Letters from Readers, February 1946

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Sir,
We should like to correct the report of the Bristol speed trials in your December issue.

Our Mr. S. H. Allard did not drive “a touring-bodied Ford V8,” but an open 4-seater Mercury-engined Allard. This car, which he uses on the road every day, is the actual car which we built for the ill-fated 1939 Show. It ran fully equipped, even to the extent of having its full-sized windscreen raised, and its time, the third fastest of the day irrespective of class, we consider very creditable.

Actually, the car was entered in the sports car class, but, for some reason as yet unknown, its time was not registered as in this class. Had this been done it would obviously have been the fastest sports car.
I am, Yours, etc,
H. L. BIGGS,
Adlards Motors,
Publicity and Advertising Dept.
London, S.W.6.

Sir,
I have just observed Cpl. Allen’s letter suggesting a vintage motor-cycle club, and I feel that this is something long overdue.

Conversations I have had with many of the two-wheeled brigade lead me to believe that enthusiasm for old machines is no less than that of the car enthusiasts and, if the club be formed, I can vouch, for the support of many friends.

After reading the concluding paragraphs of your article “Where Are They Now?” I feel I must add a hearty “hear, hear.” After many years abroad, this is a bleak country to find on my return, where motoring is suppressed to a far greater extent than I had anticipated. It is very gratifying to observe that the vintage cult goes on with greater vigour than before the war. And this is very greatly due to the unflagging efforts of Motor Sport.

In conclusion, I should like to express my gratitude for the never-failing arrival of Motor Sport, often to very remote and inaccessible parts of the world.

It has been my good fortune to acquire copies of your book dating back to 1924, and reading these evokes great nostalgia; far from qualifying for the title of Vintage and Veteran Gazette,I feel we cannot have too much space devoted to real motor cars.

With all good wishes for the coming season.
I am, Yours, etc.,
H. G. Hanmer.
London, E.5.

Sir,
Circa 1935, my brother and I prepared and raced a Montlhèry M.G. at Donington. Our rivals were M.G., Austin and Ford. The expense of this racing was moderate, and great were the sport and experience of it. Stoppage of beer for a week would buy a replacement for last week’s crankshaft.

Thinking of such things and reading again about m.p.h. in Motor Sport, after a year of nothing but knots on a destroyer, I make the following suggestions for racing on the small road courses, such as Donington and Crvstal Palace.

The representatives of the 750-c.c. class, M.G. and “Ulster” Austin, are now suffering from Anno Domini, and in amateur racing the class should be replaced by one of 900 c.c. This capacity would allow 850-c.c. engines to be bored out and over-900-c.c. engines to be linered down, thus embracing many more engines of different types.

Pump fuel only would be allowed and other factors could be normalised to avoid expense.

The idea allows excellent racing with the minimum of danger, and would constitute that first step in motor racing which is so difficult to tread and yet so important. Very rigid scrutineering of cars and certain compulsory items, as special brake linings and high-tensile bolts, would be necessary. A further class, fitted with proprietary blowers, could be considered later.

Maximum speed probably would not rise above 90 m.p.h. in the unblown class; to those who say this speed is too slow to lure spectators I say that speed is relative, and the artistry of Turner in the blown “Ulster” Austin always made Donington a worthy spectacle.
I am, Yours, etc.,
M. S. H. (Surgeon-Lt., R.N.V.R.).
H.M.S. Mayina.

Sir,
Replying to your correspondent Mr. C. Bunbury, re Citroens: Yes, I have had a near-side front tyre burst at about 60 m.p.h. and, apart from the fact that the cover was torn to ribbons, the car did not deviate from its course at all, and I had not the slightest difficulty in pulling up safely.

Citroens are notoriously heavy on front tyres, especially if they are driven at all hard and, judging from the number of them I see being driven practically “on the air” of the front tyres, I should think many people must have found out how they behave when a tyre bursts.

Mr. Bunbury is right in thinking that the gear change was improved in the later models, although it will be recalled that in my recent article on the Citroen a point I mentioned was the need for improvement at this point.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Pat Whittet.
Lightwater, Surrey.

Sir,
When attending the recent Rembrandt meeting I was extremely sorry to note that no definite arrangements were made for a continuation of this series, which have become so popular during the war. Apart from their war-time value, however, I feel there is a very strong case indeed for their continuation in times of peace.

The average motor club, while it may do excellent work, does not achieve the immense breadth of subjects which the Rembrandt meetings have covered, and I do not think it possible that any one. club could satisfactorily do so. There is further a tendency, which will become increasingly obvious as the petrol ration increases, to want to drive cars and not to discuss and to learn about them.

If Mr. Rivers Fletcher could be persuaded to continue the Rembrandt meetings, perhaps only during the winter months, I feel that he would be doing an immense service to the Sport by causing everyone to stop and think, and by increasing the knowledge of the many enthusiasts who were too young to have any active interest in the Sport before the war.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Graham C. Dix
Birmingham, 14.

Sir,
I was very interested indeed in your article ” Where Are They Now?” concerning the whereabouts of veteran racing cars, and I thought that you might like to know that the future of still another of these fine old cars is assured, at least for the length of my life. I refer to the 1914 Grand Prix Opel, sister car to Mavrogordato’s, which I bought in 1943 from Shortt.

When I took possession of the car it was in the last stages of dilapidation and so I stripped it down to the last nut and bolt. I was pleased to find that there is nothing irreparably broken, and at present all the parts are safely stored away awaiting my demobilisation, when I shall proceed to assemble them, a job which I think that I can do in about a year of working in my spare time.

Since joining the R.A.F. I have met Mavrogorda to and, after comparing our respective cars with the photograph in Segrave’s book, we came to the conclusion that my car was actually the one raced by Segrave in the early 1920’s. This is borne out by the fact that my car has a lengthened chassis, a shell with a pointed tail and triple Hartfords at the rear, whereas Mavrogordato’s machine is in its original Grand Prix form, with a cylindrical bolster tank. I intend to rebuild mine in its original condition, as the chassis frame will be quite easy to shorten down to its old length and I have the advantage of having Mavrogordato’s car to copy.

There are two modifications which I shall have to make. One is the fitting of two separate Bosch magnetos in place of the original twin-spark job, which is lost and, I imagine, is irreplaceable. The second is the fitting of a Rolls-Royce gear change mechanism in place of the original which is a very shoddy job and guaranteed to lock solid if the chassis whips, due to parking on uneven ground. Apart from this, the car will be strictly in its 1914 form, and I am greatly looking forward to motoring round the countryside on that delightful top gear ratio of 2.75 to 1.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Brian Morgan (F/Lt., R.A.F.).
B.A.F.O.

Sir,
It appears that Motor Sport’s attitude towards the return of motor racing in this country bears no relation at all to constructive criticism.

The organisers responsible for the “Bristol Sprint” feel that their efforts to provide a race meeting for the large entry of 100, with the attendant difficulties of having short daylight hours and official permission being granted five days only before scheduled closing date of entries, should have received the benefit of a report in spirit akin to that in which the meeting was held and run.

We are astonished that throughout the whole article in your December issue there is not one word of praise. The inevitable minor snags were given the fullest publicity, and the brimming enthusiasm both of competitors and spectators, who braved appalling weather conditions, was not even hinted at.

The article gave no clue that nearly 300 individual runs (170 timed) were smoothly dealt with between 10.30 a.m. and dusk at 4.30 p.m. The use of photoelectric timing and “Walkie-Talkie” radio, both new and interesting features, without which this achievement would have been impossible, were apparently of no interest either.

The B.A.C. Motor Sports Club planned this event to satisfy a demand which would otherwise have been unfulfilled, and were looking forward to organising bigger events or a similar nature next year, to which the public would be invited. They now feel that their efforts may be considerably jeopardised amongst the very people for whom such meetings are primarily run, by a discouraging report of a meeting which, it admits, was “an occasion of some importance” as the first post-war motor race meeting in this country.
I am, Yours, etc.,
John Siddall.

[We are sorry Mr. Siddall disliked our report of the B.A.C.M.S.C. sprint. As the Editor could not attend, the report was written by a contributor who has competed at pre-war events. Consequently, perhaps he was rather critical, but without criticism no improvements can be suggested. The very fact that the event was the first post-war speed trial was surely praise enough — we look forward to the next. — Ed.