Letters from readers, February 1963

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

 

THAT SCOTT SIX

Sir,

How nice to read again about the Scott engines!

The V4 had a 2-throw crank and only two bearings. As a result it broke its crank. A scavenger pump (“supercharger”) was, of course, essential, since a 90° V4 has virtually no crankcase compression in this form. The 6-cylinder shown in the photograph is not my engine but an earlier version. My “International” Aston Martin had, of course, a separate gearbox which we used and the engine had two T.T. Antal carburetters, since it would not run satisfactorily with R.A.G.s.

Leamington. RONALD WOOD.

 

*     *     *

MERCEDES RADIATORS RECOGNITION

Sir,

The recent Mercedes and Benz “front end spoilers” test was a very interesting exercise for the enthusiast. This sort of fun could he made a regular feature but with free tickets to the “Windmill” please, in lieu of visits to Dagenham, Coventry and Longbridge.

The trouble about picking on Mercedes for the first one is that Daimler-Benz can never finally make up their minds just what the Models in their Museum are, nor can they keep to the same horsepower from one historical book to the next, which is in line with Mr. Buddy’s experiences concerning the Blitzen-Benz chassis number,each time he visits Stuttgart. For example, the first Mercedes of 1901-1902 is always described in Daimler-Benz publicity matter as the 40 h.p. but nowhere in their list of production models is there such a model; it is always listed as the 30/35. This pattern persists with type numbers and horse-power ratings right through to 1916. Likewise the bores and strokes, the chain drives and shaft drives, not to mention the short, the medium and the long wheelbases, are so chaotic that I defy any car historian ever to consider he has arrived at a final truth. What makes it more stimulating is that the British and American Concessionaires decided to adopt their own “ratings,” very different from the German and from each other!

I eagerly awaited the results published in the January issue, simply for the fun of reading what Daimler-Benz thought they were and was not disappointed, because to my astonishment they have conjured up two hitherto unknown models, namely, the 1902 23/32 and the 1927 Mannheim 230. Another suprise was to find that the 16/45 Knight, which was a later development of the 1910 16/40 Knight, was produced in the same year.

All this confirms my philosophy about motor-car history, that the older one grows, the less one believes, but I have a hunch that these “new models ” are simply the scrambled 28/32 and the Mannheim 320 alias 310.

In closing, I fear that, should the 1914 French Grand Prix Mercedes recently discovered in this country prove to be the Lautenschlager winning car, as some are inclined to think, there will be further re-appraisal of history in the Daimler-Benz Museum not un-associated with the Blitzen-Benz mystery.

“OLD MOORE MERCEDES.”

[Name and address supplied — Ed.]

 

*     *     *

TRIUMPH TR4 ITEMS

Sir,

As the owner of a new TR4 I would like to point out the following points which you did not mention:

(1) The front wheels “sand blast” the chassis with road chipping soon reducing it to bare metal.

(2) The demisters which you consider so efficient fail to demist a patch up the centre of the windscreen at least four inches wide.

(3) The panel lights are much too bright causing severe reflection in the screen at night.

(4) Could not a more convenient “jacking” system have been adopted which would not involve sliding back the seats, lifting the rubber mat and underfelt, and then removing a rubber grommet before being able to insert the rack.

(5) Owner maintainers do not appreciate having to remove the disc brake calipers in order to grease the front hubs (I wonder how many garages carry this out on the 12,000 mile service?).

Coalbrookdale. M. J. BAILEY.

 

TYRE LIFE

Sir,

On reading the letter from J. D. Sinclair of the Dunlop Rubber Company. I feel bound to write of my experiences with Dunlop and other well-known makes of tyres.

During my 17 years of motoring I have owned various makes of family cars and consequently used most of the well-known makes of tyres.

My average mileage with Dunlop was never more than 12,000 miles, and yet with other tyres the average has always been in the region of 20,000.

My present car is an Alfa Romeo Guilietta Sprint fitted with the original Pirelli tyres and 35,000 miles on the clock.

For the last two years I have been working in the Libyan desert as Transport Operator, with a well-known oil company, responsible for transport operations in soft sand.

The fleet of Land Rovers that we used were fitted with Michelin “XY” tyres, and it was found that these did not give us the flotation over the soft sand, so it was decided that Dunlop Sand Tyres would be fitted.

These tyres began to fail after 5,000 kms. due to carcase failure, and people who where on long range desert survey were being stranded without enough spare wheels.

It was decided to scrap these tyres and fit makes that where available locally, i.e. Goodyear and Pirelli.

These tyres more than trebled the mileages recorded on Dunlop tyres, and in some cases actually outlasted the life of the vehicle.

It only remains for me to say: let the tyres speak for themselves!

Benghazi. T. STRANGEWAY.

 

*     *     *

LOOKING AT GERMAN CARS

Sir,

I refer to your visit to Auto Union/D.K.W. at Ingolstadt. You asked why they continue to use one ignition coil for each cylinder in the 3-cylinder 2-stroke engines whereas Saab use a normal type of ignition distributor for a similar type of engine.

What a stupid and misleading answer you received.

At 6,000 r.p.m. engine speed the ignition on the Saab is required to supply 300 sparks per second which, if my reasoning is correct, is the equivalent of a 4-cylinder 4-stroke engine running at an engine speed of 9,000 r.p.m. Such a demand on a single coil and contact breaker must surely approach the limits of possibility on account of the highly inductive nature of the conventional ignition circuit.

The Auto Union engine uses three entirely separate circuits which are required to deliver only 100 sparks per second each for the same engine speed of 6,000 r.p.m. This is equivalent to a 4-cylinder 4-stroke engine running at 3,000 r.p.m. which is easy meat for the conventional ignition circuit.

What a golden opportunity was lost to shout out loud and clear that the Auto Union system was vastly superior to that used by their Swedish competitors.

London, W.6. AUSTIN PARTRIDGE.

 

*     *     *

STAINLESS STEEL

Sir,

I have just read an article by one of your contributors, on the use of stainless steel in cars. Has not your contributor, who states that no British car has stainless steel bumpers, heard of the finest and most advanced production G.T. car in the world? The car I refer to is the Lotus Elite.

The point of all this is that this car has STAINLESS STEEL BUMPERS BACK AND FRONT and is a true all-British series production car when in standard form.

“ENTHUSIASTIC ELITE OWNER”

[Name and address supplied—Ed.]

 

*     *     *

“NO SUBSTITUTE FOR TORQUE”

Sir,

While nobody can reasonably quarrel with Mr. David Kipling for being, to use his own words, “stoically British,” in assessing motoring matters it is important that he should acquaint himself with the facts.

To suggest that European sports cars are more fun to drive than the Sting-Ray Corvette is somewhat debatable. The tremendous low-speed torque of the Corvette can produce effortlessly quick journey times with a minimum of gear-changing and driver fatigue. This, however, does not make gear-changing any less exhilarating when the driver feels so inclined and is in the mood to “play tunes” with the box.

The Warner close-ratio all-synchromesh gearbox is one of the best of its kind and bears close comparison with the Porsche type used on the Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari. This gearbox is streets ahead of the “sticky ” long-throw Jaguar box, which is frustrating to use and lacks synchromesh on first. As an ex-3.8 and E-type owner I found the gearbox the worst feature on the Jaguar and similar comments have been made by Bill Boddy and other experienced motoring journalists.

The Corvette engine is remarkably smooth and has a usable rev.-range at least 1,000 r.p.m. above the point where 3.8 Jaguar engine begins to show signs of falling apart; in addition the torque on the Corvette is well sustained throughout the whole range. According to reliable U.S. reports the revised steering and new independent rear suspension have considerably improved the Corvette lap times against those for the older car on American circuits. It is, therefore, being suggested that the E-type will have rather a thin time over there in 1963.

Harry Mundy, one of the most sophisticated of motoring correspondents, carried out a road report on the 2 + 2 Ferrari in June 1961. He praised the car for its smoothness and flexibility but made the following significant observation:

“In my opinion there is no substitute for torque, which means large displacement engines when talking of real performance, which is why the American V8 engines of 5- and 6-litres are so captivating.”

In case it may be thought that I am just “anti-Jaguar,” I would like to stress that this is certainly not the case. However, the car I would like them to make would be a lightweight independently-sprung 4-seater coupe, powered by the 4-litre V8 Daimler engine and fitted with a 5-speed all-synchromesh gearbox. The Daimler engine would give the car, at 2,500 ft./min. in top gear, a road speed at least 30% above that for the existing Jaguar; in addition it would offer a very substantial increase in low-speed torque and a wider usable rev.-range. In order to provide that extra bit of quality and hand finish which makes the car desirable and aesthetically acceptable to the enthusiastic owner, I doubt whether it could be offered much below £3,000. Nevertheless, I am convinced that a car built to this specification would become the most sought after sporting vehicle in the World at any price.

Sevenoaks. CLIFFORD JOHNSON.

*     *     *

ALL THAT GLITTERS

Sir,

A little over a month ago I bought six sparking plugs of a revolutionary type—Golden Lodge—for my 1957 Austin-Healey. This plug, and I quote—”never needs servicing,” will “overcome fouling.” “Result—two or three times the life of ordinary plugs.”

With misfiring gradually worsening, I began to pull apart the ignition system, then the carburetters, never suspecting the new, wonder plugs.

When only three cylinders remained firing, the plugs were removed, and a sorry sight they were. Replacement with normal plugs cured all problems. My garage has apparently had complaints from all owners who have fitted these plugs. I see the manufacturers are still advertising. How does a product like this remain on the market?

Tadley.  JAMES P. DOUGLAS. 

*     *     *

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Sir,

I have been wondering whether the number of “lost causes” which have resulted in the sports car industry since the war can be due to lack of a good name.

Consider the successful sports cars of today. Some have grand-sounding names which are themselves symbols of power and luxury: Jaguar, Ferrari, Lagonda, Mercedes, etc. Others have names with a pronounced hiss which suggest speed, safety and success: Aston Martin, Austin-Healey, A.C. Ace, Jensen, Porsche, Bristol, etc. Others still have a guttural-sounding name which suggests rigidity and guts: M.G., Morgan, etc. Now consider the failures—all perfectly good sports cars in their own class and age but with names like Swallow, Singer, Marauder, Lea-Francis, Jowett and Dellow. Is it really a coincidence? Would firms like Lotus and Cooper still be making cars if they were not constantly in the racing and Grand Prix limelight?

If it is true, things do not look very bright for sports car manufacturers such as Rochdale, T.V.R., Berkeley, Ogle, Peerless, Fairthorpe, Elva and Turner.

I sin sure that with a little thought some really good names for British sports cars could boost sales and encourage small firms. The British aircraft industry does not lack imagination in its names for jet fighters. But don’t let us take things too far! Britons do not need to label their cars with such flowery names as Corvette Sting Ray!

Coughton. R. D. LANCASTER.

[Certainly it has been remarked, I believe by Cecil Clutton, that double-barrelled names were desirable for luxury cars, e.g., Hispano-Suiza, Delaunay-Belleville, Rolls-Royce, Armstrong Siddeley, Sheffield-Simplex, Sizaire Berwick, Isotta-Fraschini, etc., and some of these lasted longer than Napier, Ensign, Lanchester, Leyland and the like with Daimler as an exception. But how dogmatic can we be, with VWs or Volkswagens, Mini Minors, Renaults and Fords outselling nicer-sounding makes? Of course, an unfortunate name can be improved by a nice type appellation, e.g., Dauphine, Double-Six, Karmann-Ghia.—Ed.]

 

*     *     *

OUR MONEY

Sir,

Providing taxation money rolls in from cars and fuel, the powers that be do not seem to want to know about a Master Plan.

While I do not care if Mr. Marples rides a bike or an elephant (his latest gimmick) I do care when he suggests leaving car wrecks about which may distract a driver’s attention. Certainly, I cannot take him seriously. His latest annual report looks ahead (?) to 1975, when cars might be restricted from entering London during peak hour times and he has hinted at a possible congestion tax. What progress!

Motorists are always receiving advice from many quarters— n the recent fog we were told not to drive quickly, although few of us will know of anybody in one piece who does this.

It is time we started to make OUR thoughts felt; after all once upon a time there was a saying about he who pays the piper ….

Liverpool. G. E. MANSON.

 

*     *     *

MODERN DESIGN

Sir,

I was interested to learn of a unique feature of the Ford Cortina as reported in a lesser magazine: “The use of a conventionally sloping rear window enables parcels to be carried on the shelf beneath, and there is ample room for passengers’ heads should they wish to drop off during a journey.”

Belfast. ANDREW RICHARDSON.

*     *     *

WILLIAM CULL

Sir,

I read your article on Scott engines in the December issue with great interest, as we supplied a new M.G. Midget to the Scott Motor Cycle Co. Ltd. in July 1935, which was also to be used for the testing of these engines.

It may not be known to the readers of that article that William Cull is the man chiefly responsible for the development and success of the Birfield constant velocity universal joint used in B.M.C. front-wheel-drive cars, and in an increasing number of applications at home and abroad.

Keighley. DENIS CRABTREE.

p.pro. Francis E. Cox (Keighley) Ltd.

*     *     *

OTHER BROKERS PLEASE COPY

Sir,

The following experience may restore some of your readers’ faith in the ethics of our leading insurers:

Recently our car was involved in a serious accident. A small van driven by a young learner, ran out of control on a bend and collided with our car before somersaulting itself to rest. My wife was the driver and sole occupant and there were no witnesses at the time of the accident.

Although the cause of the accident was obvious, nothing had been officially proven when I rang my insurance broker for advice. I was told to authorise my garage to commence repairs at once and without waiting for an estimate.

Although my policy does not include for the hire of a car during the absence of my own vehicle, I was advised to obtain temporary transport and my broker offered to handle the eventual claim for reimbursement.

In fact we decided to take the opportunity of buying a new car and therefore the hiring period was for a few weeks only. Meanwhile the insurance company took care of all the work and negotiations and I was spared of even the smallest inconvenience. The local manager of the insurers informed me that a “knock for knock” agreement existed between the companies concerned and he explained that the main reason for this well known arrangement was to avoid expensive litigation. However, as far as I was personally concerned, it was their intention that I should not be left in a worse position than before the accident occurred.

Shortly after, a cheque arrived covering not only the hire charges, but also the £10 excess which my policy carries.

The company concerned is the General Accident Co., and I cannot imagine fairer or more efficient service. I wonder whether one would experience similar treatment from the “cheap ” insurance firms widely advertised just now?

Bridgnorth. N. BRAUN.

*     *     *

HERALD ITEMS

Sir,

I read with interest Mr. Laredo’s letter on the subject of his unreliable Triumph Herald, I own a Triumph Herald coupe, new in December 1960, present mileage 27,900; this car has been abroad touring Spain, Italy, Germany and France at the hands of its previous owner. Might I add that this Herald is not nursed in any way, for most of its life it has been driven very hard indeed, by the first owner and myself. Since new, apart from tyres, brake shoes, and such items, the only components that have been replaced are one speedo drive, and one silencer.

I do my own servicing, although the previous owner had it serviced by Standard-Triumph agents, the car has given complete satisfaction, and when I can afford it I will be buying a new Herald coupé.

Hornchurch. M. J. ARNOLD.

 

Sir,

Mr. Laredo would appear to have suffered a fairly comprehensive list of faults with his Herald, but the most exciting one is yet to come.

He can now look forward to the outer half-shafts failing. When this happens the car sits down in the road and requires lifting tackle and a breakdown vehicle to move it. No pushing it a few yards off the road to hide its shame.

It would appear that many faults in cars derive from our old friend the stress-raising sharp corner, and in this respect at least the car trade can take a lesson from the aircraft industry.

Solihull. E. F. HULSE.

 

*     *     *

A B.M.W. ENTHUSIAST

Sir,

As a delighted and happy owner of a B.M.W. 700 Sports Cabrio, as well as a chronic and happy Motor Sport reader, I was more than interested in your excellent article concerning your recent visit to B.M.W. in Germany. I was particularly intrigued by your reference to the excellent workmanship and painstaking attention to detail exemplified in this company’s products. Our own experience bears this out fully, and the zest for motoring coupled with the extraordinary performance that our car gives us would seem difficult to equal. Add to this that we have started the car during this last sub-zero two weeks at only 3-day intervals without the choke, and firing instantaneously, and that the convertible bodywork is completely weather-proof and that the aircooled heating take-off works superbly, you will perhaps forgive our exuberance. Your excellent paper extols far better than me the merits of the all-round independent suspension and ultraresponsive G.T. steering; and surely the lavish standard equipment is worthy of note, namely:

(1) Heating and de-misting-variable.

(2) Really effective built-in reversing lights. 

(3) Windscreen-washers.

(4) Electric clock.

(5) Headlamp-washer.

(6) “Pop-out” cigarette lighter.

(7) Right or left separate parking lights.

(8) Rheostat switch for instrument lights.

(9) Automatic courtesy light.

(10) Self-cancelling flashers, with really visible warning light.

(11) Self-parking wipers

(12) Driver-controlled fresh-air intake.

(13) Chrome-steel tool-kit.

I doubt, candidly, whether any other manufacturer can show such a list, all of which is inclusive in the price of the fixed-head coupé, as well as on our convertible.

In conclusion, I have enjoyed the most friendly and prompt service and attention from B.M.W. Concessionaires at Brighton.

I add the usual disclaimer about financial interest, except that I have never spent money more wisely!

Chobham. A. B. DES. SUTTON

*     *     *

U.S. ENTHUSIAST REPLIES

 

U.S. ENTHUSIAST REPLIES

Sir,

Concerning David R. Kipling’s letter in your January issue, one must suppose that he is young, because the tiresome argument he puts forward is inconsistent with experience. No one who has had his foot on 350 horsepower is happy to return to 110. The gearbox is emphatically not a delight. It is a crude device made necessary by the inherent unsuitability of the internal combustion engine for the task of propelling a wheeled vehicle. It will soon be a museum exhibit, with the wheel-sprag and the lap-robe. In a few years’ time even race-cars won’t have stick-shifts. (Yes, I know the device is currently popular as an option in the United States. This is a fad. It will soon pass.)

Mr. Kipling’s attitude distresses me primarily because I conceive that it is based on lack of common information, an unhappy circumstance in a world in which information is so freely available. I am reminded that a few years ago one might be called a liar in Great Britain for remarking that in California teen-age boys were getting 150 miles an hour in a standing quarter-mile. (What is the record now; 190-something, I think?)

Chauvinism does not help us to get on together. Just after the recent snowfall I watched two young men trying to move a Rover 90 in the West End. The street was dead level, but the car was off the crown of it. By spinning the wheels madly in 1st gear the driver had glazed the surface under them. His friend got out to push. It did not help. It was obvious that, among half a dozen alternatives, he could reverse off the glazed patch and be away in 30 seconds, but he thought only of going forward. Finally the driver set a hand-throttle at what sounded like 2,000 r.p.m. or so and got out to help push, with the car in first gear. This so appalled me that I felt guilty about my role as by-stander. I went into the road and suggested that I might be able to offer some advice.

Furious, and sweating (in that temperature!), the chap who had been doing the driving, to use that term most loosely, said, “I’m sure you are very kind, but since this car has a proper clutch and a proper gearbox, and is not running 300 horsepower through a slush-pump, perhaps it would be best if we managed it ourselves.”

Alas, my American accent had betrayed me, as his lack of information and understanding and, one might even say, civility, betrayed him.

London. KEN W. PURDY.

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