Letters from readers, August 1983

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Real racing ircuits

Sir,

I should like to endorse enthusiastically Denis Jenkinson’s remarks concerning .real” racing circuits contained in his article “Reflections on a Grand Prix” (p.784 July issue).

From the other end of the competitive continuum, as a club racing competitor in the increasingly popular MG Car Club and BARC/MGOC championship series, I and many of my friends feel like yelling “Yippee” when — for example — after several events at Snetterton, Thruxton, Silverstone or Brands we can revel in a circuit like Cadwell Park.

Indeed, walking around the unused part of Oulton Park two weeks ago, remembering the sights and sounds of many races seen as an enthusiastic teenage marshal, made me realise just how much enjoyment we are missing in today’s sport. Perhaps we should follow the example of “Real Ale” boys and form a “Campaign for Real Racing Circuits”, beginning perhaps with a request to Oulton’s owners that they re-commission all of the real circuit as soon as possible.

David T Price, MBA, Twyford

Antipodean compulsion

Sir,

After having read for some months, letters from people (including editorials) decrying the compulsory seat belt legislation, I feel I must make a comment as one who has seen the effect of compulsory seat belt legislation here in Australia. Seat belt wearing in Australia has been compulsory since 1972 and a few facts should be noted:

— Most fatal accidents occur within 10 miles of the driver’s residence;

— Most fatal accidents occur at 30-40 mph;

— Most fatalities are caused by head injuries suffered by the driver or passenger going through the windshield;

— Only a minority of lives are saved by people being thrown from the car.

It must be remembered that seat-belts are there as a restraint to prevent injury under head-on or side impact collision at reasonable speeds.

A head-on collision at speeds in excess of 60 mph, whether the driver is wearing a seat belt or not, is usually fatal.

Some of the letters that I see in your editorials seem to have lost sight of the lessons learnt in other countries with compulsory seat belt legislation, in, that although car registration and use has gone up, the road toll is remaining static or in some cases falling, due to the use of seat restraints.

Tom Cowburn, Queensland

Increasing the octane

Sir,

In your June 1983 issue “It Concerns You” section (pages 630/631), you express considerable worry over reducing lead levels in petrol and the consequent detrimental effect on octane. There are a number of ways of increasing octane levels of commercially available fuel by the use of pure chemical streams and although these are comparatively expensive once hydrocarbon oil duty and VAT have been paid, at least they will enable the owners of older classic cars to use their cars both on the road and track.

We, as a company, market a small quantity of these products for racing use in bikes, dragsters and cars and we are able to suggest blends to cover engines of up to 15 to 1 compression ratio. I would also like to add that performance suffers, but almost all engines are capable of having their compression ratios reduced and with adjustments to timing this should enable any classic to run lead-free.

Terry Scully, GT Resins Ltd, Croydon, Surrey.

Donington appreciation

Sir,

As an ex-German PoW (now naturalized) having lived in England since September 1944, I was eagerly looking foward to seeing the Mercedes and Auto-Unions again at the 50th Anniversary meeting at Donington, having seen and heard them on three occasions when I was a boy in Germany. Imagine my feelings and excitement when I saw the two silver cars lined up in the display area together with the other beautifully prepared Maseratis, Alfa Romeos, Bugattis and the V16 BRM.

With the permission of the security guard, my friends took several photos of me standing between the Merc and A-U. I felt great. However, later on in the afternoon I felt better. After plucking up enough courage, I asked Mr Neil Corner — the owner of the A-U — “may I sit in your car please, and would you take a photo of me? To my great delight Mr Corner obliged. This was the highlight of my visit to Donington. The disappointment for all — the two cars did not run. Perhaps another time.

My I through the pages of Motor Sport thank everyone at the Donington 50th Anniversary meeting who spared their valuable time talking to me, especially Mr Neil Corner, the Hon Patrick Lindsay, Mr Tom Wheatcroft, Mr Robert Fearnall and the mechanics. Everyone was very helpful in answering all the questions put to them.

Karl-Heinz (Harry) Metzner, Uttoxeter

Austin’s 4wd

Sir,

With regard to your remarks about the four-wheel-drive Aprilia transverse engine, although you are technically correct when you say that it is the first road car of this design, I have a 1969 Austin with a 1,275 cc slant east-west engine four-wheel drive (at will) and a Hi-Low range gearbox. I understand, by courtesy of Mr Clausager of BL Heritage and also Mr Freddie Henry of Austin Apprenticeship fame, that this model is few and far between, but nevertheless it is a delight to drive on and off the road and the roadability is superb. It is a very well thought out design and instead of the Land Rover alloy panels, has very strong heavy gauge galvanised bodywork. It is a great pity that apparently there was no market at the time for the ADO 19 or Ant.

My vehicle was evidently brought out to New Zealand for evaluation, but was “snapped up” by a manager of an Austin franchise holder in the South Island. When one notes some of the ridiculously under powered Japanese four-wheel-drive vehicles, I believe that the ADO 19 would have a very large following. How about it BL? The complete design is up to present standards and even an alternator is fitted apparently as standard equipment. The mileage to date is just over 17,000 miles. We have reached the stage in our little country that one cannot procure small BL cars, the nearest relatively reasonably priced being the Rover. Ask for a Metro for instance and sales persons will attempt to fob you off with a Japanese make, and of course not everyone has forgotten the Japanese of a very few years ago. The Metros are simply not imported and I believe that the Austin Princess is in the same category. I cannot find who is responsible for this state of affairs, but it “stinks” to my way of thinking.

Changing the subject, I wonder if any of your readers have a La Ponette car? I had previous to the last war a mint coupe’ by Charlesworth. It had a 10 horsepower Ballot engine and the usual overgeared rear axle (for our country). It was very pleasant to drive and had no electrics, but twin side mounted wire spare wheels. It was imported for an old lady who could not crank it and was stored unused for very many years. Unfortunately it disappeared during the war and I have no photograph of it. The Montagu museum forwarded me a photograph of a La Ponette, but it must have been an earlier version as it had a “coal-scuttle” bonnet, whereas mine had a more rounded version. If any of your readers has or knows of a similar car, I would like to correspond with them. I was very attached to this little car and the only small bother I had was when a bolt fell off one of the universals (steel) between the engine and gearbox and the floorboards just about landed in my ‘lap.

EL Nye,  Dunedin, NZ

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