Matters of Moment, February 1961

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The compulsory old-car tests

After toying with the idea for five years, the Government enforces compulsory testing of old cars from the middle of this month, but at first only of those over 24 years old, an indication that the scheme is expected to be difficult to operate. There is everything to be said for ensuring that all road vehicles are in a safe condition but Mr. Marples has not been at his best over these tests of the ten-year-olds. The scheme has been introduced at a time when it could be misconstrued as a means of assisting a depressed Industry to sell new cars, while it will certainly remove from the roads, if only temporarily, a considerable number of old cars, with resultant loss of trade and tax-revenue at a time when this is to be deplored. Factory workers and farmers who rely on pre-1952 cars (which must be tested by May 15th) may be hard-hit, for garages are entrusted with conducting these Ministry tests and already we hear of certificates being issued without the vehicles being so much as looked at or, at the other unscrupulous extreme, of cars being rejected for minor defects, such as a spot of chassis rust, which go far beyond the intentions of the M.o.T. Either way, this is unsatisfactory, nor can the Used Car Trade welcome such casual testing methods; cars possessing valid certificates may command slightly higher prices than others but, in general, the public will fight shy of the nuisance of an annual test and sales of all old test cars (except those only six or seven years old and thus exempt for a few years) may slump badly, and this could have serious repercussions on new-car sales. Varying test standards are inevitable with private enterprise operating the scheme, but if it renders the roads safer it must be regarded as worthwhile. So we await with interest the accident statistics for 1961; meanwhile, will the M.o.’T. please tell us what percentage of private cars and motorcycles over ten years old were involved in the very small number of accidents attributed to mechanical defects in past years, for on these figures the decision to introduce the present cumbersome testing scheme (for which, as usual, the motorist pays) must surely have been based ?

Dunlop awarded 1960 Ferodo Trophy

At a party at the Dorchester on January 17th the Ferodo Trophy for the outstanding achievement in motor racing during 1960 was awarded to the Dunlop Rubber Co. whose tyres were used on the winning G.P. cars in every grande epreuve last season, a great technical victory for which we tender our warm congratulations. Mr. Ernest Marples, M.P., made one of his humorous speeches at the presentation, and referred to tyre failures on M1. We would prefer him to forget M1 and think about the opening of M2.

In passing, Ferodo UG 9/51 brake linings exist only in our printer’s imagination; this reference, on page 13 last month, should have been to the rally-proven Ferodo VG 95/1 linings.

Boats are popular

Whereas attendance at the last Earls Court Motor Show was described as ” not satisfactory” at 428,537, a fall of 131,776 below the 1959 figure, 323,168 people went to the Boat Show at the same venue, an increase of over 3,000 on the previous attendance. If Government restrictions on and discouragement of private motoring are not eased many people may decide to curtail their road motoring, with serious repercussions to trade and Industry.

The Monte Carlo Rally

The Monte Carlo Rally started as we went to press and finished before this issue was published, so all we can do is express the hope that a British car has won, thus ensuring for this country the sales and prestige that the outright victory by Mercedes-Benz last year gave to the German Industry. Not the toughest of rallies unless the weather is abnormal—the great winter marathon is of enormous importance publicity-wise, if it is not marred by protests, on account of the ” bally-hoo” which Press, Radio and TV accords it. It must have been with this in mind that Peter Dimmock of the B.B.C. (so addicted to full coverage of such serious sports as football and cricket) entered a well-used Austin FX3 taxi driven by Grand Prix driver Tony Brooks, with emphasis on the fares-meter, for this is surely ” taking the micky out of the Monte,” especially in the opinion of those who believe that all rally entrants owe it to the organisers to attempt to complete the full route at the required average speed.

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