Letters from Readers, February 1980

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N.B. –Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and MOTOR SPORT does not necessarily associate itself with them. –E.D.

 

 

Historic Car Authenticity

 

Sir,

The articles on historic racing and Michael bowler’s excellent letter examine the problem of eligibility of certain historic cars in considerable detail, but no satisfactory method of vetting individual cars is mentioned. Michael points out that the vehicle identity forms were drawn up to ensure that cars running in events covered by FIA regulations were genuine. However, this depends on a high degree of integrity on behalf of the wonders, as there appears to be little or no method applied to see whether the answers given on the forms are correct. The forms for my own cars were not examined at any of the UK or overseas historic events last season.

 

I searched in vain through the articles and correspondence for some mention of the VSCC. For many years the VSCC rules have been taken as the acceptable standard for single-seaters. These rules have been recently re-drafted and, more important, each car which is to be run in the Club’s events has to satisfy an investigation by a small expert Committee. The owner has to show with appropriate evidence that the car does comply with the regulations. It is then examined by an RAC scrutineer acceptable to the club. The benefits drawn from this method are that a certain amount of flexibility is built in. for example, one well-known car has been allowed to run in the Club’s events for some years with a non-standard gearbox as the original one was completely unreliable.

 

Unfortunately, two main Championships for historic cars last season specified that entrants should comply with the FIA regulations through which can be driven the proverbial coach and horses. If the HSCC put its house in order by setting up a scheme similar to the VSCC for sports cars and if all championships are run to these two Clubs’ regulations, then a big step will be taken towards drawing an acceptable but flexible line for historic car authenticity.                            BARRY SIMPSON

 

 

The HSCC and Authenticity

Sir,

I write to comment on your Deputy Editor’s article in your December edition on Historic Racing.

 

It is nice to see, at last, that MOTOR SPORT is taking an interest in the time span between VSCC events and modern racing. The HSCC, of course, covers the period from 1945 to 1968, and the Lloyds and Scottish Championship is registered with the RAC by the Club. The Club has also run national championships for sprots and GT cars in the 1960 to 1968 period for five years.

 

The Club had its beginnings in 1965 in the Frazer-Nash CC and became recognised as the HSCC in 1969. Hardly fledgling!

 

The article did offer a curt nod in the direction of the popularity of the Lloyds and Scottish Series with both competitors and spectators. Perhaps it would have been more fruitful to concentrate on this aspect rather than lapse into a car by car critique on authenticity.

The important question on the authenticity of vehicles in the period under question was tackled by the HSCC in 1978. The club now requires registration of vehicle identity, and the Lloyds and Scottish Series requires a stamped FIA registration form. Clearly there are judgements necessary, as I am sure the VSCC also have to make. Parts do wear out, cars have accidents and certainly safety cannot be ignored in Historic Racing. These, and other factors, all serve to make the humble registrar’s job near impossible. He does his best. He can take the 100% purist line C.R. is advocating. Even on C.R.’ count, some specifics of which are arguable, about 60% of the Lloyds and Scottish field would disappear. This would certainly please C.R., but I suggest he would be in a very small minority. It would be foolish, of course, to pretend everything was perfect. It is not and mistakes have, and will be, made on authenticity. However, I suggest the temperature we try to take, as a Club, is feedback from the competitors. At the moment, anyway, the majority are more than happy to continue racing their appreciating investments for their own and our pleasure. The HSCC will do its level bet to continue to see they, the competitors, wish to do so.

Beaulieu                                                                                                                                             D. A. PRATLEY

                                                                                                                                                                  Public Relations Officer

                                                                                                                                                                  HSCC

 

Authentication

 

Sir,

I am rather puzzled by the FISA Vehicle Identity Form as mentioned by Michael Bowler in January 1980 MOTOR SPORT. As I understand it, the object of this form is to verify that each car has sufficient history in order for it to be accepted in International Historic Racing.

 

It would be sad indeed if some cars were to be prohibited from racing due to the inability of being able to prove their innocence. Even worse, the very fact of being “authenticated” will raise the prices of such car making it even more tempting (for some) to make a replica car and then getting around the forms. Should a person choose to pay a great deal of money for such a car is it not wise to check the history beforehand? Caveat emptor.

 

Now just who does benefit from having the history of a car verified by the relevant club? Not the club; consider all that extra work. Not the owner of an authentic car; he is probably the one who collected the facts for authentication anyway!

Well then, who is at a disadvantage by not having their car authenticated? Not the dealers; they buy and sell according to the demands of the market place. Not the maker of a replica car; surely he does it to an order by a customer. Not the customer; at least not until all the cars that are eligible for International Historic Racing are accounted for. Someone who is at a disadvantage is the person owning a car made by a manufacturer who kept less than perfect records. How can he prove this car is genuine?

One final thought: if the vehicle is not inspected every year who is to police the forms to prove that the car still exists two years after it was inspected and the form issued? After all, policing more and more regulations causes more and more confusion. Why cannot sleeping dogs lie?

Abingdon                                                                                                                                                              MARTIN HASKER

 

 

 

Fakes or Replicas?

 

Sir,

I was very interested to see that C.R. and D.S.J. are bringing to light some of the more obvious replicas. In the art world they would be considered fakes, but replica seems more respectable. To Joe Public if it looks like, sounds like and goes like, then why bother, but when vast sums of money are asked the buyer must always beware.

 

A typical case amused me some years ago when a typical Mk. One member of the public (not to be confused with the average walking encyclopaedia) said of a pretty Austin 7 “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore” to which the driver replied “No, some parts are nearly two weeks old!”

 

Of course your article on this subject has squashed my plans, as I have collected some wiring conduit from a garage where a Lancia was stored, a chip of paint from the Lancia Museum in Turin, some sea water from the spot where Ascari crashed in Monaco, and a piece of thrown tread from Castellotti’s tyre, all of which I was going to use as a basis for my completely original D50 Racer. Still I can always buy a VW Type 35B replica!

Newbury                                                                                                                                                                         BARRY CROWE

 

 

Replica 250Fs

Sir,

In his excellent book “The Maserati 250F-A Classic Grand Prix Car” author Denis Jenkinson wrote: “This information supersedes anything previously published and the facts are correct at the time of going to press; rumour and surmise have not been included”. In order for there to be any history, rumour and surmise should be seen for exactly what they are. The wilful distortion of numbers to simulate fact is tantamount to forgery, thus reproduction racing cars can have no true place in history and can only be seen as making a mockery of the historic racing car scene.

 

Jenks, in the January issue of MOTOR SPORT, at least airs his opinion of replicas and suggests a method of identifying fake 250F Maseratis. This should be done now so that the copies are not lost in the mists of time and fading memories to re-emerge as original cars. The interesting feature of the 250F situation is that replica versions are being made to account for the ones supposedly missing or broken up by the works. Embarrassing if they are not truly missing and eventually turn up, but embarrassing for whom? The replica builders, replica owners, one-make clubs, committees, historic racing sponsors? Are there enough original people in the right places who can put things in order, or are some of them pouring the new wine into the old bottles? And what has become of the reproduction 250F’s that got away, or is that history?

 

Is the American magazine Road & Track right when it says; “A replica is just an overdressed whore giving about the same lasting satisfaction and having about the same intrinsic value”?

Waltham Cross                                                                                                                                                                       RICHARD CRUMP

 

 

 

The Great Race

Sir,

As a club official who missed out on his annual pilgrimage to “The Mount” for the first time in 13 years, (playing tourist on this side of the Equator) I was rapped to read your report of “The Great Race” (Hardie-Ferodo 1000 1979) on page 1837. You have captured the atmosphere of the race every well though one must camp behind the pits for the week to fully experience said atmosphere, akin to camping behind the pits at Le Mans during their race in June.

Your description of the circuit omitted the most exhilarating section (after Hell Corner lap 1), that is Skyline. Approached at 100+ m.p.h., over the top, right 45° and brake hard downhill is an experience many drivers never forget for all that is visible is a 200° panorama of the countryside 600° below and 10 miles out. Many a spectator in bygone years remembers Doug Whiteford, a multi-Australian Grand Prix winner who drover works Datsun 1600s when in his 60’s, skittling, under big V8s over Skyline as the other drivers raced heart in mouth, looking for the invisible road. With a twinkle in his eye. Doug always explained that he had been driving over that hill for 40 years and the road hadn’t moved yet!

Attention must be brought to the caption of the top picture on page 1937. Peter Brock campaigns for the 0.05% (not 0.5%) blood/alcohol limit in Victoria (NSW has a 0.08% limit). The highest alcoholic level that I can recall someone living through was 0.42% (it is generally accepted that one should be dead above 0.35%).

Hoping that your English readers’ education of Bathurst can be completed with aid of my letter.

Tamworth NSW                                                                                                                                                                               MAL ELLIOTT

 

 

Deep Sanderson History

 

Sir,

I recently acquired a Deep Sanderson 301, chassis number DS 301GT 1006, which is undergoing a complete rebuild.

 

As the car has never been registered, it has not been possible to establish any history at all. Chris Lawrence could not remember whether it had been used for racing in its career; but it certainly has been run, and because of its lack of registration, presumably on circuits.

The car is dark metallic blue. This appears to be the original colour, and if it jogs anyone’s memory it has coil spring suspension at the front, rubber at the rear, all rose-jointed and a large alloy fuel tank which fills the front boot almost entirely.

If any of our readers have owned, raced, or know of this car, I would be delighted to hear from them.

Goxhill, Lincs                                                                                                                                                                R. J. GRAHAM

 

 

W. O. Bentley and Harry Weslake

 

Sir,

I was intrigued to read your comments about my Harry Weslake book in the current issue of MOTOR SPORT and to learn that I may have added a little to the controversy that centres around certain aspects of the Bentley marque. Having taken a close look at the copious shorthand notes I made during my various sessions with Harry, I can confirm that everything I reported was exactly as he told me and that some of the episodes, such as that when he first met up with the great man, have been related to me on several different occasions. Right up to the moment of his death, Harry retained all his faculties, including a very clear memory, and I know that he was never over-enamoured with the reputation that W.O. had acquired. Most certainly he gave the impression, and very clearly too, that he had never been given the credit for all the work he did for W.O. when he was employed in a consulting capacity. He was insistent that I should try and put right what had been written in Elizabeth Nagle’s book, to the extent that the carefully chosen words I used were exactly those which he dictated himself. This was the only occasion throughout our many discussions that he stipulated what should be said, so you can see that he felt quite strongly about the depth of his own involvement at that time. The reference to a motorcycle engine developing 40 b.h.p. was clearly a direct reference to the o.h.v. Sunbeam on which he entered Gordon Cobbold at Brooklands and other speed venues. Tuned by him and fitted with his own Wex carburettor, it was a remarkably quick machine, as Gordon’s many successes will confirm. Running on alcohol fuel and being capable of well over 90 m.p.h., it is not too difficult to imagine the b.h.p. figure being too far from the truth. He did, after all, say “I had a smaller engine of my own . . . that had broken world records”.

 

To be fair, I would not be in a position to take either a good or poor view of W.O.’s achievements, for what went on was well before my time and, in any case, most of my knowledge relates to two-, rather than four-wheeled vehicles. I believe his reason for mentioning the choked silencers at Lagonda was no so much to be unkind to W.O.’s memory but to show how the obvious can so easily be overlooked and, more to the pint, why there is often a disparity in the readings of different brakes. Later in the book a somewhat similar occurrence is mentioned at the Coventry Climax works.

 

What a pity that Harry is no longer able to answer some of the more controversial points in his own unique manner, for I know only too well just how he would have reacted. If nothing else, I hope that my book has, in some small way, brought to light just how much Harry did for the British motor industry behind the scenes. We could to with a few more of his type in these troubled times that beset us today.

Sparkford                                                                                                                                                                                   JEFF CLEW

 

 

Mirrors

 

Sir,

Why are rear-view mirrors not mounted on the wing now they are remotely controlled? Asks Mr. Polling.

 

Wing mirrors spoil the line of any car – especially the modern design. Can you imagine what wing mirrors would look like on a Ferrari or Maserati for example!

 

Door-mounted mirrors give a much better view of traffic behind. Personally, however much I liked a car I would not buy it if someone had stuck wing mirrors on it. And as for those people who go and stick wing mirrors on a car with door-mounted mirrors as original fitting, the mind boggles. Or maybe they like driving in a “Hall of Mirrors”.

Sidcup                                                                                                                                                                                           V. OUTEN

 

 

Roller Skates

 

Sir,

I was amused by D.S.J.’s comment on page 32 of MOTOR SPORT when his friend made the comment “I enjoyed the Grand Prix and stayed for the old car parade.”

 

A friend of mine made a similar comment at a Grand Prix. Quote “I thought the historic racing was superb, but I didn’t think much of the Roller Skate procession.” I made a comment, I agreed!!

Adderbury                                                                                                                                                                     D. F. FLETCHER

 

Filling Station Decline

Sir,

I fear that your reporter has got his figures wrong in his story “Motoring to a Crisis?” in your December issue.

 

I retailed the forecast made to me by the marketing director of a major oil company that there might only be 17,000 filling stations in Britain by 1985. This is a drop of 11,000 from the present total of 28,000, not a drop of 20,000 as reported in MOTOR SPORT. It is, of course, still a very serious matter if the prediction is true.

And the drive of several of the major oil companies not to renew the contracts of the smaller filling stations in the rural areas is certainly going to head us in that direction.

London W1                                                                                                                                                                       PHILIP STEIN

 

 

The Thirsty Range Rover

Sir,

Being an ardent enthusiast of MOTOR SPORT over many years, may I firstly congratulate you on this excellent publication? Living here in France, the magazine gives me a superb revamp once a month, especially on the very stimulating English motor scene. It is in this respect that I read your December editorial with special interest and I too am slightly surprised to see British Leyland having to take a helping hand from Japan to get their new models on the road. In fact, it is on one such British Leyland product that I would like to pass some observations, in the hope that somebody within their management will take note.

 

I have been driving a Range Rover for nearly two years in a country where petrol is by this time reaching incredible prices with increases it seems at almost two-weekly intervals and I took special interest in your remark “. . . Spen King’s splendid, go-anywhere-in-comfort Range Rover . . .” Our Range Rover consumes precious petrol at anything between 21-25 litres per 100km., i.e. at worst therefore, only 4 km. to the litre! Among our friends here also driving Range Rovers, everybody seems to be in the same ball-park, saying “it’s a superb car, certainly go-anywhere-in-comfort, but at a ridiculous price  . . .” In these times where energy-saving is the order of the day, I cannot understand why BL have not introduced a more thrifty engine, either by a petrol injection system, or by possibly considering an alternative carburettor system for this car.

Will we again have to wait until the Japanese help create a new model, or will the Range Rover lose out to competitive names such as Mercedes, Fiat etc.?

Grasse, France                                                                                                                                                                   A. BARON FREYTAG

                                                                                                                                                                                    VON LORINGHOVEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cars of the ‘30s

 

Sir,

I know that, by tradition, an author is on a hiding to nothing when it comes to correcting a Book Review, but your review of my “Motoring in the ‘30s” was generous, and lengthy, which certainly gives readers a good idea of “what it is all about”. Like Michael Sedgewick, I am a great lover of the quantity-production 1030s car in its own context, and I’m glad this gut feeling came across in the text. However, I am afraid I was right and you were wrong, about the side-valve Morris Minor. This car, announced in January 1931, was indeed the first baby Morris to have a side-valve engine.

I may occasionally go marginally adrift on motor racing [like confusing a Monza with a P3 Alfa Monoposto Romeo? –Ed.], but I tried like made to be exact on production cars. let me take you through the chronology of the Minor/Eight: