Letters from Readers, August 1981

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

Leyland Again

Sir,

I was amused by a reader’s letter calling for BL to again attempt to compete in the North American car market. An appeal to patriotism is all well and good but doesn’t play much part when one is considering a very significant investment for reliable, daily transportation. Here in Canada the market is extremely tough. Consider the following as the minimum requirement for any car that sells in significant numbers:

— It must cruise all day at 70 m.p.h. in 25°C weather;

— Must be comfortable for occupants in light coats when outside temperature is -20°C;

— Car must start without external aid at -20°C;

— Car must require no servicing between 10,000 mile plus service intervals;

— Designed for servicing to be performed by less than skilled mechanics with spare parts readily available;

— Car must operate year round in a temperature range of +25°C to -25°C;

— Must have quiet and comfortable interior;

— Car and components mustn’t corrode when exposed for four months every year to salted roads and heated garages;

— It must be tractable, safe and easy to operate on ice, snow, and in freezing rain by inexperienced drivers.

As I say this is the minimum requirement. Once you have this basic product you can start thinking about price, quality, performance, economy, styling, etc., etc. It is a very demanding market that the Japanese car makers have mastered on our terms. Nostalgia over past accomplishments or tradition have little place when shopping for a car for day-in day-out service.

William E. Jones

Ottawa, Canada

Maybach Special

Sir,

The world of motor sport owes a tremendous debt to the great Australian enthusiast Stan Jones, as “A.H.” so eloquently described in his most interesting “Fathers, sons and brothers” in your February issue, the boy who he brought up to have such a love of cars and motor racing must be the most universally popular of any World Champion since the late Jim Clark, and reflects the greatest credit upon his late father.

It would, therefore, be nice to set the record straight over the technical details of the “fearsome Maybach” which was referred to by Mr. Little in his recent letter.

The Maybach Special, driven so successfully by Stan Jones in both Australia and New Zealand — where he beat Ken Wharton’s Mark 1 V16 BRM in 1953/4 — was built by a Mr. Dean of Melbourne. The chassis was of 3 1/2″ 10 gauge boiler tubing, the front suspension was modified Studebaker, the rear end a modified Lancia Lambda overhung pinion assembly with a special ZF type differential. The engine was a Maybach 6-cyl., 90 x 100 mm. single OHC taken from a German light tank, an Australian spoil-of-war from the Middle East desert fighting. The gearbox a 4-speed Fiat 525. In Stan Jones’ hands the car was fitted with a belt-driven GMC supercharger which gave it a great deal more power than it developed when it sported 6 Amals. The car weighed about one ton and was capable of over 140 m.p.h. in its final form.

M. Evans

Panang, Malaysia.

The French Customs

Sir,

When going abroad, even in a motor, car, it has always made sense to me to carry a spares pack. In early June the spares pack for an early Morgan 4/4 included a few bulky items such as a half shaft and I was stopped by a Customs Officer demanding a carnet for the assortment of spares which, of course, I did not have. After a most uncordial argument I was allowed through.

On return I took up the matter with the French Consulate as a matter requiring clarification and I quote from the ruling given.

“Spare parts, for repairing a temporarily imported vehicle, of a value which does not exceed 690 F for EEC countries and 140 F for non-E.E.C. countries may be temporarily imported without a Customs document on condition that they accompany the vehicle.”

The ruling carries on to say that if one has a breakdown on the continent and imports spares to regain mobility then the spares must be customs documented and declared on leaving the country. If, therefore, one is asked to place a value on spares carried with the car the golden rule would appear to be to cross one’s heart and give a value of less than 690 F.

James Coulter

Spratton, Northants.

[Useful information. Another tip from personal experience — watch out for radar traps in France, or have plenty of ready cash available. I was “done” 600 F (about £55) for infringing the 80 k.p.h. rule over a perfectly clear cross roads recently. Only cash was acceptable for the on-the-spot fine, my papers being impounded while I went in search of the currency — P.H.J.W.]

Project Thrust

Sir,

There was a slight slip in the text about project Thrust in the July issue which might suggest to our American friends that we are not worth taking seriously. In fact, our 0-650 m.p.h. time is 25 seconds (not 45 seconds as printed) and we can run the 8,000 lb. Thrust 2 through an entire LSR run of 8 miles in 45 seconds.

There are some quite interesting figures in this exercise, not the least being that we can undertake an LSR run to 650+ m.p.h. on only 50 gallons of Jet A-1 fuel, which in theory means that we can make both runs without refuelling, though of course, we wouldn’t do this. Whilst the acceleration peaks at 2G (+42m.p.h./sec) which is not uncomfortable, we may have to throttle back through the measured mile, in order to avoid over revving the High Duty Alloys Forged solid wheels, which are cleared to 700 m.p.h.

Once through the measured mile, the drill is to switch off the Avon 302 engine and ride out the 1.50 deceleration caused by aerodynamic drag to 600 m.p.h. At that magic speed we deploy the 7′ 6″ Irvin transonic brake parachute, which combined with the deceleration caused by drag, will cause us to peak at -6G (= -130 m.p.h./sec.). With correct deployment of the parachutes we can drop from 600 m.p.h. to 100 m.p.h. in 2,000′, so it is going to be quite a ride. We are very satisfied that Thrust 2 will achieve the objective, based on transonic wind tunnel tests conducted by British Aerospace Weybridge, which confirmed good stability and plenty of spare power.

The substitution of the Rolls-Royce Avon 302 series (17,000 static thrust-from an F6 Lightning) for last years Avon 210 was on direct advice from the late Leo Villa. “Sir Malcolm Campbell always used to say make sure that you have more than enough power to do the job” he told us.

Richard Noble

Twickenham, Middlesex.

Air Mail

Sir,

Thank you for your full and fascinating account of the history of economical sport aviation (July issue).

However may I clarify your statement that “Powered hang gliders . . . have the known disadvantage of being unusable in any sort of wind” for the benefit of your less knowledgeable but interested readers.

Powered hang gliders are literally hang glider wings with wheeled or float undercarriages and two stroke engines. They are in the CAA-recognised category of microlight aircraft. A further development within this category is exemplified by the Breen Microlite Eagle, which is constructed from hang glider type materials, but which was designed from the outset specifically as a powered aircraft. This type, and some of the more advanced powered hang glider types, are usable in surprisingly strong sorts of wind.

On a particularly blustery day at this year’s Paris Air Show our wind meter was registering a surface wind speed of 28 m.p.h. gusting every few seconds to 30 plus — conditions which worsened with altitude. My flight demonstration of the Eagle was admittedly rather hard work, but I was able to execute all the regular “fair weather” display manoeuvres, including 360° turns at maximum bank, whip-stalls and mush speed descents despite the violent gusts and turbulence. Four powered hang gliders were displayed in the same conditions, which proves that some of these aircraft are flyable in winds which are in considerably higher ratio to the craft’s flying speed than is the case with conventional aircraft. (I defy you to fly a Cessna 150 in a 100 m.p.h. hurricane)!

The main problems occur on the ground. At Paris, had it not been for helpers who held the aircraft down prior to take-off and after landing, the wind would have blown it over. For this reason, and also because strong gusts and turbulence not only frighten inexperienced pilots but jeopardise the safety of their landings, we advise our customers to restrict their flying to steady winds of less than 15 m.p.h. on the surface, and we regard 5 m.p.h. as the limit for their initial training at our airfield. (Also, of course, the smoother the air, the more enjoyable the flying — and these aircraft are purely recreational.)

Lastly — who, I wonder, was the intrepid pilot of the immaculate red British XK 120 roadster which howled past me at well over 100 m.p.h. on the Peripherique near the La Chapelle turn-off and snaked, in the typical drum-braked way, as a small Renault wandered out into his lane?

Christian Marechal, Breen Aviation Ltd.

Enstone, Oxon.

 

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