Cars I Have Owned

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52

This time by J. C. Morland, who describes motoring enthusiasm as it breaks out in Kenya.

My first car was a 1924 Senechal which I bought in 1926. It came after a succession of six motor-cycles and two Morgans, both of which latter had the water-cooled o.h.v. Blackburne engine and one of which was a rare bird, being a single-seater. It made up for having only one seat by having two gear-levers, one working fore and aft in the ordinary way situated between the driver’s knees and the other working transversely outside the body on the left.

The Senechal had the Ruby engine and although I only had it about three weeks I rather liked it. The performance was much the same as that of a modern Fiat 600 but it burnt rather more petrol. Suspension was transverse leaf-spring in front like an Austin Seven, and by a pair of superimposed ¼-elliptics at each side behind. The gearbox had only three speeds and the brakes were on rear wheels only and rather feeble at that. The engine had push-rod-operated o.h.v. and a dynamotor in front. This latter never worked while I had the car but this did not matter as it was equipped with both magneto and starting handle. The body was typical of the small French car of the period, being a metal-panelled long-tailed two-seater with the seats staggered about 6 in., and a vee windscreen and very elegant flared mudguards. I did one trip in the car which pleased me at the time, from Holyhead to Lamberhurst, Kent, in exactly 12 hours. I forget the distance now. Shortly after this the car ran a big-end and I had left for Kenya before it was repaired, so it was sold to pay cost of repairs.

Arrived in Kenya, I surveyed the landscape from the back of a horse for about six months and then bought a box-body Buick Master Six which had been used pretty hard as a safari car for the previous two years. It was barely capable of moving when I got it, but we soon found that this was due to the hand-controlled manifold heater having stuck, so that the exhaust gas had to travel a very tortuous path around the carburetter before getting away. Having freed this and forced a large crowbar through the silencer, the car went quite well. I am not sure of the size of the engine but it must have been around 3½-litres. This produced a maximum speed of about 60 m.p.h. and a fuel consumption of about 24 m.p.g. The brakes were foot-operated external-contracting type on all four wheels. They were effective; in fact rather too effective in front, as every time I made a crash stop I broke the main leaf of one or other of the front springs, owing, presumably, to the axle twisting. The car’s other fault was boiling, a particularly annoying habit, as during her safari days someone had fired a rifle through the windscreen, and the threads of the radiator filler cap had stripped, so that one got a shower-bath every time she got hot, and sometimes the subsequent search for the filler cap was quite a protracted affair.

Just before Christmas 1927 I imported my first sports car to Kenya, and I think I can claim to have imported more sports cars to that country that any other private individual! Before the war sports cars simply did not exist in this country; none of the motor agents would have dreamed of importing such things; nobody knew or wanted to know anything about them, and the only “enthusiasts” were those who claimed to have owned Type 35 Bugattis in England but who seemed perfectly content to travel in Kenya on model-T Fords (a car, incidentally, which, in spite of its reputation I found quite useless owing to sheer lack of power). Actually the roads were pretty bad, a high ground clearance was essential if one were to get around without a great deal of anxiety for one’s underneath, and owing to getting stuck in the mud fairly frequently a spacious body in which one could sleep with some degree of comfort was desirable. I think I am right in saying that in 1927 the only cars in Kenya with any claim to sporting characteristics were two or three 6½-litre Hispano-Suizas, a Lancia Lambda or two, and one 30/98 Vauxhall. Anyway, my importation was a Gordon England Cup Model Austin Seven. This deviated from normal in having flared mudguards a rather distressing outside exhaust pipe (fitted for the sake of extra ground clearance), two spare wheels, one outside and one inside the lid of the boot, and a Solex carburetter. This model was perfectly standard as far as the chassis was concerned and obtained its extra performance solely from the very lightweight body, which was made of cardboard and plywood covered with fabric. I was farming most of the time I had this car and I am afraid she was badly treated and at times very much overloaded. Nevertheless, she gave me a lot of pleasure and I did about 12,000 miles during the 18 months I had her.

The only serious troubles of the Austin were one collapsed wheel and a cracked chassis. I sold it to a man, who shortly afterwards became my partner in an up-country garage, for £30. The next car was a Grand Sport twin-cam Salmson, and we decided to make the journey to Mombasa in the Austin in order to meet it and drive it home. Nowadays Mombasa is 314 miles by road from Nairobi and I understand that a time of 5½ hours is considered pretty slow-going for a family saloon. In 1929 the road had a different alignment and was about 40 miles longer and it took us three days in the Austin. I met my partner in Nairobi and found he had already had a slight contretemps, having turned the car upside down in a patch of sand. No damage had been done other than the loss of the windscreen, so we set off at about midday and covered the first 100 miles by sundown at 6 p.m. After a night in the railway rest-house we achieved another 100 miles to the next rest-house by about 2 p.m. My partner wanted to carry on but as I had only just come out of hospital after malaria and as the next stage was 150 miles, I dissuaded him and we spent the afternoon and evening watching the trains go by. The third day we started fairly early and were just in time to catch the last ferry to Mombasa Island at 6.30 p.m. The ferries did not run at night so we were lucky because, if we had missed it, we would have had to spend the night in the car, beseiged by mosquitos. This last day’s run of 150 miles in 10 hours gives an indication of the state of the roads. The car gave absolutely no trouble and we never actually got stuck, and yet our average, without stopping for rest or food, was only 15 m.p.h.

The Salmson had duly been off-loaded from the ship when we went to the docks next day and was a most cheering sight except for one thing. In those days, and for all I know nowadays as well, it was the custom to quote as a car’s ground clearance the distance from the differential case to the ground. I did not know this and when I saw in the Salmson catalogue that the ground clearance was 8 in. I assumed this meant the minimum clearance, which would have been ample. Unfortunately, although the differential clearance may have been 8 in., the minimum clearance under the aluminium sump was rather less than 6 in.—a very different kettle of fish, which shows one of the snags one meets when one has to buy one’s cars without seeing them first.

After a short holiday in Mombasa we had to get back to work, but owing to the ground clearance difficulty with the Salmson we did the first 50 miles sitting in state in our cars in an open truck on the railway. After off-loading at dawn we went by another route through Tanganyika and arrived at Nairobi at about midnight on the second day. Both cars behaved perfectly except that the Salmson blew all its lights.

This Salmson was the cheapest model in the range, with a three-speed gearbox and a two-bearing crankshaft, with splash lubrication. It had an immensely-long fabric-covered tail to the body, which weighed about 150 lb. and was a definite impediment to performance. Later I cut this tail off and with a light home-made body and 2 mm. machined off the head the car was capable of 70 m.p.h. and 35 m.p.g., at 6,000 ft. above sea level. The engine was a lovely piece of work and about the most accessible engine I have ever seen. If I remember right, only four nuts and two oil-pipes had to be undone before removing the camshaft housing, complete with the top internally-splined half of the vertical drive-shaft. Ten more nuts had to be removed to lift the head and about the same number released the cylinder block from the crankcase. A skew gear at the bottom of the camshaft drive-shaft drove a cross-shaft with the magneto on one side of the engine and the dynamo on the other. The hemispherical combustion chambers were machined and the pistons had domed tops; altogether a very modern layout. The gearing was by modern standards very high, being about 20 m.p.h. per 1,000 r.p.m., so that the r.p.m. at 70 were only 3,500. The makers claimed the engine was safe up to 5,000 r.p.m. but one never got anywhere near that even in second gear. There was no differential in the normal-looking rear axle, which enabled Mr. Salmson to economise on brakes, the foot-brake working by cable in the near-side drum only, and the hand-brake on the off side. The front brakes were Perrot type and I imagine did about 80 per cent. of the work.

After I had only had the car about a month I crashed it while trying to overtake a bloke who, when he heard me coming, deliberately drew over to the right, forcing me into a culvert. A new chassis and front axle were required and duly fitted, though as the chassis arrived without any holes drilled in it the process took some time. The chief trouble with the car was oiling plugs, and it always used a lot of oil, apparently intentionally as part of the standard equipment was a bracket screwed to the front of the bulkhead supporting a quart can of Mobiloil BB.

After the first trip up from the coast I never did any long runs on the Salmson as, owing to the small ground clearance, one had to be careful in choosing the route and the weather. In the autumn of 1930 I went to England for two months and returned to Kenya with two E-type 30/98 Vauxhalls. One, which I kept for myself, was a 1922 car (No. E 474), fitted with a pointed-tail two-seater body by Grose of Northampton. The other was E 263 (I think) and was fitted with the ordinary Velox body. This car cost £60 and was handed over to my partner. The two-seater cost £75.

Both these cars blotted their copy books badly before they left England. I took E 474 to the Track to see what she would do, but had only just got into top gear when she went on to three cylinders. Finding the ignition department was O.K. I took her to Thomson and Taylor’s, who discovered the compression was missing on one cylinder, which was eventually traced to a cracked valve seat. The other car did the same thing while cruising at about 40 m.p.h., the trouble here being a broken piston. Fortunately they never repeated this nonsense afterwards.

In Kenya they were a revelation to the locals in the matter of power and speed, particularly on hills. The popular cars in those days were the model-A Ford and the early six-cylinder Chevrolet, while some people bought the Chrysler 70 if they wanted to be particularly dashing. The Vauxhalls of course could run rings round any of these, and moreover, being very light in weight for their size, they did 18 to 20 m.p.g. They had rear-wheel brakes operated by a big outside hand-lever and it was surprising how soon one got into the way of always using the hand-brake. The foot-brake worked on the transmission and was definitely for emergencies only, being very rough and highly inflammable if applied for more than a second or two at a time.

I did not keep my car very long because in the middle of 1931 a man arrived at the garage with one of the last OE 30/98s to be built (No. OE 296), a car which had originally belonged to Humphrey Cook and which had only done about 20,000 miles. The owner said he was taking the car back to England with him, but I could not bear to have the best car in Kenya leave the country again, so I bought it for £180. To raise this it was necessary to sell E 474 and the Salmson. I regretted parting with the latter car, though it was in fact not very much use owing to the low ground clearance. During the war I met a man who had owned it in 1938 or 1939 and who said it was still going like a bomb then, so it must have been good.

OE 296 had a four-seater body very like a Velox but with steel panels instead of aluminium, a bench front seat and “1½” doors, so it was very strong. It also had a well-raked three-panel windscreen, and the scuttle panel was held on by bonnet clips and was easily detachable, so that one could get at the backs of the instruments on the dash. The first time I drove this car I got the biggest motoring thrill I have ever had. I did not drive fast but she gave me a sensation of tremendous power such as I have never experienced before or since. This may sound a bit phoney to modern motorists, accustomed to 100-m.p.h. family saloons, particularly as the car was only capable of just over 80 m.p.h., but nevertheless it is perfectly genuine. OE 296 had the Vauxhall hydraulic brakes, on which a great deal of bad language has been expended. The pedal worked the hydraulics on the front wheels and the transmission. The outside hand-brake worked on the rear wheels only, mechanically, as on the E-type cars but with rather larger drums. The whole trouble was the transmission brake. Even when this did work it was unsatisfactory as the drum was bolted to the front universal joint, which got very hot when the brakes were used, shed all its grease and promptly seized. I never had any trouble with the front brakes, and if only Vauxhalls had fitted these to the rear as well I believe the system would have been very good. Incidentally, in view of the introduction this year by the big brake companies of self-adjusting brakes, it is interesting that the Vauxhall hydraulics were self-adjusting by a very simple system which never gave me any trouble. Shortly after I bought OE 296 Kenya was hit by the world slump and locusts, and garage business became very slack, so I took a job looking after the machinery on a largish farm. The Vauxhall had to act as field tender for various tractors, etc., but she never turned a hair. Though it is nothing to do with cars, the reason why that job came to an end may be of interest.

We had about 300 acres of maize planted when one day at about 11 a.m. a swarm of locusts appeared. By lunchtime the whole 300 acres had been eaten by the locusts. After that I went gold-mining; or, rather, looking for gold—but failed to find it. For a month or so, until I had found an area which I hoped would produce something, the Vauxhall was my home as well as my transport. Once I started sinking shafts she had the job of hauling pit props to the site, which she did without a murmur, while when I wanted to go to the local township for supplies she was always ready to go up to 75 or 80 m.p.h. on any reasonable piece of road. Apart from the brakes she gave no trouble at all, though since she burnt petrol at the rate of 16 m.p.g. she was a hit expensive to run. In 1933 I received a legacy. When I inquired of my mining friends what I should do with it they all, with one accord, said: “Spend it.” So I sold the Vauxhall to my garage partner for £60 and went to England for 18 months.

While in England I had a 1926 0.M., which was a good car, though slow and lacking in brakes; a 1930 International Aston Martin which had been very badly treated by a previous owner and was not a good car; a 1927 Type 37 Bugatti which was not wildly fast but handled better and was more fun to drive than anything else I have owned; a new T.T. Replica Frazer-Nash which was not as fast as it ought to have been and broke a lot of chains; and another Vauxhall (chassis No. OE 299, engine No. OE 300).

I took this Vauxhall to R. R. Jackson’s establishment at Brooklands and he overhauled the engine for me and fitted a new set of brakes. These were cable-operated by hand or foot on all four wheels, the front axle being an Alford and Alder, which I believe Mr. Jackson had thought of fitting to his own 30/98. The transmission brake was scrapped and the wheels were rebuilt to take 5.25 by 21 tyres as the 32 by 4½ straight-sided ones originally fitted were not obtainable in Kenya. On this car I did my only European tour, going off to the south of Spain the day after the car left Mr. Jackson’s, with the engine very stiff and the brakes untested. However, the engine was nicely run-in when we got back and the brakes proved adequate though not tremendously powerful. At least some retardation occurred when one pressed the pedal, which was not by any means always the case with the hydraulic system. We timed the car over a flying lap at Brooklands and she returned just under 83 m.p.h., which I thought very reasonable as no modifications for speed had been incorporated. I brought the car back to Kenya with me in December 1934 and she was on the road until 1942, and I sold her in 1950. She, too, broke a piston, which broke the block as well but as I had bought back OE 296, whose block was intact, this was not so disastrous as it might have been.

In 1936 tyres to fit 21-in. rims also became unobtainable so I had the wheels rebuilt in England to 17 in. and used 7.00 by 17 tyres, which were standard on certain types of American 1-ton trucks. In spite of changing from 32 by 4½ tyres running at 45 lb. pressure to 7.00 by 17 running at 24 lb., the steering was unaffected, except that it became a trifle heavy at parking speeds. Mr. Jackson also supplied a pair of S.U. carburetters with adaptors for this car. In spite of trying a large variety of needles I lost 100 r.p.m. in top, but the two S.U.s were more economical than the single Zenith and gave easier starting and smoother acceleration.

In 1938 I decided I wanted something more economical and comfortable than the 30/98, so I asked Mr. Jackson to get me a 20/90 British Salmson. He was not very keen on this car, preferring the S.S.100. I daresay this was the better car, but it was impossible for me owing to low ground clearance and 18-in, wheels for which tyres were unobtainable. Eventually he sent out the Salmson which had belonged to Miss M. D. Patten and had been used in the Monte Carlo Rally, some English rallies and occasionally in club events at Brooklands. The reason why I chose this car was because, on paper, it had everything a colonial car should have. Its specification, now, would look perfectly up to date, even to the balljoint steering knuckles instead of king-pins which Mr. Ford is making such a song about in the U.S.A. However, it had a bad chassis, so that the rack-and-pinion steering, the transverse-leaf-spring i.f.s. and all the other beauties were of no avail. I met the car in Mombasa, going there by aeroplane in about two hours, and returning in one day to Nairobi in the car. Rather a different story from our trip in 1929 to fetch the other Salmson! I did 20,000 miles in the car and sold it in 1948 when the chassis finally broke in the middle. The engine and gearbox were well made and nicely finished, and it is a great pity they were not adequately supported.

In 1944 I wrote to Monaco of Watford, who had taken over R. R. Jackson’s business in 1938, asking them if they would like to buy for me another 30/98 and rebuild it with every modification anyone had ever thought up for these cars. They said they would but, apart from buying a car to work on, they did nothing else. I had to go to England again in 1948 and hoped to be able to try my car, which should have been ready by then, but they were too far behind, so eventually I bought Mr. A. S. Heal’s car, which had all the modifications I wanted, but even that was not fit for a trial run of more than two or three miles.

This car eventually arrived in Kenya early in 1949. The brakes this time were at last satisfactory, being Delage drums on all wheels with Lockheed hydraulic operation. The car also had two extra cross-members, one between the front spring pivot-pins and the other crossing the clutch shaft between engine and gearbox. I don’t know if it was the effect of these cross-members, but the car certainly held the road better and seemed more comfortable than my previous Vauxhalls. It was also quite a bit faster, having, I was told, a special camshaft, a compression-ratio of about 7 to 1 and two Solex carburetters. The snag was a chronic lack of oil pressure when hot. I had previously discovered with OE 300 that 30/98s don’t really worry if there is any pressure or not, but nevertheless I found it worrying to drive at 3,000 r.p.m. with only about 2 lb. showing on the gauge. I did everything I could think of, short of refitting the crankshaft and big-ends, but never got the pressure right.

After the war motor sport became quite popular even in Kenya and towards the end of 1950 a hill-climb took place in the City Of Nairobi on a public road with a tarmac surface. The Vauxhall made second f.t.d., being beaten only by a stripped 1934 Ford chassis with Mercury engine. This so impressed the owner of a Railton that he bought the Vauxhall, together with what was left of OE 296 and OE 299, and thus ended my 20 years of 30/98s.

While in England in 1948 I bought a 1½-litre H.R.G. with left-hand drive. Before coming to Kenya the car was fitted by the works with 8-to-1 pistons and the 4.55-to-1 crown-wheel and pinion. After the Nairobi hill-climb I entered the H.R.G. in every hill-climb and speed trial available and she did very well, sometimes travelling as much as 200 miles to the event and 200 miles home again afterwards. In March 1951 the first meeting was held on the Langa Langa circuit, This was a rather narrow and very bumpy tarmac road on private land, which had been made during the war as a kind of circular link road to join up the various units of a large Army camp. The lap distance was 3.3 miles and the course went up and down hill quite a bit. There were only five corners, all of them right-handers, and only two of them were sharp enough to require the use of the brakes on the H.R.G. The eventual lap record stands at about 86 m.p.h. by a modified XK120. With all its faults, Langa Langa was great fun and vast crowds (for Kenya) used to come and spectate.

At the first meeting the H.R.G. won its class scratch race and finished third in a handicap in which the old 30/98, which was still without any oil pressure, finished second. At the second meeting we got two firsts, one in in five-lap scratch race, the other a 50-mile class handicap. At the third meeting the M.G. enthusiasts got tired of watching the tail-end of the H.R.G. and a very special machine was produced which had a c.r. of about 12 to 1 and burnt methanol at the rate of 8 m.p.g. The H.R.G., which always ran on pump fuel, could not cope with this, but it ran second, beating all the other M.G.s and a Jowett Jupiter.

I sold the H.R.G., after about 20,000 miles, early in 1953 and its present owner has carried on the tradition of thwarting the M.G.s in no uncertain manner. I believe it is a fact that no M.G., unless it ran on methanol, has ever beaten the H.R.G. in a hill-climb. The introduction of the M.G. MGA has not altered the position, though there was only one-tenth of a second in it at the last meeting. Langa Langa came to an end with the Mau Mau rebellion in 1953.

In 1952 I went to England again and took delivery of a new 3-litre Alvis with the sports two-seater body, and ran it about 6,000 miles before shipping it to Kenya. This car was, unfortunately, very like the 20/90 Salmson of 1938. On paper it should have been ideal. The engine and gearbox were good, but the chassis was rotten. Early in October 1952 I started out to have a look at Africa in this car, by means of a trip to Cape Town and back. On the second day out from Nairobi one of the bonded-rubber engine-mountings came “unbonded.” I had this bolted up fairly firmly but leaving quite a bit of free movement, but a week or so later, in Portuguese East Africa, the engine fell with a loud crash through the front cross-member. This was a box-section affair and fortunately the engine only went through the top part and I was able to get to Salisbury and have it repaired.

After that there were constant minor troubles, and on the return journey two exhaust valves burnt out and were replaced with spares I was carrying. The whole trip was about 13,000 miles and took three months. Very shortly after getting back to Kenya the off-side steering-arm broke; fortunately the wheel “followed” and no accident occurred. Later, the engine fell out again, so we stripped the chassis right down and welded in a new and stronger crossmember. We also found that the tail-end of the chassis was very badly cracked so, after patching it all up, I parted with the car without much regret after 35,000 miles in 16 months.

In May 1953 the Le Mans Frazer-Nash arrived which I had ordered when in England. I still have this car. Unfortunately, Langa Langa had packed up before it arrived, and all its competitions have taken place on earth or laterite roads, until February of this year, when it had its first opportunity of showing its form on tarmac.

In order to be successful in hill-climbs, etc., on earth roads, a lot of power at low engine speed is necessary in order to avoid wheel-spin. This fact probably accounts to a large extent for the success of the H.R.G. over the M.G.s locally, and it is noteworthy that the Cooper-J.A.P. can always beat the Cooper-Norton on this sort of going. The Bristol engine, with its total absence of power up to 3,500 r.p.m., followed by a sudden inrush of all the power in the world, is a bit tricky on earth roads, and consequently the F.-N. has never figured in the f.t.d. lists, though a consistent class winner.

In February 1956 the Municipal Council of Nakuru constructed a racing circuit of its own, a fairly enterprising thing to do in “Darkest Africa.” The circuit is short, only 1.3 miles per lap, but it has a tarmac roadway not less than 30 ft. wide and should be reasonably safe. It is very hard on cars and tiring for the drivers. I got a friend to drive the F.-N. as I am getting a bit old for these capers myself, and it easily won the 10-lap scratch race for unlimited sports cars, and the 50-lap formule libre scratch race, also setting the record lap, at slightly under 70 m.p.h.

The Frazer-Nash has given a fair amount of trouble, both engine, transmission and chassis, but I feel it is a car worth persevering with because when it is in the mood it can be wonderful. I hope to keep it for a long time even if I don’t use it very much, as it is certainly the last car of its type that I shall ever buy. Just recently, at about 17,000 miles, it has decided to go better than ever before, though I don’t know whether this is due to being just nicely run-in, or whether circuit racing has had a good effect on it. On a recent run of some 530 miles it did about 27 m.p.g., though as this model has no speedometer it is hard to get an accurate figure.

In October 1954 I bought an Austin-Healey with Le Mans mods. Most, of the critics of this car run it down on the score of lack of performance, which seems to show they don’t know much about it. My Healey was slightly faster on the flat than the Frazer-Nash and in a fuel-economy run of 200 miles of easy going at 33 m.p.h. average speed did 46 m.p.g. without any preparation whatever. What is wrong with the car, most unexpectedly, is the chassis. There is a great deal of scuttle shake when cornering on rough roads and this shake led to splitting and cracking of the front-end of the body.

My car was incredibly badly turned out by the local agents, so I complained to the Donald Healey Motor Company, who got cracking with Austins, and profuse apologies were forthcoming. The car went back to the agents for three weeks, after which it was rather worse than before!

It usually pays in Kenya to get advice direct from the makers and then do the work oneself, rather than have anything to do with the locals, who either haven’t a clue or couldn’t care less, or both. As a touring car I liked the Healey, though one had to he very careful about the small ground clearance. It was quiet, comfortable and economical, and put up most astonishing average speeds without any fuss or effort. I ran my car 9,000 miles in four months, when it was obliterated while parked by a police lorry.

I have not, until recently, owned many cars of the bread-and-butter sort. After the Buick of 1927 the next was an Austin Eight tourer which I bought in 1940 for the use of the man who looked after my farm while I was in the Army. Apart from the Girling mechanical brakes, which were always useless, and a very high oil consumption towards the end, this was quite a sturdy little car and did good work as a farm hack until I sold it in 1949. I replaced it with a Land Rover. I believe some people actually like these cars, but I found mine the most disastrous vehicle I have ever had anything to do with. Nothing worked and everything else broke. I got rid of it in 1952, after about 10,000 miles.

The next was a Skoda van, which gave me my first introduction to and an abiding dislike for swing-axle rear suspension. Owing to this nonsense at the back both rear tyres (6.00 by 16) wore through to the canvas in 5,000 miles. The car felt most unsafe on corners and had a habit of lifting its inside rear wheel off the ground and waving it madly in the air, which did nothing to improve adhesion. Comfort was not any better than with a rigid axle, neither was wheelspin on wet roads reduced. The car was obviously built “down to a price” but the 1,100-c.c. engine was good, and powerful for its size.

Next came a Fiat 500C, with which I did 17,000 miles in 10 months. After I had scrapped the Marelli plugs, which disintegrated and fell inside the cylinder head, this car literally gave no trouble whatever. I found the performance to be 52 m.p.h. and 43 m.p.g.—this latter figure a bit disappointing—but I think the Weber carburetter is less economical than the Solex fitted to earlier models. Unfortunately a wild animal charged into the front of the car one night, damaging the chassis and suspension, so I sold it after repairs. After that I wanted another “Topolino,” but they had become obsolete, so I bought the first Fiat 600 imported to Kenya. I did 24,000 miles on this car in just over a year and only sold it because, having gone back to farming, I had to have a load carrier. I would have liked a “Multipla,” but the driving seat being perched over the front wheel does not allow enough head room, so I now have a Morris Minor pick-up on which it is too early yet to comment.. The Fiat 600 was most likeable and if only it wore its engine in the right place and had a rigid rear axle it would have been excellent. As it was, owing to the swing-axle at the back, at 24,000 miles the second set of tyres was more than half worn out, and I had a certain amount of trouble with overheating owing to the location of the engine. A “Topolino” with 21 b.h.p. instead of 16 would have suited me better.

That seems to be the lot: rather fewer than some of your correspondents, but in this country one cannot visit the dealers and pick up an interesting machine, because there are very few interesting machines, either new or secondhand, except those that one imports oneself.

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