Letters from Readers, February 1953

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

 N.B.— Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and Motor Sport  does not necessarily associate itself with them—Ed.

 

Poske comments.. and Poske replies

Sir,

I have just received my November copy of Motor Sport and have read with interest the letter from George H. Poske.

It is with very great regret that I have to agree with his rather harsh statements regarding the British motor trade. I have a little shack for a garage and have to service almost every make of car. There is little doubt that my luckiest customers are those who possess Continental vehicles. Their repair bills are lower and their cars stay shorter in the garage owing to the availability of spares.

As you see from my letterhead I distribute Volkswagens. If import restrictions were not so fierce I would make a small fortune out of these cars. I cannot get enough. The service behind them is brilliant. The importers have three German factory representatives in our principal city, Nairobi. Before we were familiar with these vehicles, and we considered them not in top condition, we could wire for one of these men to come up, and each one knew every nut and bolt on the car. The spares position, not that these cars get through many, is also brilliant. It is to the stage of not merely stating front off-side wing, but what colour.

If the British manufacturer will get down to designing safe suspension, brakes, etc., and seeing that dust will not get into the car, and finishing their products off properly, then they might stand a chance of recapturing the market from Volkswagen, Peugeot, Fiat, etc. Whereas no one has any complaint against the higher-priced range of cars, it is also well to remember that this is a protected market at the moment, and if and when American cars become available again, Britain has no chance of selling her products here at the present price level. A Chevrolet, Kenya’s favourite, will out-sell everything, closely followed by Ford.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Peter D. Francis

Thomson’s Falls, Kenya

***

Sir,

As a motorist in East Africa who for many weary years has been trying to find a motor car capable of standing up to our Colonial conditions, may I say how perfectly George H. Poske of Lima, Peru, in his letter on page 490 of your November issue, has expressed the position as applicable to East Africa.

With the easy entry of such excellent cars as the Citroën, Peugeot, Volkswagen, Renault and Mercedes-Benz into Tanganyika, the British manufacturers are going to find it increasingly difficult to dispose of the export monstrosities that are cluttering up our roads.

If American motor cars were available, which they regrettably are not, the British vehicle would very soon vanish from the roads of this country.

Thank you for your excellent magazine, which monthly brings such joy to my heart.

I am, Yours, etc.,

P.W. Sparks

Tanganyika

***

Sir,

It was something of a shock to see the “Hard Punching from Peru” letter in your excellent magazine. I never thought you would publish it, at least not in its entirety, and I can assure you that no American magazine would do so, as they have their advertisers to think of.

I am sure that this letter will bring down a storm of abuse in the following issues, and the comments should be amusing to read, and I will be glad to debate any of the points with any of your readers.

Since writing the letter I have visited the States again and I am happy to say that more types of people are buying your excellent sports cars and so-called economy cars. The sports-car fad is reaching down to the man in the street and becoming a great deal more democratic than heretofore. It is a good trend, and I am very happy to see it.

Also, since writing the letter, Nuffield has sent Mr. Lindley, late of the Riley plant, here to supervise the service department of the Nuffield products. I have only two criticisms of Lindley, one is that he has not a bit of interest in racing, and the other is that he is not properly respectful of vintage cars, and rudely kicked the tyre of my 38/250 Merc, and wanted to know where I had acquired this hunk of iron. Also he thinks Bentleys better than the Mercs …  but that I can forgive as I dearly love the Bentleys as well as the Mercs.

Lindley has done an excellent job here, and the dealer has just completed a new shop and is stocking some parts in quantity, and I am happy to say that next to the Volkswagen people they are doing the best job of supplying service to non-U.S. cars.

Most of the other dealers, including Jaguar, are down to the point where they don’t even have a car for exhibition and if you want one you must order from England and wait. This also applies to parts in almost all cases.

Owners of some of the less popular American cars, such as Hudson, Studebaker and Nash, have also had difficulty with parts at one time or another, and I have been informed that the Studebaker factory will not sell a car here unless the dealer will purchase with the car an assortment of parts that the factory thinks necessary. If such a plan was required by your English factories I think it would do a great deal towards building up the utility of British cars.

I am very happy with my Riley but doubt that anyone else would like the car who wasn’t happy about continually tinkering with it. I note the new ones have changed that Rube Goldberg system of belts on the fan and generator, and have gone to four-wheel hydraulic like they should have years ago. The factory finally got around to putting out a heavy-duty front shock-absorber that works fine. It is the fourth set of “shocks” I have tried. The body groans and makes odd noises with the wooden members but that can’t be helped with our bad roads here. Still the car needs an all-steel body. The factory has been very helpful with tuning tips and advice, and that is a service that none of the American factories, barring Hudson, will give you.

We have a nice XK120 to play with now. We bought it at such a cheap price that I won’t bother to tell you as I am sure that you wouldn’t believe it. However, we got the car in something less than perfect condition, and have enjoyed fixing it up. It is a delight to drive, and I still think the XK120 and the Mark VII the best buy in the world for the money. Has the factory ever turned out a shop manual for the car? There are none here, and I tried Waco Motors in Miami, Florida, and on the West Coast in Los Angeles, and so far as I know there is no manual. How come ? Who dreamed up that water pump rig that needs rebuilding every 5,000 miles ? What a pity, they flopped so badly here.  A “like-new” Mark V with 10,000-20,000 kilometres sells for the same price as a very good 1948 Mercury. Hard to believe but it shows you what lack of service and parts will do to a good car. Used XK I20’s will cost you about 100 English pounds more.

Your footnote regarding winning Le Mans, etc., seems to indicate that you missed the point in my apparently aimless tirade. Italy, I believe, also wins a few races now and then, but you can’t give Fiats away here, and the same goes for the Simca Fiat. So far as I know there are no Alfas, Ferraris, nor Lancias in the country and probably none in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and I doubt if there are any in Chile. Argentinians, who are more race-conscious, have some of the really good sports and semi-racing cars of the world but lean towards the Italian jobs. Why, I don’t know, as a J2X Allard with one of our super-tuned big-bore overhead valve V8s is the business on most circuits. Also Ferraris are a bit rich for almost everyone’s blood.

No, you won’t have any competition out of the Italians nor the French, but the ones who are giving it to you good, so far as I am concerned, judging by observation in six different countries, are the Germans. Argentina is swarming with the small Mercs and the Volkswagen. Gas is very expensive there and in some of the other countries down here, and I understand their little diesel is a wonder, and quality throughout. I have no experience with the car, as gas is cheap here, and underpowered economy cars are not my passion.

I see in your November issue that you became acquainted with the marvellous little Volkswagen. It is truly a real car. I took one and mounted the V.W. truck drums, shoes, “shocks,” a pair of Webers, sports coil, milled a couple of millimetres off the cylinders, put in larger valves with 30-degree intake seats, enlarged the ports, and put in heavier valve springs, used larger motor-cycle tyres on the rear, dropped the seat to the floor, etc., and made a little bomb out of the thing. Ran it in an under 1,200-c.c. non-sports race and walked away with it at a slow lope. Ran third in an under 1,900-c.c. non-sports. With a better race cam I think the car could be made to really go. If I had one I would acquire the necessary parts to change it into a 1,500-c.c. Porsche under the hood and really give the peasants a shock. They really go with a blower on them as well.

I found by increasing the rear tyre size a bit and increasing the rear pressure I could make the rear end hang on a bit longer, allowing me to corner at about 10 m.p.h. faster, but I hit a point where she suddenly flipped on her side (tried for the bank but couldn’t make it), and this on dry concrete, so they bear watching in that respect. It was very sudden with absolutely no warning. However, with factory tyres and pressures they may be safely spun on dry concrete at any speeds.

It is a good thing I overlooked that crack about winning the Le Mans and the Monte Carlo Rally, or I would have to ask you how come the simply ludicrous showing of the Jaguars in Le Mans this year. Aren’t you glad that I was nice enough not to ask you about that laughing stock of the international racing world, the throbbing 1-1/2-litre B.R.M.? How come four miserably suspended but overpowered Lincoln’s walked away with the Mexican race ? What happened to the Jaguars. etc.. when they had to race the Mercs, the Ferraris, and Lancias? For that matter, what happened to the Allards or Cunninghams ?

I am not terribly concerned with race results. I made up my mind years ago that when Mercedes-Benz decide that they want to start winning a given Formula race then the best of the world had better start building cars of another formula. They blamed their pre-war success on Hitler’s financial help, but he isn’t around to pay the bills these days.

However, stock car races are indicative, and I am sorry that some really good English drivers didn’t come over to take the Mexican race with Mark VII in the stock class. With the engine well tuned they might have been able to swing it. Would have sold you more cars in the Americas than all of those rallies in Europe put together. Don’t suppose XK120C would have a chance with the Mercs.

I can’t understand the importance of the races in Europe when England needs dollars and trade with the Americas. Undoubtedly there are some Frenchmen and Italians, perhaps Germans, etc., who would like your cars, but with import taxes I bet you can sell only a handful on the whole Continent. However, race your cars with good drivers in the various races in the Americas and you can impress people who can and will buy your cars with currency that you need. The Argentine peso isn’t worth the paper it is printed on, but they have a lot of meat and wheat. The same with Peruvian oil, cotton, etc. I can’t help but think that your potential market is the Americas, and I mean all of them and not only the U.S.A.

I am, Yours, etc.,

George H. Poske

Peru

***

Vive Le Auto-Cross buckboard

A recent issue contained two splendid ideas which should be combined. In your editorial you suggest four-wheeled “Auto-Cross” and in Readers’ Letters Mr. Grigson proposes a 500-c.c. trials class.

Put these two ideas together and wonderful fun for all will result at low cost.

Let us have a minimum of restrictions — only a limit of 500 c.c, unblown and two-wheeled drive. This will give maximum freedom of design and simplicity. No minimum weight, and optional wings, lights, starter, reverse gear and body, with or without passenger. Naturally such vehicles would not operate on the roads.

I am, Yours. etc.,

Cecil W. Scott

London,  N.5.

***

An extra anchor?

Sir,

I am confounded by the problem of efficient braking and wonder if other readers can make any useful comments. Let me climb straight out on a limb by saying that I don’t consider the efficiency of present-day brakes good enough for really fast motoring.

I have frequently tried to improve the braking qualities of a car, but faced with a modern brake mechanism, well designed and constructed and correctly adjusted, I confess I am beaten. Yet I don’t believe they are sufficient if one is faced with a hurried stop from above 60 m.p.h. It remains to be seen whether the disc brake will give better results.

Why not fit the faster car with an extra anchor?  I don’t claim to be original, but I have had a bit of assistance from a brake on the prop-shaft which worked well as long as I remembered to apply the wheel brakes first.  I would be interested to see the effect of fitting a disc brake immediately behind the gearbox, with its action lagging behind the wheel brakes sufficiently to avoid overstraining the transmission.

Of course, to stop the wheels turning might do the tyres no good, but I think we ought to try to get back to the old M.G. slogan: “Safety fast !”

I am, Yours. etc.,

W. N. Blackburn

Chesterfield.

(The idea of a fifth transmission brake is not new, of course, being featured on various vintage cars, including one owned by the Editor at present. The universal joints are apt to suffer rapid wear, although we have experienced some very smooth transmission brakes, as on the Alfonso Hispano-Suiza.

Regarding disc brakes, it seems certain that those will soon be perfected and provide superlative anchorage, making a fifth disc superfluous. Racing has thrown into highlight certain operational difficulties with modern disc brakes, one make tending to grab-on, another to fail suddenly due to vapourisation of the fluid. Extensive development work continues, notably in this country, and soon the disc trio, Lockheed, Girling and Dunlop, look like overcoming such troubles.  The disc brake is not new either — A.C. pioneered with a real disc as did at least one other earlier make, and Chrysler already has an enclosed disc brake on a production model; such brakes have also been used for attacks on the absolute speed record and in racing by B.R.M. and Jaguar. — Ed.)

***

Roesch Talbots

Sir,

May I take this opportunity of thanking you for the very fine articles on the Roesch Talbots. I read these with very great interest and obtained a great deal of instruction and entertainment from them.

The picture of the Roesch-designed 30-cwt. lorry chassis intrigued me greatly as it recalls an 30-cwt. job which was marketed about 1921 under the name W.&G. and supposed at that time to he a product of Du Cros of Acton. I remember this chassis best as the basis of a 20-seater bus, and while not sure of my facts, looking at the photograph of the Roesch design, it is exactly similar to the 30-cwt. W.& G.

In 1926 when British commercial-vehicle manufacturers did not produce a chassis specifically for passenger transport, but expected operators to mount bus bodies on heavy goods chassis, we suffered an influx into this country of American Brockway, G.M.C. and Reo passenger chassis, also the Italian Lancia was imported in large numbers. Just before Leylands introduced their Lion chassis, there came on the market a chassis designed especially to suit the bus operator. It was “drop-frame ” Talbot and it made a smart and serviceable 26-seater. One, of the first bus services ever to run between Glasgow and London was introduced in 1926 by a firm called Anglo Scottish Motorways, who operated these Talbot 26-seater coaches. This service did not endure, but this was not the fault of the vehicles.  It was simply that the public were not ready for the long-distance coach service.

Also in 1926 Messrs. Du Cros introduced a W.& G. 26-seater which was one of the fastest coaches of its day. This vehicle, like its 30-cwt. predecessor, was pure Roesch in design and perhaps some other reader will be able to inform us if there was-any definite connection between the W.& G. and the Talbot. 

I am, Yours, etc.,

James A. Hicks

London, N10.

(Mr. Georges Roesch informs us that he did not design the W.& G. vehicles. — Ed.)

***

Pro-Volkswagen

I have just completed your splendid article “We discover the Volkswagen.”  I purchased my car in December, 1951, for the sum of’ £520 in Durban; this is the Export Model with hydraulic brakes and Bosch lights. To date I have covered 14,000 miles on all types of road surfaces and am in complete agreement with reference to the roadholding and general handleability of this grand car. Not quite content with standard performance, I constructed two separate manifolds and fitted standard Amal carburetters; as these were unobtainable with top feed, the bottom feeds were blanked off and a modification made using an S.U. float and top-feed ex-Morris Minor;  once the correct float level had been determined the system worked admirably. It was found that with a single carburetter, together with the high top-gear ratio coupled with the hilly nature of South Africa, limited the top-gear performance.  The consumption with twin Amals is now 33 m.p.g. and the performance has been enhanced tremendously; 55 in third appears very quickly, and it will hold its own with a TD M.G. in standard trim. The wheels have acquired 18 1-in. holes, which certainly dampen any drift from a strong cross wind, and definitely assist brake cooling.  The rear mudguards have now been fitted with alloy stone guards and the whole car has been rubberised for rust prevention and sound damping. The original rear shock-absorbers have been replaced by a heavier type (as on the 1953 car), the gearbox is a delight, although I would be the first to admit that after a huge American Buick, I found myself wincing at the shocking grating of gears. Regarding the cooling, firstly the fan belt is the original and I have travelled through the Karoo near Oudtshoorn in the Cape where the temperature has been 112 degrees in the shade. One owner of a well-known American car stopped me and enquired for some water, I simply could not resist a rather well-worn pun “Sorry, old boy, I do not use the stuff,” much to the amazement of the locals. Without attempting to shoot a line, I recently took on a TC and TD M.G., the former running at 8.6 to 1 compression ratio, the latter at 9.3, on petrol-benzol. The venue was a beautiful double carriage-way, but the important thing was that it was slightly downhill: initially the M.G.s got away, then the Volkswagen really got into its stride, passed the TC (suffering from wheel patter);  in the meantime, a quick glance showed that the speedo needle had gone off the clock and was in a vertical position. At this speed the car was absolutely rock steady; both M.G. drivers complained bitterly about over-revving and only then did they realise why I was so eager to have a “dice”.

You will appreciate from the foregoing that I am now a Volkswagen convert, and have never really enjoyed driving until acquiring Dr. Porsche’s brain-child.

My only criticism of the car is the poor method of assembly, particularly with reference to the internal trimmings.

I am, Yours, etc.,

H.C. Warren

Natal. 

* * *

Tale of woe

Sir,

I have followed with interest the letters from your readers criticising post-war cars, and should like to add my own experiences.

Perhaps I am unlucky, but although I used to buy a new car every year before the war, I had the same sort of troubles, mostly short-life engines and clutch and back axle faults. On a new 1937 Standard Nine, I remember braking hard one day and the body broke away from the rear fixings on the chassis.

Since the war I have had three new cars and five new vans, all of which I have made a point of running-in myself for the first 1,000 miles carefully.

The first car, a Vauxhall Fourteen, had a smoky engine at 500 miles and rolled alarmingly when cornering fast. Also the brakes were poor, so I sold it at 7,000 miles. The chromium was shocking.

I was pleased when a TC M.G. came through in 1949, as I had owned eight second-hand ones of various types at different times and had good fun with them. The new one was disappointing, however, and I got thoroughly fed up with it. Some peculiarity of the steering caused it to “dart” at speed, and although I took it to Abingdon for examination and subsequently had the steering layout rebuilt twice, with axle wedges, etc., it was never really nice. Also the engined pinked badly and there was no place to rest my foot when it came off the clutch. I sold that at 5,000 miles.

Austin A40s were becoming easier in 1951, and when I was offered one I took it on. Within a week the starter motor burned out and a trafficator failed. I was told that it might take a month for the motor to be checked for replacement under guarantee, so I coughed up £8 10s. for a new one and got a credit note for the faulty one a couple of months later. There were apparently no trafficator arms left in the country, so Austins paid me its net value and I did without.

The engine pinked badly, in spite of a decoke every 2,000 miles, and the brakes squealed like a stuck pig, but the Austin dealer assured me that they all did that, so that was all right. It seems the combustion chambers only want scurfing out or something. At 4,000 miles, due to oiling up plugs, the engine was stripped down, new valves and guides fitted, Duoseal rings, and shell bearings.  Play in the steering-box was taken up, and the Girling master-cylinder rebuilt as it was in a dangerous condition. Cost to me was about £50, and I have found by experience that a car guarantee is not worth the paper it is so beautifully printed on. The metal window surrounds were badly rusted, but while I was considering what to do with them, the vehicle was stolen, and I was lucky to get paid out in full by the insurance company.

Since then, I have been running a 1938 Fiat 1,100 saloon, which I consider is an astonishing vehicle at its pre-war price of £185.

I will state categorically that it will out-corner, out-brake, and out-accelerate any postwar British car of its type, while it sticks to the road like glue. It starts instantly every morning, after scraping the snow and frost off, and does 35 to the gallon. The motor just will not pink, and the car can be pulled round in most roads without reversing, which I consider an asset.

When I change this car, it will be for another Continental. I consider they are years ahead of the rubbish they turn out here, as far as average-priced cars are concerned, anyway.

I am, Yours, etc.,

R. A. Arnell

Tadworth

***

The Cadillac v R-R battle

Sir,

Your Mr. Hendry refers to owners of Rolls-Royce motor cars, the best cars in the world, as “fools” and snobs, and implies that they are not “level-headed.” Since I own two of these magnificent carriages — a Phantom ll sedanca de ville and a 1951 saloon on a Silver Wraith chassis — I perforce become directly involved in the matter, along with all other R-R owners; and out of loyalty and in wrath do inscribe on this page a rebuttal of an inane, thoughtless, and, indeed, pusillanimous attack.

I am, perhaps, singularly qualified to reply: I own not only the two R-Rs alluded to above but also possess two Cadillac Fleetwood cars, the one a Fleetwood Series 60 Special saloon and the other a custom Fleetwood Series 75 Imperial limousine seating 7/9 passengers; belonging in my stable as well are two Jaguars, a Mark V saloon and an XK120 sports car. As a motoring enthusiast I drive the cars myself; hence I have ample opportunity to compare, or perhaps shall I say contrast, the two makes to which Mr. Hendry refers, for I usually drive the cars alternately over twenty miles of diverse road surfaces daily on my way to my office. Thus each make of car is subjected to the same driving conditions year in and out with the same driver at the wheel.

As to the Cadillac, let me say that it is regarded in the States as the finest American motor car; and it is indeed a first-rate machine. It is powerful, regardless of the capacity of its engine in litres; acceleration is breath-taking; top speed rivals or surpasses that of most better British cars; and it is far more comfortable than any of them, sparing the R-R and large Daimler. Despite its huge engine and Hydramatic drive (which you Britishers declaim against and disparage shamelessly, since but few of you have had much opportunity to drive a car so equipped for as long as a year or more in order properly to appraise it), its petrol consumption rate is very low, startlingly so.

East year I drove my large Cadillac 2,000 miles in 48 hours carrying three passengers and luggage, and the car averaged 18 miles per gallon. Scrupulous account of fuel consumption was kept by means of purchases on credit only and verification of pump readings, checking these against notations on credit slips and odometer.

That R-R has adopted the Hydramatic is to be expected, and a credit it is to a progressive, sane company to do so. In America the Hydramatic has also been chosen by Lincoln, Hudson, Kaiser-Frazer, Nash, etc. Because a company does not itself invent a major advance in automotive engineering is hardly reason for it to sit and sulk, refusing to partake of benefits.  R-R has paid out royalties for patent rights to other motor-car companies from early in its history to the present, and more credit to it for its profluent outlook.

But, as to less desirable, qualities of the Cadillac — and these your prejudiced Mr. Hendry fails to mention — they are numerous. The finish is quite poor compared with that of the R-R, although one could scarcely expect otherwise. Yet, the largest Cadillac sells for nearly $7,000 with all accessories and certain modifications, a sum not quite small. The window sills and facia are of metal, painted to resemble wood (sic Mr. Hendry!), and they soon wear off with rubbing, exposing dirty, rusty iron beneath, especially on the driver’s side. The electric-hydraulic window lifts, a ridiculous elegance, always require attention (I’ve owned four cars with them; and they unfailingly give out in a howling thunderstorm, causing all windows to drop open, inviting the elements, water especially, to inundate the interior. They work by a hydraulic system, being pumped by a modified starting motor under the bonnet; a leak in the system induces disaster. Contrariwise, electric window lifts in the R-R are individually activated by electric motors in each door.

Mr. Hendry refers admiringly to the top speed of the Cadillac: with this I agree, but with serious reservations. True it is that speed in excess of “a ton” may be achieved — but only on an eight-lane super-highway extending without a turn for mile upon mile. Try cornering on a winding two-lane road with the Cadillac!  It feels as though the car would turn over at 50 m.p.h.: it sways and leaves the road in a startling and frightening manner. I can arrive in my R-R over average roads on a long trip quicker than in my Cadillac and I don’t have to speed excessively on long, straight stretches, since a higher average speed may be maintained; the R-R holds its rate consistently, whilst the Cadillac slows down to a walk on the winding, twisting portions of highway.

And the steering!  The R-R steers like a thoroughbred, with knife-like precision; whilst the Cadillac must be wound and unwound with great effort, the steering wheel spinning merrily like that in roulette, as the sweat exudes from the driver, pouring out profusely, the beads of perspiration breaking out on his brow like the fresh dew on the grass in November. Pleasant. driving ? Not at all, thank you.

And the taste in appurtenances is execrable in the American car in contrast to the R-R. Oh yes, everything works; but the Cadillac interior, like that of all American cars, seems designed by harassed stylists ordered to make the American woman happy; the bench seats toss the rider about as though he were in an old jitney; the decor suggests Madame’s boudoir à la Française  (indeed, the Nash has a bed !), and the whole mess is mounted on marshmallow springs.

And the external lines!  Their hulking, horrendous clumsiness, mimicking an inverted bathtub on wheels, is best likened to a clot of soft, mashed potatoes falling, plop, onto a plate. And, adding vulgarity to banality, the artistic nightmare is nourishingly embellished, in extremely bad taste, with strips of gaudy chrome, a testimonial to middle Californian provincial. Parenthetically, it might be mentioned that a new 1953 medium-priced American car, its advertisements presumably written by some young girls in an agency, boasts on radio and in periodicals of its great new line, marked by a singular advance: two strips of chrome instead of last year’s one, i.e.,”dual streak styling.”

Thus, may I ask, what good is top speed of over a hundred miles per hour if one cannot very well use it consistently, indeed, if one cannot use much more than half of it ? Conversely, the Rolls achieves a speed sufficiently near that, yet one which can be employed on most roads, giving a higher average true speed across country; hardly is the R-R or Bentley “completely outclassed in performance by a Cadillac.”

The hand-polished walnut in the R-R can be rubbed down and repolished for decade after decade, always looking fresh and new, unlike the tin of the Cadillac. And the fine leather upholstery can always be freshened and feels good to the touch. Mr. Hendry’s sneering condescension in alluding to interiors of the Rolls-Royce cars is unworthy of reply; museum or drawing-room, indeed !

We live in a dreary post-war world conspicuous for its shoddy, tawdry tinsel and ersatz — the brave new world of plastics and cheap inferior substitutes, designed to bring to the common man the elegance of kings. But one cannot, really. For where everybody is somebody, nobody is anybody, to rephrase Sir William Gilbert’s remark. Colour gravure copies of a Leonardo or a Rembrandt can be printed by the thousand, but there can be but one original. And only the hand-crafted original has intrinsic worth. And only in Britain can marvellous hand-crafted automobiles be purchased, built with pride and love and tradition, not with a quick eye on the timeclock and a contempt for the product at hand. To sneer at the exquisite elegance of line and interior design to be found only in R-R is to decry the ethereal, enduring beauty of the Mona Lisa and to acclaim that of one of your girls from the Windmill Theatre, charming though she may be. The Cadillac and the Rolls-Royce have one thing in common: they both have four wheels. The rhinestone and diamond, too, have a quality they share, since both glitter; but let Mr. Hendry have his rhinestone if it make him happy; as for me, give me the diamond—I know its worth. Up, Rolls-Royce!

I am, Yours, etc.,

Raymond I. Osborne, M.D.

New Jersey. U.S.A.

***

Sir,

I feel the urge to write you about that letter of Mr. M. D. Hendry, published fearlessly in the December 1952  issue. I’ve to trouble you for this because Mr. Hendry very diplomatically cut off further discussion from his part by stating that his letter was the only one you’ll get from him (much to your distress, I suppose).

But let’s get down to the bare facts.

Mr. Hendry’s letter is a classic. And, as you know, every respectable classic has a comment.  And this stresses the fact that sarcasm is not a very efficient argument (quoted from Mr. Hendry himself), especially when it is on the verge of insult.

A car is built for a purpose. Different cars are built for different purposes. In the course of development of the motor car, many differences have been ironed out. Fortunately, not all of them. I say fortunately, because the users of cars are individuals. And you will agree with me when I say that I’m happy that individualism is not (at least, not yet) ironed out. Since the dim history of the motor car, the Cadillac, as the pride of the biggest car manufacturing concern in the world, has done immeasurable good to motoring mankind, and one can consider the latest Cadillac as the finest motor at of its kind.

But now, take a look at the “ghostly” past of the Rolls-Royce Company and I believe that we can say quite the same thing of the “Best Car in the World ” and the “Silent Sports Car.”

I fear I’m going to be entangled a bit, as it is getting complicated, but I’ll try to stay on the level, and I am not going to say that the Cadillac looks like a dying whale, that the hood of the Rolls-Royce makes a cute dog-kennel, or that the “naked fairy” (that perhaps struck the “prudery” of Mr. Hendry) is just as useful as the “faked air” intake on the back fenders of the Cadillac (by the way, nice to look at, isn’t it ?).

There is really not much to say. Only for the sake of completion that Cadillac took its first wobbly steps on the i.f.s. path when i.f.s, was accepted practice among several European car manufacturers. And that automatic and hydraulic drives came from England. On the other hand, Cadillac originated the electric starter.

Cadillac engines drove the Allied tanks to victory. Rolls-Royce engines drove the Allied planes to the same victory, and they held at some time all absolute speed records in the world in air, on land and on water.

Oh, yeah, the lines of the Bentley Continental: there were not many American coupés built ten years ago, and those that were built are pretty well disintegrated, I suppose, so comparison is a bit tricky. Let’s skip that !

The R-R V8  was, as far as my knowledge goes, a special order with the purpose of obtaining a car that wouldn’t exceed the legal speed limit under any circumstances. For the rest, one can dismiss at length what make has the most experience in building V engines.

 I think the R-R V12 was more a reply (if possible and necessary) to the Hispano-Suiza V12 than to the V12 and V16 of Cadillac, which both went out of production about that time. I wouldn’t assume that fools that have parted with their money drive Rolls-Royces. Furthermore, there are fools that haven’t the money to buy Rolls-Royces and they have to satisfy themselves with Cadillacs (perhaps very old ones, but anyhow — Cadillacs). And perhaps that would prove that they are not always foolish. “Lucida intervalla”.

But let’s cheer up, folks:  Rolls-Royce discovered the hydramatic (which may have caused hollow laughter from down south) and the standardised steel body. Perhaps the day is not far distant when Mr. Hendry will discover that there is style in tradition and tradition in style (even in writing letters to Mr. Purdy), and that an economic proposition is not always a desired proposition.

 “De gustibus non est disputandum.”

What I think about the Rolls-Royce and the Cadillac ? I am not too fond of either of them, although I appreciate their very different and interesting characteristics.

What I think about Mr. Hendry ? Well, never mind—he would not care anyhow.

What I think about that poor Mr. Purdy, dumbfounded by Mr. Hendry. Well, I know he is a Bugatti fan and so am I.

And about you, dear Mr. Editor, I think that you’ve got the nicest and most documented motoring paper in existence.

My sincere thanks for your attention and my very best wishes for 1953 for you and Motor Sport.

I am, Yours, etc.,

John Colenbrander

Ontario

***

Sir,

A distinguished American. Mr. Bob Hope, has surely said the last word on your Rolls-Royce-Cadillac controversy.

” I came to the theatre,“ he said. “in a Rolls-Royce—that’s a Cadillac that has been to Oxford.”

Good breeding does count in the long run.

I am, Yours; etc.

James S. Cousins

London.

You may also like

Related products