N.B. – Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them. – Ed.
Ken Wharton Vindicated
Mr. J. A. Evans, in his comments on Ken Wharton’s attitude to the use of nitro-methane, does not lay enough emphasis, I feel, on Mr. Wharton’s statement: “. . . after having driven behind cars with this fuel aboard, I must confess that I for one would he happy to see it discontinued.”
This is a view shared by the majority of American racing-drivers after the 1953 Indianapolis 500 in which relief drivers were necessary for ten of the cars which completed more than half the course.
The reason for this was excessive heat and subsequent exhaustion (one driver died) PLUS the use of nitro-methane, the fumes of which affected many of the drivers.
On this evidence, nitro-methane would seem to add an unnecessary hazard to an already hazardous sport.
I am, Yours, etc.,
May I address a few words to Mr. Gustaf L. A. Giers, of Stockholm, through your columns
I must agree with the views he expresses with regard to the new Magnette, and should think that the name had better remain dead than be revived for the car now offered. Like your correspendent, most of us have given up hope of an up-to-date version of the old Magnette, say with a twin-cam engine of 1 1/2 or 2-litres, and what appears to have escaped the M.G. people is the fact that we who retain our old cars, could be awaiting a worthy successor.
I have to advise Mr. Giers that apparently little help can be expected from the works now. When the Register was first formed, some interest and help was forthcoming, but now it appears to be withdrawn.
In conclusion, I would advise Mr. Giers and his friends to form themselves into a club such as this Register, or a group within an existing Club, and endeavour to find some small engineering firm wilting to make very small batches of such parts as they need.
I am, Yours. etc.,
Secretary, Magnette Register.
This is just a line or two to make a few observations concerning Motor Sport. The most valuable contributions you are making are the articles constructively criticising the British automobile industry. You are performing a really great service in this respect, and it is to be fervently hoped that the industry will pay some heed. It is a terribly sorry thing that so many of your manufacturers are apeing the American product. What used to be a proud, individual-looking motor car is now, in the vast majority of cases, just another bathroom-looking mobile conveyance. The greatest laugh of all is the new M.G. Magnate, so-called. If this isn’t resting on the laurels of another generation, I don’t know what is! If M.G. were really interested in maintaining the breed they would be offering a car comparable to the magnificent Osca instead of insulting the intelligence of the enthusiast – not to mention the cognesecnti. Sic transit what used to be a great little company! I used to own a real Magnette, not a K3 to be sure but still a real sports car. When are your manufacturers going to realise that Americans buy British cars because they are original and not because they are poor imitations? What is the best-liked English sports car? I like the H.R.G. Aston Martin would sell a lot of cars if they would drop the price and enlarge the engine displacement.
I am. Yours, etc.,
R. W. Leith. JR.
Boston 9, Mass.
After reading two letters in the December and January issues concerning post-war M. G.s I felt that I simply had to take up the challenge and defend the two models particularly criticised, namely the TD and the TF.
I consider that as an owner of five M.G.s I am fully qualified to reply. My first car was the 1933 J2, working up to a 1952 TD, and I can therefore speak with authority on the good and bad qualities of each type.
I certainly agree that the PA was a fine car in its day, but we have to admit that its day was in 1935 and the following few years. I, personally, have very bitter memories of those awful vertical drives on the early models which caused the oiling up of the dynamo, particularly when you were miles from home on a dark and dirty night.
Let us be honest and admit that progress cannot he denied — we have to change with the times, otherwise we should still be at the T-type Ford stage. In my opinion, each M.G. is just that degree better than its predecessor — after all, they aren’t just designed, they are bred throughout the years from the 1929 M-type to the 1954 TF.
I had wondered whether either of the critics had driven any of the later types, or did they dislike them on principle? I agree that you do see far too few young and enthusiastic young men driving the more recent types, but that is not for the reason they give-alas! It is a much more realistic one — finance. For very few young men can afford to buy a brand new car these days, they just have to be content with a secondhand old timer.
As for me, well I’m looking forward to the day when I can become the proud owner of a TF.
I am, Yours, etc.,
“A Young And Able Enthusiast.”
I have been interested to read the views of correspondents regarding the TD and TF, model M.G.s and I would venture to take up the cudgels in their defence.
The criticism offered by “A Regular Reader” that they are too comfortable is lamentable; has he not heard of progress? No one slays Jaguars and Aston Martins for making their current models luxurious compared with pre-war — oh no! hand out the bouquets!
As for the hideous design — well really! The flapper of the ‘twenties would get some queer glances in this day and age — fashions do change and the TF styling is a very pleasing combination of the modern and traditional.
Furthermore, no standard PA in its original form could seriously challenge a TD or TF over any distance.
I am, Yours., etc.,
S. A. Thomposon,
It is January 1st and I am sitting with my feet up thinking of nothing in particular except how nice it is to be sitting with my feet up thinking of nothing in particular and giving a big hello to the first Motor Sport of 1954.
In fact I am giving a big hello to the Readers’ Letters when I see that for the second month running some character is making a big squawk about the new M.G.: that it is nothing but an 18-carat “fink” of a motor car and an unseemly hunk of tinware, and, furthermore, that he thinks nothing of it and feeding petrol into this chuffbox is like feeding Napoleon brandy to a young doll, which is well known to all and sundry as a prime waste of a young doll.
Now I am not thinking much of this because characters have been making squawks about M.G.s being this and that for as many years as Abingdon has been making improvements, which is quite a lot of years, but then this character ups and bawls that these rods are now designed for middle-aged geezers with teenage beezers, which is no way to talk of Col. G. Gardner anyway, even though I am thinking maybe that this is a compliment after all if this fine little motor car is-designed with all us middle-aged guys in mind, and maybe some serious-minded young guy whose old man has bought him a TD or TF will make me a straight swap for my TA — maybe.
I am, Yours. etc.,
J. J. Bell,
La Belle Citroen!
“November Journey” (December issue of Motor Sport) was not only a fine enjoyable story; it also ought to go on record as a handsome example of editorial fair-mindedness. For, haying stated his views once very definitely (see “A Truly Excellent Motor Car.” Motor Sport, 1952) and haying found them opposed by some (see the McGrath correspondence) the Editor set out to re-examine them in the light of these criticisms open-mindedly and evidently prepared to revise them should this be necessary. I for one knew this would not be necessary, but the good will so effectively demonstrated deserves high marks.
Many Citroën-minded readers of Motor Sport may be interested in the method adopted by one of Motor Sport’s French contemporaries, the flamboyant ever-crusading L’Auto-Journal, for determining the measure of general agreement or otherwise with its editorial findings. Generally a year or so following, the publication of the extremely detailed, searching, editorial road-test report, a reader poll is staged in order to compare the results of the test with every-day-user experience. Such a reader poll was also published referring to the Citroën Light Fifteen (known in France as the 11BL). Without going into the details of this highly instructive referendum, only the most relevant data may be given here. One thousand owners of 1948-1950 11 BLs were polled. 86 per cent. of them had been driving for periods varying between eleven and over twenty years, and could be in consequence reasonably credited with knowing what they were talking about. Some final questions were designed to sum up the general impression made by the car upon its owner after some years’ use. When asked whether, if they had their choice again, they would again buy the same car, 73 per cent, answered by an unequivocal YES, whilst another 12 per cent. qualified their YES by postulating some conditions, such as shorter deliveries (this was in France, in 1951) choice of finish (since up to about a year ago the cars were supplied only in black for the home market), etc., in other words, conditions not affecting their positive attitude towards the car. These 12 per cent. may be, therefore, sensibly added, making a total 85 per cent. YES. To the question as to which car they were dreaming of owning, 75 per cent, declared their lasting adherence to front-wheel drive; some, it is true, stated other makes as well, such as the Hotchkiss-Gregoire, in effect a glamourised, light-metal bodied, fantastically expensive Citroën which was very much in the limelight at the time, but of which very little is heard now; some mentioned the small Dyna-Panhard (because of its air cooling, and because the 2 c.v. was not yet about in large numbers). The last question, asking the 1,000 to sum up their present feelings towards their car, revealed that 87 per cent. were unconditionally prepared to give the car their vote; and 99 per cent, of these declared that, apart from other reasons, they would do so, due to the unrivalled road-holding and safety characteristics of the car.
When considering a thousand drivers to be a reasonable cross-section, and when bearing in mind the entirely unsentimental, very critical and sheer “value-for-money” approach of the average French motorist, these figures speak a very eloquent language. This “tractioniste,” had he been amongst the 1,000, would be naturally found amongst the 87 per cent, in favour. But, at the same time, he would not have hesitated to point out a number of things he did not particularly like. For instance, hardly any of the post-war innovations affecting the appearance of the car seem to represent the fulfilment of some need at all, and certainly not to add up to improvements compared with 1939 practice. To quote just a few: the wheels, for instance; there is hardly a stronger yet lighter wheel than the characteristic “Pilote” wheel of the Citroën, with its brake-cooling flat-spoke arrangement. It was dropped in favour of the present easy-to-clean but heavy disc wheel. The previous bonnet with its four adjustable ventilators enabled the running temperature to be varied by 10-20 degrees; and the influx of fresh air into and the efflux of heat from the under-bonnet space to be regulated according to conditions. By keeping the off-side front ventilator flap open one has precisely the effect of the imposing air-intake bulges so often seen on the most recent sports and racing. car bonnets (namely, to supply an increased charge of fresh air to the carburetter). None of these effects is obtainable with the post-1948 type bonnet with its many conventional louvres. Several recent test reports refer to the blind spot created by the scuttle-mounted rear-view mirror: this is entirely absent on my car whose mirror is suspended from the head board. Rear vision is very adequate when fitting a panoramic mirror, which ought to be standard on Citroëns due to the otherwise considerable blind spots at either rear quarter. The luggage locker added in 1952 makes an ugly hump, as observed by the Editorial daughters. When there is a lot of luggage to carry and no room on, or in front of, the rear seats (though more often than not there is plenty of room there), it ought to be carried on a roof-rack where it helps to increase front-wheel adhesion, especially in the mountains. Admittedly, these are not important criticiams, but one would expect an alteration to result in an improvement rather than the opposite. Possibly, many of these changes were only made to reduce manufacturing costs or for import reasons.
I had better point out that I am by no means a P.R.O. of Citroëns. Yet, as Mr. McGrath also observed, most Citroën owners require but the least provocation to break forth into rhapsodies as though they were advertising agents for the marque. Ownership of this car seems to have this effect in all parts of the world, as testified by letters to Motor Sport from so many continents, and upon all kinds of men, from George Abecassis and Cecil Clutton down to this humble “tractioniste.”
The main drawback of Citroën ownership in this country seems to be the widespread lack of properly equipped repair facilities and properly trained mechanics. Most garages, of course, are willing to take on any job, and are only too willing to learn as they go along — at the customer’s expense. As a result, at most places at present. Citroën repairs are undertaken with unsuitable general tools, by relatively inexperienced men; consequently, they may take two to three times as long as would be required if proper tools, the recommended methods and experienced trained men were used. Too many garages seem to reason that, since the customer pays anyway, no matter how long the job takes by using makeshift methods, the purchase or making up of the recommended tools specified in the Repair Manual is not worth their while. This is where one feels the Slough works ought to step in somehow and protect the buyers of their cars. Surely, Fords set an outstanding example in this respect. Conditions are admittedly different there, but at least some features of the Ford service organisation might be usefully adopted. Some pressure might well be put on garages to have the requisite tools, and to send some of their men to be trained properly at the works. With an ever-increasing number of Citroëns on the roads, surely a larger number of garages would be more amenable now than ever before. With over 700,000 cars manufactured over the years, both here and in France, a vast statistical experience most be available on which to draw for the setting up of some approximate standard charges for the most frequently recurring operations. These would help at least by giving some guidance.
As to servicing difficulties, much has been already written here regarding the need for the regular thorough greasing of the 18 grease points, and quite especially of the two inner-drive-shaft spline nipples which are so difficult to get at. A normal straight grease -gun will do the job only when the front wheels are taken off this is asking quite a bit every 500 miles, which sometimes go very quickly indeed. The tool kit ought to contain a grease gun having a curved neck rigidly connected to the gun’s body, the grease being pumped by the action of the handle. Such guns exist in France, but seem unobtainable here. The other alternative, costing about £3, is to invest in a lever-actuated gun whose body also remains stationary during operation, and whose neck is usually bent through 35 deg. or so. This takes the horror out of greasing these two awkward nipples, and they can he given the wholehearted attention (60 strokes of the gun) and lots of grease they demand. It was sad to see, if one took the trouble to bend down (one’s waistline permitting) and look for it, how many Citroëns recently seen in London streets were dry in this critical region. Sad, that is, for one always seeing himself as a potential buyer, some day, second or third-hand, of any given Citroën he might encounter. One never knows! Hence my missionary zeal in spreading the front-end greasing gospel. If every “Citroëniste” in this country regularly attended to the needs of his (car’s) front end, ever so often put not more than one or two drops of light (winter) oil into the small cup feeding the clutch thrust race (it is located immediately behind the fan-driving pulley, on the clutch housing) end, when changing gear, made sure of disengaging his clutch fully by using his heel instead of his toes on the clutch pedal, life for buyers of secondhand Citroëns would indeed he easier and less costly. And if all were to apply some sort of underbody protective coating — few other cars have such a positively vast area to be protected from rust — to the “soft underbelly” of his vehicle, their life might be easier still.
I am, Yours, etc.,
I enjoyed your excellent “Gran Turismo” article as much as the previous one on open sports cars. It seems to me, however, that it emphasises yet again the difficulty of splitting up cars into definite types. “It is amusing to note,” you say, “that Frazer-Nash claim more power from it (their Le Mans coupé engine) than is developed by the Bristol 404 version.” Surely this merely proves that the Le Mans coupé, as its name and triumphs imply, was conceived in the first place as a competition car, the successor in fact to the ultra-stark Le Mans replica, although obviously more suitable for touring than most of the open sports/racing cars.
The Frazer-Nash seems to fall somewhere between a Gran Turismo car and the “rather specialised sports/racing car in closed form,” including the Bristol 450 which appeared at Le Mans last year. The main difference being that the slightly less specialised Fraser-Nash worked, whereas they did not.
The Bristol 404, on the other hand, is not a competition car. In fact it is probably more useful to think of it as a short-chassis “souped” version of 403 sports saloon than as a road version of the exotic Type 450, even if it is closely akin to the latter mechanically (and in spite of the retention of “stabilising” fins!).
Incidentally, I do not doubt that the Frazer-Nash can be obtained with an engine in any of the recognised stages of tune from 100-150 b.h.p., and also that 404s will soon begin to appear fitted with the more potent versions.
In view of the inclusion of covered-in two-seater sports/racing cars like the Frazer-Nash and the Fiat 8V, which, as you yourself state, seem to have little use outside competitions (although the latter appears to employ push-rods to achieve cheapness of production rather than maximum performance). I would suggest that it seems harsh to exclude sports cars which have grown hard-tops merely because they may have only 2/3 seats while being over 2 litres. The obvious example is the XK120 fixed-head coupé. With or without the many modifications available, it is just such a car as your Continental correspondent describes. Its performance needs no praising and a modified version would come very high among the cars which you list. It is a car which has been proved equally successful in many roles: racing, touring or shopping. Its hard-top provides closed-car comfort for two or sometimes three persons, and its bargain price more than outweighs the value of a fourth seat.
Is there not an Italian-bodied Cunningham production coupé which would qualify as Gran Turismo? It would make an interesting comparison with the European Machines.
I am, Yours, etc.,
M. S. R. Napier,
[it is difficult to sub-divide cars for purposes of writing about them, as our correspondent says. We gave careful consideration to the Cunningham and Jaguar XK120 coupés but excluded them because their performance in relation to their engine size is not particularly impressive, the other Gran Turismo cars being under 2 1/2 litres with the exception of the Jensen 541, which offers more accommodation. An essential of the class of car was that it should be compact as well as fast. Moreover, it must be comfortable for long runs and personal experience is that the XK120 coupé’s pedal positions and driving seat tend not to conform. — Ed.]
More Praise Fro The Renault 750
In your December issue there appeared a very interesting article on “Motoring Variety in Australia.” by Mr. G. Sandford-Morgan. Although the story as a whole is of absorbing interest to the motorcar enthusiast, I beg to disagree with him most emphatically on his opinion of the little Renault 750, or Renault Four as it is known on the Continent.
In saying that he has never been able to understand the wide enthusiasm for this car he admits that the enthusiasm is there. Surely it is hardly admissible that thousands of people should get enthusiastic over a car as bad as the writer paints the Renault he drove, and of which he forgot to tell us whether it was old or new and, if the former, how old. From my own experience and from that of others I can state as a pertinent fact that the Renault Four is definitely a very good car indeed. I bought mine in October, 1952. after the Paris Show and thus a 1953 model; therefore it has now been in my possession 15 months, in which time I drove it 27,000 Miles. Right at-the start I fitted Dutch shock-absorbers and, apart from greasing, oil renewal and normal care and maintenance, that was the only time I had the car worked on. Suspension, steering, wheels and axles are in excellent shape. There is no trace of harshness anywhere and the little motor has that healthy, sporty snarl so beloved by sports-car drivers. There is no question of the rear wheels trying to take over, roadholding onthe straight and in curves could not be better with an M.G., and road bumps are either absorbed or become ripples. I drive the little car very hard. Maximum speed being about 65 m.p.h., I drive it continuously at 60 or over and it seems to revel in this treatment. I think Rotterdam-Nice in 23 1/2 hours as I did last July with two up and luggage for one month is as much as anyone could -ask from a little car like this or even a bigger one. Compression on all pistons is still the same as when new, oil consumption is negligible and petrol 46 miles to the gallon. The tyres should give me 30,000 miles or a little over; they are two-ply and I Intend upon renewal to mount four-ply.
When I see that friends of mine have driven their Renaults 45,000 miles and 52,000 miles respectively and still are not ready for overhaul I have no doubt that Mr. S.-M. has either driven one of the old Renaults of 1947 or 1948 vintage, which indeed did have a lot of teething troubles, or a very badly misused one.
Under the usual disclaimer, purely as an enthusiastic owner who wants to see justice done to the make of his choice, I wish it to go on record that in my opinion there is no better car at the price as far as speed, stamina, roadholding, economy and, yes, comfort and completeness of Standard equipment is concerned.
The little Fiat 500C is indeed a very excellent little car, too, and as good value for money as the Renault, but it is for those who are satisfied with a minimum of room and motor.
As for the Renault not being able to stay with the Fiat at any time or speed, I consider that as one of the best jokes of 1953.
Indeed, as Mr. J. Dick-Cleland says in your January issue, the Renault Type 1062 is fast enough as it is, but let the Type 1063 get on the road in greater numbers once the manufacturers have decided to release it in quantity and many proud owners of the smaller and not so very small sports cars will have occasion to be amazed, to put it mildly.
I am, Yours, etc.,
John M. Vermeys (Lt.-Col., R.N.A.)
I am at some loss as a humble motorist to know how to make up my mind whether or not to seriously consider purchasing one of the rear-engined Continental motor vehicles, and in this connection would like to refer to your article in the January issue on page 11
This states: “We must confess to keen enjoyment of the VW’s excellent handling qualities, unsullied by its rear-engine location.” In the same article a further statement is made by Tom McCahill as follows: “Before going 25 miles we found cars stalled and other’s skidding hopelessly as they tried to assault the simple rises of a dual super-highway. The Volkswagen weaved through these churning iron hulks like a broken-field runner.” And: “As soon as I found clear spots where no other cars were fighting for traction, I deliberately threw this car into skids several times to see how it would act.”
Compare this with the statement in the Automobile Engineer of November, 1953, that “Experience with all the Continental rear-engined vehicles indicates that the advantages of this lay-out are outweighed by its serious disadvantages, the main ones being the tendency towards oversteering and instability.”
Again, referring to the Autocar for November 6th, 1953, reference is made, when describing the rear-engined Porsche, as follows: “… the soft torsion-bar springing allowing it to hurry round main-road corners without roll, while the rather direct steering gives the driver exact control over the front wheels … There is pronounced oversteer, as with all rear-engined cars, and, as with a racehorse which might bolt unless a firm hand is on the reins, so must one be in control here, as it is possible to bring the tail round very quickly if the driver is too enterprising on wet surfaces.”
In view of this apparently rather conflicting information in your sister journals I wonder it you would care to comment please.
I am, Yours, etc.,
F. R. Nichols,
Upton St. Leonards.
[It is true that if the VW is hurled into corners queer things happen at the rear end, but it must be remembered that it is intended as an economical family car and that is how we regarded it when we wrote of it. Under normal driving conditions it handles safely and is immeasurably superior to the majority of other family-type saloons. We try to be unbiased when reporting On the cars we test. — Ed.]
Without wishing to add further fuel to the flames of controversy that from time to time rage over the “vintage versus modern” argument, may I be allowed to comment on “A. B. C.’s” summing up of the qualities of steering in his interesting “Historical Notes.” He suggests that “… the best of the old are at least as good as the worst of the new.”
Speaking as one whose motoring is almost equally divided between a very good vintage car and a medium-priced modern, which has been kindly treated by the technical Press, I have no hesitation in saying that I prefer the vintage steering. Although it possesses a powerful degree of understeer when fast cornering is attempted (partly because of a “solid” rear axle in hot pursuit), it is light, completely accurate, and an infallible guide to the happenings “up front.”
The steering of the modern is literally indescribable. By this, I do not necessarily mean that it is bad. One turns the wheel and the car turns the corner, but the apparatus between the king-pins and the steering wheel seems to be completely anaesthetised, for it conveys to the driver nothing at all.
My modern car is apparently quite safe but, having been brought up on vintage cars, I appreciate the value and pleasure of “feel”: the car should have response and, indeed, personality.
It occurs to me that good vintage steering can be likened to the feel of a precision-made micrometer. On this basis, the steering of my modern car would compare with those outsize wooden compasses that maths, masters use to draw circles on blackboards!
Perhaps “A. B. C.” is nearest to the truth when he says: “Most modern cars seem to be far too ‘dead’ in the steering to enable the driver to develop his art properly.”
I am, Yours, etc.,
R. M. Russell,
An Alvis In Sweden
On page 101 of the April, 1948, issue, Vol. XXIV, No. 4, of Motor Sport there is a picture, which I once sent you, of a Bertelli-bodied 4.3-litre Alvis once owned by Henken Widengren. It may perhaps amuse you to hear that at last I succeeded in acquiring this car in April of last year. It was in a shockingly bad state having passed into unsympathetic hands and been completely neglected for many years. Love is blind, however, and, having carried a photograph of this car in my wallet for some twelve years, I had solemnly sworn to become the owner of it sooner or later and to restore it if possible to original condition. I had once owned a 1933 Speed Twenty tourer and since then no other make exists for me.
The rebuilding process proved a gruelling and ruinous but intensely stimulating work and has just been completed (if such work ever is). The car was dismantled down to the proverbial “last nut and bolt.” During this process it was ascertained beyond doubt that this particular chassis had started life as a show object as nuts, bolts and little pipe-lines in the most inaccessible places were found to be chromed when excavated from under layers of mud and grease, and the frame to have been heavily enamelled. The whole of the front-end assembly and brake drums are highly polished and chromed.
All the time Alvis Ltd. proved most co-operative, most spares being readily procurable and speedily dispatched, and lots of them were needed, as for instance new cylinder block, pistons, valves, clutch assembly, all bushes and lots of bearings and gears, etc., as also a set of Andre telecontrols.
The all-aluminium panelled Bertelli body provided the worst headache, taking a skilled craftsman the best part of two months to get straight as it was corrugated and cracked all over. Additionally the car was completely rewired, rechromed, re-upholstered and re-finished in a pleasing combination of black and grey. It naturally cost about four times as much as I had anticipated but the result is thoroughly gratifying.
I have driven the car for some 3,000 miles without trouble, including a trip to Denmark. For me it is the car to end all cars and I think it successfully combines an up-to-date specification with that delightful hand-built vintage feeling so completely lacking in the post-war product.
As to activities here in Sweden, I must boast a little about the Stockholm M.G. Club (to which I happen to be the newly appointed secretary). It was founded about a year ago and caters for the small band of sports-car purists in the Stockholm area. It is not, as might be assumed from its title, confined to M.G. owners only, but this happens to be the most common sports-car marque in Sweden. Any proven dyed-in-the-wool sports-car enthusiasts may be admitted. Membership is, however, not too easy to attain as the maximum number of members is put at 30 in order to try to maintain the character of a closely-knit fraternity where everybody knows each other. We have so far run two trials (only sports cars admitted) and competed with teams in two others. We meet once every fortnight in a little cottage near Stockholm rented by the club. We are very proud of our own club magazine, the M.G. Gazette, which is published four times a year. We are planning an organised tour to Le Mans this summer and hope to visit England en route.
I am, Yours, etc.,
One hears so much these days of the shabby treatment and poor service provided by the average Service station that I should like to place on record through the medium of your columns an incident which happened to me recently.
I discovered by accident that a stub-axle on my pre-war Riley had been sheared off at some time and botched up “temporarily” by the drilling of two holes into the fractured ends and the insertion of a cotter pin into the open wound.
A local garage was unable to find a stub axle and was not disposed to make any effort to do so, and since the discovery was made on the afternoon of Christmas Eve I was somewhat despondent.
With the aid of Motor Sport I found a suitable advertisement and explained my predicament by telephone. In response, two complete stub-axles were placed on a train and delivered to me 30 miles away within two hours of the request.
This service, I might add, was provided by a firm (Arthur Bryden of Leeds) with whom I had had no previous transaction and to whom. I was completely unknown.
Any further comment would be superfluous.
I am, Yours, etc.,
J. E. Midgley
Isn’t it time Alfred Owen had the B.R.M.s entered for a “Soap-box Derby,” with all other entrants handicapped, of course?
I am, Yours. etc.,
The Great Oil Controversy
It is rather surprising to hear from two of your correspondents, Mr. J. E. Hands and Mr. A. J. Firth. that they should have had such unfortunate experience of modern additive oils as to consider them detrimental.
Apart from the enormous amount of research, there is a wealth of field experience which would indicate that suitable additive treatment not only reduces bore and ring wear, but provides other benefits such as reducing the rate of inevitable deterioration of oil in an engine.
Mr. Hands is rather late in discovering that additives are being incorporated in commonly supplied engine oils, as a large number of brands have had additive treatment since before the war, and oils with varying degrees of detergency have been available since the war. The absence of a hydraulic valve mechanism would not be a factor to consider in deciding whether additive treated oils are beneficial or not. The modern additive oil is usually designed to have a number of functions. These may include some or all of the following:
Anti-oxidant to reduce the rate at which the oil deteriorates in use.
Anti-corrosion to prevent the corrosive wear of bore, rings and bearings.
Anti-wear to increase the life of the engine components. Detergent dispersant to keep, primarily, the pistons free from lacquers and deposits which might restrict the action of the rings, and to prevent the clotting together of carbon particles to form sludge.
The degree of detergency may vary between brands, from very mild to a level comparable to that used in oil engines, and known as Heavy Duty. The benefit conferred by the level of detergency depends, to a large extent, on the operating conditions of the engine. An engine which is inclined to get dirty, due to dilution and condensation brought about by cold running, will perhaps demonstrate the advantages of detergency better than an engine which is mostly operated on long runs.
Unfortunately, Mr. Firth did not give any reason why he thought that his cylinder bore and ring wear had increased since the introduction of additive treated oils. It would be very interesting if he would publish the facts and figures on which his diagnosis is based.
As suppliers of branded motor oil which has contained a multifunctional additive (with only mild detergent properties) since 1946, we are more than satisfied with the results obtained in both test and Service conditions. We are satisfied that such additive treatment has definite benefits, and we know that we are not alone in this view.
I am, Yours, etc.,
P. D. George,
Technical Information Department,
I think Mr. Hands’ letter on oil calls for comment.
Whereas I have only been a motorist for ten years. I have had eight motor-cycles and two cars to date, and my present 1927 Humber 14/40 is the only vehicle I have ever had rebored. The fact that all these vehicles performed well on “straight” oil does not alter the fact that great technical strides have been made in the matter of lubrication since 1939.
You will recall that less than a year ago I sounded a note of warning in a letter wherein I mentioned my garage’s advice not to use detergent oil in a car in which other oils had been used. My letter being in the form of an enquiry, one or two readers wrote in confirming the soundness of the advice of my garage.
If, however, one is prepared to strip the engine right down and clean it internally very thoroughly, rebore or otherwise take up excessive cylinder wear and fit a fabric filter in lieu of a wire gauze one, then there is so far as I can see nothing but good to be obtained from using a detergent oil. I am at the moment in course of doing all these things.
Now it is a fairly well-established fact that many vintage Humbers will do up to 150,000 miles before they need a rebore, and this on a “straight” oil. Therefore, why go to all this bother to use a detergent? The answer to this is too long to give in full. In brief, with suitable chemical treatment a thin oil can be made to give as much wear resistance as an untreated thick oil, and adequate viscosity can be maintained over a wider temperature range without the oil becoming too viscous at low temperatures for easy starting. For instance, these claims are made for a particular detergent oil as compared with “straight” S.A.E. 30 and S.A.E. 10:
It follows, therefore, that easier starting in winter, less “drag” on starting, more miles per gallon, less engine wear and a cleaner engine all result from using one of the better modern oils.
This does not however mean that it is safe to suddenly change an unprepared engine over to a detergent oil — far from it; I personally feel the oil companies would have done far better to warn the public of the dangers of detergent oils when introducing them instead of leaving us to find out.
I am, Yours, etc.,
H. Howell Thomas