A Sporting Coupe

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139

Sir,

As an avid reader of Motor Sport for some thirty years I must admit to almost complete agreement with your general philosophy in all things motoring, likewise with that great enthusiast Jenks who always seems to be able to his the nail squarely on the head when it comes down to the “nitty gritty”.

However, I must take up cudgels with your reporter “J.W.” in his article on the Radbourne 1,600 c.c. version of the Fiat X1/9 (page 806, July issue). He states—and I quote—”The acceleration is not all that startling by 1600 standards—it’s about the sort of thing you’d expect from a VW Scirocco or Lancia Beta Coupe 1600 . . .”

After perusing a great many road tests on 1,600 c.c. cars, I am at a loss to find one at all that will approach either of these cars apart from the Toyota Celica, which I believe has a twin-cam engine; indeed, a good many 2-litre cars would be hard-pressed to stay with a well-driven Scirocco or Beta 1600 coupé.

My own Scirocco—a 1,600 c.c. model—has now covered 20,000 quick miles and is terrific fun to drive. Troubles have been comparatively few, and I trust that it will not be too tedious for you if I list them. After 500 miles it disgraced itself by depositing most of its gear-shift mechanism over about two hundred yards of a busy main road. This was the result of an overtightened 6 mm. nut which had half-sheared an important retaining bolt. It took about a half-hour of dodging in and out of the busy rush-hour traffic retrieving sundry levers, washers, bellcranks, etc., from the middle of the road. A jury-rigged wire job enabled me to get home and vent my wrath on the local distributor.

The car (finished in a delightful shade of near Bugatti blue) when run-in steadfastly refused to rev over 4,000 r.p.m. without chronic misfiring. A change to a different grade of Bosch plug partly cured this, but after about 1,000 miles the misfire would return again. I now run with Champion plugs and have had no further trouble.

During the misfiring period a Lumenition electronic ignition system was installed. It didn’t make a blind bit of difference to the performance, but I think has the obvious advantage of dispensing with the normal contact-breaker points which I had found to be a constant source of trouble on previously owned VWs (in particular my first Beetle, purchased new in 1954 and subsequently fitted with a Judson blower—great fun and quite a ‘Q” car). Ventilated points cure the trouble on this car and would last for 20,000 miles without burning.

The Varta battery on the Scirocco packed up completely and without warning at 14,000 miles, and was thankfully replaced with fine British Exide unit.

The exhaust system went at 16,000 miles and the replacement, due to had workmanship or fitting (or both), vibrates and rattle badly on the over-run between 2,500 and 2,200 r.p.m. its normal slow traffic conditions thus spoiling what is a fairly quiet car when driven gently.

The only other problem has been a blown head gasket earlier this year. I have a sneaking feeling that a small weep from this may have had something to do with the earlier misfiring problems. Incidentally, the replacement gasket cost £11—plus fitting!

The original automatic choke gave a great deal of trouble, but after being modified to the current water-controlled type it is completely trouble-free, although the modification—which should not have been necessary in the first place—was very expensive.

Ventilation is a poor point. Loads of fresh air can be brought into the car, but unfortunately it cannot escape unless a window is lowered, creating a lot of noise which I find very distracting on a blustery day or at motorway speeds. Some years ago Volkswagen had opening quarter-lights, and my Type 3 1,500 c.c. “notch-back” (pre-fastback) also had opening rear windows which helped to make life more pleasant during hot weather.

The handling of the Scirocco I find most reassuring on its Uniroyal Rallye tyres. The steering is so positive and the roadholding of a very high order without the usual front wheel-drive trait of tucking in on bends when the throttle is closed. My only criticism, when cornering fast, is a slight patter at the front, which I can only put down to under-damping.

When the time comes to replace the Scirocco the choice is going to be very difficult. Another Scirocco, I suppose, but the price has doubled in two years. Can any of your readers suggest a suitable replacement?

From my study of road-tests there are not many sporting coupes with 100 m.p.h. performance and 30 m.p.g.

More power to your elbow.

Redditch, Charles B. Cook