RUMBLINGS, February 1956




It is common knowledge that ambitious plans are afoot for rebuilding the Crystal Palace as a universal exhibition and sports centre. It is satisfactory that in a Joint THE FUTURE Report of the General Purposes Committee OF THE and Parks Committee of the London County

CRYSTAL PALACE Council, heard on December 20th last year, in which the plans for the development of the Crystal Palace were described in considerable detail, motor racing received favourable consideration. The report states : “Motor racing, restarted in 1953, has assisted

considerably in reviving interest in the Crystal Palace, and at the fourteen meetings arranged over the past three seasons attendances have exceeded a quarter of a million. Although with the present facilities motor racing has not shown large profits, it has more than paid for the heavy running expenses.” The report refers to a proposal that the existing motor-racing circuit be provided with a new loop on the upper part of the site (see accompanying photograph), to extend its lap-distance to about 2.4 miles from the present 1.39 miles, the width of the road being increased by five feet, to 35 feet. “This,” says the report, “would

make it possible to hold meetings of International status at the Crystal Palace.” This is excellent news, for London would then have a fully-approved

and useful motor-racing centre. In the meantime the present circuit is to be resurfaced with a skin of cold asphalt as used at Goodwood, ready for the opening meeting on Easter Monday. The lap record for the circuit now stands to the credit of Hawthorn, in Moss’ Maserati, at 78.93 m.p.h. It is of interest that the Crystal Palace grounds, to which Sir

Joseph Paxton’s “crystal palace” of 1851 was subsequently transferred, cover an area of some 200 acres, and the plans for future development, at a cost of some E7 million, include a vast Exhibition Building and facilities for such diverse activities as motor racing, boxing, circuses, band contests, indoor football, horse shows, cycle racing, roller-skating, cattle shows, general demonstrations (not, we trust, political !), bowls, riding, cricket, football, boating, modelboating, swimming, paddling, fishing, ski-jumping, tennis; while a museum, theatre, bandstand, greenhouse, beer gardens, observation tower’ etc., would probably be provided, and a road-circuit for miniature buses (crossing the existing race-circuit by means of a fly-over) used for transport within the grounds—we think we may safely say—” the lot l” The T.V. aerial mast would dominate the area, as the glass towers of the crystal palace—one of which came down with a startling crash during practice for a pre-war motor race—used to do.

It is good to know that whether or not this ambitious project comes to fruition, motor racing is to continue at the London road circuit. * * * There are cars which possess individuality which can be assessed in the garage or showroom, before ever you take them out on the

road. Our readers being individualists, their “GARAGE CARS” choice must obviously lie amongst such ears. and consequently it is satisfactory to know

that this characteristic is not confined to a few modern vehicles or found only amongst vintage cars. There are plenty of instances of “garage virtues” amongst cars of the 1931-1940 period, which at present can be bought at remarkably low prices. Naturally, if a car bristling with good features when it is static

behaves unfortunately when in motion, or has a mechanical specification the strong point of which is scarcely reliability, especially after years of work, the customer will be advised to pass it by, even in favour of dull vehicles of plain, unexciting layout and design. Yet it is nice to own a motor car which holds one’s affection

and the interest of one’s friends both in the garage and on the road. We have in the past referred to the interesting and worthwhile details of Bristol and B.M.W. cars, while the D.K.W. Sonderklasse, to name another, repays study in this respect, while before the war we described this aspect of the 41-litre Bentley, Mk. V Bentley and V12 Lagonda, amongst others.

The matter was nicely illustrated the other day when we were examining a Porsche 1,500. One is impressed by the extremely good fit of the bucket-type seats, which holds one’s thighs closely, so that in fast cornering no sliding about on the cushion would be experienced. Moreover, the squab of each seat will fall to the horizontal by pulling a lever on the outside of the seat, enabling the passenger to sleep and providing

room for three persons in front in an emergency. The heating system incorporates “garage features,” for a little sliding trap-door by the front of each seat controls the amount of hot air admitted and, whether the doors are open or shut, the hot air travels up the

side pillars and across the bulkhead to the screen demisters, so that full demisting is obtained. Two knobs operate valves which admit cold air (independently of the doors) for toning down the demisting as required. The windows in the doors slide between rubber seals on both

sides, so that moisture does not find its way inside the doors, and by winding a window down and up it is wiped clear inside and out. The doors are efficiently dust-sealed, but have properly-designed catches so that they shut easily without having to be slammed. Small back windows are provided which can be opened to obtain a good air-flow through the car in hot weather, threaded knobs enabling them to be locked in the desired position. The controls include, on the latest models, a headlamp flasher in the steeringwheel centre, rheostat control of the panel lighting, and a simple pull-out knob for headand sidelamps, devoid of twisting movement. The rear-seat squab (held in the “up ” position by aircraft elastic)

folds to form a level floor, while built-in hooks are provided on the inside of the body and on the floor for luggage straps, when loose luggage is carried in the back compartment. The interior lamp has a three-position switch, providing on, off, and operated-by-the-doors settings, and on the dash is a useful lifting handle, rather than a grab-handle, to enable the passenger to alight easily from this very low-built cur. The door pockets run the full width of the doors and in addition there are useful containers on the scuttle sides by the occupants’ knees, as well as a lidded cubbyhole in the dash.

The sunshine roof slides back out of sight within a double skin. instead of remaining exposed beneath the fixed roof. Either door can be locked from inside or outside the car, which means that having secured one door with the handle, the owner can leave by the other, locking it with the key—no need to walk round the car. On the other hand, a door Cannot be locked by setting the handle and slamming it shut from outside, so that it is impossible to get locked out of a Porsche with the key inside. Once the doors are locked the engine compartment and front bonnet are automatically rendered Continued on page 80

thief-proof, because they are opened by pulling knobs within the car. But if a wiseacre remarks that this is all very well until a cable breaks and makes it impossible for the rightful owner to get at engine or petrol tank, the Porsche owner then points to rubber grommets hidden beneath his car, through which wires can be slipped for the purpose of operating the bonnet catches. Incidentally, both front and back bonnets possess over-centre hinges, so that they swing up and stay open automatically, without needing props.

The big petrol tank has an enormous yet leakproof filler cap, no that refuelling; can be done as fast as a petrol pump can deliver. And what other car has upholstery inside the engine compartment, the engine keeping so clean that this smart sound-deadening material never becomes soiled ? A powerful white reversing lamp is operated by the gear-lever, but only works when theheadlamps are on in the dimmed positioit, and doesn’t work at all on sidelamps, the idea being that it is then impossible to dazzle other motorists while reversing and, equally, the driver will not motor away after using this bright reversing lamp into the blackness lit by sidelamps only.

Naturally, features of the sort just described would he expected only in the higher-priced cars, but owners of less well-appointed vehicles can find consolation in filling some of the deficiencies by fitting proprietary extras-such as a little gadget* MOTOR SPORT received recently for making the ignition key-hole luminous in the dark, thus obviating fumbling in the dark, to name only one inexpensive but practical ” extra.” Incidentally, two items British manufacturers might provide are the lamps-switch extension on the steering column found on most French cars, and the little hook often thoughtfully fitted in Continental cars, front which jackets, coats and madame’s umbrella can be conveniently hung. When we took delivery of a Volkswagen we regarded the combined ignition-key and starter-switch as a feature peculiar to this make. Later we encountered the same arrangement WRONG on the Borgward-Hansa Isabella, and later ASSUMPTION still heard that Mercedes-Benz had adopted

the same idea. Obviously this convenient switching system is a German proprietary unit. The Renault 750 also uses it in slightly different form.

The moral is that one sometimes jumps to false conclusions, because a feature rare in one country can be a common proprietary device in others. Even amongst individualistic vintage cars this can apply. Switch-gear, unusual front-brake mechanism, and minor controls, which appear to be characteristic of one make may be found, on examining other vehicles of the same period, to be of proprietary manufacture. Even in the middle-‘twenties it was scarcely economical for manufacturers to make all their own minor components and accessories when there existed outside factories well able to supply such parts at competitive prices.

• The Car Keylite, manufactured by Radium Light Co., Ltd., 41, Wont End Road, N.W.6, prier, 2s. lid. All right, the writer is juvenile, in his second childhood, a blooming Peter Pan ! But he is not ashamed to admit to a liking for the Dinky motor-car miniatures manufactured by Mee THE LATEST eano Limited in Liverpool. The latest in the ” DINKYS ” range are a realistic Triumph TI12 sports

two-seater (3/ in. long), complete with competition number and driver-who is presumably driving to or from a race meeting, as he sits behind a full-width windscreen 1-and the popular and ubiquitous Volkswagen saloon (31 in. long). These miniatures are obtainable from most good toy shops or sports dealers for the decoration of your study or as mascots on the appropriate cars. The respective prices are 3s. 6d. and 2s. 6d.

” In the end we believe that the majority of passenger cars must have independent suspension on all four wheels, and it will be interesting to see which of our major producers

THEY SAY t is first in the field with this highly desirable and long overdue advancement.”-Editorial in The Motor of December 28th, 1955.

” Stirling’s goal is, of course, the World Championship and I am sure that everyone will with him the best of luck. It is a pity, however, that he has decided to go foreign just when it. appears as though Britain may be able to offer some real competition in the Grand Prix field. With Fangio going to Ferrari it looks as if the two top drivers are going to have some real battles next season; perhaps they will have to fight for second place behind an all-British combination ! “-Archie Scott-Brown, writing in Top Gear, January, 1956.

“The production of Volkswagen cars in 1955 reached a total of 330,120, of which 177,591 were sold abroad. Exports were 63 per cent. higher than in 1954, but even so the foreign demand could not be satisfied.”The Times, January 2nd. 1956.