Letters from Readers, December 1958

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76

One Reader on the Editor’s Side!

Sir,

For a number of years, I subscribed faithfully to Motor Sport. But finally, in a burst of unrestrainable irritation, I gave up buying it. For months afterwards, its green face leered at me from shop windows, beckoned to me from the parcel shelves in parked cars, vamped me from newsvendors wherever I went. Often I weakened and would begin scratching around in my money pocket. Then I would remember what I would find inside its packed pages and would hurry on my way. I could not… definitely not… bear any more glowing tributes to a certain rear-propelled machine from either you or fanatical owners.

“No car can be that good!” I snarled at my wife and two-year-old daughter. “Of course not, darling,” cooed my wife. “Now eat your toast before it gets cold.” “Bah!” I exploded, and rushed out to hurl my unoffending Standard Ten in valve-popping vexation at the first beetle shape that crossed my path.

Some American poet, I believe it was, said: “Iffen yuh can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Three months ago, I joined ’em. I traded-in a bewildered Prefect for an insulting price and, with eyes lowered beneath its blank chromium-plated gaze, drove quickly out of the showroom … in a “thing.” At first, friends laughed. Then they saw I was serious, and they shook their heads. The family were frigidly polite, as though I’d rushed off and married a foreigner.

And me? I was the happiest man on four independently-sprung wheels. Sir, a car can be that good. A car is that good. A recent trip of 430 miles with wife, child and luggage, in the comfortable driving time of 8 hours and 35 minutes is all the proof I needed. For practical reasons, I can only suppose, the Standard Ten and Ford Prefect (the last two cars I owned) are included in the same class as the VW… “same number of wheels and cylinders, old man,” as an affable, but unsuccessful, salesman said once to me. And d’you know, he’s right. They have got the same number of wheels and cylinders, which only serves to make the mystery deeper. It must be the German advertising that’s better!

I’m buying Motor Sport again now. But confound it, can’t you give a little more space to the VW! Let me tell you about my experiences with this superb little car. One day, I was…

I am, Yours, etc.,

V. J. Williams

Durban.

[Come to think of it, quite a number of my friends have recently bought “things”; one of them has just obtained his second “beetle.” — Ed.]

***

Replica Veterans

Sir,

I cannot agree with Mr. Hargreaves that you are being “a little harsh” about America’s ready-made veterans. I do think, though, that there is nothing to get excited or upset about. This isn’t the first, or the silliest, futile idea to come to our ears from across the Atlantic. Veteran and vintage enthusiasts dwell on a superior mental level to “the rest,” and if the trend should spread to England it would be dismissed by them as the merest idiocy.

Mr. Hargreaves’ arguments are, in any case, completely off the point.

First of all, rebuilding is usually carried out with the aid of more than the “original crankcase and chassis members.” Parts are occasionally even obtained from another original of the same make.

As far as furniture, paintings and architecture are concerned, it is only the don’t care or don’t know people who indulge voluntarily in reproductions. I would go to Blenheim, Stratford, or the Louvre to see originals, if I could afford it, but I wouldn’t travel a yard to see a copy, as such. And was anybody terribly interested in the replica Mayflower’s sailing of the Atlantic? There is far more interest to be found in the Sail Training Race, which is carried out in ships which have weathered a few more years and seas than the modern Mayflower, and which are also doing a genuine job of work. The inclusion, as examples, in Mr. Hargreaves’ letter of replicas of Wright’s biplane, etc., is just ridiculous.

The existence of replicas is not likely to increase interest in originals, for the simple reason that the only interest they are likely to arouse will be in a completely different type of person to one who is filled with a potential interest in, and love of, genuine old cars.

Finally, with all due respect to the Editor, the last 12/50 will outlive him by many years, as I am sure he will be the first to agree. The whole point is that a genuine veteran or vintage car, whether rebuilt or not, has, to the right owner a je ne sais quoi which makes it priceless. If it should be sold the owner loses more than a mere possession. The American possessor of a replica veteran will be fortunate in being able to trade in his new-old car as often as his TV set.

I am, Yours, etc.,

C. J. West (Mrs.)

B.F.P.O., Cyprus.

***

The Trojan O.C. and Mr. Howell

Sir,

I feel sure that all members of the Trojan Owners’ Club were very pleased to read of the efforts of Mr. John Howell (who is not a member) in various competitive events around the country. His rear-engined Trojan saloon is not a model that has previously appealed to the sporting driver, the 1927 tourer of Gp. Capt. Scroggs or the Utility of Miss Stocken being the more widely known types for these events.

As readers of the article on Trojans which I wrote for Motor Sport will know, the R.E. didn’t come into production until 1930, therefore, quite correctly, rear-engined Trojans are not “vintage,” nor have they the market value of the earlier types, as the Club has very few new spares for them and most replacements have to be made from broken cars. [1930 cars do count as vintage. — Ed.]

However Mr. Howell, in his letter in the October issue, forgets this point in assuring us a Trojan is only worth £10. He paid £20 for two R.E.s, one in perfect condition, the other more suitable for restoration or breaking.

In a conversation I had with him at the time he bought the cars, he averred that if one paid £10 for a car (which I agree is a reasonable price for a runable car requiring restoration) and then spent £50 rebuilding it, plus, possibly, several months of labour, then the market price should still be £10!

No amount of argument would convince him that such a policy would lead members into economic ruin and I came to the conclusion, that for a car dealer, he had a set of wonderfully high principles.

Almost at the same time however, as his letter appeared in Motor Sport, he wrote offering the “left overs” of his R.E. purchase (a car with tyres and battery u.s.) for £13 10s. 0d., although “the car is not worth £10” according to him. The prices at which Tourer and Utility cars, and also vans, are changing hands at present are as follows:

Vans 1930/40, neglected … £1-£5 (No pre-1930 vans have yet come to light).

Vans, good condition … £7-£10

Cars, as found, requiring extensive restoration … £2-£5

Cars, in running order but requiring things like hoods, better tyres, upholstery repairs, and paint, minor body repairs, etc. … £15-£20

Restored cars, depending on engine condition and general finish … £30-£70

In his article “Cars I have Owned” published in the November issue, however, Mr. Howell’s ghastly secret is revealed.

He is so busy running down Trojans generally that it obviously hasn’t occurred to him that his own is in a very sick and weary state.

By a curious coincidence the principal speaker at this year’s Club dinner was the secretary to the managing director of Trojan Ltd. One of the stories she related was how as a final test on the first production model, she, with the managing director and two testers spent a weekend driving a rear-engined car up and down Porlock to make sure it was a capable hill-climber!—and I don’t think the surface was as good as it is now!

There are three other R.E. Trojans in the Club, all will cruise at 45 m.p.h. with a flat-out speed on the level about 48-50 m.p.h. If Mr. Howell dislikes Trojans so much why does he run one ? Surely it would be better to sell it (at £10 of course) to a Trojan enthusiast who will look after the car and thus enable it to attain its proper performance—and also grease the chain so that it sounds like over-ripe strawberries and not ball bearings falling into a jade bowl!

I was interested to learn there are more Trojans in Devon and Cornwall than anywhere else, as our lists show only one owner out of both counties and he does most of his driving in a post-war Trojan van!

Rear-engined cars, due to their ply and fabric bodies, are particularly prone to rot and insect life if neglected, added to which they do not lend themselves so readily to cross-country events due to the lower ground clearance. Therefore, in sound mechanical and structural order it does not look as if their value will rise above the £20 to £25 level.

I am, Yours. etc.,

Derrick Graham, Hon. Treasurer T.O.C. & Competition Secretary

Redhill.

[The above letter was submitted to Mr. Howell, who replies as follows: “Mr. D. Graham’s views on the price of Trojans are of a more professional nature than my own. I must admit that I had not considered the possibility of selling one of these quaint mechanical jokes for such large sums. but then I am not a committee member and my cars are not of historical interest. The fact that I was only able to sell my other Trojan for £9 despite offering it to the Trojan Motor Mart at considerably below their advertised rates (with a special reduction for non-members), does seem to bear out my original contention.

“Mr. Graham also remarked that Trojans are sporting. Those who laughed at my undignified circuits of Silverstone at this year’s V.S.C.C. meeting may care to take this up in writing, but I suggest we save it up until next year and have a good turn-out of Trojans, when I shall try to show that far from being in poor health and neglected, my car will outrun any that the T.O.C. can produce.”]

***

Anyone Got a Conscience?

Sir,

I have just returned from a wet but utterly happy drive in the James & Browne to Brighton. My return has been saddened by the discovery that during the day the mascot and radiator cap had been stolen from VJ 6575, my 3½-litre Bentley, parked in Exhibition Road, S.W.7.

The mascot was a Trojan’s head and was valued by me more than almost anything I had. It was the personal mascot of a great gentleman who drove and cared for my Bentley for some 250,000 miles. Is there any appeal that can possibly succeed—I would go to any measure to get it back? I wonder if the thief knows what he has done to me and to the relatives of a past enthusiast—this day. I think he does not.

What can I do? Can your columns help me? I do hope so.

I am, Yours, etc.,

N. P. W. Moore

London, S.W.15.

[If anyone knows anything of this mascot we can forward letters to Mr. Moore. — Ed.]

***

Opinions on the Peugeot 203

Sir,

“Oh, Mr. Boddy,” what a contradictory magazine Motor Sport is sometimes. I refer to “D. S. J.’s” article “Paris Weekend” in the November issue and to your road-test report of a Peugeot 203 in the October 1955 edition.

“D. S. J.” says the 203 he tested gave a ride over one particularly wavy section of road that was prehistoric, as was the very small and seemingly cramped interior. Two points you particularly praise (and there were many) in your road-test report of this excellent car were the direct opposite to the above. I quote from your test: “The ride is exceptionally comfortable, etc., pitching and road shock are practically absent. The Peugeot could carry seven adults if called upon to do so, and leg and head room is generous… This Peugeot covers ground most effectively, the sense of spaciousness it imparts to those travelling in it enhancing their pleasure…, etc., which could be mistaken in respect of comfort and roominess for a 2-litre.”

I hope “W. B.” and “D. S. J.” do not argue too much about this between themselves! Anyway, thank you very much for your excellent road-test report; if it had not been for this I might never have bought one. It is everything you said it to be, “W. B.”; I suspect “D. S. J.” was just padding out his article—perhaps he gets paid by the word.

My own experience with a 203 started two years ago, when I acquired one that had covered 15,000 miles. The car has been practically faultless in 57,000 miles; still very young for a Peugeot. I doubt if any other family saloon of similar engine size bears comparison, even the rear-engined vehicle “W. B.” uses, which, in spite of its wonderful reputation, has a rather cramped interior.

I am, Yours. etc.,

Ian C. Byrom

Withington.

[Mr. Byrom expresses the hope that “W. B.” and ” D. S. J.” will not argue too much between themselves. Mr. Byrom, no-one argues with the Continental Correspondent! The fact is that “D. S. J.” tried a Peugeot 203 for a few miles whereas our road-test covered 622 miles, but, apart from that, standards change with time and three years ago the Peugeot 203 may have seemed a more outstanding car than is the case today. We recall arriving home from Oxford in 1949 in the then-new Morris Minor and enthusing over it as one of the finest of the small cars. Today, the Morris Minor 1000 impresses us as good but by no means outstanding. — Ed.]

***

Buying a Rolls-Royce

Sir,

I have too many vintage cars at the moment, and in my recent efforts to sell my Rolls-Royce Twenty limousine I answered an advertisement in the Personal column of a prominent Sunday newspaper. This resulted in a derisory “blind” offer, and I have since seen the same advertisement in The Daily Telegraph many times, making it evident that the cost of advertising must be enormous to the person concerned. Readers of Motor Sport who have seen this “Rolls wanted” advertisement will realise this and ponder on the reason. The advertiser may, of course, hope to buy ridiculously cheaply, saving more than the cost of his efforts, or he may have, reading between the lines, less worthy motives. Maybe I am unduly harsh in my judgment, but the acquisition of one car for one’s own use should not require ten or a dozen adverts!

I am, Yours, etc.,

Arnold S. Lewis

Neath.

***

Support of “Ironmongery”

Sir,

In reply to Mr. C. H. Haworth’s letter in your October issue referring to Armstrong Siddeleys, I do not see why he should use the Ford as his scapegoat, and I would like to say a few words in defence of the “low-class ironmongery” which he calls the Ford car.

Although I don’t know a great deal about Armstrong Siddeleys, I have some knowledge of Fords. His remark that any “poor little side-valve Ford just scraping 39 b.h.p. at revolutions which give it a maximum life of 10,000 to 15,000 miles (if you are lucky)” is not accurate. My own Anglia had the full Willment treatment and has now covered 15,000 miles and produces nearly 69 b.h.p. This car has been in many competitions this season, and is driven hard daily, but there is still plenty of life in the engine, and it has been constantly held at 6,000 revs. and over.

May I also suggest Mr. Haworth reads the Editor’s remarks in the October issue on the Alpine Zephyr, one of the sister cars I have personally driven, and fully enhance Mr. Boddy’s statements, and he will see that people do spend good money on trying, and succeeding without doubt, to make these “pieces of low-class ironmongery” go fast.

I am, Yours, etc.,

G. H. Colling

Dagenham.

***

Scientists’ Squabble

Sir,

We read with some trepidation the correspondence in the November issue of Motor Sport on the subject of molybdenum disulphide from Mr. R. N. Gunn, in which he refers to the earlier remarks of Mr. Vineall. Unfortunately, we missed Mr. Vineall’s letter, but., from what has been inferred to date, we are reasonably certain that their information on molybdenized lubricants is sadly lacking.

To quote Mr. H. Peter Jost, M.I.Mech.E., M.A.S.M.E., one of the leading authorities in this field, who has written a number of widely read papers, we give the following extract:

“Since molybdenum disulphide has become a vogue, and since the mime is not protected in any way, products are marketed containing only an infinitesimally small amount of molybdenum disulphide. I have tested materials recommended to be added to the engine oil which contained as little as .1 per cent., but containing a good deal of chlorinated and sulplurised products. Such practice may well bring the effectiveness of molybdenum disulphide into disrepute.

“In general. a molybdenum disulphide engine compound should contain no less than 4 per cent. of MoS2 and should be mixed into the engine at rates varying from one-twentieth to one-fortieth.”

From the foregoing it will be obvious even to the layman that the resultant compound must be black or dark grey. We take the liberty of quoting Mr. Jost again, where he gives some cogent pointers to would-be users of molybdenised compounds when he goes on to say:—

“It is important to ascertain that the MoS2 (found in altered granite) employed for the preparation of motor car compounds is of a purity of at least 99 per cent. Unless it is sufficiently purified it may well cause abrasion and it is quite feasible that badly refined MoS2 could contain silicas or ferrous salts, etc.

“Molybdenum disulphide has a specific gravity of nearly five. The oil to which it is added is under one; therefore, unless the particle size is sufficiently small (under ¾ micron) and unless it is sufficiently finely dispersed the MoS2 may clog filters or oil holes. Products sold in tins which have to be pierced with a screwdriver should be watched, as in this case the majority of the molybdenum disulphide may well have settled on the bottom of the tin, allowing only a small amount of dispersed material to reach the engine. Whilst this is in no way dangerous little advantage is gained by the engine from a coloured oil. Motorists will be well advised to remove the bottom of the tin and ascertain the degree of sedimentation.”

We are pleased to claim that our product Auto-Moly complies in all respects with the “Jost specification” in that it is certainly 99 per cent. pure, and a recently developed quasi-air flotation method ensures a particle size of under ½ micron. Auto-Moly contains no less than 5 per cent, of this finely micronated, pure MoS2 and is marketed in tins with screw caps. Finally, its colour is… you’ve guessed it—black! Used as directed it will undoubtedly treble engine life, and is fast becoming accepted by high performance folk as the complete answer to marginal bearing loads and complete reliability.

I am, Yours, etc.,

W. J. Holloway, Sales Manager, Charham Products Ltd.

London, W.3.

[This correspondence is now closed.]

***

Yimkin

Sir,

We should like to rectify an error on page 760 of November’s Motor Sport where you say that Osborne’s Morris Minor has “Impken Eng.” manifoding etc. We should like to point out that we are “Yimken” Eng. and although we have had many and varied interpretations of the word, it is, in fact, a fine old Arabic word meaning engineering.

I am, Yours, etc.,

A. J. D. Sim

East Croydon, Surrey.

***

Satisfied Vauxhall Owners

Sir,

I have read with interest the letters from Capt. Walsh and Mr. Best in your recent issues. I, too, have a Victor Super and found that my engine was getting noisy after 5,000 miles of careful running. I was told by the agents that it would get quieter after about 9,000 miles or so. After 11,000 miles it was a lot worse and I again complained to the agents who were most concerned and agreed to take the engine down for inspection. True to their word Messrs. Collins and Simpson, Fakenham had the car in and dismantled the engine, Vauxhalls were contacted and they were authorised to do anything to put the car right. Accordingly, new pistons, rings, etc., were fitted with the result that the engine is running perfectly.

I cannot praise the service given by these agents too highly, as, not only did they collect and deliver the car (32 miles each way) but also returned it with a full tank of petrol, at no cost to me whatever. Truly remarkable service indeed!

I would advise Mr. Best to watch the greasing of his car himself as some service stations are not too reliable in this respect. The exhaust system is about the world’s worst, and I intend fitting a conversion set manufactured by Performance Equipment Co.

I am very satisfied with my Victor and can only assume that your correspondents have been unlucky, so I do not intend to take Mr. Best’s advice and “sell out.” I have owned cars since 1930.

I am, Yours, etc.,

W. Sillis

Fakenham.

Sir,

In reply to your correspondent Mr. Ronald Best who severely criticised the Vauxhall Victor in last month’s Motor Sport, I’d suggest that he has given a somewhat distorted picture of a first class motor car in the 1½-litre class. Bearing in mind that he may have been one of those unlucky persons who purchased an inferior edition of any particular make of car, I think it is totally unfair to give the impression that the faults which he has experienced are in any way of a universal nature with other Victors.

I have had a Victor Super since June, 1957, and to date have “clocked” 22,000 miles much of which has been done at high speed (70 m.p.h.). Having covered such a mileage in all kinds of weather, and on various types of terrain, I have nothing but praise for this car. Incidentally when driving really hard, I find that wind noise is remarkably quiet (possibly due to the body design) and that the engine is as flexible as any in its class. I’d advise Mr. Best to use his gears correctly and pay more attention to his plugs, etc.

My only criticism of the car was that the back of the front seat was raked too much. However, on investigation I discovered that by removing the distance pieces from the underside of the leading edge of this seat the driving position was enhanced tremendously.

In conclusion, let me point out that I am in no way connected with the Vauxhall Company, but would strongly recommend the Victor as an ideal little car, robustly constructed and extremely economical to run (40 m.p.g.).

Indeed, my praise for this car is well substantiated by the latest export figures.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Robert Bell

Edinburgh.

***

Alcohol Fuel in Racing

Sir,

During the 1958 season three highly skilled British drivers lost their lives while motor racing, one as a result of head injuries, the other two from shock following severe and extensive burns. The injuries of the one, Mr. P. Collins, were not complicated by burns and were of such a nature that no hope of his recovery could be entertained; but those of the other two, Mr. A. Scott-Brown and Mr. S. Lewis-Evans, should be the subject of deep and serious thought on the part of everyone interested in and connected with motor racing.

I do not know the cause of Mr. Scott-Brown’s crash, but that leading up to the death of the Vanwall driver has been reported as being due to engine failure causing the car to get out of control, crash, and the fuel to catch fire. This was, indeed, a most dreadful thing, and one that should be prevented from happening again so far as is possible.

Whatever the cause, this unfortunate driver would have had a much better chance of avoiding such severe burns had the fuel been one containing alcohol, and not the aviation petrol as laid down in the 1958 regulations. Indeed, if such had been the case, he may not have crashed at all. I therefore propose to deal first with the probable reason for the alleged engine failure.

It has been said that the modern G.P. car engine no longer requires the beneficial internal cooling effects of alcohol in order to enhance its reliability. This I cannot accept. The indisputable fact is that every I.C. engine is less liable to suffer mechanical breakdown when using an alcohol fuel. Thus, from the opening of the 1958 season, drivers were faced with the additional risk of a crash resulting from sudden and serious engine failure directly attributable to the use of petrol, and this may well have been the case here. Of course, cars have crashed through engine failure when alcohol fuels were used; but in many cases this was brought about by the extreme stresses imposed by the absurdly high compression ratios or supercharge pressures used.

Contrary to popular belief, the most dangerous fuel is not the oxygen-bearing type, the so-called “witches’ brew” or “liquid dynamite”; it is aviation or light petrol, and the risk of disastrous and tragic fire is greatest when petrol is used because of its high volatility. Petrol ignites with explosive force, and almost instantaneously the fire becomes an inferno, reducing the chances of rescue and survival to a minimum. On the other hand, alcohol ignites without violence, burns with a smaller flame, and at a slower rate of spread, thus allowing the driver a considerably better chance of escape.

During the next few weeks, controversy will rage over the new G.P. formula and, no doubt, its critics will draw heavily on their arsenal of invective when attacking the F.I.A. I respectfully suggest that not only the F.I.A., but the fuel companies and the motor racing fraternity as a whole, first give this petrol-only danger their undivided attention. Tragic accidents have an unpleasant habit of occurring again.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Dr. Joseph Bayley

London, S.E.7.

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