An author replies




I have to thank you for a review Of the “Rolls-Royce Motor Car ” which is generous and on the whole just. There are a few points on which I feel justified in making some comments.

Your first paragraph implies a slightly raised eyebrow at books about R.-R. being done for profit. Of course they are. You and I may well agree that there are far too many books about cars in general and Rolls-Royces in particular—but as there is money to be made from them publishers will obviously have a go. Also, are they all that profitable? Certainly as far as the author is concerned, as you doubtless know, this sort of work doesn’t bring in much more than a shilling an hour.

Third paragraph: If I really thought I had been so carried away as to write in “the best public relations vein,” I should never put pen to paper again; but I comfort myself with the thought that this comment falls into the category of: “He only does it to annoy, because he knows it teases.”

Fourth and filth paras: Glad you agree that Hallows’ wonderfully detailed specifications are good value. Your suspicion that there was liaison between Hallows and Tubbs is entirely without foundation.

Sixth para: I do say, on p.24, that despite Edge’s assertions, the Napier was not the first 6-cylinder car to be made; but saw no relevance to the matter in hand to embark on a discusraon on whether Spyker, Sunbeam, Brooke or whoever was actually first.

There is only a matter of a few months in it anyway and one must, I think, concede that the 6-cylinder Napiers (despite their bad crankshaft vibration) were first to have any commercial success. I make no reference to the Leyland Eight, because as far as possible, I limited my comparisons to cars I have actually driven and, sadly enough, a Leyland Eight never came my way. Delaunay-Belleville, Minerva and Sheffield-Simplex are all mentioned in the text. Incidentally, your printer has made the usual mistake over the spelling of Delaunay. I quite agree that it was inexcusable to leave Sunbeam out of the list of notable cars which served the British Army during 1914/18.

Seventh para: You say “Bird-openly-admits R.-R. paid royalties to Hisparto-Suiza,” which seems to imply that you still think somebody has been trying to hush this up. Surely there has never been any secret about it? R.-R. have never tried to hide the fact. As it was, and is, so clear that they followed Hispano in the matter of the brake servo, I saw no point in bringing Renault into the picture as R.-R.’s use of a disc clutch rather than an expanding-shoe type for their servo was purely coincidental. It seemed to me that to go into the “who was first” business in connection with the brake servo would be quite fruitless and take one back to the mid-eighteenth century. For mechanism acting, broadly speaking, on this principle had been quite well known in various industrial applications for more than a century before Renault, Hispano, R.-R. and Uncle Tom Cobley made use of the idea.

Eighth para: Your suggestion that I have been “a trifle unfair” to C. W. Morton seems less than just. The information I used came from published sources and is duly acknowledged. And I hope Morton will be fair-minded enough not to resent the fact that in the passage concerned, I make it clear that the myth which he tries to perpetuate, that Royce invented the crankshaft vibration damper is no more than a myth.

Ninth para: The Model-T Ford is linked in one-model longevity with the Silver Ghost because they represent opposite ends of the spectrum. Also, although the Jowett ran for longer, there is really very little similarity between a 1910 Jowett and a 1938 Jowett; whereas the Model-T in particular, and the Ghost to some extent, really were very little altered in major essentials.

Tenth para: I agree that some reference should have been made to bearing troubles on the 4-1/2-litre. This was omitted because of forgetfulness, not from a desire to whitewash R.-R.

Eleventh para: Oh! come now. Unless it is otherwise stated one is entitled to assume that any car tested by Motor, or other responsible journal, is in proper mechanical order and adjustment; The point of the comparison is that even allowing for the brake-fade complained about on the R.-R., the figures showed that there was less fade than on a disc-braked car which went through comparable tests. Further test on the R.-R. support the company’s claim that the fade was occasioned by incorrect adjustment (though, naturally, one agrees they have no business to let a car out for journalistic testing with the slightest fault). The other manufacturers concerned make no attempt to claim that their test car was incorrectly adjusted, or to refute the recorded figures, and until they do I shall assume that the braking performance of their car is correctly represented by the published information. And, as such, inferior to an incorrectly adjusted R.-R., and far inferior to one in proper nick.

Twelfth para: I do not regard the rear-engined baby Mercedes as an entertaining car—merely as a bad one. And I do say that Mercedes “seldom” made a bad car.

Anthony Bird – Odiham.

[Surely something has misfired somewhere. The correct version of Rolls-Royce and Hispan-Suiza seems to be that R.-R. paid H.-S. royalties in respect of centre-lock hubs, not gearbox-driven servo brakes, and that they paid Renault royalties, for the disc-servo brake. A pity if such an authoritative book is inaccurate in this respect. —Ed.]