Letters from readers, February 1967

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

***

Ford Formula 1 engine

Sir,

I read everything you write with great interest and it is natural enough that I should express my unhappiness if we have given you— as we clearly have—the impression about the new Formula I engine, which comes through so clearly in your racing notes in this month’s issue of Motor Sport. I can assure you that the intention is very far from the impression we are creating with you and it therefore seems a good idea to attempt to put the record straight.

We never had any intention of providing an engine for Grand Prix racing, because we were perfectly happy with the efforts we were making in other motor sporting fields. We have done our best to support the sport, because I think you would find it to be a fact that Formula II could have scarcely existed at all had we not helped Cosworth financially to produce the first Formula II engine. Our reason for providing a Formula I engine is really very simple. When Coventry Climax went out and it became clear that the only British manufacturer who would produce engines to the new formula was B.R.M., I was naturally as concerned as many people in the sport about the future of British achievements in Grand Prix racing. The domination of British cars and drivers and engines in Formula I over the past years has been of the utmost importance to the British Motor Industry as a whole and it is something I would be particularly sorry to see pass into other hands. Many discussions were held at the time of the Coventry Climax exit, as I am sure you remember, and many large companies inside and outside the industry were approached for assistance. Nobody was willing to help and a lot of constructors were, as you know, very worried.

We, therefore, decided to join up with Keith Duckworth in the production of a Formula 1 engine and we have made it abundantly clear in all our publicity that we contracted with him to design an engine, which is a very natural thing for us to do in view of our very long relationship with him. But we also made it clear that we could not go in for volume production of such a complicated engine, particularly in its early years, so we were therefore only providing five engines for Team Lotus. We like to think we have played a part in the development of the engine, because our Director of Engineering has been closely connected with the engine from the beginning and we have put at Keith Duckworth’s disposal all our experience about casting and other foundry techniques.

So far as the running of the team is concerned, the team is Team Lotus and is run by Colin Chapman, but we have naturally played a part in the selection of drivers and the planning of the season, because we have always lived very intimately with Colin Chapman. We have no desire to take any of the credit away from Keith or anybody else. But since we were the only people in Britain who seemed willing to support Formula I (and incidentally Formula II) at the expense of much of our own production-car motor sport, we think that we deserve precisely one third-share of any thanks that anybody wants to dish out.

The operation, as I have said, is for an attempt to continue to sustain the domination of British equipes in the highest form of motor sport. It is always natural that a large manufacturer should look as if he is sitting on the shoulders of the smaller people with whom they are working, but I think both Keith and Colin will tell you that this is not the case.

I hope you will accept that the letter I write to you represents a sensible viewpoint and I can only apologise to you if our own publicity is giving you a different view. Certainly it was never intended to.

Warley — WALTER HAYES, Director of Public Affairs, Ford Motor Co.

***

A Honda S600 in Australia

Sir,

I gathered from your November edition that Honda are to sell their S800 sports cars in Great Britain. As I have owned a Honda S600 convertible for the past year and a half, I thought you might be interested in a few experiences:

Purchased new, July 1965. Bad vibrations; 2nd gear almost impossible to engage.

1,000 miles: Oil consumption 1 pint per 400 miles.

5,600 miles: Oil consumption 1 pint per 100 – 150 miles. Agent finally agreed to fix gearbox, but failed to fix the vibration. From this mileage onwards, car’s cooling system began to drain itself every 30 miles or so.

7,500 miles: Exhaust pipes began to break (broke 14 times between this mileage and 17,000 miles). Australian Agents insisted that oil consumption, now 30 miles per pint, was ” quite normal.”

11,500 miles: Speedometer cable broke.

12,000 miles: Water pump disintegrated, engine filled with water. Engine dismantled, piston rings and clutch plate replaced (all at my expense). One bolt on the rear engine cover plate (which supports the gearbox) was loose and almost ready to fall into the clutch mechanism—the plate had cracked at this point and was leaking oil. We found that the upper crankcase had been patched up with some form of plastic metal adjacent to the centre main bearing support.

17,000 miles: After repeated correspondence, Australian Agents finally agreed to examine car. Amongst other things, they overhauled the tailshaft (which was out of balance) and replaced the exhaust system, at only nominal cost to me.

19,000 miles: Vibrations had returned, exhaust pipe again began to break. In addition, four of the six bolts holding gearbox to engine sheared. These were replaced.

20,000 miles (present mileage): Gearbox retaining bolts again sheared. Screws holding dog-clutch to front pulley sheared, destroying dog-clutch, timing case, starter motor drive cog, and cracking the alloy crankcase.

I will not comment on the many areas of poor finish.

Conclusions:

(a) The car is completely unreliable, and in this regard it is the worst I have ever driven, irrespective of age, make, price, or condition.

(b) After-sales service is dreadful, warranty virtually worthless, and the cost of spares (if and when you can obtain them) is exorbitant.

(c) I have a large folder of correspondence with the Australian agents and with the factory in Japan. This is the first time I have written to a motoring magazine.

The moral is obvious, especially as most of the design characteristics of the S600 are common to the S800. Great Britain makes an excellent cheap sports car—the Morgan 4/4 (of which I own an early example), and a couple of rather good pseudos—the Sprite and Spitfire. Englishmen would be well advised to buy British.

Thank you for your excellent magazine.

Narrabundah — J. R. MERTON.

***

Changing the tyres round

Sir,

Surely Mr. Clarke’s letter raises a proposition which is as big a nonsense as the ” headlights drain the battery ” theory.

Mr. Clarke, being of a logical frame of mind, has shown how difficult it is to achieve an equal amount of use back and front for each tyre in the set and if by more frequent changing round he is able to equalise the usage the only result that I can see is that he buys five tyres at once.

If, being idle like myself, he leaves each tyre exactly where it is they would probably wear out in pairs and at worst he will buy two at a time (on the first change only one is required as the new spare is brought into use and the best of the two discarded covers is taken as spare).

Quite apart from the financial cost of replacement it seems to me that the front and rear tyres perform different functions and in the majority of cars display different wear characteristics. The average front tyre scuffs the outside edge off at an angle whereas the rears invariably wear flat. Having worn them in to one profile I cannot see any benefit in changing them round when the covers will then have to try and scrub themselves in to a different profile to make normal contact with the road.

Before anyone ridicules the suggestion, which I have now been practising quite happily for some eight or nine years, I feel some weight is added to these views by Michelin’s latest statements on asymmetrical tyres and I look forward to the ultimate when tyres are produced for a given corner of the car.

Hanley — NElL N. SALMON

***

As Rover see it

Sir,

I have just been reading your Road Test of the Rover 2000TC and would like to congratulate you on what seems to me to be an accurate assessment. In the main, I would only disagree in degree. However, there are one or two points upon which I should like to take issue with you. Firstly, we feel no shame at the use of Formica décor on doors and facia. As compared with wood, Formica is lighter, has a more reliable finish, is much more durable and, incidentally, slightly cheaper. This looks to us like a very good bargain indeed. Why, you may then say, make it look like wood? The answer is because people like the appearance of wood.

Secondly, I am a little mystified at your quoted boot capacity of 8.5 cu. ft. We would claim about 16 cu. ft., although I recognise, of course, that it depends what you mean by usable space. You did not mention that the spare wheel has an alternative position lying flat on the floor, which does enable longer articles to be fitted more easily.

Finally, you referred to the rear view mirror as highly dangerous. Let me admit straight away that many people prefer a flat mirror, but a flat mirror giving a view of the whole of the 2000 rear window would be about twice the size of the present convex type. Most cars using flat mirrors fit a compromise size, which gives a view of about two-thirds of the rear window. A flat mirror, therefore, has the following disadvantages over the convex type: 1. It provides a major obstruction to forward vision. 2. It must be accurately adjusted and the driver must not move in his seat, if he is to retain a view of the vital outboard two-thirds of the rear window. 3. It provides major dazzle from following headlights and requires a dipping mechanism. This introduces two additional disadvantages: (a) Rearward vision when dipped at night is restricted to lights or highly illuminated objects, (b) In brightly lit areas, a view of the car interior (from the dipped main mirror) is superimposed on the rearward

There is no doubt in my mind as to which is the more dangerous although, as I said, I accept that many drivers (who may not be aware of all the facts) prefer to look in a flat mirror, unless they make an effort to get used to the convex type when, in my experience, it becomes perfectly satisfactory.

Solihill — PETER WILKS, Technical Director, The Rover Co. Ltd.

[ We were not alone in making the capacity of the Rover 2000’s boot 8.5 cu. ft. Motor published the same figure.—ED ]

***

106,000 Miles — no rebore

Sir,

Four years ago last month, in November, 1962, I purchased a one-owner 1959 (Model) Austin A35 which actually took to the road in October, 1958.

In all its eight years of regular use, i.e. 106,000 miles, the engine has had no rebore, repairs, etc., and the ” top has never been off.”

Part of the reason for this performance has been the use of no oil other than Shell B.P. Viscostatic, now Super ViscoStatic. I informed Shell, and they sent me a paper map of Ireland.

Lisburn — EDWARD Q. MOORE.

***

Uhlenhaut versus Ferguson

Sir,

I am old enough to realise that one must not believe everything one reads in the newspapers—present company, of course, always excepted. But if there is any truth in the report of Herr Uhlenhaut’s remarks at the London Motor Show, as reproduced by your correspondent, Mr. C. R. Gillies, this constitutes, I suggest, as grave an indictment of the European motor industry as that recently levelled against its American counterpart.

The conventional 1967 motor car—including. I suspect, even the Grand Mercedes—is unstable on ice, and correspondingly dangerous in these conditions in the hands of any driver who has not attained to rally standards—a standard which it is quite unreasonable to expect even of what may fairly be described as a competent driver. This is ridiculous in view of the fact that icy conditions are a chronic hazard during several months of the year in North America and Europe, the main centres of automobile production. Any manufacturer who lays claim to producing a prestige car, that is to say one in which cost of production is not a prime consideration, must obviously seek all avaiIable means to eliminate this inconvenient and dangerous instability. The Ferguson System may be the answer to his problem. I say may be, because I have had no opportunity to put the matter to the test, but Herr Uhlenhaut undoubtedly has.

” Perhaps this is good on slippery roads,” he is reported as saying, ” but I see no real benefits elsewhere.” Never mind the benefits, if any elsewhere. Is this good on slippery roads, or is it not? If the answer is in the affirmative, then it is incumbent on all manufacturers of prestige cars to explain why it is not incorporated even in their most expensive models. Since I have not got the courage of a Nader, either on ice or on paper, I must ask you to allow me to sign myself…

Name and address supplied. — ” BALADEUR…

***

Sir,

An interesting point is raised by Mr. C. R. Gillies in his letter in your January issue, in which he comments on the remarks attributed to Rudolf Uhlenhaut, of Daimler-Benz, at the time of the London Motor Show, by The Times Motoring Correspondent. Herr Uhlenham, remarking on the four-wheel-drive Jensen FE at £5,340, commented to the Motoring Correspondent that it was—and I quote Mr. Gillies—” Interesting, but extra expensive and complicated.”

Mr. Gillies appears to think this remark somewhat surprising coming from the development engineer of a firm making such a car as the 600 Grosse Mercedes selling, in this country, for £9,000 odd. The Pullman version is £9,949. But the Mercedes range available in this country does start with the 200 Automatic at £1,895. And Herr Uhlenhaut, in making his comment, was no doubt thinking of the more realistic retail prices of his company’s cars in Europe.

Daimler-Benz design and manufacture their own vehicles. The Jensen, excellent as it may well be, is mainly constructed from other manufacturers’ parts, and as such can hardly be classed with Mercedes. No, I do not own one, so the usual disclaimer. I prefer my Porsche 912 to anything else in the motoring line.

Mr. W. J. D. Clarke, with his VW tyre target of 15,000 miles has missed the boat by waiting until 5,000 for his first wheel change. Changing at 3,000-mile intervals, using the spare, at 15,000 miles all tyres would have covered 12,000 only. The rotation, recommended by VW—using Mr. Clarke’s code letters is— S to B, B to D, D to A, A to C, C to S.

Middleton-on-Sea — A. G. PEARSON.

***

A trouble-free M.G. 1100

Sir,

The Editor’s last month’s article, ” 10,000 Miles with an M.G. 1100,” greatly interested me, as an owner of one of these very likeable cars, I thought my own experience might be of interest to other readers.

I purchased my M.G. second-hand 12 months old with 23,000 miles on the clock last April, and in the nine months since its purchase have added a further 13,000 miles (trouble-free, not even a window catch).

The first owner of this car, whom I knew, covered his 23,000 miles trouble free, he ran it in carefully and always drove it within its limits; these two factors are indisputably the key to car and engine life; incidentally he sold this car to take delivery of his third M.G. 1100.

Last summer my wife and I, with the car loaded with camping equipment, made the journey from Calais to La Napoule on the French Riviera in 32 hours, including necessary stops, not all night. I frequently travel between London and York using the M1 to Nottingham which gives 260 miles of motorway cruising at 70 m.p.h. This sort of driving has no ill effect on the sturdy B.M.C. A-type engine; on the 420 miles London, York and back run the engine consumes one pint of oil.

I believe this car has behaved so well because of its treatment in the early running-in days plus the fact that it’s never entered in traffic light Grands Prix, so common on our roads today with disastrous results to the cars and often their drivers who, if lucky enough to stay alive, proceed to blackguard the manufacturers of their cars.

This M.G. is the tenth car I have owned and without doubt has proved to be the best all rounder, excelling itself on the poorer type of French roads. Faults? An increase in engine torque for overtaking in top gear when loaded. Gear change could be better. Good luck to the only real motor magazine, from a regular reader.

Greenford — W. J. WHITE.

***

The Ford GT40

Sir,

I was specially interested in D.S J.’s write-up of the Ford GT40 as, apart from being a director of this company who make all the bodies, John Wyer lent me one of these dragsters a few months ago for a few days and it was, to me, like something from outer space!

Like many others, I mourn the passing of motoring for motoring’s sake in this hag-ridden age and have almost resigned myself, after over 45 years of fun and games at the wheel, to mediocre conformity. I say ” almost” since at times one’s stalwart friends offer a few days real motoring in various exotic machines. I had a lot of fun with a DB5 last year and an Iso-Grifo this year by kind permission of George Abecassis for instance, but with due respect to him and these undoubtedly desirable carriages, the GT40, as D.S.J. says, makes everything else seem like a vintage sports car.

To be able to drive in comfort and complete safety at 150 m.p.h. in this revolutionary projectile with a happy passenger seems unbelievable, yet was achieved with ease; to contemplate that in doing these sort of speeds on the road one is travelling at some 20 m.p.h. faster than one has achieved in motor racing, and with speed and power in hand, is to me fantastic.

As D.S.J. says, one does not refer to road-holding but to road-clinging; I too found myself easily taking well-known corners and bends at speeds so much higher than ever achieved in fast vehicles as to be almost unbelievable. I covered several hundred miles with various passengers and even when pushing the car, it and all were happy and relaxed; one amazing feature is its tractability in traffic and towns.

The complete lack of luggage space is more than compensated for by the thrill of handling this incredible machine and by the intense interest it creates everywhere; I too found that most motorists pulled over having spotted it in their mirrors; the only challenger I had was an enthusiastic driver of a vintage DB6 who really tried, but the GT40 was more than a match for him!

The driving position and steering was a revelation to me and the gearbox perfect and unbeatable for speed of change; one could go on and on about this car but D.S.J. has covered it much more adequately.

Farnham — C. W. E. WINDSOR-RICHARDS

***

Editor’s Headache

Sir,

As I have now obtained a legible copy I return my original January Motor Sport which is largely illegible. As a printer myself I think I know what has happened. Your old friend the late C. G. Grey, of The Aeroplane, once wrote to us and suggested that we ” locked up one of our bloody compositors” until we had finished printing an edition of ” Jane’s Aircraft ” of which he was then editor. May I suggest you pass a similar message to your printers regarding one of their machine men. Incidentally may I also plead for a less evil smelling magazine. I once fell asleep with Motor Sport over my face (I must have been very tired) and continued to smell it for hours after I awoke! Nevertheless if you printed it in brown ink on old linoleum I should never be able to give it up.

Huddersfield — W. J. NETHERWOOD

***

The Jaguar E-type road test

Sir,

The object of this letter is to contest an opinion expressed on page 20 of last month’s issue of MOTOR SPORT. The words are “good value for £2,284 5s. 8d.” These words are applied to the Jaguar E-type 2 + 2 with manual gearbox.

Sir, I vehemently detest RUST. Last year I had the opportunity of inspecting, somewhat briefly, the bodywork of one of the above-mentioned motor cars which, shorn of its pretty paintwork, displayed a vast expanse of mild steel, every visible scrap of which was a mass of red rust.

Sir, as a man to whom 2,284 pence represents a not inconsiderable sum of money, I would not, having witnessed what I did witness, touch a Jaguar E-type “with a 40-foot barge pole.”

You, as Editor of the esteemed publication, will know far more than I about the merits (or otherwise) of its chassis and engine but £2,284 5s. 8d. for a mild steel body, a potential “load of rubbish ” within a very short period of time! ” Definitely not this child, Sir.”

Remember the little Austin 7s, the “Duck Back” Alvises, and many others, all with aluminium-alloy bodies, at a fraction of the cost, even taking into consideration to-day’s values.

Lewisham — W. S. BAKER

***

In deplorable taste

Sir,

I think that the Rediffusion “Tribute to Donald Campbell,” shown on I.T.V. on January 4th, was in the most deplorable taste, and provided a very poor tribute to the man and his ideals.

Here was nothing of his previous successes, but a lengthy interview repeatedly returning to the subject of death; and one almost sensed that the interviewer was willing tragedy upon the attempt. Finally, we were treated to the ghoulish spectacle of two of his team ringing his wife and informing her of the disaster. This was television journalism at its lowest ebb, and one thanks the B.B.C. for showing a true tribute later in the evening.

Nottingham — J. D. PARSONS

***

Apathy abroad

Sir,

The New Year copy of Motor Sport was indeed full of resolution, and the new format is very much “with it” for 1967. The Bull seems to have been taken further by the horns in the form of your open letter to Mrs. Castle. It is a jolly good sign that at last someone has been shaken into something active—I am not decrying the fact that the format of Motor Sport has not been changed before, nor the fact that you have not previously written in such tones to the lady in question—but active here means getting one’s head out of the sand.

Your comments “Backs to the engine!” and particularly the point which you make about the VW 1600 in r.h.d. form ” … still has the bonnet release … on the nearside … ” reminded me of a recent trip I made to the local Rootes Agent here to have a good look at the latest Hillman Hunter. This car, we are told, is new, and most terribly “with it” in having fresh air injection to the passenger compartment and extractor vents, and many other things too, including a bonnet release catch on “the wrong side” for the locals! No wonder the British Motor Industry is in the doldrums. Another excellent pointer as to the state of things was the fact that the car is offered for sale here, with all the handouts and even the instruction book printed in English—not a single word could I find in Finnish. No wonder the locals would rather buy those old-fashioned jobs from Germany, and those super new-fangled jobs from Japan. Whether this lack of “blurb” in the local lingo is the fault of the dealer or the Export Division of Rootes has yet to be found out, but in any event the manufacturer making for Export should present a car that the locals can at least read about.

Another point of the image over here of the British Motor Industry, so far as I am concerned, was the inability of the local Austin people to “bother” about providing me with information about the possibility of getting an Export Tax Free car—they did nothing as far as I could see, other than cause me no end of wasted time in visiting them and money in ‘phoning them. If they want to sell cars you would think that they would make some small effort.

Both of these rather isolated items may be pooh-poohed by the bosses in England, but it is happening, and what makes it worse an acquaintance of mine who was having the same trouble of lack of interest from the Austin people here, met a fellow from B.M.C. England, and he asked him what the position was regarding an Export Car, only to be told that the Fiat 850 was a better car and to go ahead and order one of those instead! The tragedy is that if one goes to a dealer selling German or selling Japanese cars, one can pick up literature in nearly every language current over here, and also expect some form of positive assistance. But British manufacturers, isolated on that little island, my home, do seem to have their heads in the sand—the “70” limit, breathalizers, stupid road signs and restrictions and so on will not affect the sales of cars abroad (that is to say exports), provided the car is saleable and some sort of effort is made to sell it, there is no reason why Mr. Wilson should be making us all tighten our belts. Here in Finland the economy stutters along, and the roads are very good in the main—so much so that all sorts of frail cars are used on terrain which was once only suitable for tractors. However, the city streets are full of cars, lorries and buses from every country that manufactures cars, and with few exceptions there is at least one of every make of car produced. This means that the market here is open, and as there are no locally made cars, the customer is not hamstrung with selective import taxes, since all cars carry import tax. Consequently the cars really have to be sold—and the hottest sellers, quite naturally, are the German car sellers—just look how the German economy has gone from strength to strength, and the Japanese car sellers, and the Japanese economy is worthy of study too. There seems to be no head-in-the-sand for them, but bright, efficient customer relations, backed by an honest, solid product.

There does seem to be a certain complacency, and I for one would like to be in a position where I can feel proud when I see “Made in England” on something, instead of hastily putting it back and asking for the same thing from some other country. Come on England, get your blooming fingers out—or was it your heads?

Helsinki — DAVID B. BULLIVANT

***

Praise for a TR4A

Sir,

Some of the letters in Motor Sport make depressing reading because of correspondents’ unfortunate experiences with their new cars. For this reason I should like to record my complete satisfaction with a Triumph TR4A which I bought new in April 1966 and in which I have since covered 13,500 miles.

Basically, I am pleased with the car because it has actually lived up to Triumph’s advertising splurge. The TR really is a safe car being possessed of fine acceleration and excellent road-holding qualities. The collapsible steering wheel, laminated screen (in conjunction with lap and diagonal seat belts), two-speed wipers, good visibility, tough chassis and first-class brakes make the car effortless to drive and inspire confidence in all the road conditions that I have as yet encountered. I was originally attracted to the TR because I considered that I would be getting a longer lived car for my money. I don’t think that I shall be disappointed. A car that is actually exceeding the ” B.C.” maximum speed limit at only 3,000 r.p.m. in overdrive top should have a lengthy life. My confidence has been further supplemented by the fact that the car has been virtually trouble-free to date except for a few rattles which have been elusive to trace, a sheared wiper-arm and a collapsed wire wheel (knock on hubs may look pretty, twinkling away in the sunlight, but I think I’ll stick to pressed steel wheels in future). True, I did have to spend the first couple of months crawling round the car tightening everything up as the trim fitters at Triumph’s all have weak wrists, apparently.

Of course, the car has some definite faults. The seats should have more lateral support and although my wife and I have completed two trips of over 600 miles in the day without discomfort I should like to have seen them adjustable for rake. But the worst fault is the rattle proneness with which I understand all TRs suffer. With patience I have managed to eliminate all the worst offenders from my own car but over bad roads there is persistent scuttle shake—a bug that Triumphs should have ironed out by now.

But I really like the car. There is an almost vintage quality about the toughness and solidarity built into the model that I find satisfying and endearing. The finish is good (including the engine, incidentally, which is a delight to service such is its accessibility), the hood is flap free and efficient and the car is remarkably economical (28-29 m.p.g. on a run) and delightfully quiet.

My next car will be a Triumph. Usual disclaimers.

Walton-on-Thames. — JOHN HYATT

***

Twin O.H.C.

Sir,

With respect to your Vintage Postbag correspondents David Smith and M. J. D. White—who appear to enjoy the same address, motor cars and perjorative adjectives—my previous letter slung no mud at twin o.h.c. or at any designers either; it simply made the point that twin o.h.c. were commercially unacceptable in 1930, as their selected examples of Alfa Romeo, Salmson and Sunbeam show only too well. Neither the Salmson nor the Alfa engine was designed for public consumption in the first place. The former was designed to win Voiturette races, the latter—so I have always understood—to win the Mille Miglia; both were entirely successful. They were then marketed for profit because, like Everest, they were there; but in spite of this apparent advantage the attempt brought failure to both firms. Far from Alfa Romeo surviving the depression, they needed the State to rescue them from oblivion in 1931 and to reform the company as a prestige (i.e. loss bearing) national venture; it is as much to Mussolini as to Jano that we owe the glorious 2.3 straight eight. The Salmson firm lost its identity very soon afterwards.

The Sunbeam case is rather different, since it was the only serious attempt before Jaguar to design a twin-cam engine for a touring car. It was remarkably civilised for its time and produced a respectable power output, which the detuned production Alfa and Salmson units did not; it is hardly immaterial that the STD designer to whom Coatalen sent the drawings for final (and quite substantial) revision was Georges Roesch, nor that all these engines were built in the Talbot factory. But the Sunbeam twin-cam engine was, if anything, even more expensive to manufacture and maintain than the others, and was soon discontinued.

All these twin-cam units, when working at optimum efficiency, give enormous pleasure to a minority of raving enthusiasts like Messrs. Smith, White and Blight, and it is precisely their commercial shortcomings—the noise, complication, costs and exclusiveness—which makes them so irresistible to us; but this is not, nor ever could have been, the world of the Talbot, which was a car aimed at the Joneses, the keeping-up-with-whom was already by 1930 beginning to be the surest source of the manufacturer’s bread and butter.

Mr. White says he admires the Roesch Talbot, but if he does then he must admire it in a vacuum because Roesch’s work would have made little sense if it had ruined his firm, which Mr. White and most other people seem to think it did. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is mighty rare for a car to be both a great car and a market winner, yet this is just what Roesch’s engineering achieved, making the Talbot factory one of the biggest commercial successes of its time. There cannot have been many firms which increased their profits as Talbot did every year right through the Depression, to the point in September 1934 where the failure of its associates put all the STD assets under the hammer.

The suggestion that any of us amateur mechanics could ever dare to find fault with designers like Petit Jano or Roesch is monstrous, and it was just such an ill-informed attack on the latter which provoked me to protest. Jano—a close friend of Roesch, and the designer with whom he has perhaps most in common—produced for Alfa Romeo some of the finest racing engines in the world; but he was not briefed to design a touring car until he went to Lancias, whereupon he responded with the Aurelia, one of the great touring cars of all time. It did not however have twin cams, and although Jaguars were by then already showing how they could be used commercially, they have not even yet solved the problem which also bewitched the twin-cam Sunbeam forty years ago—how to bring the rest of the car up to the standard of its superb engine.

Callington — ANTHONY BLIGHT

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