Letters from Readers

Sense From the States

Your magazine is absolutely the best. I read Motor and Autocar, but I believe that Motor Sport tops them all. Nothing of the sort is published over here and I think it a great pity. On the other hand, to be quite frank, what would we have to write about after all? Most everyone knows all about the Buicks and the Chevrolets and the Dodges, etc., and at best there isn't much to be said for any of them. They are extremely comfortable cars well suited to American smooth roads. That they would be hopelessly lost on the average Continental or British road would be a poor excuse for changing the type of springing used over here.

Added to that, the average American motorist drives a car for transportation only. The "sport" of motoring has long since died out. Thank goodness there still are some people who insist upon getting some fun out of driving an automobile.

Incidentally, you might be interested in some of the results of a recent meeting of the joint Milwaukee and Chicago Regions of the Sports Car Club of America. One of our members has one of the new 3½-litre "XK 120" Jaguars. This car has a little over 2,000 miles on it and perhaps is not yet completely broken in. However, it was run against a Jaguar "SS 100" of perhaps 1937 vintage. The trial was a half-mile standing-start, sprint event. Now that I repeat it, it seems unbelievable, but the fact is this. The old "SS 100 "simply ran away from the "XK" and there was no question about it. No doubt the "XK" could show its heels to the old "SS" in top speed, but in this particular event the "SS" was the better car, to everyone's evident amazement.

I need not tell you that my favourite department in Motor Sport is "Vintage Veerings." Besides my 1929 4½-litre Vanden Plas Bentley tourer, I have also a "Speed Six 6½-1itre Bentley with owner-driver, four-passenger enclosed coachwork of aluminium, a 1914 Lancia sport-touring, and a 1921 Locomobile "Sportif." 

I was interested in Gordon Fairbanks' comments on the DV-32 Stutz and his statement that these cars are rarer in the States to-day than are good "Red Label" Bentleys in England. While it is impossible for me to either substantiate or refute this claim I can tell you without fear of contradiction that old-style Bentleys of any type at all are among the most rare and certainly the most sought-after automobiles in this country to-day. I think I know where most of them are and I doubt very much whether any one of their owners would consider trading his Bentley for a DV-32 Stutz.

I am, Yours, etc.,
Carl E. Muller 

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R.A.C. Old-Racers Event

In your concluding sentence on the San Diego Veteran Car Races you mention an idea that has been in my mind for some time.

An early racing-car curtain-raiser would I believe be as interesting as a "500" race any day. It need not be slow Anthony Heal was lapping at 65 or so on the Club circuit on the F.I.A.T. The Itala would be as fast, my Humber's best was 63 m.p.h.. with Samuelson's Sunbeam not much slower. The big Delage would be there; and perhaps the F.I.A.T. "Mephistopheles."

On the full circuit the entry might be a little "lost," but I think we know enough of the potentialities of the various pre-1925 racers to permit of a sane handicap . . .

I doubt whether the wider public appreciates the potentialities of the early "racers" and something of the order of a 30 mile race would be a spectacle as well as of infinite interest to the drivers.

All power to your suggestion.

I am, Yours, etc., 
Kenneth Neal.

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Straw Bales

With reference to Mr. Cooke's letter in the November issue, surely an important point in connection with the accidents at Silverstone is that the cars concerned were both B-type E.R.A.s, which have a very high centre of gravity. I saw Geoffrey Ansell overturn; but I have also seen "Bira," Ashmore and Bob Ansell go through the bales without a sign of instability. All these three use Maseratis, lower-built than the E.R.A.s.

While everyone must agree that the racing driver's job is to stay on the road, the fact remains that even such famous drivers as Villoresi and Farina have met trouble on the Silverstone corners. Inexperience may have brought about the accidents at Blandford, but I do not think that Bolster, Horsfall and Ansell can be called novices.
I am, Yours, etc.,
H. R. Thompson.

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Praise for the Riley Nine

The article "Riley Nine Recognition" in October's Motor Sport was very welcome. My own first car was a Mark I open tourer delivered in August, 1927. It had a delightfully smooth, robust and lively engine, perfect steering and, as you say, right-hand change, with a very useful and pleasant constant-mesh third gear. Suspension and braking were nothing to write home about, and there was a tendency to skid easily on a wet surface. My own car had rather a temperamental carburetter, which I had not the skill to keep tuned, and maximum speed was only about 55 m.p.h. An indicated 42 was the happiest cruising speed, but engine and transmission were smooth throughout the speed range. I fancy you are wrong on one point: my car certainly had a central butterfly-nut adjustment for the brakes under the front floorboard, and my recollection is that they were cable-operated. [Rods were used on early cars. — Ed.] Talking of floorboards: on one occasion a rough road-surface caused the back seat to shake on to the floor, then the board beneath it to follow suit, and the Christmas parcels to strew the road.

I am, Yours, etc., 
W. Stuart Best.
Godmanston, Dorset. 

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An Alvis-Engined Special

I notice that in reporting the Gosport Speed Trials you mention Mr. Edgar's. "Alvista," the "ex-Axel-Berg '12/50'-engined Redwing." Actually this car first appeared in the V.S.C.C. Gloucester Trial of 1938 as the "Allen Special," driven by my brother. Between then and 1947 when Axel-Berg bought it, it covered a very large road mileage with complete reliability and great economy (thanks, no doubt, to a 4 to 1 axle ratio with 19-in. wheels.)

The engine is standard except for twin S.U.s, a 0.020-in, solid copper gasket and much lightened flywheel carrying a 'Nash-type clutch. The chassis is mostly 1923 "Redwing," which is, of course, much lighter than the Alvis chassis. Total cost, disregarding personal labour, was just under £35 or approximately the price of a good horn-button these days.

Incidentally, in spite of Mr. Edgar's enthusiasm for Alvis cars, why "Alvista"? There is far more Riley about it so I suggest "Ry-Vita."

I am, Yours, etc., 
G. W. Allen. 
Romford, Essex. 

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Seven-Fifty Racing

As a result of the article in the September Motor Sport, suggesting a racing class for unblown Austin Seven sports cars, I have received 56 letters and many verbal assurances of support. This has established that there really is a demand, and backed by these letters (of which more are required) an approach to clubs holding race meetings will be made, asking them to include races to our formula. Attempts are also being made to secure a venue whereby such invitations may be reciprocated.

The Seven-Fifty Club has elected a sub-committee to deal with the matter, and the formula for the coming season has been finalised:

"Cylinder block, crankcase, gearbox, rear axle and chassis side members must consist of parts from the standard touring or sports Austin Seven range. Stroke must be 3 inches and the bore not more than 2.26 inches. Superchargers and overhead valves are barred. Bodywork must comply with the R.A.C. regulations for Trials and Rally cars current at the time, but the minimum permitted outside width of the body at the cockpit is 35 inches. Full electrical equipment must be fitted, including complete dynamo, starter, accumulator, and at least one headlamp. There must be provision for carrying a spare wheel. The car must comply with the Road Traffic Act, and be driven to the course."

The purpose of this formula is to minimise, by reason of the strict limitation on b.m.e.p. it imposes, the advantages otherwise gained by more wealthy constructors and to ensure that the machines will also be practicable road cars, for the benefit of those unable to operate two vehicles. The organisers will be on the look out for people who have cars professionally built in a spirit of "regs.-dodging" and reserve the right to refuse their entries.

I am, Yours, etc.,
H. Birkett.
Fleet, Hampshire.