Letters from readers, February 1930

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Letters from readers on any subject are always welcome but they should be as brief as possible.

English and Foreign Sports Cars.

Sir,

I am delighted to notice that MOTOR SPORT in its new form is giving a proper showing to foreign sports cars. British manufacturers require to be shaken up, by comparing such cars as the Mercedes and the Stutz with the British large car which seemed unable to hold the road at all in Ulster last year.

In the medium capacities we are slightly better catered for by the 3-litre Lagonda and M.G. Six. What a pity that Bentleys have ceased to make their old model which really did go, and held the road like a leech.

In the 1,500 c.c. class there is no British made car to touch the Alfa Romeo, but from your road test the Aston Martin sounds a promising rival. I hope we may soon have a test of the Italian car, also of the latest edition of the old speedman’s favourite, the Bugatti.

A. T. Stamford.

Stamina of Small Engines.

Sir,

I notice with interest the increasing size of the sports car, reaching its climax in the Mercedes, Double Six Daimler, Duesenberg and now the sixteen cylinder annnounced as appearing at the New York Show.

At present I own a fast 6-cylinder touring car of just over 3 litre capacity, but have been tempted to change it for a high efficiency 1,500 c.c. machine, offered me at a reasonable figure. I know that the car, which is a year old, has been driven hard but well looked after, but in view of the tendency towards bigger engines, am wondering whether a 1½ litre would be much use after the mileage it has had. My work entails frequent journeys to the midlands and to counties further north and I should give the car full throttle when an open road presented itself. I should be very grateful if any of your readers who use a small car for this class of work can advise me as to the durability I can expect, how soon the first overhaul would be needed and any other figures of interest.

J. B. F. St. Albans.

The Road Testing of Cars.

Sir,

May I begin by expressing an opinion that MOTOR SPORT supplies a long standing want to the motoring public. In spite of the growth of utility motoring and that greater menace to motoring as a sport, the pseudo-sports car (such lovely colours, such a loud exhaust note and a speed of quite 55 m.p.h. !), there are some of us left to whom ” the sport” means competition on two or four wheels–I beg your pardon—two, three or four wheels.

Apart from technical articles, the road testing of cars will, I hope, receive as much space as ever. The average man has little opportunity of knowing the capabilities of the majority of cars : even a study of racing results can give only one side of the story. I hope then that you will use your best endeavour to give unbiassed reports of such cars as come under your notice. No one realizes better than myself that such a policy may lead to friction, but I believe I am correct when I say that the “no offence at any price” policy which seems universal in motor journalism is played out. Purely destructive criticism is out of place anywhere but a paper having the reputation for the truth will not deceive its readers nor be troubled with the inferior products of the motor industry. Inferior products exist and no one knows it better than the makers themselves : one cannot expect the same from two 1½ litre cars with a guaranteed speed of 75 m.p.h. When one costs £760 and the other £400: one is a car for life, the other for a season.

May I also express a hope that you will make a feature of racing on the Continent, a field which is insufficiently covered by any other journal in this country.

Hoping you will take these remarks in the same spirit in which they are made.

MARTIN LEIGH.

The Ultra-Light Plane.

Sir,

Although greatly interested in the article written by Mr. Tinson printed in your January issue apropos the ultra-light plane, he touches upon a number of points which, to me, appear debatable. He is certainly correct in saying that “the number of suitable engines of about 30 h.p. which can be purchased for less than £127, is very small,” whatever the reason. As a fact, one is aware that an “opposed twin” aero engine is marketed at the figure he quotes, beyond which one’s choice is somewhat limited, for the simple reason that there are no more to choose from.

The modification of 4-cylinder motor cycle engines to meet the requirements is a pretty hopeless proposition, even though it has been done in some few instances. Such engines must run at their ” peak ” all the time, and at a crankshaft speed entailing enormous airscrew velocity, as reduction gears are out of the question. High airscrew speed means inefficiency. Apart from which, the all important factor of reliability, so necessary in an aero engine, is conspicuous by its absence. It is far better and infinitely safer to design your engine with its ultimate service conditions in view from the outset.

The aeroplane as outlined is good, but the advocated construction, particularly of the wings, has no apparent advantage over more conventional methods of construction. As proposed they would scarcely be simpler or cheaper to build than normal twin spar fabric covered planes, and they would undoubtedly be heavier. Strutting the planes would save weight, as those of cantilever design are usually heavier per square foot of surface.

Mr. Tinson’s most impracticable paragraph is his last, regarding materials. An aeroplane is a pretty useless possession unless one is permitted to fly it. Careful reading of an up-to-date set of the Air Navigation Directions discloses the fact that an aircraft must be certified airworthy before it is flown, and a number of conditions must be observed before this certificate is issued. One of these conditions entails the use of approved materials in the aircraft structure, and these are, generally speaking, procurable only through the aircraft industry. This may be a worthy safeguard against failures in the air, which, though unattended by disaster, the writer once found to be definitely frightening.

In any case, a machine has just been marketed at £400, embodying tried and conventional methods of construction, and equipped with an approved aero engine—the same unit previously referred to, costing £127. Thus, the aircraft price is almost exactly comparable with Mr. Tinson’s projected craft. But most important is the fact that it will be certified airworthy by the Air Ministry, and one may therefore use the aircraft ” without let or hindrance.”

With best wishes for a great success to the new and very much improved MOTOR SPORT.

FRANCOIS KAPPÉ.

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Owing to pressure in our columns, a number of interesting letters have been unavoidably held over in this issue.—Ed.

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