Readers' letters, December 1983, December 1983

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Jaguar’s US appeal

Sir,

As an Englishman presently living here in California, I was very interested to read your article “Jaguar — On the way back” in the September issue of your, seemingly, eternally excellent magazine. I took particular note of your reference to the delight of the American public in seeing Bob Tullius lying second in the IMSA championship in the XJR-5 Jaguar (or the “big cat” as it is called here).

My motor racing is confined to watching the odd race, and following events through the various periodicals such as yours (30 years plus). One race I did catch earlier this year was the Riverside round of the IMSA Camel GT Series — both practice and race-day. I was amazed at the degree of interest focussed on the XJR-5 in the paddock following practice, standing room only, two and three deep around the car. (Reminded me of the debut day evening of the E-type all those years ago, when I thought I’d stroll down Piccadilly to the Jaguar showrooms for a first glance at the new model — only to find that about 500 other people had apparently had the same idea before me)) It was the same on race day. You could sense the enthusiasm and excitement in the crowd around you — willing the Jaguar on. People stood and cheered when the car came round on the warm-up and early race laps, almost it seemed as a mark of respect.

The message to me here is loud and clear. The section of the great American motoring public that is knowledgeable about cars, has an enormous respect and affection for the Jaguar name, and they really want to see the marque return to the glories of its illustrious heritage. With the recent long-overdue gains in reliability now well established and publicised, the X J-S today represents the ultimate in value-for-money in the luxury sporting car market in America.

I am convinced that the time — and emotion — is now right for a no-holds-barred onslaught by Jaguar on both the American luxury car market, and the mid-price range sports car market, following the demise of Triumph and MG as sole British representatives at the cheaper end of this bracket. A factory sponsored racing programme is essential for “brand image projection”, remember, advertising is a major industry in the USA. Even just to appear at Le Mans in 1984 or ’85 would demonstrate to the world that Jaguar is back, and must result in enhanced sales. Success at Le Mans would seriously challenge the domination that Porsche have achieved over the years in this market, judging by the number of these cars on the roads here in Southern California.

What car do I drive? A 1980 Triumph TR7 convertible — which I can honestly say is the most pleasurable material possession I have ever owned. Mine being a reasonably late version has the Bosch Electronic fuel-injection system, electronic ignition and 5-speed gearbox — and is a total delight to drive. But what do I buy next if I want a reasonably priced sports car?

California is good sports car country — warm climate and some super mountain roads (generally with little evidence of Highway Patrol, etc). There is a Big Market here for a good medium-priced -soft-top” sports car of British heritage — but it must be reliable and well-supported in the field. The market is wide open at this point. Mr Egan, I shall need my F-Type in 1985, please.

Anaheim, Calif. Mark Ransome

Noble Achievement

Sir

I would like to congratulate Richard Noble, the Midland businessman who has achieved the World Land Speed record after beating the 622.4 mph set 13 years ago by American Gary Gabelich.

Driving the All Bntish Thrust 2 he achieved 633.6 mph on the desolate dry lake bed of the Black Rock Desert.

My congratulations also go to two hundred British companies who had put up £1.5 million to back the venture keeping in mind it has taken nine years of endeavour by all concerned — Good Old Britain.

I am deeply surprised at the amount of confusion over the record set by Gary Gabelich in 1970 at Bonneville Utah in his car “Blue Flame”. The Guinness Book of Car Facts and Feats, edited by Anthony Harding, states 630.38 mph and several cuttings from magazines also state 630.388 mph, even the magazine Old Motor Sept. 1979 issue) who did a comprehensive feature on record breakers has a table of speeds with “Blue Flame” credited at 630.38.

I would be interested to know where so many people got this speed of 630 mph from.

Tamworth, P. A. T. Albutt

[The Gabelich record of 630.388 mph was for flying Kilometre, which Noble failed to beat by 1 per cent.]

Ridiculous F1 rules

Sir,

I have been watching Grand Prix racing for nearly 30 years, and in that time there have been some pretty silly regulations from time to time, but the proposed fuel limits must take the prize for the most stupid. Here we are in the middle of an exciting change to turbo engines, with race power outputs of up to 640 bhp, and no ground effects, so the cars slide a bit and look unwell as sound powerful, and now EISA want to cut the tank capacity to 42½ gallons by 1985, to reduce power levels to around 550 bhp assuming pits stops are banned. They might as well have banned turbocharged engines as well, because the fuel limitation will wipe out nearly all the progress made in power outputs by the advent of the turbo engine.

Of course I understand that EISA are nudging engine designers towards fuel economy gains / increased efficiency, which is of course the “in thing” due to the oil running out, possible Mid-East war, etc! But we are talking about the highest form of motor racing — not an economy run. If I wanted to watch the latter I would spectate at the Mobil event.

By 1985 under the proposed regulations, we could be seeing the best drivers, that is the ones who use the power over more of the circuit, regularly running out of fuel after leading nearly all the way. Also the ridiculous memory of Bell and Ida having to slow down to cruising speed and losing the 1982 1,000 Kns race at Silverstone (due to fuel shortage) springs to mind.

Beeston, Notts, K. P. Town

Whitehall nonsense

Sir,

May I respectfully submit that if the Government refuses to increase the speed limits on our motorways and other public roads, or if it refuses to abolish such speed limits altogether, the law will once again be brought into disrepute? We have already seen how the seat belt regulations have been widely ignored with few prosecutions to bring offenders to correction. Solely on the grounds that any rule, regulation or law which is or becomes unenforceable by virtue of disobedience by those to whom the law applies, then the rule of law itself is undermined and, in extreme cases, leads to complete breakdown of the bonds which should in the first instance hold society together. Such a law is necessarily bad and either becomes obsolete or should be repealed as is required by our constitution and judicial process.

Thankfully, times are changing and there is much evidence to suggest that members of the enlightened motoring public are no longer prepared to put up with Whitehall nonsense.

Finally, may all readers of your splendid motoring journal pledge their whole-hearted support in the fight against what I have chosen to call Whitehall Nonsense? Hereford, R. L. Meredith, BA (Hons) Law

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