Unsprung old 'uns ?


I feel I must join issue with your correspondent, Mr FW Bottomley (November issue) on behalf of some “modern machinery,” when he says of the Riley Nine that “the steering was a delight and the whole car had that solid, safe feel on the road that is completely absent in modern machinery.” Obviously he cannot have driven a modern Morris Minor.

No one admires vintage cars more than I, and as I have been motoring, man and boy, since 1900 and have personally owned 45 cars of all types, several of which were what are now known as “vintage sports cars,” including two Rileys (1933 and 1935) I feel I am qualified to express an opinion as to the performance of ancient and modern cars.

I think it will be generally agreed that the older cars, particularly of the “sports” type, were invariably held down to the road by almost inflexible springs assisted by tight shock-absorbers (although why they were so-called I could never imagine) and while this desirable feature was usually satisfactorily achieved, the springs hardly fulfilled their true function, which is to insulate both car and occupants from road shocks. In course of time both steering and springing systems, and also shock-absorbers, have been so vastly improved that most examples of modern “tinware” (as your dyed-in-the-wool vintage enthusiast loves to call the modern car) not only steer and hold the road as well as, if not better than, most vintage cars, but also provide an exceptionally comfortable ride for the occupants. Admittedly the Morris Minor, with its torsion-bar front springing, is an outstanding example, but there are many modern cars with other springing systems which compare more than favourably with the best vintage cars in these respects, and certainly provide a far more cornforbible ride.

While I share your correspondent’s admiration for many or the good qualities of the old ‘uns, it is, to my mind, not only unfair but slightly ridiculous to shut one’s eyes to the enormous superiority of the modern car in many respects, not the least of which is its springing.

I am, Yours, etc,

H Lennbert, London, N3.