Letters from readers, February 1962

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N.B.—Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them.—Ed.

A RAPIER QUERY

Sir,

I was interested in Mr. McElm’s letter about the Sunbeam Rapier’s spongy steering, which does indeed spoil an otherwise excellent car. My Mark. II convertible replaced a 2 1/2-litre Riley (rack-and-pinion steering) about three years ago and the steering seemed very “dead ” by comparison, although admittedly lighter. So unresponsive did the Rapier seem, that I suspected the Monte Carlo cars were fitted with special high-geared or otherwise modified steering. Otherwise, how could they handle so well in snow and ice ? A letter to Routes’ Competition Department brought the reply that the steering on their Rally cars was standard (hats off to the drivers!). The use of oil instead of grease on the steering points was recommended, and I find that 28 lb. pressure in the front tyres also helps.

The Rapier is fast, economical, comfortable, and does not boil on Alpine passes. It has given me nearly three years of trouble-free service, the only replacement being a speedometer head. I cannot imagine why it was not fitted with rack-and-pinion steering instead of a lay-out which requires six joints and an “idler.” I have been told that rack-and-pinion steering is not suitable for any but the smaller cars, as it tends to be heavy at low speeds and harder for ladies to drive in traffic. Being no engineer, I probably do not appreciate the difficulties of wedding a particular form of steering to an existing suspension system. However, if anyone knows of a firm who can carry out a conversion, like Mr. McElm, I will be delighted.

Glasgow. H. D. B. KELLY

* * *

CARS AT STOWE SCHOOL

Sir,

I was most interested to read your notes on T. H. White’s “Cars in Books” because I was at Stowe 1931-35 and was an undistinguished moron in his English class. His 3-litre was, alas, rather a peculiar one with an odd round tail, as I remember it, quite overshadowed by a nice 3-litre V.D.P. 4-seater and a magnificent 4 1/2 belonging to other masters. The 4 1/2 was one of the fine H. M. Bentley & Partners rebuilds of the mid ‘thirties. Members of the staff had, at various times, a 100-m.p.h. 3-litre (with the tapered radiator shell), 14/40 and 18/80 M.G.s, an open Speed Twenty Alvis, an Aero Minx, a horrible Standard Swallow and two Lancia Lambdas. The school bursar had a brand-new J2 Midget, and even our beloved headmaster, the late J. F. Roxburgh, drove his Humber Snipe in a more-or-less continuous four-wheel drift.

My mates and I used to read Birkin’s “Full Throttle” and S. C. H. Davis’ “Motor Racing” over and over again, and I still have my copies, bought thirty years ago when Silverstone wasn’t even a gleam in the Air Ministry’s eye. On Sundays we used to bicycle to a pub in Brackley where there were always old motor bikes to be seen (and tried!) in the barn at the back. Two of us bought a 1923 2-speed Scott Squirrel, thirty bob each, and rebuilt it in the metal workshop one happy term. The metal instructor had a superb Norton, and one very wet Sunday he let me do my first 85 m.p.h. on it a few miles from the school, blue Sunday suit, stiff collar and all—how I remember squelching my way up the chapel aisle that evening.

Incidentally, when I was seven years old we had a 1921 Scripps Booth, rather a classy Detroit product with a radiator like a Unic taxi. I learnt to drive on this, well propped up with cushions, and recall its details very well. There were three or four of them in Norwich at that time, about 1925.

Norwich. RICHARD MASON. 

* * *

THE A 5 BOTTLE

Sir,

A lot of ink will, quite rightly, flow about this incident. I think, as a Jaguar owner (3.4 Mk. II and XK150), that the only reason why the police car did not stop it was that the driver was following the approved system of tailing the Austin rather than forcing it to a halt. Otherwise he could easily have overtaken it. You refer to the driver being killed or maimed. Perhaps one of your expert public can tell us what would have been the civil legal position of the officer in this event? My feeling is that he would have been, in the circumstances, liable for heavy personal damages.

In the last six years I have owned nine vehicles, four Land-Rovers, one Rover and four Jaguars. All have had laminated screens. In every case they have each sustained pitting and damage to the screens which must have resulted in each case in the breakage of a toughened screen. Till now, fortified by personal experience and memories of my youth of Triplex advertisements showing screens with pheasants embedded in them without serious incident, I have felt secure behind my laminated glass. If the constabulary are liable to, on occasion, pelt me with bottles, and the makers of my safeguard are doubtful of the outcome, life must, I feel, be more complicated than it has been and I hope, with you and, I have no doubt, the majority of your readers, that we shall soon have official reassurance on the bottle policy. I am sure a very large number of police officers throughout the country will agree with my opinion.

London, E.C.3. D. T. HARRISON-SLEAP.

____

Sir,

Your “Matters of Moment” article on the A 5 bottle incident brought to my attention the sadly deficient way in which our police are equipped to deal with speeding motorists.

Surely it would be far better to provide each member of the Force with a pouch of small, hard objects (such as snooker balls) which would be far less cumbersome than bottles and equally efficient for breaking the windscreens of cars doing “the ton.”

Another ideal piece of equipment would be a barbed wire lariat for bringing down speeding motorcyclists.

Oswestry. PHILIP LLEWELLIN.
[This correspondence, which has been enormous, is now closed.—ED.)

* * *

EARLY 4-WHEEL-DRIVE EXPERIMENTS

Sir,

In his letter published in a recent issue of MOTOR SPORT your correspondent, Mr. J. A. Clarke, stated (whilst admitting that he was speaking only from hearsay) that a civil action brought by the McCandless brothers against the late Mr. Harry Ferguson ended in judgment in their favour.

This statement is incorrect and the action to which Mr. Clarke refers is still pending.

for HARRY FERGUSON RESEARCH LTD., Stow-on-the-Wold. JOHN R. Pascoe.; Director.

* * *

PURCHASE TAX ON RACING CARS

Sir,

Slapping purchase tax on F.1 racing cars is typical of a country largely indifferent to this sport although dependent on its Motor Industry’s prestige for the National Economy. I expect nothing different from a Nation and National Press after the filthy treatment of our late World Champion Driver— Mike Hawthorn. He was forced to climb the ladder of success using a Ferrari (the Father of the Vanwall). That temperamental masterpiece the B.R.M. would never have aided him to the top. His ” reward ” ?

A dirty gutter-sheet’s editorial (whose name is not fit to mention between the covers of MOTOR SPORT) carried the title “Catch this Dodger ” (he wasn’t fit for the Services anyway), and after his untimely death an unsympathetic “Fancy That.”

On attaining World Championship—a deliberate snub in the New Year Honours List by acknowledging Stirling’s efforts and ignoring Mike’s.

I wonder if Stanley Matthews would have been overlooked if’ he had used foreign football boots ?

Barnes. C. J. BOND.

* * *

ALFA ROMEO HISTORY

Sir,

With reference to Sir Anthony Stamer’s very interesting article on Alfa Romeo Racing and Production Cars 1910-1940. There are two points in which, I think, he is in error. The car with which Campari won the 1927 Circuit Di Pescara was a P2, not the old 4 1/2-litre. The only external difference between this car and the cars of 1924-25 was the unusual method of carrying the spare wheel. This was mounted on the near side of the streamline tail, necessitating an acute ” kink” in the exhaust pipe in order that it might pass under the wheel. Campari lost this race in 1924, when driving a P2 on its second public appearance, by not carrying a spare, so no doubt he insisted on carrying one on this occasion even if it was mounted in an abnormal position. This P2 was reputed to be an improved edition of the 1924-25 cars but history does not relate exactly what had been done. No doubt the h.p. was increased and modifications made to the roadholding, which had never been a strong point of the original design. I am greatly interested to learn that the P2s were sold in Argentina for there is no record of their taking part in any races in that country except on one occasion when Rosa competed in the Circuit of Esperanza for the Gran Premio De Santa Fe, in 1927. He did not complete the race, retiring with unspecified trouble.

Regarding the Type “A.” Luigi Arcangeli was killed in one of these cars in practice for the Italian Grand Prix in May, not in the Grand Prix of Monza, which was held in the autumn. Alfa Romeo did not introduce this model because of more powerful models by Bugatti and Maserati; on the contrary, both Bugatti and Maserati introduced new models for the Monza Grand Prix because of the threat of the Type “A,” Bugatti introducing the 4.9-litre Type 54 and Maserati the Type 8C-2800. This Maserati model was very successful, giving both Alfa Romeo and Bugatti a good trouncing in the 150-mile final of the Monza Grand Prix.

Incidentally, the first post-war appearance of the Type ” 158″ was not in the 1946 Grand Prix of Nice but in the Grand Prix des Nations, Geneva, in 1946.

Sintra. T. A. S. O. MATHIESON. 

* * *

THE JOWETT JAVELIN

Sir,

Mr. Robert Barlow’s letter eulogising the Jowett Javelin was of particular interest to me as I have had one myself for nearly four years, and agree with most of what he says. I do feel, however, that he is tending to allow his enthusiasm to engulf the faults when he claims accessibility as a favourable feature. My experience of working on my engine leads me to advance the opinion that it must be just about the most inaccessible unit ever put into a motor car. If Mr. Barlow finds difficulty only in getting near the rear plugs he must be something of a contortionist! The only thing that can readily be reached, in my opinion, is the distributor, which really is admirably positioned.

For example, take adjustments of carburetters and valve clearances. In most cars these are straightforward tasks; a pleasant and satisfying way of spending an odd half-hour or so. But on a Javelin they are absolute penances; one must be prepared to get down on the floor and grope through a jungle of pipes, controls, cables, etc., to reach the carburetters, and to dive beneath the front wings to get at the valve adjusters, which, incidentally, are infuriating things which need, ideally, three spanners used simultaneously to adjust within the fine limits allowed. Why they couldn’t have eased the task somewhat by fitting sensible adjusters requiring only one spanner and a screwdriver is known only to some designer formerly employed at Idle.

Nevertheless, the designers put in a tremendous amount of painstaking work on the engine development, as admirably related at length in a MOTOR SPORT circa 1953. [And what a task that was !—ED.] One cannot help wondering what Jowetts would have been producing today if they had kept going. A twin o.h.c. flat-four—who knows ?

As Mr. Barlow says, the Javelin is a difficult car to replace in terms of space, performance, and ride-comfort. In spite of the annoyances I have mentioned, there is something endearing about the cars which makes it hard to decide upon a comparable modern replacement, and for the enthusiast searching for something just a bit ” different ” they have a lot to offer. One word of advice to prospective buyers’ however—get a model with a Series III engine fitted with the latest type, oval-web crankshaft. The earlier, flat-sided cranks are non-grindable, and if grinding is carried out the shafts are almost certain to break soon after installing, and apart from the inconvenience of such an event, replacement shafts are very, very expensive.

Dollar. D. R. HARDMAN.

* * *

FOUR BITS FORGOTTEN

Sir,

A few weeks ago I took delivery of a new Super Morris MiniMinor and although I must admit that it is a great improvement (decent instruments for a change and quiet, too, as well as the usual superb handling), I find that the old complaints of poor finish have still not had any effect on the makers; on my car they were listed thus :

(1) Driver’s door rubbed against door pillar.

(2) Heater hose kinked (no water circulating).

(3) Faulty heater rheostat (took 15 minutes to make it work on one occasion).

(4) Small tear in headlining.

(5) Plastic strip (to be gripped for closing door) missing from passenger’s door.

(6) Steering wheel not lined up with front wheels.

In fairness to the dealer’s service department, I must say that they made a good job of putting these faults right and all is now O.K. except for the plastic door strip (they are waiting for B.M.C. to send one).

But today the story really started; I received a letter from the dealer asking me to take my car in for the four tubular extensions to be fitted to the overriders. This floored me because I had been told when I ordered the car that these parts were fitted only to the Austin versions of the Super and Cooper. it now seems (since I have seen many of these cars without the aforementioned bars) that Morris have produced a fairly large number of these cars sans four bits!

The missing parts are only a decoration, but, let’s face it, it’s not very comforting to know that on the eve of our (possible) entry into the Common Market a great motor manufacturer will go into production with an unfinished car and will sell it to the public without saying a word about it. . . .

” SUPER(?) MINI-OWNER.” [Name and address supplied.—ED.]

* * *

VIEWPOINT

Sir,

After the latest stage in the battle between the Traffic Wardens and the motorised public—I mean, of course, the two milkroundsmen who were booked for parking—may I suggest that we all join the Police Force and arrest any Traffic Warden seen to stop alongside a car and book him, or them as the case may be, for loitering with intent!

Bedfont. C. GOODWIN.

* * *

HEATING THE BAR

Sir,

To convert a R.-R. radiator to operate from the dangerous electric current surely indicates that Mr. Jeffries is one of those who, in sporting circles, would shoot a sitting fox. Hot water, certainly; in special circumstances gas-heated hot air, but electricity!

If you wish to see a good example of what I think is a genuine (and very early) R.-R. radiator operating on hot water (or if not so operating, at least unmutilated), I suggest a call at the ” Genevieve ” (alas!) bar of the Tavistock Hotel in Tavistock Square, W.C.1, and where you will find the gin, etc., is good, albeit a bit pricey.

Usual disclaimer.

Beeston. J. R. POLLARD.

* * *

OPINIONS OF A SKODA OWNER

Sir,

Your correspondent, Mr. C. R. Mills, asks for views on the Skoda Octavia from owners. I have owned a Felicia, the twincarb. sports version of this car, for six months and in that time have covered 7,000 happy miles. Many of my car’s features are identical with the Octavia and Mr. Mills may be interested in my impressions.

On the credit side, I would undoubtedly put road-holding first and foremost. Anyone used to driving on rigid cart springs can have no conception of driving a car equipped with proper rear suspension, which the Skoda certainly has. I have driven on wet roads, icy roads and once, due to my own fault, I took a roundabout very much too fast, but the car has never given me a moment’s worry as far as road-holding is concerned. There is one very popular British car which I just dare not drive on wet roads. The Skoda is also a very robust car with nothing flimsy or shoddy about it.

The Octavia’s acceleration and top speed arc, I believe, rather less potent than the Felicia, but are nevertheless better than most cars in the £600-£700 range, The Felicia is most satisfying in this respect, having an acceleration which puts many sports cars to shame and a top speed of a true 90 m.p.h. The Octavia, I am told, will cruise happily at 65-70 and Skoda owners that I have met agree that the engine is its best feature next to the suspension. On the debit side, I agree with Mr. Mills about the hand-brake position but one soon gets used to it, and I certainly would not reject the car on that score. My main criticism is the finish, chrome and paintwork being inferior to German (I previously owned an N.S.U.) but no worse than the cheaper British cars.

All in all, I advise Mr. Mills to buy a Skoda and not to worry overmuch about the country of its origin. Good cars, like gold, are where you find them!

Bedford. PETER E. RANDALL.

* * *

SUSPENSION PROS AND CONS

Sir,

As one engaged in car design I feel obliged to reply to ” Showdown,” MOTOR SPORT, October 1961. In these days of approaching Common Market, the Motor Industry must wake up, along with most other British industries. The Criticism is therefore welcomed but I feel that the reasons are rather uninformed. In my opinion the real reasons for i.r.s. not being generally adopted in Britain are :

(1) To some extent the customer gets what he demands. It seems that he prefers to allocate car cost to leather seats and chrome plating, etc., rather than to mechanical engineering. This is in contrast to the Continental outlook, which is geared to suit worse secondary roads conditions than in Britain. The Americans, on the other hand, are even less discriminative than the British, showing a past preference for chrome-plated “milk bars” on wheels, though today there is obviously a rapid change towards more practical motor cars.

(2) The British manufacturers have striven to give value for money against very heavy taxation. Since i.r.s. is not yet demanded and since better value for money has been possible without it, it has not been used.

(3) The British are a conservative race in all matters. This applies equally to the public and to the managements of car-producing firms. Managements cannot be blamed for continuing to produce outdated designs for economic reasons; they are in business, after all, but it has always been depressing for enthusiastic engineers and equally for enthusiastic motorists that it has not been possible that their common interests could be met.

(4) If customers were to boycott live axle cars, the Home Market would be harmed unnecessarily. The few enthusiastic drivers can purchase Continental cars now if i.r.s. is sufficiently important in its own right to outweigh the cost.

(5) I.R.S. as known today is full of handling vices; ref.: VW, Dauphine, Herald, Corvair, etc. The Mini-Minor, on the other hand, is a very good-handling car, though one cannot say it has a very comfortable ride. It would be better if MOTOR SPORT asked its readers to discriminate good from had, not just i.r.s. from live axle. By all means push for good i.r.s., though if the live axle can be as good, why not that, too. The important thing is to get educated in real values and not to get carried away by new ideas for the sake of them. See that they are good first.

(6) ” Cart ” springs, as they are called, are a separate issue, completely unrelated to the layout of suspension. The spring is a means to an end and not the end itself. It is usually chosen to suit the layout and to meet the cost and functional requirements. The “cart ” spring does a very good job of combined springing and location and has not yet reached the zenith of its development. The latest form is the single tapered leaf which can be lower in friction than torsion bars and coil-springs. Some of the factors that must be taken into account when the designer is making his final choice to suspension are :

(a) Leaf springs fit some layouts, give location, are cheap and have a variable degree of internal damping according to design and operating conditions.

(b) Coil-springs fit a different space requirement, give low friction and, if they fail, merely collapse one coil.

(c) Torsion bars of the solid type fit into a special space availability and give low friction and low spring weight, which are usually made up for by linkages. Cost is higher. Variable rate is easily achieved, failure results in a complete suspension drop. Reliability is good.

(d) Laminated torsion bars are shorter and fatter, have interleaf friction and fail leaf by leaf.

(e) Rubber gives variable rate when used in compression and shear, but allows only small deflections and therefore requires to be near a pivot, with consequent high bearing loads. There is no static friction in the rubber but some dynamic damping. Rubber in torsional shear gives greaseless location and constant rate, but has special space demands. All rubber springs settle with time and temperatures, and consequently affect standing height.

(f) Air springs give a wide control of rate, but charging and levelling is costly and power absorbing. The same applies to oleo-pneumatic. Leakages can be troublesome.

In conclusion, a designer defines his problem and chooses the best spring medium to meet his needs. It is utterly wrong to suppose that one is necessarily better or worse than the other. Ride is more a matter of compromise between the spring rates chosen and the distribution of the car sprung mass and layout in relation to the wheelbase. Shock-absorbers, so called, function as dampers to the body and wheel-hop motions. They also oppose all movement and as such apply shock to the body.

” SHOWUP.” [Name and address supplied.—ED.]

* * *

THE WHITE RILEY

Sir,

I was interested by Mr. Rigg’s letter in December MOTOR SPORT and more so on reading Mr. Rolph’s letter in your November issue. Perhaps I can throw some light on the White Riley, which I last saw at Stanley Burville’s garage some six years ago, but which I first saw when Raymond Mays, Peter Berthon and their mechanics descended on Riley (Coventry) Ltd. in 1933 with special cylinder head, supercharger, etc., to build into an MPH Riley those features which were later to become so well known in the engine of the E.R.A.

It will be seen, therefore, that the White Riley was the stepping-stone between the sports MPH 2-seater Riley and the supercharged racing E.R.A.

The White Riley was basically an MPH, lightened by using certain elektron castings, and even the shock-absorbers were of dural. The engine modifications were to Peter Berthon’s design and supercharging was undertaken by the late Murray Jamieson. The power output was some 16o b.h.p., and the object of building the White Riley was to capture the record at Shelsley Walsh, then held by Raymond Mays in the Vauxhall Villiers.

On its first appearance at Shelsley the White Riley broke the record with a run of 42.2 sec. but later in the meeting Hans Stuck knocked 0.2 sec. off the Riley’s time in his Austro-Daimler.

In the hands of Raymond Mays the White Riley also performed very well in the Mountain Circuit at Brooklands, breaking the 1 1/2-litre lap record, and I believe it is right to say that in 1934 the only faster car was Whitney Straight’s 3-litre Maserati.

Quite when Bourne sold the White Riley to Kay Petre I know not, but I recollect that it was then sprayed blue, but even so was always referred to as the White Riley. Blakes of Liverpool subsequently had the car in their racing stable, during which time Frankie Penn and, I believe, Sheila Darbyshire drove it in various sprints and hill-climbs.

Now as regards Mr. Rigg’s car, having checked back on The Autocar article of September 19th, 1941, the car has the registration number KV 5694. If memory serves me right it is chassis No. R 101, which started life in 1933 as a racing Grebe, and along with KV 6079, became one of the two prototypic MPH 2-seaters. This car was loaned to Raymond Mays in 1935 (I think) for Bourne to try an MPH experimentally by fitting into it an E.R.A. engine. This involved temporarily moving the radiator forward some six inches, with corresponding modifications to the bonnet, etc.

After these experiments KV 5694 was refitted with its MPH engine and sold.

In 1955 it was advertised in MOTOR SPORT; in fact, I went to see it, but the owner’s idea of its value was considerably higher than mine! Stanley Burville eventually bought it, rebuilt the car and sprayed it green (original colour red) and sold it in the Birmingham area. Apparently it now has a new owner and a new shade of cellulose! Had it now been so, the mis-naming as The White Riley would not have occurred.

A. FARRAR, Hon. Gen. Secretary, Abingdon-on-Thames. The Riley Motor Club.

* * *

CRISP EXHAUSTS

Sir,

I have noticed that in their reports on cars which they have driven, your staff often make reference to the exhaust note of that car as being ” sporty,” ” crisp ” or some such adjective. For instance, in the January issue ” M. L. T.” says, “Although the exhaust note is more crisp it is not objectionable at all.” To whom is it not objectionable ? Obviously not to” M. L.T.” But what about the general public and, in particular, those poor souls (yes, I am one) who may be awakened by that same ” crisp ” exhaust note after getting off to sleep at night.

Please let us have a lot more quiet exhausts, and I don’t refer only to cars. Those horrible little 2-strokes are the limit.

My neighbours say that the note from my Dauphine is not objectionable.

Hazel Grove. GEOFFREY GODWARD.

* * *

SERVICE SPELLS SUCCESS

Sir,

Many complimentary things have been written about the Volkswagen, and there is no need for me to add to them, but, having experienced the service available to owners by the British concessionaires, I feel I must write to say what a wonderful organisation this is. The Manager is always available, and both he and his staff give the feeling that they are there to get the best from the car of one’s choice. If the service throughout the world is comparable with that given by them at St. John’s Wood, then it is one of the main reasons for the success and popularity of this very complete motor car which will do all that the makers claim with a plus sign in most directions.

Christchurch. H. GARTH, A.M.I.E.E.

* * *

GREASELESS CHASSIS

Sir,

May I comment on the two letters in the January issue dealing with chassis lubrication, or otherwise ?

My threefold comment is, firstly : if a part moves with metal to metal contact, fretting will take place unless lubricant is present. Secondly, excluding rubber-bonded components (when noises can be “killed ” by the use of brake fluid), regular greasing is essential because of a point which is so often overlooked; that is, the grease prevents, and/or removes, the ingress of abrasives in the form of dirt and water. My third comment refers to the implied way in which you damn or praise an engineering product by the number of grease points and, more particularly, the servicing intervals. This is most unfair.

Manufacturers should, and often do, state that the periods quoted are ” recommended intervals.” As such they are subject to fluctuation according to operating conditions. I doubt very much whether D.K.W.s would be willing to renew f.o.c., and unconditionally, any worn chassis parts after the first 4,500 miles without greasing, if the vehicle has been operated continuously on dirt roads.

The golden rule of chassis lubrication should always be ” little and often.”

Harrow. C. WINDUST.

* * *

PRAISE FOR THE ALPINE

Sir,

Always interested in the pros and cons put forward by your readers on the subject of modern cars, I feel it is about time that someone put in a good word for the Sunbeam Alpine.

This car has provided me with one of my biggest motoring surprises. I tried one a year ago; merely out of curiosity, and was captivated. So much so that I bought it to supplement my “maid of all work,” a VW I’ve had for 5 1/2 years and would not think of parting with.

I find it very hard to criticise the Alpine; it has given no trouble and for a comfortable open car with a smooth and lively engine, excellent brakes and safe and pleasant handling I think it would be very hard to beat. Certainly it is most excellent value. The car has done 12,000 miles, averages 27 m.p.g., and uses practically no oil. Extended use confirms your road-test impressions, except for the fact that I find ” heel and toe” operation not only possible but quite easy.

In over 40 years I have seldom obtained greater pleasure from driving any car, and needless to say I have no connection whatsoever with Rootes.

Crowborough. R. BAILLIE.

* * *

SAAB SUSPENSION

Sir,

In your December issue you published an article under the heading of ” Saab and Herald Suspension,” in which Mr. French of Saab (Great Britain) explained why Saab use a rigid rear axle. As a delighted owner of a Saab 96 I would be grateful if you would publish in a coming issue the following further explanation of the Saab rear suspension as I feel that it makes the argument clearer than Mr. French’s article. I quote from an article put out by Saab :

“The rear suspension system consists of a U-sectioned rigid axle attached to the body by a rubber bearing and by two longitudinal links at the sides. The central bearing takes up lateral forces and, aided by the springs, absorbs braking torque. The side links keep the rear axle at right angles to the car’s longitudinal axis, and absorb the braking forces from the rear wheels. The coil-springs are positioned close to the wheels on the inside. When operating without roll, they compress an amount equal to the vertical movement of the wheel relative to the body. When roll does occur, as in cornering, the shock-absorber movement is approximately 70% (French says 60%) of wheel movement; without roll, it amounts to about half.”

To complement what Jack French said, Saab say that their system has the following advantages :

(1) No rear-end lift when braking; brake torque produces spring compression which compensates for the rear-end lift that usually accompanies violent braking.

(2) No swaying in S-bends; the shock-absorbers react to abrupt swerves, cutting down on sway and aiding steering ability.

(3) Small space requirements; since the central portion of the axle does not move vertically, a maximum of space is available for luggage. (Anyone who has seen the huge boot of the Saab will agree.)

(4) The use of a rigid rear axle means that you have the advantage of keeping the rear wheels always at right angles to the ground, even when the car does lean. Wheels so positioned have less tendency to slide-slip than those that incline outwards when cornering.

Lot, France. ANDREW MYLIUS.

* * *

C.A.’s TESTS TRIVIAL, SAY B.M.C. . . .

Sir,

A spokesman for B.M.C., commenting on the report on cars by Consumers’ Association, expressed the view that the report was ” trivial,” giving as one reason that one car could not be taken as a sample of all of its type made. As a B.M.C. customer I do not consider the following faults ” trivial ” on a new Austin A40 :

Near-side door flies open at speeds over 30 m.p.h. (after 240 miles).

Lump of glass stuck on windows to serve as handle fell off first time used.

Speedometer failed completely at 325 miles.

Courtesy light switch failed at 330 miles.

Fan on heater is more noisy than engine.

No further faults have developed in the last 20 miles and I am hoping it will be possible to drive the car to the agents for the first 500-mile service. Some sample!

Portsmouth. CHRISTOPHER WOKINGHAM (Major).