Why I like "Motor Sport"

From Peter Cavanagh, “The Voice of them all”


I own a car of which type I have read no discussion, so I have no axe to grind. I do not own a vintage vehicle, so will not sing its praises—I do not own a post-war wallet-emptier, so I cannot plead poverty—I am at no violent disagreement with Mr So-and-so re his letter dated whatsit ; so I can’t write to argue. I have not discovered some magnificent veteran specimen in some forgotten chicken-run, so I can hardly be pioneering ; and while you are wondering what in combustion’s name I have bothered to write at all for, I will tell you. Just to say as a dyed-in-the-wool enthusiast how much we owe to the Editor, Motor Sport, and its subscribers ; in fact why I and so many others look forward in these disconcerting times to that journalistic ray of sunshine which rises to its zenith on the first day of each calendar month in our letter-boxes.

We open the covers and scan the pages for the “interesting” leaving the “technical” for the time when we have worked ourselves up into a more suitable state of knowledgeable defiance to so-and-so’s theory of valve lappery, or chain-drive versus steam-bicycle. “Cars I Have Owned” is always a good start, especially if one has at any time had dealings with similar vehicles, apart from many useful tips and mods at the expense of someone else’s experience (bless ’em all). Then to see what our Editor has been up to during the past month; driving other people’s motor cars with glorious abandon; usually arranging to have pouring rain all the time, so that any defects can be given the benefit of the doubt. His revs sound terrifying, but all is well, and the owner, possessed of his vehicle once more, rides away with a nonchalant air of achievement and increased potency as the sunshine is turned on again.

“Vintage Veerings” soon soothes us back into that comfy reminiscing frame of mind which goes with hard springing and polished brass radiators. We roar over the open road (in our armchairs), our eye scans the “real” dashboard with things like oil thermometers, water gauges and such like now-frowned-upon extras ; quite apart, from the fact that we suddenly feel young and skittish again.

What has “our” club been doing ? “Club Affairs” will usually tell us ; if it doesn’t, our secretary gets a rollicking which probably does him good anyway. Then “Letters from Readers.” Ah, bliss ! Don’t some folks love each other? I love the sort that start off “Sir,–I was horrified to read Mr HH’s letter on con-rods, and would hasten to inform him he is a ‘complete clot’.” Our poor old Editor comes in for barrages of abuse from time to time—in fact, no one is immune. I shall without doubt be accused of wasting good space which could be utilised to far better purpose than rambling drivel of my type. Then there is the super-enthusiast who will fight to the last drop of vaporisation in defence of the “breed” of his ownership the eternal battle between MGs and Hergs which rages to and fro with unabated fury—praise and criticism of British cars from across the Atlantic, all most instructive and wonderful fun to read. May wit and knowledge join in non-abating flow.

Last but not least, those wonderful “ads.” Many grand motor cars have changed hands via these columns and I am sure that most of us read them from beginning to end, even when we have no intention of buying or exchanging our present conveyance.

These are certainly not without humour either ; such things as “Would-be enthusiast desires sports car, will travel anywhere, see anything, must be interesting—very hard up,” or “For sale, half-assembled special ; engine good, transmission missing, body awful [Editor makes sure ‘body’ is spelt correctly]. Will sell outright, or exchange for small saloon owing to arrival of triplets. Telephone next-door neighbour between 7 and 8 pm.” Adjectives fly fast and furious. Performance is nearly always “terrific” (which according to the English Dictionary means terrifying!), “Tyres good,” batteries always seem to be “new,” “Oil consumption nil,” “All-weather equipment,” “Distance no object,” and “Ready to race”; needless to say it “Must be seen,” and finally decides “or would consider anything.” (All joking apart, however; I have found readers’ “ads” most truthful.) Book reviews are always interesting, and I would say that if you haven’t read dear old Sammy Davis’ “A Racing Motorist” you’ve missed something, and, whilst on books, Mr Editor, your “Story of Brooklands” volumes are fast becoming the enthusiast’s “Reference Bible.” [Yes, Sammy’s first book was tops.–Ed.) Good luck to Motor Sport and may all its troubles be more pages.

Ah, I almost forgot, I own a 41/2-litre 1937 Lagonda, six-cylinder. Gear ratios : top, 3.66 to 1; third, 4.76 to 1; second, 6.15 to 1; first, 11:49 to 1. Engine speeds at 30 mph : top, 1,200 ; third, 1,560 ; second, 2.010 ; first, 3,700 rpm. There ! Now I’ve gone and done it ! There’ll be a hell of an argument. Thank goodness my pen needed re-filling as I was about to write “Maximum speed . . .”

I am, Yours, etc,

Peter Cavenhagh, Orpington.

(We blush, but appreciate.—Ed.)