Letters from Readers
N.B.—Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and MOTOR SPORT does not necessarily associate itself with chem.—Ed.
Please Quote Prices!
As an avid reader (cover to cover including all advertisements) I am saddened by the proliferation of advertisements, both Trade and Private, giving fulsome details and no price. Why can this be? Are the advertisers going to vary the price according to the presumed pocket of the buyer or haven't they made up their minds as to the price?
You might say that if one is interested one will spend the few pennies to write or phone. This is true but if one is leafing through for, say, a DBS6, one wants to be able to compare prices there and then and not wait for the quote from an advertiser. Additionally, as I know to my cost, some advertisers are not as punctilious as they might be in replying, even to an s.a.e.
Please, advertisers, put the prices in so that at least prospective buyers will know if your car is in their price range or not. Godalming O. ALI-SHAH
P.S.: Could it be that the secondhand car business is taking on the snobbish Bond Street attitude "We never mark the prices on our goods in the window. If you have to ask the price, Madam, you cannot afford to buy", as Lady Astor was reputed to have been told by an assistant in a jewellery shop.
[Mr. Ali-Shah echoes our sentiments. We would prefer to see advertisers include prices with their wares. Publish and be damned!— Ed.]
More MG-C Spares Troubles
It was quite uncanny that your recent article on the subject of MG-C and Jaguar Spares should be published so soon after my own recent experience on trying to locate various MG-C parts. In January of this year I was unfortunate enough to collide with some roadworks one night at the site of a new roundabout on the A10 Cambridge Road (many before me and many since—police and local council show little interest—local garages doing a roaring trade). Damage was done necessitating new steering gear, o/s front suspension, radiator sump, flywheel, timing cover—total cost to me £705; thank God for Barclays Bank! To be fair most parts were fairly quickly forthcoming from BLMC (sometimes at unbelievable cost—a flywheel at £21, would you believe?) But some front suspension parts are no longer made, including kingpins, nor are timing covers (we all know about gearboxes etc.!) The gentlemen at BLMC main stores were completely sympathetic and most helpful in trying to locate the parts I needed by 'phoning and telexing their dealer network (one part was located in the loW) but they can't compensate for the sins of their masters; for instance, kingpins used to be made externally and the machine tools no longer exist. I found (via BLMC stores) that a useful supplier of MG-C bits is John Chatham Cars near Bristol from where I obtained the alloy timing cover. Incidentally Toulmin Motors of London may soon be able to supply MG-C kingpins. My accident was in January; I eventually got my car back in May, the main delay being due to my having to locate the non-manufactured parts myself: I practically lived with Exchange & Mart and my phone! My point is this: I, too, believed that BLMC (plus the others) were obliged to supply parts for ten years after the demise of any particular model—my car is a 1969 model. Page 59 of the MG-C drivers' handbook says:
"The BMC Exchange Scheme—the most comprehensive in Europe—has been designed specifically to save you money. "Briefly, the scheme covers practically every major assembly on any BMC car marketed in the last ten years and includes components such as heaters, etc"
Question: Are not engine and suspension parts major assemblies, and what happened to the 10 years? BLMC's excuse is that the MG-C was a limited production vehicle intended for N. America and that only about 200 [Surely many more than that?—Ed.] remain on British roads. Did they only charge a limited price when they sold them? Considering that these cars (as long as you keep the front wheels balanced and the front shockers in good order) are quite superb, tireless machines (a lot like the Big Healey I owned for four years and unfortunately sold) altogether shaming the plastic opposition (TR6s etc.) and that they are finally starting to appreciate in value, wouldn't it be good for BLMC to do the decent thing and ensure a complete supply of spares for these quite young vehicles enabling them to live on for many years and earn a place in the MG saga which BI.MC are now busy advertising in the press (by the way, you can really do it in an MG-C!).
Would BLMC care to come out into the daylight and comment publicly, or can we all take the MG-C situation as the shape of things to come? [ See MOTOR SPORT, July, page 770.—Ed]
Thanks for the best motoring magazine on the market. Cheshunt
Naturally it had to happen eventually— something would prompt me to try for the hallowed precincts of your correspondence columns—desperately short of exotic machinery (we run a BL Clubman Estate), not in the habit of making death-defying Trans-European dashes, not having a particular grudge against the police, etc. etc.. what could it be? Well, gently perambulating round the lanes of Norfolk, my wife was somewhat startled when I pulled the vehicle up sharp, threw my arms in the air and exclaimed wildly "there it is!". The reason for this strange behaviour was a rather elderly land-Rover. NVF 65R, which was, unless I am very much mistaken, the model shown in the photograph which accompanied the letter from J. M. Brereton in the June MOTOR SPORT. The actual location was a small village called Surtingham, about six miles from Norwich, and if your correspondent is interested I am prepared to make further enquiries.
Well, there we are, a little mundane perhaps and certainly not very technical but it does offer me the chance to compliment the magazine for its pithy reporting, excellent reviews, and the sometimes hilarious and highly reactionary editorials.
Norwich JOHN SPINKS
Pleased To Help!
Further to my letter requesting information on purchasing a secondhand Lotus Elan +2S, I wish to thank everyone concerned for the overwhelming response on this, a vast subject.
I have now in my possession a mine of information and I am happy to say that the letters "FOR" outweighed by far the ones "AGAINST".
Bearing this in mind, I have no doubt whatsoever as to my choice of car. I hope the letter published have also been of some interest to other readers who might have been in the same dilemma as I.
Again many thanks MOTOR SPORT. p>
Old Denaby A. F. RATCLIFFE
I refer to Leyland ST's vast advertising campaign and the words "Leyland ST have got the hardware . . . to uprate your British Leyland cars ... roadholding".
I ordered two Special Tuning rear springs for my MG Midget on 6th March 1975, to date these have not arrived at my local dealer.
Potential customers be warned.
Sheffield M. S. BENTLEY
Better Buy Bigger?
I found the letter entitled "Better Buy Bigger?" (June MOTOR SPORT), most interesting and I trust the following will answer Mr. P. Fredrick de Frere's questions.
Inevitably the steel body of the Jensen Interceptor will suffer from "British Racing Rust" which in the long-term will prove costly to rectify. However, Jensen made the CV8 model with a fibreglass body. This, combined with the Chrysler engine (self-adjusting hydraulic tappets) and the "Torque Elite" automatic gearbox, must rank amongst the world's finest cars. As they were literally built for ever they are a very viable proposition for the man of modest means. Proof of this being the fact that I run both a Mk. I and Mk. III Jensen CV8.
Insurance for my three cars (the other being a 1959 TR3A owned by myself for 13 years!) costs in the region of £60 per annum after reduction for no claims. This is, of course, third party, fire, theft, and passenger liability, together with named drivers, my wife and I. The reliability of the CV8 is unquestionable, the performance mind-bending, the comfort for four adults utterly superb, and the spares for routine maintenance, being for the most part British Leyland, are relatively inexpensive. The CV8 averages 15 m.p.g.
At this point readers will be thinking all this sounds too good to be true, there must be a snag. Well, there is one very big snag. Jensen only produced 500 CV8 models and their present owners are unlikely to want to part with them.
Wirral MALCOLM J. RATCLIFFE
May I add to Peter Fredrick de Frere's letter. I am running a Chevrolet sedan which is giving a yearly fuel consumption of 22 miles per gallon, uses no oil between changes and seats six people. This car has a straight six engine of 4.3-litres, power-steering, powerbrakes, and refrigerated air conditioning, is a 1968 model and cost £695. It costs me £27 to insure third party, fire and theft. Having owned cars of small size and mediocre performance I am now addicted to large cars and would support Mr. de Frere's views on large cars.
The American car was chosen because, contrary to general belief, spares are readily available and not exorbitantly priced.
Thatcham ERIC CLARKE
More Support for the Triumph 2.5 PI
How nice to read in your July issue of the protest made by Mr. Ihnatenko against the derisory remarks made about the Triumph 2.5 PI. May I endorse his protest fully. Having owned both a Mk. I (purchased secondhand), and been so satisfied With this deciding to purchase a new Mk. 2 in Nov. '72, I have had quite considerable experience with this type of car. In my own case servicing requirements were, apart from routine matters, restricted to the replacement of three injectors (one in the Mk. I and the remainder in the Mk. 2) and the curing of a fault on the servo of the Mk. 2 which caused the brake pedal to feel very solid and have very little movement.
During my ownership of the Mk. 2 I added heavy-duty shock-absorbers to the rear as I do a small amount of caravan towing and reaped the added benefit of a far "stiffer" rear suspension and better cornering when not towing. This really transformed the ride of the car, making it very "chuckable" even to the point of being able to use in certain circumstances the spline lock-up to advantage!
I can also confirm the fuel figures; in my own case this averaged out at 23.9 m.p.g. and this covered both town and motorway work. I at present run a Triumph Stag but although I enjoy the car to the full it cannot give the punch that previous 2.5 PIs have in acceleration, and when I change I shall give serious thought to replacing it with a secondhand 2.5 PI estate and have a sunshine roof fitted. Usual disclaimers,
Best wishes for an excellent magazine.
Sawtry D. B. FITCH
Mr. Alroyd Lees' letter in your June issue shares my exact sentiments about British cars. They are the best in the world and my family have gathered enough evidence over the last 30 years to prove this.
My father has had Austins from as long ago as I can remember, up to four years ago, when he made the unforgivable mistake of replacing an Austin A50 Cambridge and an Anglia Estate with a BMW 1800 and a Diahatsu 1000 Estate. Among these Austins were an Austin 10 which, after 15 years and over 200,000 miles and never as much as the head coming off, was replaced by that old faithful A35 Countryman. This remarkable little car covered about the same mileage in a period of 10 years, the only major part having been changed being the off-side front wing which was crumpled beyond recognition in a slight contretemps with a Simca which was almost a write-off as a result. The above-mentioned A50 also gave 10 years faithful service and the Anglia had a decarbonising in its span of 50,000 miles.
In a period of just over four years the BMW has been through three sets of door, bonnet and boot panels, four silencers, two radiators, and is due for a clutch, another set of panels and another respray, having rusted badly again. The Diahatsu which is also nearly five years old is such a heap of rust that it just isn't worth spending any more money on and will soon be replaced by a suitable British Estate car.
My brother and I have always had British cars, thank goodness, six Mini Cooper-S types, a GT6, an MG-B, and I've also got a 19-year-old BSA A10 motorcycle which has only just had its first rebore. My 1966 Cooper-S has covered over 150,000 very hard miles including trips to UK, the Nurburgring, Monza, Monte Carlo, and all the Targa Florios since that year. It's just had its first rebore and gearbox overhaul and the crank has never been ground. It's now due for its first de-rusting, and about time too. Another Cooper-S which is used for hill-climbing and competition and now sports an Austin 1800 engine still has no rust on the remaining metal panels. My brother's third Cooper S, a 1970 model, has covered 60,000 miles and has never even had the head off. It still looks like new and I wouldn't have 10 Renault 5LSs for it either, incidentally. Now for the unfortunate tales of woe of my brothers-in-law and their Continental heaps. A new BMW 2002Ti had to be sold after six months having had two sets of valves, a cylinder head and a gearbox replaced in that short space of time. A new Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 caused great problems for the local agents who couldn't keep enough stocks of clutch plates and synchro rings to keep the car on the road. And it's not just that Alfa either for it was replaced with another Alfa which suffered exactly the same fate. And what about that poor Citroen GS heap. It's two years and 24,000 miles old. It's had a complete engine rebuild, a good derusting, a new clutch. The handbrake doesn't work, the door handles have fallen off, everything has gone wrong with it and most important of all it's so slow I just couldn't live with it. The chaps that voted it car of the year obviously haven't driven a Dolomite Sprint. One brother-in-law is now on his second Fiat 125S in three years and this too is due for derusting. We have never had a spot of rust on either the Cambridge, the GT6, or the MG-B and we don't know what their internals look like, so we think we'll stick to British cars. We fully recommend them! Mr. Boddy, I have read your first-class journal for over a decade and there is very little with which I have disagreed. But on this business of foreign cars, and BMW in particular, I'm afraid I just can't share your views.
Malta G.C. JOE M. ANASTASI
[Ah, well! They say you can't please all the customers all the time—Ed.]
I should like to support the view of Mr. Lestor Haworth. If anybody is paying the prices for old cars advertised in your Journal they must have more money than sense.
I have seen cars which originally had chrome radiator coloured yellow to imitate brass. [Rubbed down to the brass to obviate re-plating; decent cars had German silver radiator shells which didn't need re-plating. —Ed.] The early 1930s model Austins (flat-out at 35 m.p.h.) virtually had no brakes; and the early Morris Minor of the same vintage had no brakes when it rained. Ten years ago I was offered a 1927 Chummy for £85; now I see they are asking over £1,000. Is this what you call inflation?
A 1939 10 h.p. car was advertised by a North London dealer for £275; I now see a Sussex private owner is advertising the same car (I suspect it is actually the same car) for £975.
Human cupidity and greed is deplorable; this is not a love of vintage cars and I will have none of it and I hope readers of MOTOR SPORT won't either.
Northam J. N. AIREY
Ignorance Is Bliss
After reading the letter from the "16-year old schoolboy fanatic" who lauded the Aston Martin V8 in your June issue, I feel impelled to shatter his delusions and suggest this is a classic case of ignorance is bliss. These are my enlightening experiences with this model. I took delivery of a brand new V8 at the Newport Pagnell factory. Thirty minutes later, fallowing a brief stop at a nearby motorway facility, the throttle linkage jammed at 4,000 r.p.m. promoting an exit from the parking lot in reverse à la Cape Canaveral. Back at the factory a technician smoke-screened the issue and told me the dipstick had been pressuring the throttle shaft. With the assurance that everything was in order I drove away from the factory. Later in the day during rush-hour at Marble Arch I rocketed forward with the throttle again jammed barely escaping disaster by switching off the engine. After abandonment of this lethal weapon to the breakdown truck the factory eventually returned it to me explaining they had replaced overheating bearings.
Within a week I was without transmission. When I phoned the factory and told the technical representative I had no drive, he suggested I had lost the transmission fluid. When I asked him how this could happen, he said the engine could have shifted under heavy braking. An altogether preposterous suggestion, particularly so, considering the mileage was a mere 350 and, when not in the factory was being scrupulously run-in. Once again the breakdown truck did some overtime. Next it was the turn of the fuel-injection to stop the car dead. This happened repeatedly and no one seemed to know why. The battery died after the charger had given up the ghost. The engine overheated to such a degree that the radiator blew up, separation taking place at the radiator neck joint. The driving side window power operation mechanism failed in an open position in a thunderstorm. I got wet feet from a leaking hose under the dashboard. There is more, but I think this will suffice to make my point.
My brother said I should have a back-up car to follow me around.
A respected national motoring club representative commiserated with me and told me I had bought some very expensive junk.
Mercifully I was able to rid myself of this abortion. Jonathan Taylor is right when he observed this car has no competitors.
London, N12 HAROLD PARDOYL
A Safety Matter
Not often do I put pen to paper in this manner, but on this occasion I feel I must —if only upon the grounds of safety.
The points I wish to dispute are those which recommend the use of non-Lotus parts in the maintenance of Lotus cars.
The use of Ford, Triumph and etcetera parts is, of course, to be highly praised in cost-cutting procedures. One must, however, know where to call a halt. The use of Herald brake pads, for instance—how many Heralds have you seen stopping from 120 m.p.h. and if you follow N. J. Blackman's advice and buy Imp doughnuts then be it on your own head. Lotus themselves uprated their own metalastic couplings on introduction of the Sprint and I now fit these for both improved life and prevention (or at least limitation) of the well-known transmission surge.
The Lotus (and my Plus 2 is no exception) is a car where delightful driving is necessarily accompanied by cursing under-car maintenance. I do, however, derive a certain satisfaction from being acquainted with every nut and bolt on the car as this does, however falsely, produce an increased aura of safety when one is driving and not crawling beneath.
Accrington D. GASKELL
On buying the July MOTOR SPORT I was delighted to note that you celebrate your Golden Jubilee this month. I have enjoyed reading your publication regularly for half of its life and this is my first "letter to the Editor".
Having owned a Vincent 998 c.c. motorcycle, Bristol 401 motor car, driven a Bristol 410, and been passenger in a D-Type Jaguar amongst other quality products, I think I can claim some familiarity with superb engineering. To me MOTOR SPORT is of equal standing and I congratulate you and your staff on the production of the best magazine on real motoring.
Finally, your June cover reminded me once again of what I and many others still think the classic report of all time; best wishes to "Jenks" for that hair-raising Mille Miglia masterpiece of 1955. I look forward to toasting you at your Centenary in 2025.
Harrow REX BALDOCK