Letters from readers, December 1956

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64

Challenge to Mr Woodland

Sir,

Mr AH Woodland hopes he is not over-enthusiastic about his 1936 41/2-litre Bentley. To tell the truth, while reading his letter, I thought you had started a motoring version of TV’s “Tall Story Club,” and fully expected to see at the end the question “True or false ?”

I would like to follow the rules of the BBC series and ask a few pertinent questions before giving my vote.

I have never heard of a heavy 41/2-litre saloon consuming only one gallon of fuel in 22 miles when being driven as hard as possible. If true, Mr. Woodland has stumbled on a tuning routine which must revolutionise motoring and perhaps Motor Sport readers could be let into the secret at once. Incidentally, how does he account for the consumption of 21.5 mpg mentioned later in the letter in view of the above-mentioned 22 mpg at 10/10ths driving ?

Also previously unknown in any sphere where heat engines are used is a fuel consumption which varies only in the ratio 21.5 to 22.5 whatever the load imposed on it. Details of this would also be appreciated by us readers.

Regarding the fast run from Churchill crossroads to St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol, this is something I can speak about with some authority as I use it frequently.

Does Mr Woodland observe the 30-mph speed limit imposed on us in built-up areas ?

Assuming the answer to be in the affirmative, I would point out that the distance from the city boundary on A38 to the church is 2.8 miles, which, at 30 mph takes 5 min 36 sec; thus leaving 6 min 21 sec for the remaining 10.2 miles— an average speed of 96.4 mph.

As his speed up Redhill dropped to 65 mph I would estimate that he would have covered about one mile at this speed as the left-hander following the “Paradise Road House” certainly couldn’t be taken at 96. Subtracting 0,55 sec required for this mile we have left 5 min 26 sec for 9.6 miles, or an average of 101.6 mph. I am sure Messrs Collins, Hawthorn and Moss, to say nothing of Fangio, would be happy to learn how to average on the road a speed greater than the car’s stated maximum (100 mph)!

However, let us assume that Mr W only pays lip-service to the Bristol speed limit. As it starts with a rather bumpy stretch of road and an even rougher descent of Bedminster Down Road, with a nastily cambered bend over a railway bridge at the bottom, followed by a rather narrow street with blind curves and really tricky left and right, almost right-angled, corners in quick succession, traffic lights at each side of Bedminster Bridge which are seldom synchronised and ending with a roundabout which can be negotiated with risk at 20 mph, we may say that an average of 40 mph would be strictly good, if strictly illegal and dangerous. This would occupy 4 min 12 sec, and leave 7 min 45 sec for 10.2 miles at an average of 79 mph, including the “slack” up Redhill. Most remarkable. whichever solution you choose, at 22 mpg.

As to roundabouts taken at 37 mph, I always thought they were erected to keep vehicles to a reasonable speed at dangerous crossroads, uaually in built-up areas.

The medium-distance journey of 132 miles in 2 hr 50 min, quoted is feasible and attainable by many less skilled drivers, but the times quoted to the nearest 10 minutes is puzzling after the exact second timing of the “sprint.” Perhaps Mr Woodland left his stopwatch at home and used public clocks for this particular journey.

Maybe, Mr Editor, a feature on the lines of “Tall Story Club” would go down well in your estimable journal.

I am, Yours, etc,

PM Stocker, Long Ashton.

Sir,

I was most interested to read Mr. Woodland’s letter discussing the merits of his Bentley. While in no way wishing to belittle the excellent characteristics of this marque, I would like to point out that in his letter surely we have another of those instances where a few figures do not tell the whole tale. I refer in particular to Mr Woodland’s run from Churchill crossroads to St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol. The average that he gives for this journey is roughly 65 mph, but two facts which affect this average crucially are not mentioned. The most important of these is that 2.8 miles of the run is in a restricted area; his average on the remaining stretch must therefore have been well over 90 mph, a creditable figure indeed when it is considered that he spent at least a further half mile breasting Redhill at 65 mph—a speed considerably below his norm. I have no doubt this feat might be achieved for, at the risk of this portion of the Bristol-Bridgwater road becoming peopled with drivers trying to improve their averages, I must say that this road, although by no means straight, contains only two corners that must be taken at a little less than 70 mph.

However, if we take it that Mr Woodland’s average was put up before the days of extended speed limits, the performance of his Bentley is not really so spectacular because even my poor, gutless, under-powered 1-litre Riley (with a maximum of 45 up Redhill and 75 or so down the other side) can average 65 mph over the course in question—although naturally only to the city limits.

This rarely-mentioned, always willing if thirsty, machine must be rowed with some fervour if results are to be obtained, but once moving there is little halting it unless it be the quick pit-stop every 30,000 miles to renew inertia-crazed big-ends and piston rings (the result of cruising at 4,800 rpm). It is hardly surprising that as a result of being over-sturdily designed in its primacy nothing else ever goes wrong. The Riley is one of those cars that is too much of a compromise to shine in any one direction but which nevertheless achieves above-average handling, near-perfect steering, brakes adequate for British hills, an engine that will crawl at 10 mph in top or cruise flat out all day, a useful gear-change that can be used without the clutch if you are feeling confident, and, above all, an air of luxurious well-being in leather and polished walnut. One pays for all this at 25 mpg in town or on long runs at averages of about 50 mph.

I am still amazed that a machine with so little to commend it on paper in the way of performance, can move with fair rapidity and instill its owner with such respect as I hold for mine. I shall be quite sorry to take delivery of a 2.4 . . .

I am, Yours, etc.

W Thomas, Wrington.

Does the Porsche overheat?

Sir,

It is, perhaps, a happy coincidence that Mr Storey should pose his astonishing question in the same issue of Motor Sport as that in which you publish your article upon the genius of Dr Porsche.

That anyone should feel it incumbent upon them to query the oil-cooling abilities of an engine so specifically designed for, and so utterly proven in its powers to, maintain extremely high speeds over prodigious distances is, in my opinion, not only ridiculous but pathetic.

Your Continental Correspondent is, without doubt, better qualified than I to answer this letter, but I cannot refrain from drawing Mr Storey’s attention to certain relevant points.

It is reasonable to suppose, that with autobahnen on his very doorstep at Stuttgart and with his vast experience of designing behind him, Dr Porsche would, in marketing the first car to bear his honoured name, be most careful to avoid the very pitfall into which your correspondent is apparently so ready to believe he fell. In fact, the care and skill he displayed in designing, testing and perfecting the beautiful mechanism whereby the flow of oil through the oil cooler is thermostatically controlled, ensures a more even oil temperature under all conditions than in any other car I know.

My 1,500 Super has now done over 47,000 miles and is going as well as ever. I have driven considerable distances on autobahnen in hot weather without the oil temperature even approaching 120 deg C.

There is no car which can be driven at its maximum speed ad infinitum, but I am sure that, if a contest could be staged where all marques were driven at maximum speed to destruction, the Porsche would be the last to suffer damage from overheating.

I am, Yours, etc,

John EM Harrison,  Bovey Tracey.

Sir,

I think a slight confusion has arisen in reference to the overheating of Porsche cars. The temperature of the oil as shown by the gauge is not the temperature as the oil reaches the bearings as it has to pass through an oil cooler first, which drops the temperature at least 20 deg C.

I do not think anyone need worry about bursting a Porsche after cruising at high speeds for some considerable time.

I am, Yours, etc,

R Smithers, Dalkeith.

Sir,

As I own a 1956 Type 3516A Standard Porsche coupe, I was very interested in your article in the current issue of Motor Sport and in Mr Storey’s letter in the October number on the subject of oil temperature.

I presume that throughout your article Centigrade should be substituted for Fahrenheit, as on my car the zero stop of the somewhat vaguely calibrated gauge is marked as 100 deg F, and my car normally runs with the oil at between 180 deg F, and a point which is not marked on the gauge but which I take to be 200 deg F. Unfortunately, not being an engineer, I do not know how hot “too hot” is, but when in Italy in June this year was following a Lancia Aurelia GT along the Turin-Milan autostrada at about 4,200 rpm and noticed that the oil temperature was 240 deg F, I deemed it prudent to abandon pursuit. It was, however, a hot day, and in normal conditions in this country the aforementioned unmarked graduation in the centre of the gauge is seldom exceeded. In view of the frequent eulogies of this car published in your most entertaining magazine, perhaps a few impressions after 15,000 miles and ten mouths of ownership may be of general interest.

Good

(1) Beautifully made, with doors that are a source of pleasure every time one shuts them.

(2) Magnificent suspension, particularly on wavy surfaces and excellent roadholding even in the wet. (Possibly helped by Michelin X.)

(3) The best starter from cold I have had, and so far completely reliable apart from early transmission bothers (put right free of charge by Messrs AFN)

(4) A genuine 100 mph and 28 mpg with my somewhat heavy-footed driving.

Bad

(1) Extreme susceptibility to cross winds at speed—a short time ago, shortly after passing a 2.4 Jaguar and when approaching 4,500 rpm in top on a dead straight stretch of well-known road, a sudden gust blew me straight into the gutter, which, fortunately was flat. Unnerving, nevertheless.

(2) Transmission noise which exceeds that usually referred to as “beloved of enthusiasts” particularly on the overrun.

(3) Chrome which is already beginning to pit, in spite of weekly care, and paintwork which is already chipping in the usual places. (The car is kept in a garage.)

May I end by saying how much I enjoy Motor Sport, particularly for the way it speaks its mind.

I am, Yours, etc,

TAG Wright, Leicester.

[In fairness to Mr Storey, he raised his query after reading in a weekly contemporary’s road-test report that the Porsche oil overheated after prolonged wide-throttle driving, as on an autobahn.-Ed.]

Reader’s view of a PRO.

It is a sad commentary on the Rootes Group that its Group PRO, should submit such a petulant and ill-advised letter to a leading motor magazine. Surely he realises that the increasing sales of Motor Sport are due mainly to the objectivity of its reporting, which requires no “reading between the lines” as is often necessary in its “trade contorted” contemporaries.

In spite of the excellence of its advertisements, a fact which is admitted by the Rootes Group, Motor Sport appeals primarily to the motoring enthusiast who has some knowledge of the technicalities of motor cars and judges a motor by results rather than by misleading propaganda. I do not believe the judgment of Motor Sport testers to be infallible, but I respect their professional integrity and reporting. If their reports are unpleasing to the manufacturers, then national and business interests would be better served by instructing their design departments to examine the testers’ criticisms, rather than allowing their PROs to bring them into further disrepute by petulant, misleading and inaccurate tirades against those who seek to serve the interests of the motoring public.

I am, Yours, etc,

W Lewis, Nicosia.

Oil sales

Sir,

Your correspondent M Robertson has a simple faith in the obvious but is afraid to look beyond. Of course you cannot go wrong in using oil sold by the petrol companies any more than by using oil of well-known and not-so-well-known firms who do not refine petrol.

What we are up against is the pure-and-simple oil firms being discriminated against by the petrol combines, of which Castrol is merely a conspicuous example. There are smaller concerns too whose cry is not heard in the jungle of so-called free enterprise.

Mr Robertson is fortunate in having faith in an oil which can be purchased anywhere. The oil I used to buy is called “Solvolene” and cost 2s 3d per quart. I have yet to find a garage permitted to sell it now. Not to be outdone, however, I buy five-gallon drum of oil blended with detergent even cheaper than that. It comes from a refinery up north holding nine million gallons; turning over that quantity indicates that they also know something about oil. In fact some of that oil is sold with labels hearing names Mr Robertson has faith in; some goes into packets Mr Average Motorist would he scared stiff to empty into his sump.

But let us be fair to Mr Robertson and others who share his views, for without some inside knowledge to guide them they are bound to become victims of hypnosis of modern advertising, dispensed by people who might well have received training in the Agitational Propaganda Department of the Kremlin.

I am, Yours, etc,

EA Whigley, London, NW2

The demand for Benzole

I was very interested to read EJ Higgins’ letter on National Benzole versus Shell.

Two of the filling stations that I use, one in West Bromwich and the other in London, used to have six Shell pumps to one of National Benzole. Recently, they both went “all Shell.” It is interesting to note that they both state that their sales have dropped considerably.

I, for one, would be pleased to see more National Benzole pumps available to the motorists.

I am, Yours, etc.

Leslie Harrington, Smethwick.

BMC service

Sir,

Mr David Scott-Moncrieff, who slated the BMC stores-system, is by no means a lone voice crying in the wilderness.

For several years I have operated BMC products abroad and, although agents are nominated all over Europe, the majority of them carry scarcely any spares at all. Moreover, as these agents always handle cars made in their own country, they are not interested in BMC motors.

Englishmen grouse about the Volkswagen capturing what we have regarded as our markets, but until British manufacturers can offer something comparable in the way of spares and service facilities the Volkswagen and other similar foreign makes will outsell ours.

I am, Yours, etc,

LA Temple (Lt-Col). London, NW1.

Knock for knock !

Sir,

The following may be of some interest to your readers.

I was recently involved in a alight accident with a Post Office Telephones van, this vehicle, driven by a driver under instruction, cutting a blind corner and taking my rear wing, As a result I made a claim on Post Office Telephones for the damage caused, a sum under five pounds.

Upon receipt of this claim the Post Office requested the name of my insurance company, which I supplied with consent of the company, stating at the same time that my cover was restricted to Third Party. In reply to this I was informed that the Post Office declined responsibility.

I wrote then informing the Post Office that unless I received their cheque in settlement within seven days I should issue a County Court summons. The response to this was an admission of liability and an offer to settle.

No comment seems necessary.

I am, Yours, etc,

LR Hiscock, Carbis Bay.