Letters from readers, February 1975

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Government Fuel Wastage

Sir,

Now Capitalism and Socialism have united to destroy private motoring, I wonder how long the country’s biggest manufacturing industry will survive?

One understands the Socialist attitude that to enjoy a way of life is sinful and must be curtailed, but when the most Capitalist of free enterprise, the oil barons, demand even more money to add to their obscene profits of unbelievable size, then we have reached total agreement by both sides.

In time, running a car will be the luxury only wealth and expense accounts can manage.

The latest speed restrictions are pathetic in their expected negligible effect, as we all know transport takes the smallest part of each oil barrel.

If Parliament genuinely wants to save oil, why not set the nation examples by reducing the VIP fleets of cars carrying one or two “top people” and especially the wasteful trips by helicopter which prove their rank ? Are the regular exercises so beloved of the War Department so necessary? They use tons of oil, not gallons, to play war games.

How about grounding the Red Arrows and especially Concorde ?

If measures similar to the above are not taken then I cannot believe the Government is in such a desperate situation and I resent the knock-the-motorist attitude so beloved of officialdom.

Has Government a remedy for the vast numbers of unemployed workers? Are there emergency plans to enlarge public transport with electric trains, trams and trolleybuses, using home-produced power from coal and nuclear energy ?

If so, then thank God for a far-sighted bunch of leaders.

Bridgwater B. LOWE

Ever-Greater Penalties

Sir,

Having read your “Matters of Moment” in the December issue, I feel moved to put pen to paper. I agree with every word you say!

For the sensible, speed limits are an unnecessary imposition—and there will always be those who drive too fast for prevailing conditions, whether a speed limit exists or not. In my opinion, our “driving test” is at fault here—surely a test of one’s high-speed motoring ability should be included (on Motorways!) to give experience of the anticipation needed in overtaking manoeuvres, lane changing, etc. Of course, we now have further impositions, in the interests of energy conservation, of even lower speed limits “for a lengthy period” (i.e., for ever).

Your comments on the variations in the penalties imposed by magistrates are very true, regrettably. I always have in mind the incident which lost Stirling Moss his licence.

It’s not a matter of what you know, but who you know—and, of course, the off-duty police officer obviously knows the right people.

In an economy geared to the motor car, successive Governments’ actions to impose even harsher penalties and even greater financial hardships on the long-suffering motorist seem even more like “biting the hand that feeds you”. How soon the £30 Road Fund licence ? No wonder we aren’t looked on as Great Britain any more.

I look to you to brighten up, for me at least, the forecasted dark days ahead—at least you never disappoint!

Selston GRAHAM JEFFS

Goodbye, British Freedom

Sir,

In this oil-rich outpost of “civilisation”, I am kept aware of motoring happenings in the Homeland through an airmail subscription to MOTOR SPORT. It is the one spark of motoring civilisation in a land completely lacking in automobile “taste”.

Having just read an article in today’s local paper which describes the latest UK energy “saving” measures, I felt I had to write a few words “In Memorium” on the passing away of a once enjoyable motoring country. Please accept my deepest sympathy on the loss of such a dear friend—pleasure motoring.

I am so glad that on my recent visit to England I hired a BMW 2002 and had, as it turns out, my last fling at motoring above snail’s pace through England’s lovely lanes.

Basically, I hate motoring in Caracus because of the appalling standard of driving of the average Caraqueno. However, once outside the city, one is free to drive at speeds which the conditions and one’s own skills allow. Such is the advantage of having one’s own oil supply!

Caracus MICHAEL BEARD

Endangered Livelihood

Sir,

I am still smarting from having my licence taken away from me by a Magistrates’ Court. As a journalist and road tester for a well known motorcycle publication my firm hired a solicitor to represent me because I was liable for disqualification under the totting-up system. Maybe it made some difference in that I was banned for three months when it could have been six or more, but the fact that my livelihood, indeed my way of life, depends on it makes no difference to the police or magistrates. Thankfully three months at this time of year is almost bearable, but at 25 years of age the thought of emigrating is forced upon me as the next infringement of the law, however slight, would mean at least a year’s immobility and definite loss of my job as a consequence. One of the three speeding offences was exceeding the 50 limit by 10 m.p.h. on the M5 when the emergency law was brought in. Two of the three offences were in cars, so they could not brand roe as a tearaway motorcyclist. I feel very bitter and sympathise with the journalists on your staff who have suffered the same fate.

Kettering BRIAN CRICHTON

Safety Not Assured

Sir,

I read of your problems with the 70-m.p.h. speed limit with much sympathy. Our lawmakers have forced an un-needed 55-m.p.h. limit upon us since last March. There is now reason to believe that they will try to force this upon us forever! God forbid!

The logic of this is impossible to understand as there is no evidence of increased safety as the result of the strangling 55-mph. limit. Grand, the accidents and deaths are down; but so are the number of miles driven. The writer understands that the fatalities per 100,000 miles are actually up from the pre-55-m.p.h. limit days but our DOT is keeping this information from the public. It would seem that our bureaucrats—Needys to you [Really ?—Ed.]— hate to admit that they goofed when they panicked last spring.

My congratulations on your fine magazine. Whatever the cause, I certainly missed your usual fine coverage of the Brighton run.

Michigan, USA I. W. STEVENSON

Fast farmer

Sir,

Regarding your picture and caption, Tailpiece—November issue, I think I can beat your picture as being the fastest farm wagon etc. A certain law practising gentleman who uses the Berwick Service Station at Berwick in Sussex, uses among other exotica a DB6 Aston Martin Automatic to carry sheep about. There being no estate body they were carried on the back seat, straw as well. There’s real comfort and understanding for you, and British too!

Hailsham, Sussex HAROLD E. PARKIN

A Midget Fan

Sir,

Regarding your picture and caption, Tailpiece—November issue, I think I can beat your picture as being the fastest farm wagon etc. A certain law practising gentleman who uses the Berwick Service Station at Berwick in Sussex, uses among other exotica a DB6 Aston Martin Automatic to carry sheep about. There being no estate body they were carried on the back seat, straw as well. There’s real comfort and understanding for you, and British too!

Hailsham, Sussex HAROLD E. PARKIN