I was most interested in your comments (Editorial, December MOTOR SPORT) on re-introducing the freewheel, for much of my motoring over the last two years has been in vehicles so equipped. Surely the mode of transmission is the most important single contribution to a car’s character, and the inexpensive freewheel has, in my opinion, transformed some otherwise dull motor cars. During the last decade I have owned cars with varied transmission systems from conventional gearboxes with synchromesh (NSU 1200 C) and without (Fiat 500), to a three-speed preselector gearbox with the first gear brake band doubling as “clutch” (Armstrong Siddeley Twelve), a four-speed preselector gearbox with centrifugal clutch (Riley Lynx 12/4), and an automatic gearbox with torque converter (Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire). Quite the best compromise for me was the conventional gearbox with freewheel (Rover 60, Auto-Union 1000), for once the car was under way, the clutch pedal could be forgotten, upward and downward changes along with selection of neutral in anticipation of a halt, being effected without any assistance from the clutch. The system also demonstrated great economy benefits and allowed a useful measure of “preselection” in town driving. Furthermore the strain upon the transmission components was presumably reduced, for both cars were entirely trouble-free in this respect during my ownership.
Sheffield A. Peter Fawcett