Letters from Readers, February 1958



Victor Vexations


After reading your excellent road-test report on the Vauxhall Victor I felt that I should add my own views of this car. On the attached sheet I have listed the main faults in this car. The minor ones, e.g., lack of leg room in the rear seats, no handle on the boot lid, lack of passenger’s sun visor, rubber round door edges which will perish in a few years’ time, etc., are all too well known to need listing.

I am, Yours, etc.,

D. M. S. Clark


Mr. Clark’s list read as follows:—

Vauxhall Victor (F Type)
Car received 16.7.57. Total mileage— 5,800.

1. Poor finish which one does not normally see, e.g., under facia, door edges, etc.
2. Windscreen wiper has fallen off twice, has ceased functioning, and is now unserviceable.
3. Poor acceleration, since corrected.
4. Press-down door sill-lock came away in band when door was in locked position. and therefore unusable until sorted.
5. Chromium rim of steering wheel boss worked loose.
6. Carpets found to be wet, both back and front, on many occasions: cause unknown.
7. Chromium flash along near side worked loose.
8. Exhaust pipe parted front silencer, since welded.
9. Radio fitted, but resulted in re-positioning of heater.
10. Chromiumed hub-plates blistering on all four wheels.
11. Spring in steering-column gear-change broken, making gear changing very difficult.


The V.S.C.C and the P.V.T.


I would like to assure owners of post-vintage thoroughbred cars that this Club does welcome them and includes classes for them in all events except our Welsh Rally, in which we cannot cope with a larger entry than we get of vintage cars. At all race meetings, driving tests and other road rallies, etc., we are only too pleased to have a large P.V.T. class, and we feel that the owners of the best cars made in the 1930s are well catered for by this Club.

As regards Mr. Monro’s argument that only good cars of the 1930s are still running and that therefore we might accept all cars of this period, I am afraid he is a bit out; there are still a number of pretty frightful cars of the period which, if not still running, are at least still semi-mobile, as can be seen on the roads at weekends, and these we do not cater for!

I am, Yours, etc.,

T. W. Carson, Secretary, Vintage Sports Car Club

Bishop’s Green.


What of the Wolseley 1500?


Being the owner of an early Wolseley 1500—car No. 710—I read with interest the letter from Mr. P. J. Eva regarding his own experiences of the model.

Fortunately, as far as petrol consumption is concerned, I am pleased to report that after 7,000 miles of fairly strenuous driving my consumption has never dropped below 35 m.p.g., which I think for a car of this nature is fairly commendable.

With regard to the question of acceleration, whilst admitting that it has not the “urge of an Aston,” I find it quite satisfactory providing one takes into account the torque curve characteristics of the engine. I expect Mr. Eva is already aware that this de-tuned version of the B.M.C. B-type engine develops its maximum torque at 3,000 r.p.m., i.e., about 41 m.p.h. in third gear or 55/56 in top. Consequently there is very poor acceleration in top gear in the 30/40-m.p.h. region, but a considerably improved performance in the 50/60-m.p.h. region.

With regard to performance, whilst it is quite capable of an easy 65 in third gear, I find that for maximum acceleration it is far better to change into top at about 55, which is what one would expect after studying the engine characteristics.

My own model has not been “doctored” in any way other than to advance the ignition some 16 clicks on the ratchet control from the position at which it was originally set.

If any of your other readers have yet increased the performance of a “1500’s” engine I should be pleased to learn of his experience as I am at present considering raising compression by 0.5 and also fitting twin S.U. carburetters.

My only other criticism is in respect of roll, but to try and eliminate this I am about to fit a front anti-roll bar marketed by an accessory manufacturing firm.

I am, Yours, etc.,

I. M. Thompson

Sutton Coldfield.



I read Mr. Eva’s letter in the. December issue with interest. At the time the car was announced I was a satisfied and enthusiastic driver of a 1955 D.K.W. which had covered about 30,000 miles, of which about half had been during the time it was in my hands.

The new Wolseley seemed to me to be a genuine attempt on the part of the British Motor Industry to market a model which incorporated the features for which those who, like yourself, have the interests of the discerning motorist at heart, had been clamouring; that is to say, a reasonably small and compact vehicle with a well-finished body and a potentially adequate power unit. In spite of the flood of advertisements it was only after direct contact with the manufacturers and threats of the purchase of another car of the same make that I was using, that I was able to produce a promise of delivery and that only by the end of August. Unless I made a great fuss the question of colour was purely a matter of pot luck and all those numberless varieties of tone and shade, with which we were extolled in the advertisements, were in any event an extra fifteen guineas, which, in view of some of the colours, I felt was hardly worth the extra expenditure, quite apart from the complete failure in any of the advertisements to mention there was an extra price to be paid for this!

I have now covered almost 5,000 miles in the car and apart front one or two minor faults, which were soon put right, the car has given considerable satisfaction.

I agree with Mr. Eva that the acceleration leaves a lot to be desired and I can endorse what he says about petrol consumption. This has really been the only serious bugbear. Coupled with the small fuel tank it does seem to be a drawback. A rival periodical seems to have managed 32 miles per gallon and the motoring scribes seem to be united in saying that even with hard driving it, i.e., the petrol consumption, should not drop below 30 miles per gallon. Only once, and with the use of great care, have I managed ever to register 30 miles per gallon, more normally it is in the region of 27 or 28 miles per gallon, and in this respect the road testers seem to have been blessed with singularly frugal and economic models; an experience which has not been shared by Mr. Eva, by me, or by other owners to whom I have spoken about it.

There were; as I have said, several minor defects which marred an otherwise well-thought-out design—most of these related to slipshod inspection rather than faults of design. By and large, I am well satisfied with the car and if only one could have got one when it was announced, and after one had purchased it one could have got the proper heater for it without delay, one might begin to think that some right-minded people were beginning to make themselves felt at the B.M.C.!

I am, Yours, etc.,

M. W. Jeffreys



Another Rare Riley


The closing lines of Mr. L. J. Beach’s letter in the January Issue prompt me to write.

Eighteen months ago, I bought the last 2-litre road-racing Riley developed by F. W. Dixon and thus fulfilled another boyhood ambition, albeit rather late in the day! The car had one or two well-known owners in the interim. but it came to me as a pure racing car. without any frills: a new front end, suspension and nose were the only major alterations since Dixon used it.

My plan was to convert it into a usable road car, and this I have managed to do. Of course, the problems grew as the job progressed and, unfortunately, Dixon’s death, together with that of the last owner some time earlier, aggravated lite situation. However, the astonishing patience of the Service Department of Rileys, channelled through the medium of Arnold Farrar, their manager, and the helpfulness of people like Horace Richards, Bob Gerard, W. H. M. Burgess Ltd., K. Flint and Pike and Co. Ltd. of Plymouth, who had to do a lot of improvisation, simplified my task, and the job was completed last year. I have managed to retain the external features, added a hand-starting-cum-dynamo unit, simplified the carburetter system (keeping the six-Amal unit for holidays!) and lowered the compression to about eight to one. The car runs smoothly, has tremendous urge through the gears, is most flexible in top, and has a maximum of about one hundred. I have no idea how it will compare with modern sports ears, but I am satisfied that for about half the cost of, say, a TR3, I own a fast, safe and unique car that will now enjoy a well-cared-for retirement.

I am, Yours, etc.,

T. Quayle



“This is Your Life”


The following concerns my Ford Consul and is not fiction :—

You were born in August 1955 on the outskirts of London, a happy. bouncing 1,500.c.c. baby of 2,000 lb. Then tragedy; within ten days of being delivered you collapsed with badly scored bores, and a few days later your clutch began to give out. But you soon recovered when a new engine and clutch were fitted to you. Unfortunately for your proud parents, you had a relapse and 2,000 miles later you went down again with scored bores. As the shock of another engine might have been too much for your constitution it was decided to rebore your own engine and have new pistons fitted. From then onwards you made great progress, but, alas!, you only lasted a further 3,000 miles; when it became apparent that something was still not right. In desperation, you were gently taken to your place of birth, where, with great care, you had another engine fitted, and as it was noticed that your legs seemed weak they grafted on a new front suspension. In the hope that a change of climate might be beneficial to your health you were taken abroad to a warmer climate, where you gave gallant service for 9,000 miles. On return to this country in 1957 it soon became apparent that the cold didn’t agree with you, for, with only 17,000 miles on your young face, you developed badly worn valve stems and rocker gear, a lashing timing chain and a scored bore. We are really quite pleased that your distributor and fuel pump noises smother your small-end knocks. Your parents’ once-proud boast, “Listen to my beautiful baby,” is not repeated now.

The best of luck with your magazine. It’s a good one.

I am. Yours, etc.,

J. S. Pritchard



British World-Beater Wanted


I had last year an experience which has prompted me to to you.

I was passing the large showroom of a local B.M.C. dealer when I noticed that he had on show the latest Nash Metropolitan, a car which had previously struck me as being rather a good-looker. I went into the showroom for a closer look. My own car, a 1957 VW de luxe, was left just outside the showroom.

A salesman then proceeded to tell me that a VW was a thoroughly bad buy as it was almost impossible to sell secondhand for various reasons. He said no one would think of paying £600 for a secondhand VW when a new Austin A35 was available for the same price. He then went on extolling the virtues of the A35 and pointing out much better it was in every respect than my VW. Shocking salesmanship, to say the least, particularly as I had previously owned a new A30 which literally fell to pieces on me before 5,000 miles and for which I had the devil’s own job getting spares.

The aforementioned gentleman(?) then offered to take me on any distance in an A35 and arrive at any pre-arranged destination before me, having used only half the amount,of petrol. I immediately offered to take him on with one gallon in each tank and a £10 bet on it to boot; offer not accepted, needless to say.

The point which I wish to make is that this gentleman(?) is not alone in his views in the trade, and I now wonder if they really believe what they say about the VW.

My obvious comment to people with such unenlightened views is that I bought mine in desperation after some five post-1954 British cars had let me down rather badly in one way or another with.such items as differential failure, steering-box failure, front suspension failure and other items like water-pump failure, windscreen wiper, gear selector, speedo., wheel bearings, stub axle, etc., etc.; I could go on. I admit that all these cars were driven rather hard and all cost under £700, but all these failures occurred at well under the 10.000-mile mark and spares were by no means easy to come by.

My VW has now covered almost 20,000 miles with absolutely no trouble at all; plugs and points have naturally been renewed. I still have no trouble getting 38 m.p.g. and the average petrol consumption to date is 37.9 m.p.g. The whole vehicle still looks and performs like new, although it has been rather harshly treated.

I maintain the VW myself because nothing could be simpler.

I dismantled my front hub bearings to repack at 15,000 miles and was amazed to find the original grease absolutely uncontaminated (look at your British car front hubs at 5;000 miles—a filthy black mess). I was also pleased to see micro-fine bearing adjustment—none of this “Back off the nut when you feel drag and then find the nearest split-pin hole.”

My tyres, Michelin tubeless, are about one-third worn, with no sign of uneven wear. The wheel balance cannot be improved upon, I am told by my service station.

There, is no backlash in the transmission, and toe-in, camber, etc., are still in perfect adjustment, being untouched from new. I could go on ad infinitum, but suffice to say that every VW I have seen bears the mark of an.enthusiastic workman and a rigorous inspection department.

I am in no way unpatriotic and would very much like to see our “head-in-the-sand” manufacturers come up with something approaching this wonderful VW as regards performance for size, comfort, finish, suspension, gearbox, etc.

Needless to say. my next car will be a VW (if this one wears out)!!

I would say: “Come on, Messrs. B.M.C., Rootes, Ford, etc., let’s have a modern car and, if it’s a small car, without coolant and its associated plumbing.” It you must put the engine at the front, drive the front wheels, and for heaven’s sake let’s have all-round independent suspension and please don’t aim at 20,000 miles’ trouble-free running as a yardstick of quality; make it 60,000 as per that other car.”

I would end by saying that several of my friends have recently purchased VWs and cover very considerable annual mileages; most of them would not now consider any other make.

The British Motor Industry is at present on the crest of a wave but can and will be displaced by far-sighted foreign manufacturers if they continue this no-change policy.

I would like to see the result of European Free Trade on the sale of our small cars on the home market when VW and Renault Dauphine, etc., would sell for under £600.

The very best of luck to yourself and your staff, and may your forthright criticism and policy pay dividends in the form of a British world-heater in the small-car field.

I am, Yours, etc.,

R. Smith



“Great Expectations”


I have now been able to make satisfactory arrangements to get Motor Sport from my local newsagent so I shall not be renewing my subscription.

I would like to say a big “Thank You” for introducing me to Motoring News. When I got my first copy I thought it might be a weekly produced by the Editor of Motor Sport but, oh! dear, no, it is obviously produced by a completely different editorial staff and now I look forward to every Thursday with “great expectations.”

It can never take the place of Motor Sport but, my goodness, it does fill up the gaps between the first of each month and carries all the “tit-bits” that Motor Sport are unable to include.

At 6d. per week it is value second to none.

I am, Yours, etc.,

C. Walford



A Rare Sports Model


I thought you might be interested in the vehicle illustrated above. Does anybody recognise it?

It is a 1939 2½-litre Hanomag sports with, as far as we could see into its rather huge engine, six “pots,” giving joist on the “ton” down the Cologne-Frankfurt autobahn at night with three up. As far as we could discover there were only six of this model produced: does anybody know of, or anything about, any others?

Through force of circumstances, it had to go to the breaker’s yard when it became impossible to move it or take it with us when we made a big move. With much heart-break we said goodbye to a car that would have been the dream of any young man who drives in his father’s yellow gloves!

Please don’t condemn us you protectors and champions of the old and the beautiful: we’ve regretted that rash act ever since.

I am. Yours, etc.,

Dave McCulloch

B.F.P.O. 43.


The Cost of Insurance


Mr. Stead complains of the cost of insuring his car, directing his remarks against the “Norwich Union” in particular, and insurance companies in general. I think that he does not appreciate, nor do motorists as a whole, the services rendered by the Motor Departments of insurance companies.

I often hear this sort of statement made by motorists . . “I think the premium for my car is excessive for the risk: insurance companies must be making fantastic profits.” The figures below are the underwriting losses sustained by Motor Departments in 1956. They are extracted from The Post Magazine and Insurance Monitor of January 2nd, 1958, and I hope they will make the motoring public appreciate the true position:—

The increase of premiums in July was made in the hope of putting the business back on a sound footing, but insurance companies are awaiting the 1957 results with apprehension. Next time readers pay their premiums. I hope that they will bear the above figures in mind.

I am. Yours, etc.,

Graham Walker

London, S.E.15.

[It is common knowledge that due to the increase in incidents. accidents, shunting-matches and parking scrapes motor car insurance premiums have gone up but the injustice we wish to see stamped out is the charging of excessively high premiums based solely on vehicle-type, and without regard to a client’s driving record. Why should private-enterprise companies virtually exclude from the road vehicles which they regard as too fast or too old, regardless of who is proposing to drive them? Also, why are Third-Party-Only policies so costly—is it not that interchange of liability (“knock-for-knock”) between the insurance companies has inflated the cost of even these innocent policies? — Ed.]


The Export Market in Historic Cars


I feel I must point in my word of protest, too, being stung to action by the sight of a full-page advertisement in the current issue of the U.S. magazine Road and Track, taken by a firm called “Vintage Cars of England.” This has been opened in Hollywood by none other than that great protagonist of the vintage car, Jack Bond.

A really superb collection of cars is offered, every one a rarity and in concours condition.

Why these cars should be allowed to leave Britain is beyond me. It is so unfair that the Americans who through their own neglect, have allowed most of their classic cars to go to the scrap heap, should now strip the British enthusiast of the automobile craftsmanship he has so zealously guarded with loving care throughout the long years.

The age of tinware is rapidly overcoming the British Isles, too, and really prime classics are becoming increasingly difficult to come by. Yet this depressing transatlantic traffic increases every day. Every pressure must be brought to bear to see that this flood is checked.

We all know the power of the almighty dollar that we woo with such ardour. But we do not denude the Victoria and Albert Museum for the pleasure of the American collector. Why should vintage cars be any different?

Let us sell our souls to the U.S., certainly—but not our irreplaceable old cars. The Englishman has got to have something left to live for!

I am, Yours, etc.,

Harry D. Jackson

Winnipeg, Canada.


A 1936 Rover


With reference to Mr. Arnold Bell’s letter, I would like to endorse his remarks about the neat stowage of the hood and sidescreens of the post-war Rover tourer, but would like to add that exactly the same method has been employed since the model was first introduced in 1934!

I enclose a photograph (reproduced below — Ed.] of my own 1936 Rover with the hood and screens stowed away, the bodywork being identical to the 1934 model.

It is interesting to note the similarities in the body styles of the 1936 and 1947 tourers—an indication that the pre-war Rover tourers were cars years ahead of their time; in fact some twenty-three years ahead of the Rootes Group!

I am, Yours, etc.,

D. A. J. Bentley