Letters From Readers, December 1952

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60

B.A.R.C. Car Badges

Sir,

It has come to our notice that in some cases cars are being disposed of still carrying the B.A.R.C. badge.

It would be much appreciated if you would point out in your columns that these badges are the property of the British Automobile Racing Club, and should be returned to the B.A.R.C., 55, Park Lane, London, W.1.

The co-operation of garages would be of great assistance to us in this matter and, of course, postage would be refunded by us, plus a small allowance for the badge.

I am, Yours. etc., H. J. Morgan, General Secretary, B.A.R.C., London, W.1.

[We agree wholeheartedly—and this is not an invitation for the “wide-boys” to go round unscrewing the badge with the chequered flag and posting them to Mr. Morgan!—Ed.]

Charles Mortimer Replies

Sir,

Please may I be permitted to reply to the letter from Mr. R. H. Johnson in the November issue of Motor Sport. In the first place, I should like to ask Mr. Johnson whether, if I make one or two concessions to him, he will in turn make one or two to me.

I will agree with him, for instance, on the first point raised in his letter. Contributions to the “Cars I Have Owned” series can and do, from time to time, create wrong impressions concerning certain marques or models, based on the favourable or unfavourable experiences of the owners in question. But even so, you know, one has only to look through the correspondence columns of Motor Sport to see that these impressions seldom, if ever, go unchallenged, for there is always the enthusiast such as Mr. Johnson himself to rush to the defence of the marque in question.

Mr. Johnson does not say in his letter how many 36/220 Mercs. or Speed Six Bentleys he owned and he does not state the circumstances in which he owned them, which is a pity, in a way, because it makes his letter rather more difficult to answer. But, bearing in mind our conflicting opinions, I should be surprised if he owned his cars in anything like the same circumstances as I owned mine. I owned all my Bentleys and the Mercedes between the beginning of 1937 and the end of 1939. They were, of course, all large horsepower cars built between 1929 and 1931, which means that, in the 1937-1939 period, they were to all intents and purposes practically worthless in the open market.

They had all done a substantial mileage; maintenance over and above routine greasing and engine oil changing was very expensive. If anything went seriously wrong, it would have been out of the question to repair it and the car would have been scrapped. But that class of car was so well built that nothing ever did go seriously wrong. A lot of minor things went wrong and many parts became out of adjustment but the cars still kept going and still kept changing hands at absurdly low prices, with the result that nine out of ten owners could not afford or did not feel justified in footing a substantial bill to have these numerous small points put right.

From his letter, and in view of our divergence of opinion, I assume that Mr. Johnson was either fortunate enough to be able to acquire his cars new, or that he was even more fortunate in finding exceptionally good ones secondhand. Now, before Mr. Johnson shoots me down again, I will concede that I was wrong in the manner in which I described some of my cars, thereby giving a false impression that they were in first-class mechanical condition, which, of course, they weren’t. I tried to describe their appearance but I do agree that I should have made it clear that their mechanical condition was not always on a par and I was obviously wrong in assuming that that would be understood.

But I think Mr. Johnson has treated me unkindly when he quotes a sentence out of its context in order to pin on me the statement that one of my Speed Sixes had a maximum of only 70-75 m.p.h. I didn’t say that the car had reached its maximum, Mr. Johnson, for, in fact, this particular incident occurred between a series of bends at a point where no car with any sort of claim to performance could be travelling at its maximum. But I think that this should have been clear for I did begin the sentence with the words “The car could not have been going so very fast.”

In case it might be of interest, I tried each of my Speed Sixes over the flying half-mile at Brooklands when I received them. The Freestone and Webb coupe recorded 88 m.p.h., the open four-seater 94 m.p.h., the Gurney Nutting coupe 95 m.p.h. and the Barker two-seater 84 m.p.h. I claim no credit or discredit for these speeds. They were put up by the cars in the condition in which I received them.

Again, as a point of interest, I found that the most usual things out of adjustment or requiring attention on the Speed Sixes were shock-absorbers, brakes, the balance of the wheels, road springs that required resetting and carburetters that were not properly synchronised. None of these may sound very formidable but several of them could let one in for a bill of £25 or £30, which was quite as much as the value of the car itself at that time. Would you agree, Mr. Johnson?

I am, Yours, etc., Charles Mortimer, Webridge.