Letters From Readers, December 1957



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

Railton Enthusiasts


I was glad to see Mr. Landall-Smith’s courteous and constructive reply to my letter, and also to note that they have now decided not to bar the Brough Superiors and other Hudson Specials from their Club, as I feel sure that they will be glad to have the extra members, which I think they will get only if they now allow them to compete in their club events, but not otherwise.

If the Vintage Club wish to retain their Post-Vintage Thoroughbred members, I feel they would do well to do the same. On the other hand, they may feel that they now have so many members with pre-1930 cars that they simply cannot cope with organising for P.V.T. membership as well.

If that is so, one has to remember the pioneers who worked so very hard to establish the Vintage tradition, with such success that they are negotiating out of great strength; other Clubs which run Vintage Classes naturally accept the Vintage Club rating and every club has the perfect right to run its affairs as it thinks best.

Those who are excluded may feel bitter, but it seems to me illogical if they do, and it is bad for the sport — besides which it achieves absolutely nothing.

So far, this leaves the owners of 1931/39 cars “in the air” as far as special facilities are concerned, and they have to enter in open competition with the much faster modern cars, or not compete. The real remedy is for the owners of P.V.T. cars to form their own club, bearing in mind that there will always be friction if members go round talking of somebody else’s “modern tinware,” or “failing to find affinity” with this, that or the other make. Every person’s car is a “thoroughbred ” in the owner’s eyes, so I would cut out the word altogether, and qualify “any car with a chassis built in 1931-39,” assuming that, after 18 years, the bad cars were on the scrap heap anyway. The chassis frame cannot be altered very much, however much it is rebuilt, and anyone who rebuilds a Special, even not a very good one, is at least an individualist, and may even be a born creator or a lunatic, in which case he would be a most interesting club member!

Those who want to call the other members rude names could be specially selected by the committee for a trip to the moon on a hot-air driven satellite. “Peace in our Time.”

If this club were big enough, other clubs would run special classes for 1931-39, and all those who objected to running their own cars in open events would be catered for, and every car of the right age would be accepted, subject to being presented to the scrutineers in the proper condition, and the numerical limits imposed by the nature of the competition. The alternative would be for one of the existing clubs to take up this suggestion, and be assured of a very large membership.

I cheerfully accept Mr. Landall-Smith’s invitation to “blow my header tank off” at a Railton Club Meeting, just once, if he can see his way to invite me in January or February, and hope that nothing I have said above will offend even the most susceptible Railton Enthusiast, or “dyed-in-the-wool” Vintagent.

I am, Yours, etc., Donald Monro. London, W.C.2.



Mr. Antony Hyde-East criticises the board of directors of the Vintage Sports-Car Club for not accepting Railtons as post-vintage thoroughbred cars.

As he is a member of the club, he should be aware that the list of acceptable makes was based on a referendum of all Club members and, therefore, the Railton was rejected by a large proportion of the Club and not merely by the Committee. The P.V.T. Class consists primarily of makes which continued after 1930 to build cars in the vintage tradition which, in its context, might be said to be designed for a purpose, without frills.

The Railton, in fact, is a conversion and, therefore, fails to meet this requirement, although I would not deny that the conversion is well carried out with successful results. The performance of the Railton car does not enter into our calculations.

I am, Yours, etc., H. P. Bowler, President, Vintage Sports-Car Club Ltd. Rickrnansworth.

[This correspondence is now closed. — Ed.]


Opinions on a Permutation


The recent announcement of the Riley 1.5 must surely have lightened the hearts of the Riley Owners Club in seeing a new small Riley built, quite obviously, in the true tradition of the marque.

With its “B” series B.M.C. engine, Wolseley 1500 body, Morris Minor chassis, and superb Riley radiator it is a car with tremendous appeal for those among us who remember with affection the days of Freddie Dixon.

This car is a masterpiece of engineering which we will soon see sweeping the board at production-car races. What a thrill it will be to see again the immortal Riley badge roaring to victory, closely followed in a slightly unstable manner, by a square tin box.

One shudders to think of the old M.G. Midget, for in the none-too-hazy future, we shall see a new creation driven from the gates of B.M.C.

In front, the proud M.G. badge followed by the Pathfinder/Wolseley 6/90 body, and under this facade we see (without surprise) a familiar 2.6-litre engine, which we last saw under the bonnet of an Austin A95.

There, in all its glory, will stand “The Larger M.G. for the Sporting Family Motorist.”

I am, Yours, etc., J. M. McCarthy. London S.W.11.



So that man Wolseley has been out with Old Mother Riley again and the result is another 1½ pint bastard in the family which until now has been most respectable and honoured by all who admire good motor cars.

It is a dreadful shame that a name “as old as the industry” should be made the laughing stock of those like myself who were once Riley enthusiasts.

I am, Yours, etc., Wilfred O. Farmer. Whitefield.


And What of the Wolseley 1500?


I would be interested to hear the views of those of your readers who possess a Wolseley 1500. There has been a great deal of praise for this car but I feel it may be over-loud or am I unlucky in my model? Just before completing 5,000 miles, I recently decided to enter a fairly vigorous rally, without having anything done to the engine either in the way of modifications or more than ordinary maintenance. I was extremely disappointed in both the petrol consumption and the acceleration, the latter so needed, especially at the higher speeds. Over 450 miles, including some 50 miles of London driving, we could do only 26 m.p.g., partly perhaps because we could never spend enough time in top, because of our lack of acceleration and speed. I would like to think mine is a single example as otherwise the Wolseley is a fine car — and this after driving the infamous V. . .w . . .n for a long period!

I am, Yours, etc., P. J. Eva. London, W.2.


Disc-Braked Austin-Healeys


On page 670, November issue, under “Marque Scratch Race — 10 laps” you refer to a “duel between two cars you and I cannot buy.”

So far as the A.-H. 100/6 is concerned this is quite incorrect as I have owned a four-wheel disc-braked 100/6 for seven months. The 100/6 was offered to the public a year ago with four-wheel disc-brakes (Dunlop) as optional extra for £80. They are Servo-assisted, by the way.

I am, Yours, etc., J. G. Cooper. Enfield.


Borgward Experiences


As an Isabella owner in B.A.O.R. may I comment on Mr. Hogan’s letter in October Motor Sport.

I bought my November 1954 Isabella out here a year ago for £365 with 19,000 miles on the clock and have since done 12,500 miles.

I agree with a lot Mr. Hogan says. The roadholding is first class but my new Continental J55s scream badly on corners so I shall try Michelin X (unobtainable in Germany) next time. The suspension too is very good on rough German cobbles. When “autobahning” the instruction book says you can hold a steady 75 m.p.h. It took me six mouths to realise that my speedometer was slow and that I had been doing a true 80 m.p.h. for literally hour after hour. I now keep down to a true 75 m.p.h. except for occasional bursts up to 85 m.p.h. and the engine is still perfect apart for a slight appetite for distributor points, and uses a bare pint of Castrolite between changes (2,000 miles).

On the debit side it is a different story. I think the car has a design fault. The book says that it is designed for a load of 800 lb. Six 10-stone people therefore overload the car without anything in the large boot. As the back is suspended on soft coils with swinging axles she has a pronounced down-at-tail look with a full load and seen from the back the wheels lean inwards alarmingly.

As regards repairs, perhaps I have been unlucky, or unkind to her, but so far I have had to replace all four coil springs as they were tired, and seven shock-absorbers (one free). Also the integral chassis cracked at the point where the front axle cross-member bears. It is to the car’s credit that with a load of four and a bootful of camping kit the cracks stood the strain of one circuit of the Nurburgring. They have since been welded!

I wrote to the makers and the agents who sold me the car but they were not interested so I hope that they have improved the latest models and Mr. Hogan won’t have the same trouble.

If they haven’t improved the latest ones it is a great pity as the Isabella with its high power-weight ratio of over 60 b.h.p./dry ton and excellent cornering is an ideal car for the family man who likes to “motor.”

Your road test was on the “TS” (75 b.h.p. on 8.3-to-1); mine is an ordinary Isabella (60 b.h.p. on 6.5-to-1)

I am, Yours, etc., R. G. R. Nutt, Capt., R.E. B.F.P.O.




I hasten to correct my letter about the Short-Ashby car, which you kindly published in the October Motor Sport.

The name of the King’s Lynn grocer was “Clark,” not “Ashby.” The other information given is correct, but my “neat” solution of one half of the car’s name was not.

I am indebted to my 88-year-old mother for the correction.

I am, Yours, etc., J. W. Ramm. London, N.W.3.