MOTORING OPINIONS FROM CANADA— Sir,
I am one of your latest subscribers and I am dictating this letter on a sound-scriber record, which is going to my home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the letter will be typed sip and sent to you from there. I am spending the winter in Lausanne. Switzerland, and on a trip to Paris several weeks ago I picked up the November issue of year magazine. On a more recent trip to, Paris I found the December number and was so intrigued by your editorial on pages 737-738 that I went into Smith’s store on the Rue de Rivoli and entered a subscription to your magazine, which will be sent to me at my office in Michigan.
In view of the e.ontroversy which has raged in your columns, I thought you would be interested in Tom MeCahill’s ” Carvaleade of 1955 ” and the review of the new Dodge, both of them from the December issue of illechanix Illustrated. Tom McCahill, as you probably know, is our leading auto tester and is probably read by more Americans than almost any other man. I think you Will be particularly interested in what he has to sayabout the Ford Thunderbird and its effect on the competition of foreign sports cars selling under $5,000.00. I, unfortunately, do not have the figures available to me in Lausanne, but my recollection is that the Thunderbird has sold approximately 10,000 cars this year, and unquestionably this figure must mean that they have taken a great many sales away from Jaguar, Aston Martin and two or three of the other English higherpriced sports cars.
It is interesting to read in your November issue of the number of British makes that now exceed a hundred miles an hour, either just barely exceeding that figure, or exceeding it by a considerable margin. Frankly, I think this is all to the good because the day is over when English cars with speeds of only 80 miles an hour can be sold in America. As Tofu McCahill points out, in his hook “The Modern Sports Car,” there was a time, right after the war, when any English sports car, especially M.G.s, doing an honest 80 miles an hour, could walk away from cars produced in America; however, that day has now passed.
I had an interesting example of this a few mouths ago when I was driving a Tnz belonging to a friend of mine, in Oregon, and was driving on the only four-lane highway in that state, which compares with the German autobahn. I was coming borne from a small rally and was driving this friend’s car at about 75 or 80 miles an hour on the four-lane highway, which was probably as fast as I wanted to go at that particular time. Anyway, a stock Chevrolet whizzed past rne as though I was standing still, and disappeared in the distance in a remarkably short space of time. Shortly after that an Oldsmobile 88 proceeded to do the same thing.
If I have any advice for British motor-car manufacturers, to enable them to make more sales in America, I would first of all list—have more dealers and give good service. My second point would be to continue to make fast ears, and in this connection I think the M.G. people would be decidedly well advised to make available for sales in America the Le Mans head that has been,so much discussed. After all, one of the main reasons why people buy sports ears in America is so that they will be fast and will be able to get ahead of American stock cars, and this can only take place if car manufacturers in England continue to put their very best foot forward. As Toni McCahill points out, it was only four short years ago. that only one American car was able to pass the hundred miles an hour mark; now there are loads of them. I hesitate to throw myself into the Volkswagen discussion, but I can only say from experience that I know a great. Many young men” between the of 18 and 25 who are not able to afford more expensive cars, hut who want something in the sports-car category, buy Volkswagens. This may surprise you because one would hardly think of a Volkswagen as being a sports car, but, nevertheless, it its true that members Of the sports-car clubs who cannot afford anything more expensive buy Volkswagens. It Might also interest your readers to know that in a great many of the smaller rallies there are special .classes for stock-car Volkswagens, and these races are realty very interesting to watch and, of course, they are an excellent test of drivers’ skill. Also. I might point out this fact; the Swiss are notoriously hard-headed people who are not given to throwing their money around, and the most remarkable thing to me has been the sales of Volkswagens here in Switzerland. When I With first here after the war, in 1950, there were, of course, comparatively few of them around and the oar one saw most was the little rear-engined Renault. However, by 1954. Volkswagens were everywhere in abundance, and now this year there are even more. Speaking of this car,. I was certainly interested in the .letter from Canada, entitled ‘What Canada Wants,” in your November issue,
I am unable to say whether English car sales would be increased in America if they had such things as power steering, automatic transmissions, power brakes, etc. The absence of these gadgets, which seem to intrigue so many Americans. might keep down some Sales. However, it’s quite obVinua that anyone purchasing Sports. cars would not be interested in any of these items, and a great many of your sales, in fact the vast majorit y Ti America, are sports .ears. I an Yours. etc.,
Michigan. JooN W. BLODGETT, Jo. *