, continue.

Mortimer. A. G. MARJORIBANKS.

A £60 VW IN CANADA

Sir,

VW owners might be interested to hear of my travels in Canada with a 1958 Volkswagen 1200 I bought there for £60. I made a trip from Toronto to Vancouver and central British Columbia and back to Toronto again in two weeks, covering a total distance of 6,800 miles with no trouble at all.

Heavy-duty snow tyres were not even necessary on some roads which were snow-covered. She would start in 20′ below, while the G.M.C. cars’ engines would hardly turn over. She would keep up a continual 60 m.p.h., used very little oil, and with its sensible-sized fuel tank go is very long way. Also after-sales service is very good. No wonder you do not see many British cars there.

Wallingford. G. W. G. Avis.

VINTAGE v. POST-VINTAGE BENTLEYS

Sir,

It would seem that Mr. Hopkins, like many others, has fallen into the trap of trying to compare the incomparable!

I am perhaps fortunate in having owned Bentleys built both by the old Bentley Company and by Rolls-Royce and there is of course no question of old Bentleys being better than those built by Rolls-Royce or vice versa. Both were, and are, superb in their day. Although it must be realised that the products of one age cannot be compared directly with those of another it is perhaps interesting to bear in mind the following three points:

(I) In a life span of a linle over ten years the old Bentley Company established a name acknowledged as second to none.

(2) In direct comparison the 8-litre Bentley saloon of the early ‘thirties had a better performance and gave a smoother ride than the contemporary Phantom II Rolls-Royce.

(3) The take-over of the old Bentley Company by Rolls-Royce was almost certainly prompted by the fear that Rolls-Royce products would be eclipsed by the products of the Bentley-Napier-Riley merger which was being considered at the time.

Regarding Mr. Hopkins’ assurances regarding the speed potential of pre-war 31-litre Bentleys, I would venture to suggest that any 31-litre or, in fact, any Bentley built after 1933 would have some difficulty in ” licking the heels ” off the late Forrest Lycett’s 8-litre two-seater. But in fairness and by the same token there must be few Bentleys of any age that could ” lick the heels off ” the late Lord Ebury’s 31-litre two-seater.

Henley-on-Thames. C. D. B. WILLIAMS. Sir,

” Le ‘Camion le plus rite ?” Mais non ‘fest ” le beau Bentlie.”

Before I go up the wall with rage at your correspondent J. T. Hopkins’ remarks that a 31-litre Bentley could lick the heels off ” any fast lorry,” may I say just this one thing? Could he please tell me why these ” silent sports cars ” do not usually manage to heat ” W.0.” Bentleys in Vintage and other competitions? Could he please explain why the fastest Derby Bentley at the ” Pairs ” covered a s.s. i-mile in 22.36 sec, and was beaten by one 3-litre ” W.0.” Bentley (10 years older and faster by 1 sec.), three 41-litres, two 61-litres, and two other 8-litre-based specials? If he can answer all these questions to my satisfaction I will admit to backing the wrong horse.

All I can hope is that Jack Hopkins drives a Bugatti, or how else has he nerve to use Ettore Bugatti’s inelegant statement?

Gt. Malvern. Mictimit. R. ELsom.

CITROEN EXPERIENCES sir,

Into battle! The experiences of Messrs. I.. Davy, Ian Brammer and Tom Jago with their Citroiins are in such complete contradiction to mine that I just cannot allow the matter to rest there. I bought my DS (83 b.h.p. model) in 1961 after reading a most eulogistic road test of this model which at the time I thought was probably too good to be true. It has turned out not to be.

This most complicated machine, after being most carefully run-in, has given fantastically reliable and trouble-free service during the five years I have had it. Apart from careful electrical servicing every spring, four sets of new plugs and two new sets of points and a condenser, the only repair necessary to the machine has been a new slave cylinder to the clutch, at the cost of £7 10s.

And this only because I had not then learnt to operate the manual clutch withdrawal lever under the dash every fortnight or so to avoid sticking!

No hydraulic fluid whatsoever has been added to the system during the life of the car, which has included five long continental holidays of over 3,000 miles each, shortly to be followed by another this year.

With the gearchange adjusted to be as quick as possible without shock this car is great fun to drive, third and top can be flicked in and out at 75/80 with a stroke of the finger, and when in a hurry the change from second to third can be at 50—and quickly.

The whole car can be controlled with the ball of the right foot and two fingers of the right hand, and the steering is entirely without lost motion, high geared and very light once on the move.

As the Editor once said, in an emergency it feels as if the whole car had been lifted sideways! A wonderful description, and so true. It is the feeling that the machine has of being safe when in a tight corner, combined with its effortless and untiring gait that makes it so attractive to drive. Only my late lamented 1,498 c.c. I.ancia Aprilia of 20 years ago has given me equal pleasure.

Owners of May ’61 to April ’62 DSs having the patrician black dashboard with Jaeger round instruments may like to know that a Smith’s electronic rev.-counter just fits into the space previously occupied by the clock, and when in position looks as if it had been originally there. It confirms that 70 m.p.h. on the 3.3 top gear is exactly 3,000 r.p.m., and 3,500 is about 81, at which speed the engine is scarcely working and seems to “go to sleep “, so silent is the whole car at this speed.

So much has been written about the safety ar.d comfort of this suspension that there is little more to add, except to say that the ability to completely ignore the road surface, however bad, is most restful. One’s freshness on getting out of the car at the end of a long day never ceases to be a pleasant surprise. After 30,000 miles the Michelin Xs are half to two-thirds worn, and this in spite of many hundreds of miles of Autobahn at eighty or over. They look good for another 10/15,000 miles. It is necessary to service these cars properly. The hydraulic system is liable to corrosion from salty roads, and once a year all four wings and the plates should be removed and the pipes inspected, and the hydraulic filter cleaned twice a year. All your correspondents seem to have had very sad experiences with their drive shafts, which seems bad luck, as I can only say that I have never had a trace of a rattle or shake, and without wishing to sound pompous find it very difficult, never having experienced it, to visualise what they are talking about! In conclusion, I wonder how I shall like the D521? Not NO much of a ” gearbox” car— perhaps not so much fun? Perhaps the Editor already has the answer to this one [Not yet !—En.]

“VIEux nE L’Avro.” [Name and address supplied.—En.]

GETTING THE BIRD Sir,

The following headlines appeared, or should have appeared in recent newspapers following Mr. Clark’s ” bird ” incident during practice for the French G.P.

Sunday Telegraph—” Clark hit by partridge.”

Sunday Express—” Clark hit by crow.”

The People—” Clark hit by sparrow.” How about:

News of She World—” Clark hit by great tit “?

Wilmslow. D. S. BROADHURST.

GETTING IT RIGHT Sir,

We would refer to your article in the July edition of MOTOR SPORT concerning your visit to the Daimler, works, wherein reference is made to the manufacture of Daimler saloon and limousine body shells, on page 623 you say, and I quote: “The saloon body shells come in from Carbodies; the limousine bodies consist of saloon pressings with additional sections welded up by Park Sheet Metal, a subsidiary of Carbodies, both of Coventry,” this is incorrect in the following manner:

07 The saloon body shells are assembled and finished Iwm pressings and sub-assemblies supplied by Carbodies, at Park Sheet Metal Co. Ltd.. who are subcontractors to Carbodies Ltd.

(2: The limousine body shells arc treated in the same way, but with extensions to roof, floor, and new rear doors, which are manufactured and assembled by Park Sheet Metal Co, Ltd., subcontractors to the Daimler Co. Ltd.

(5; Park Sheet Metal Co. Ltd. is an entirely independent company and is not 8 subsidiary of Carbodics ltd.

In view of comments now being made to us, relating to your incorrect statements, particularly our being a subsidiary of B.S.A. Carbodies Ltd., we must ask you to publish the facts as outlined in this letter.

We shall be pleased to receive your confirmation that this will be done in your next issue. Coventry. G. F. PAYNE, Managing Director,

Park Sheet Metal Co. Ltd.

CLOSED OPEN CARS

Sir,

Lucky fellow that I am, I recently purchased that renowned vehicle—a Mark I Sprite. A sunny day dawned. At last! Off with the hard top, the soft top rolled up in the boot and away. Such is the thrill of the open road, the wind blowing from the back, ruffling my close cropped hair, the sun shining on my face. Coming. towards me, another sports car. Is it a Sprite? Shall I flash my lights and wave? But what is this? He has still got his roof on.

A rapid count ensued. Well over 60% of ” sports cars ” still had their hard or soft tops on, on a day which was stated by the Meteorological Office to be the hottest in five years (Whitsun). What do they buy these: sports cars for? Are they all budding boy-racers or are they frightened of disturbing their hair? The more expensive the sports car, the less likely the roof is to be removed. Your readers’ comments would be welcome.

Edgbast on. D. J. FORD. I Could this be another instance of the subversive influence women have had on real, open-air motoring?—En.]

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