You will not be surprised, I feel, that I should respond to the letters from the Rolls-Royce enthusiasts in the Channel Islands.
I agree with Mr. Eades of Guernsey that the Rolls-Royce Corniche is a superlative car. I venture to hope that my account (Autocar, July 5th) of a 1,330-mile drive, single-handed, across France and back in a day in a Corniche redresses the balance of reportage to his satisfaction.
For the benefit of readers who do not see the “other publication”, the statistics of this run may be summarised as follows:
I left Dunkerque at 04.31, arrived at Marseille at 12.31, having taken exactly 8 hours for the 666.3-mile journey, and started back at once for Dunkerque reaching the starting point at 21.53. The round trip of 1,330 miles was completed in 17 hr. 22 min. at an average speed, including stops, of 76.57 m.p.h. (Deducting stops totalling 1 hr. 38 min., the average driving speed was 84.54 m.p.h.) The outward journey was quicker than the return leg—which encompassed severe thunderstorms — the point-to-point average being 83.29 m.p.h. and the net driving time of 7 hr. 30 min. equating to 88.84 m.p.h. Probably the fastest section of the run was 196.4 miles at an average speed of 99 m.p.h. between the Villefranche and Sens Junctions, Petrol consumption was 11.35 m.p.g. overall.
The only fault with the car was the optimistic speedometer which was 10% fast, indicating 130 m.p.h. at a true speed of 118 m.p.h. (4,500 r.p.m.). It would seem that this annoying error was also present on the car in which your correspondent was a passenger.
Of course, no one in his right mind would wish to drive across France and back in a day, but it shows that a four-figure mileage on the continent in daylight is well within the capability of this car. A few more miles of Autoroute, and destinations way down in Italy (normally thought of as being at least 2 days away) could well be reached between an early breakfast and dinner—especially if two persons share the driving.
Island-hopping to Mr. Robinson of Jersey, I think he did very well on his night drive from Nice to Boulogne in his Silver Cloud II and I agree with his conclusion that a high-speed cruising capability with comfort, safety and lack of fatigue is more important than ultimate top speed and acceleration. I would, however, put the optimum cruising speed a little higher than his 100-110 m.p.h.
I am sorry that Mr. Robinson felt it necessary to cast doubt upon the mileages, “claimed” as he puts it, for the journeys in my Lincoln and its successor the Cadillac. (You mentioned that the Lincoln trip involved a detour to drop a passenger at Orly Airport, which, incidentally, did nothing to improve the overall average speed.) My distances are correct, the trip recorder having been checked over worthwhile distances against kilometre markers. I assume Mr. Robinson is relying on his odometer and there seems little doubt that it was under-recording—which, of course, means his average speed was slightly higher. Doubtless an appreciable amount of time is saved by driving at night – especially in places like Vienne, Lyon, Arras and on the Peripherique – though I question the wisdom of embarking upon a 12-hour drive at a time when one would normally be thinking of going to bed, unless a relief driver permits a modicum of sleep en route.
Incidentally, the following figures concerning the drive I did in my “R”-type Continental Bentley nearly three years ago from Nice to Boulogne will complete the table:
Year of Manufacture: 1951.
Time elapsed: 13 hr. 10 min.
Average speed: 56.45 m.p.h.
These figures do not form a basis for comparison as they include a time-consuming detour to Le Touquet to catch a non-existent flight; I did not use the Autoroute north of Paris and there was considerably less Autoroute open south of Paris—remember the twisty, hilly 77-miles section between Macon and Pouilly-en-Auxois?
It does, however, support the editor’s contention that Roads are Getting Faster.
As I write, the French Authorities are threatening to impose a speed limit on Autoroutes unless the accident rates comes down! So please, please, French cousins and British tourists drive carefully, for one of the joys of motoring on the continent derives from being able to use the beautiful motor-roads in a manner for which they were designed.
Stanley Sedgwick – Cobham, Surrey.