Letters from Readers, January 1955
N.B. — Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them. — Ed.
The M.C.C. Rally
Just two comments on your excellent report of the M.C.C. Redex Rally:
(a)The schedule speed was 26 2/3 m.p.h. and not 30 m.p.h. as you state.
(b) Three of the members of the organising committee as well as other travelling officials went round the entire route and they would have been at BwIch-y-Groes at some time or other on the Thursday to assist the local officials if necessary. I have had no reports, however, that any help was required as Mr. Vaughan Jones and his colleagues carried out arrangements very efficiently.
I do not want you to get the impression that having appointed officials in whom we have every confidence we do not subsequently back them up if required.
I am, Yours, etc.
J. A. Masters,
Gen. Sec., the Motor Cycling Club.
[We gladly publish this correction. We were wrongly informed about the average speed of the Rally, possibly because many competitors had to average rather more than 26 2/3 m.p.h. to keep to schedule after delays and difficult sections. Our remarks about the BwIch-y-Groes test implied absolutely no criticism of those stalwarts who braved the elements to conduct it; but they did themselves, last year and in 1953, express mild regret that no travelling marshal had visited their lonely site to tell them if they had laid out the test correctly and with the M.C.C. approval. — Ed.)
* * *
“Take a Clean Sheet of Paper”
The recent Motor Sport article “Take a Clean Sheet of Paper,” set off quite a tidal wave of verbal activity among my immediate circle of friends, and I found myself at variance with them on one or two points, in particular the need for a modern small sports car; small in the following dimensions: capital outlay, weight, cubic capacity, running costs, and, of necessity, performance.
There is, I am sure, a large potential market for a modernised version of the Austin Seven Nippy or Speedy, with an engine of 750 c.c. and 25 b.h.p., tubular chassis, fibre-glass body, weight of 9-11 cwt., maximum speed of 70 m.p.h., and a total cost of less than £400.
Surely it is not beyond the capabilities of one of our more accommodating motoring concerns to produce something along these lines?
My proposed maximum speed of 70 m.p.h. brought howls of derision and mirth from many of my friends, who have become infected with the modern idea that any vehicle which will not exceed 100 m.p.h. must be classified as an agricultural implement, and not a sports car.
A high maximum speed is a very desirable thing, but (for a given engine capacity) an increase in speed or performance is matched by a corresponding decrease in safety, reliability, and economy both in running costs and repairs.
Now — am I a lone voice crying in the macadamised wilderness, or do others share my views?
I am, Yours, etc.,
David F. G. Barker.
You referred in a recent article to the fact that, with the exception of Aston Martin and Bristol, the smaller sports saloon remained largely the preserve of the Continental manufacturer.
No doubt this is true, but I do wonder how Continental manufacturers, any more than British, can apparently afford to cater for this allegedly limited market, unless it is not so limited as it appears. Surely they depend on sales, too.
Before the war, a host of smaller sports saloons in the medium-price category was available to the sporting motorist who found the open two-seater somewhat unversatile. B.S.A., Singer (Le Mans), Wolseley Hornet Special, Riley and Jaguar immediately spring to mind, were popular and had qualities that can still be found to be endearing.
But the post-war sporting motorist who finds the open two-seater unsuitable for the odd business trips or family haulage, finds he is left with the alternatives of purchasing a very expensive British or Continental sports saloon, or alternatively something akin to the 1 ½ Riley or 1 ¼ M.G. saloons, neither of which come anywhere near the claim of being a sports saloon.
Without entering the arena over the definition of a sports car, surely there is a market for a medium-priced, fastish, occasional four-seater saloon of Aston Martin proportion, with good performance up to 80 m.p.h. and no pretension of hitting the ton.
Such a car would be the first on my “clean sheet of paper,” having knock-on wheels, small remote gear-lever, rev.-counter and other instruments on a functional dashboard. It would enjoy the parking advantages and better m.p.g. associated with the smaller saloon, both these becoming of increasing importance.
In other words, a TD in aerodynamic saloon uniform would be much nearer the answer than the most sumptuous Magnette, but Nuffield seem to have no new ideas at all.
The A.C. Aceca, XK140 saloon and the many detachable hard-tops seen at this year’s show, all seem to point to quite a large potential demand for a saloon acceptable to sporting circles which can still be used for “business, domestic and pleasure purposes.”
In the meantime, and until I can buy my Guilietta Sprint, I’ll make do with my Triumph Roadster but always with my weathereye open for that pre-war sports-saloon snip, that has been laid up in cotton wool since 1939.
I am, Yours, etc.,
M. K. Johnson.
* * *
If space will permit, may I through the columns of your journal commend one of your advertisers for his most creditable and speedy attention? I am enclosing the relevant correspondence which is self-explanatory.
Indirectly the letter is a compliment to Noteks who made the reflectors. The two lamps have suffered all weathers (without a garage at night) for two years.
Hoping that you will be able to do the gentleman justice by publishing his letter.
I am, Yours, etc.,
W. P. Carrivick.
Our correspondent encloses the following letter he received from R. E. Packer, Electro Plater, of Bristol: —
We have today received your two reflectors with postal order for 11s. 6d.
We would say that we have polished these, but we cannot see that they require plating as they would appear to us quite perfect. We are, therefore, returning to you the postal order for 11s. 6d.
Trusting that this is quite in order.
We are, Yours faithfully,
R. E. Packer.”
* * *
Competition in Sweden
Referring to the previous correspondence in your column about the VW and the Fiat 1,100, I should like to add some comments from Sweden. We have over here a very special type of motoring event called a reliability race. In fact, it is something in between a rally and a trial. The roads chosen for these reliability races are the worst possible, and the climatic conditions make them practically impossible for normal motoring. There are seven races, plus a final counting towards the Swedish National Championship. Each race is about 300 miles long, except the final, the so-called Rikspokal, which is about 500 miles. The averages vary from 35 to 40 m.p.h., but not one can achieve them, however low they may seem.
The drivers must have very quick reaction at times as the roads are always, or nearly always, unknown to them and extremely hazardous. Good night vision is also necessary because the races start in the evening and go on all night. Apart from this, good physical condition is very important. The cars must be above all very tough indeed. They must also be small, quick-reacting and handy. Good acceleration in the indirect gears — it is impossible to go faster than 70 m.p.h. on these roads — and good roadholding on ice and dust are very desirable qualities. Only standard family cars are eligible. The most consistently successful car in these events has been the VW. It has everything it takes. The worse the roads the more superior is the VW. These Volkswagens seem to have been constructed as land vehicles originally and with their new engines they are as fast as anything on small winding forest roads covered with ice and snow or dust. The Swedish Volkswagen agent is also very efficient and the majority of Sweden’s best drivers are VW-mounted.
Before the Volkswagens got their more powerful engines, the Swedish Saabs used to give them a run for their money. These cars have roadholding which is probably unequalled for a small family saloon, but they lack power, having a two-cylinder two-stroke engine of only 760 c.c. Their chief constructor, Rolf Mellde, managed however to beat the Volkswagen team several times, but this was due more to his personal skill as a driver. All other Saab drivers became more and more outclassed by the VW drivers. Saab have now stopped running a team as they are waiting until their new three-cylinder car is ready.
Recently a new car has begun to make life hot for the Volkswagen people. This is, of course, the Fiat 1,100. These cars beat the Volkswagens if the roads are like roads and not like forest paths. They are faster and handle equally well. When the going gets really rough they cannot follow the VWs, but this year a Fiat driver has managed to take the National Championship in spite of this handicap. He won the Rikspokal on November 28th, and had secured enough points before to take the title. The Fiat drivers in general are not as experienced as the Volkswagen team, but they are gradually improving their driving and next year will probably see a terrific fight between the German and Italian makes. If the three-cylinder Saab is ready the fight will be even more interesting.
I regret to say that English cars have never managed to do any good in these reliability races. They do not seem to be tough enough. Only one car has tried and that is the new Anglia. Driven by Erik “Ockelbo” Lundgren, probably Sweden’s best circuit driver, an Anglia has managed to win some minor events and be quite well placed in some of the major races. The roadholding of these cars is very good indeed and the speed range is usually sufficient but the Anglia is, so far, too weak. The Anglia team is often forced to retire because of mechanical troubles. In the rally of the Midnight Sun the Anglia did beat both the Fiat TV and the Volkswagen, to everybody’s surprise, but, however good the car is, this was very much thanks to the skill of the drivers. It was a truly formidable team for Swedish conditions—Erik Lundgren, John Bengtsson, a Swedish Ferrari driver, and Carsten Johanssen, the very famous Norwegian rally driver who did so well in the round-the-houses race at the end of this year’s Monte Carlo rally. The Fiat TV drivers were not up to their standard and as the roadholding of the Anglia is better than that of the Fiat and the roads were good, if winding, the Anglia won. Many people hoped that they would continue to win also in the reliability races but, alas, the going was a little bit too rough for this very nice English saloon.
Very few other makes have been able to compete successfully in the reliability races. One very well-driven Peugeot has won occasionally, but in general this car is too big for the very small roads in question. It is, however, both fast and tough and is held in very high esteem in Sweden. The Volvo and the Simca Aronde have also been raced, but they must be considered too bulky to be suitable. They have never gained any real successes. The D.K.W. was regarded by many as a potential winner, but — always these buts — the stiff back axle and some other characteristics seem to make this very fast German saloon unsuitable. When the roads are better, as in the rally of the Midnight Sun, the D.K.W.s are as fast as anything else in the small car class.
This year’s Rikspokal — the final — was run on November 27th and 28th. The roads were very difficult indeed, even for this type of race, and things did not become easier when the weather gods supplied a snowstorm for half of the race and a rainstorm for the other half. Of the 68 starters very few came through. Most drivers landed their cars out in the geography when trying to maintain the impossible averages on the special speed stretches. Here are the results, which give an idea about the above-mentioned cars: 1st, Fiat; 2nd, VW; 3rd, VW; 4th, VW; 5th, Fiat and VW; 7th, Saab; 8th, Saab; 9th, VW.
It was a surprise win for Fiat, but it may show the future trend. It is very interesting to follow this struggle between small family saloons which everyone can buy. The advertising value of these races is quite good and I hope we shall see more English cars on the results lists.
With kindest regards and thanks for your excellent magazine.
I am, Yours, etc.,
* * *
What is Alec Up To?
I remember reading in Motor Sport some time ago that Mr. Alec Issigonnis had transferred his services, and being an admirer of the Alvis TC 21-100, I wandered on to the appropriate stand at the Motor Show and found two sales representatives earnestly engaged in small-talk with each other. After a five-minute wait I interrupted pointing to an immaculate “Grey Lady” and said “Is this the result of the efforts of Alec Issigonnis?” After a pause, while they thought to whom I was referring, one of the gentlemen said, “Oh no, and we won’t see any of his work for a long time to come,” and the other adding, “I hope we never see it.” This comment shattered my hopes of the possibility of the new employer marketing a motor car of the TC 21-100 quality with a 750-c.c. or 1.1-litre (flat-four?) engine which would fill to a certain extent the needs for a good car in this class.
I read this month that the Saracen performed well at F.V.R.D.E., so perhaps one can join the armoured corps and sample some Issigonnis design!
I am, Yours, etc.,
“A ‘Grey Lady’ Admirer.”
* * *
Grand Prix Drivers
In the July issue of your magazine you published a letter of mine about Grand Prix drivers. Since then a great deal has happened in the world of motor racing, and it is time for me to revise the list. Here it is: —
As will be seen Class 1 has been almost completely changed. I don’t think many people will disagree with use when I say that Moss, Gonzales, and Hawthorn are worthy of inclusion in this class. However, there may be some who will dispute the order, but quite honestly if I was asked which of the three would be World Champion first, I would plump for Moss. Class 2 is made up mainly of the really up-and-coming drivers with one or two veterans thrown in for luck. Behra is a fine driver, next year he will be driving for Maserati and should do great things. I have put Herrmann ahead of Kling because I think he has great potential merit, though not as much as Sergio Mantovani and Luigi Musso.
The outstanding driver to my mind — in Class 3 that is to say — is Bob Gerard. He still drives with fire and great determination. Witness Aintree, Oulton Park, Crystal Palace, Silverstone, and Castle Combe. I always feel that Rolt would be a really fine Grand Prix driver if he was given more opportunity. Perhaps the new Connaught will do just that.
Class 4 is once again a continuation of Class 3. Taruffi did well at the Nurburgring, and we look forward to seeing him in a Grand Prix Lancia.
Naturally, there are many points for discussion in this list, but what list would not be full of them?
I am, Yours, etc.,
J. J. R. Lord.
* * *
Yes to Aintree
With regard to the letters published in your December issue, on the question of the British Grand Prix being held at Aintree, I should like to express my approval of this step. Until the race track at Oulton Park was opened the north had been unjustly starved of international motor-racing and it is high time that a major event was held in this part of the country.
I should also like to say how much I disagree with the comments of your correspondents about the Aintree track where visibility is unrivalled. With regard to facilities, I suggest judgment be suspended until next summer.
Of course it will be necessary for the writers of your published letters to do the long distance travelling to see this race, but it will certainly be a change for the northern enthusiasts who have usually had to make the trip.
In my opinion the large meetings should be more evenly distributed over the country and I think that the R.A.C. should be congratulated on this move.
I am, Yours, etc.,
W. J. Clee
* * *
Comment from Canada
It is unfortunate, but a great number of people on this continent now hold a very low opinion of British automotive craftsmanship and design.
However, there is more than ample justification for this view. For the first few years of the British “invasion,” spare parts were practically unobtainable, and the dealers appointed by English firms were almost always inept and quite often dishonest. Today, the situation is somewhat better — British car manufacturers have their own companies here and no longer have to rely on indigenous entrepreneurs; and also, the stocks of spare parts are almost adequate.
Nevertheless, the purchaser of a “foreign” car, in the main, is willing to forgive these sins of omission if his vehicle is honestly built, well designed and trouble-free. Unhappily, this has not been his experience. Reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion (as have many others) that British automobiles are no longer solidly or sensibly constructed. For even if the owner is lucky enough to escape major repairs and replacements, he is constantly plagued with minor mechanical irritations; i.e., the failure of electrical equipment, the habitual replacing of “bulbs,” the failure of locks and door and window mechanisms (also, it is fast becoming a truism that all the locks of all the English cars in North America are frozen all winter), intractable instruments, flimsy “bumpers” and guards, scandalous chromium plating, leaking windows and scuttles, and a profusion of draughts from all quarters (which result in frigid blasts in the winter and billows of dust in the summer). This list could go on, but suffice it to say that every English car, from the cheapest economy model to the most expensive “luxury saloon”(“The Best Car in the World,” I know from personal experience, is definitely no exception), suffers from these ailments — and often worse.
Personally, I have owned four post-war British cars (Ford, M.G., Javelin and Austin), none have been trouble-free, and service (and parts) has run the gamut from inadequate to non-existent. Apart from the already discussed “minor irritations,” which were present in all in varying degrees, I experienced a serious engine fire and a “collapsed” piston. In the light of the debacles of friends and acquaintances, I feel I was quite fortunate.
One example that will illustrate the present service difficulties is the following: An avowed fan of the virtues of European cars became so incensed with both the service facilities and the cars’ workmanship, that he resolved never again to purchase another English automobile. However, on the introduction here of a new two-seater sports car of modest price and outstanding performance, he could no longer resist. So eager was he, in fact, that rather than wait and obtain the desired colour, he commissioned the dealer to repaint his only remaining model. When the gentleman took delivery of this car he found that the paint had been sprayed over unwashed wheel hubs, as well as over various latches and chrome-plated excrescences! Needless to say, he now drives a Chevrolet.
At present I drive a Volkswagen, which I find robustly built, sensibly designed, economical to drive and maintain, and great fun to operate (service is good, too). My next car, I am very much afraid, will have to be an English one, for the high rate of duty makes the price of other larger imported vehicles prohibitive — I might add at this point that in reality I am an Anglophile, but like many others refuse to be further inconvenienced, annoyed, or pushed towards bankruptcy because of it. Unfortunately, they have yet to produce a post-war car on this continent that is sufficiently stable, controllable, attractive, interesting to drive, and of a practical size, to appeal to the large and presently-frustrated group that appreciates these qualities.
I realise that this denouncement is only one among hundreds, but I hope that the powers that be in the United Kingdom Motor Industry realise that their energy, ability and integrity are being seriously questioned.
Finally, I must commend Motor Sport on an excellent publication and on its objectivity in printing letters such as this.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Hugh A. MacLean.
* * *
Another One For . . .
. . . Sir,
Some eight months ago I decided to buy a new 8-h.p. saloon of a well-known domestic make; it ran well enough, but was a little too “utility” and so I parted with it.
I bought a larger car, made by one of our biggest manufacturers, a car which, incidentally, has enjoyed a fine reputation in rallies (the drivers should, in my opinion, be entitled to a decoration for valour!).
After twice returning this modern idea of a motor car to the local dealer, once for new engine mountings which collapsed, and secondly for a new head gasket (all in less than 3,000 miles), I thought it was time we parted before the allegedly-weak final drive became more audible than it already was.
The radio, incidentally, had to be turned right up to be heard above the appalling wind noise above 60 m.p.h.
On reading Motor Sport’s road-test of the Volkswagen I decided to give it a trial, and may I say here and now that the VW is all that the Editor says it is.
The finish is excellent and I have never driven a car which slips along so effortlessly and without fuss.
The gearbox is a delight to use and the ratios are just right, and, provided the tyre pressures are kept to the maker’s recommendations, the car can be cornered fast and safely under all conditions.
Keep up the good work of unbiased road-tests!
I am, Yours, etc.,
J. R. Brierley.
* * *
. . . And One Against the VW
You and your correspondents may be right about the technical aspects of the Volkswagen, but I consider the fact that the rear seat is only suitable for legless passengers rather a drawback!
I am, Yours, etc.,
* * *
I was pleased to read under “Rumblings,” that I was not alone in returning to second childhood. I have been successful in acquiring fourteen of the veteran Edwardian miniature car models by Revell and must agree that the detail work is excellent. What a pity some British firm has not seen fit to produce similar kits of U.K. and European cars for I cannot help but feel after this year’s London-Brighton that there is a tremendous following, but unfortunately these days we always seem to be those few years behind our American friends in this type of thing.
I have approached a few of our toy manufacturers on the subject, but so far none has decided to take up the production.
Perhaps something further in your next issue might stimulate further interest.
I am, Yours, etc.,
J. A. G. Burchell.
[See page 20! We shall be only too glad to give the British toy industry a boost when they offer comparable models. — Ed.]
* * *
I read with interest the letter of C. P. Harrison (Wanted Better Batteries) in the December copy of Motor Sport and would like to give a few of my observations on the matter.
Over the past few years we have been encouraged to buy this oil, that petrol, his seat covers, etc., and, to take the accessory under review — the battery, I find that three points have been mentioned over and over again (I take the three biggest manufacturers and exclude the “cheaper” batteries). To wit: (1) the separator; (2) the grid or plate; (3) the guarantee. Comparing the three largest manufacturers, Lucas, Exide and Oldham, I find that I have a choice of two plastic and one synthetic wood separators. The plastic separator appears to be of a “rubber” base and it is a known fact that rubber has a very high electrical resistance whereas wood separators were used for many years in batteries — so which is better?
With the grids (or plates) I have the choice of special grid alloy, C.B. 95 and X-metal. All are composed of the same elements basically lead and antimony, and I am sure the above three things are corrosive-resisting additives! — so, again, which is best?
With the guarantee the manufacturers go to two extremes; two have a six months’ free-of-cost replacement with an 18 months’ insured life (only one has it in writing and registered!); the other manufacturer has only a 12 months’ scheme. Two of the manufacturers market a “super-demi-armoured” battery with an unconditional two years’ free-replacement guarantee (again only one has it in writing and registered!).
Comparing the “cheaper” batteries with the three above, I find that they either offer vague guarantees or none at all! Weighing a cheaper battery against one of the above, I found it lighter (less lead, less active material — fewer starts!) and (from reports) could only count on an average life of about 12 months. In cold weather it usually means “back to the handle”! Some “cheaper” batteries are good, but these need hunting for and can be counted on the fingers of both hands.
To sum up, what I am looking for in a battery is: a good weight (thus proving no saving in lead or active material), a good, full factory-backed guarantee (preferably in writing). Other points, equally as important: no “gadgets” (semi-linklers, easy-topping top-nots!), a solid rubber container and the correct charging rate on my car!
Hoping the above will prove of interest to your readers.
I am yours, etc.,
Bryan C. Lamerbury.
Mr. Harrison’s experiences with batteries seem to me singularly unfortunate. When I purchased my car secondhand some three and a half years ago, the dealer described the battery as “nearly new.” It is still going strong today, although I have given it no special attention other than normal regular inspection and topping up. It was made by the Lithanode Co., Ltd., of London, S.W.8.
I have never previously heard of this concern, but have since discovered that it was established as long ago as 1881!
It seems, on the face of it, impossible to give useful test reports on batteries. They either work or they don’t, and how long they will work is a matter of “suck it and see.” Perhaps if readers can give data from personal experiences, a useful dossier could be built up on which general recommendations could be based.
I am, Yours, etc.,
B. W. Rivett.
* * *
The Ford Controversy — Mr. English Replies
I wish to reply to Mr. Killpartrick’s letter in the December issue of Motor Sport. He accuses me of lacking in objectivity in my criticisms of the Ford Consul, but I must point out that he is under the same condemnation. Not only is much of what he says spoiled by rather childish, personal comments, which he could have avoided if he had taken the trouble to read my original letter carefully, but, he also puts himself out of court by admitting to satisfaction with a car which at 12,000 miles has had two changes of back axle and seems well on the way to needing another.
This may be because Mr. Killpartrick does not carry weights in the boot of his car, which consequently suffers from back-axle judder and wheelspin on rough and wet roads. Many Ford owners complain of this, and it is confirmed by the fact that Fords themselves are obliged to replace these axles free of charge. Both Mr. Killpartrick and Mr. Bradpiece, who writes enthusiastically of his Zephyr, admit this fact.
Perhaps Mr. Killpartriek is so impressed with the Ford service in his area that he likes his car to be laid up unnecessarily from time to time. For my part I found the service (not in our county town) so bad when we wanted faults rectified that I had to write to Dagenham before I got any reasonable attention locally. In fairness I must say that local VW service agents can be just as bad, although the main depot in London is very helpful.
About the petrol consumption. I stated clearly “a fast driving 22 m.p.g.” Mr. Killpartrick has no right to challenge this figure if he seldom drives his own car at more than 60 m.p.h. I too found 28 m.p.g. possible with a tedious maximum of 55 m.p.h., but that is not driving as most of your readers understand the term. In a busy life a top speed of 60 m.p.h. is an unnecessary handicap. I can assure Mr. Killpartrick (objectively) that I did not burst the engine in the 7,000 miles I had the car, in spite of frequently driving it flat out, which, in view of the many things that might happen, is quite something. In any case, I do not think a car is worth enthusing about if you do not feel safe to drive it for any length of time within 15 miles an hour of its maximum speed. At least it can be said of the VW that it will carry on happily all day with the throttle wide open.
Regarding the bench seat, I stated that it sagged badly with three average-sized people; this can surely not mean, as Mr. Killpartrick suggests, people who are over-weight?
Mr. Killpartrick suggests that I do not know how to change gear. He has evidently been to Silverstone club meetings and should therefore know something about motor cars; is he quite ignorant of the type of gear change on the 3-litre Bentley, which I mention in my letter as a car which I once owned? Those who know that wonderful car the Light Fifteen Citroën will understand that I know something of gear changing when I say that I could nearly always get a clean change to bottom gear in both my Citroëns. But the Ford bottom gear would not respond to anything that I did, and the agents were apparently quite satisfied that it was normal for the car. My experience of car driving goes back to 1929, and I never experienced anything else as bad.
I will agree with Mr. Killpartrick as to the satisfactory external finish on the Consul, to which in spite of what he says I did not refer at all. But internally the cardboard door trim and tenth-rate head-lining materials, and the continually vibrating and shoddily-made tin fittings, are something that any manufacturer should be ashamed to put out.
Next, as to back-wheel spin; even though I carried weights in the boot to keep the driving wheels in contact with the ground, the car was hopeless in mud and very dangerous on wet roads. There is no point in carrying weights in the front of a VW, as Mr. Killpartrick suggests. Its grip on a bad surface, such as a muddy farm road, is excellent because the weight of the engine is over the driving wheels. Incidentally, I wonder what Mr. Killpartrick thinks a ½-cwt. weight is like? It measures 9 in. by 6 in. by 6 in., and two of these are much cleaner and more convenient to stow in the boot than the bag of cement which I believe many Ford owners use.
Mr. Killpartrick referred in a far from objective manner to the luggage space in the VW. This is certainly not large, but easily carries two jerry cans of fuel or a suit case. I still like the car and am doing 500 miles a week in it. Mr. Killpartrick will be pleased to hear that I am now perfectly happy with it on wet road corners, which I never was in the Consul. I generally manage to leave behind any of these cars which come in sight. This is apparently because the VW is fitted with a good four-speed gearbox, and can accelerate well between 40 and 50, at which speeds the Consul, with no suitable gear available, is very sluggish. Mr. Killpartrick’s letter also suggests that another reason may be that some Consul drivers are afraid to exceed 60 m.p.h. for fear of damaging something.
I shall follow Mr. Killpartrick’s advice and keep the VW. It is good to know that on a long journey it will do about 40 m.p.g. driving flat out, instead of the Consul’s 22 and that I can reach the end of the journey in comfort. This was never true when sitting on the uncomfortable bench seat of the Consul.
I am, Yours, etc.,
R. D. English.
I have been following with interest and sympathy your correspondents’ letters on the failings of the Ford Consul. May I add a short letter of agreement to those of Messrs. English and Campbell Kemp?
My November, 1951, Consul is a wrecker of batteries — five cracked In two years. The boot becomes flooded in wet weather. One can double declutch, ease gently, pull down quickly but, apart from switching off the ignition and stopping, a clean change from second to first gear defeats me.
The brakes have failed, the steering worm pegs have been twice renewed, the doors rattle, the windows stick, and rust is now creeping out from underneath the chromium strips on the bodywork.
I say to Fords — wake up your ideas and concentrate on reliability and not your so-called cheap service and spares.
I am, Yours, etc.,
E. J. M. McGhee.
I have been fascinated by the correspondence which has arisen in the last two issues of Motor Sport in which your readers describe their experiences with the Ford Consul and Zephyr. It is now over two years since I wrote to you extolling the virtues and excellence of my old Alvis Firefly tourer. In the early part of 1953 I parted with this car and became the owner of a new Zephyr on the strong recommendation of a friend who admitted teething troubles with his car, but who said that the Ford Service was so excellent that these had been swiftly corrected. Of all the medium-priced cars of this type I thought the Zephyr the best looking, both in general shape and in the restrained use of chromium plating. Also, it had quite astonishingly good visibility all round and (on dry roads) handled well and performed very briskly indeed. What, of course, I had not realised was that with the merest trace of wet, and city slime on cobbled streets the car was prone to skid in all directions — that I would have to carry 2 cwt. in the boot of the car if I were to dare to venture on snow, and that I was to have at least five replacement rear-engine mounting bushes in a series of abortive attempts to cure the incessant and brutal plucking of the transmission at low speeds in top and second gears. My brother, who drives a Vanguard, was quite unable to cope with this, and a friend said it was a trouble he would have expected to have associated only with an elderly low horse-power car.
Then there was the floor vibration at 62 m.p.h. I could guarantee to terrify any passenger with this. I believe I had two replacement balanced prop.-shafts in an unsuccessful attempt to cure this, and “Jubilee” clips were also used on the shaft to try to balance it. At 70 m.p.h. the vibration disappeared but returned again as speed diminished — the driving mirror would be opaque with high-frequency vibration during these spasms.
The rear wheels were balanced and later the front as well. This improved matters but did not cure it, and was a failure anyway as several balance weights fell off, being only crudely clipped to the wheel rims.
It was rarely possible to reverse the car without promoting a series of savage clonks from the region of the gearbox, followed by a thundering noise from the engine as one pressed the clutch pedal to change back from reverse.
The troubles I have so far outlined persisted throughout the 11,000 miles I covered in the car. There were, however, plenty of others to offer a little variation.
The lighting switch emitted a cloud of blue smoke one day and had to be renewed. I wore out, with normal driving, two front tyres in the 11,000 miles. A front-wheel bearing was renewed at about 6,000 miles and, horror of horrors, so was the steering-box a thousand miles later, and at this point I learned that there was not a Ford Zephyr steering-box available at any Manchester agent, nor anywhere. between Birmingham and Carlisle. This cost me a week’s delay.
In the July of 1953 I went to North Devon on holiday. The car was due for servicing so I took it to Messrs. Tow Garages at Barnstaple. They fitted a new rear engine mounting bush and then discovered that the gearbox, was bone dry and they renewed the oil seal.
In passing, I would like to say that these people offered the very best in Ford service. They were alert, keen, extremely interested and courteous, and were all Ford dealers their equal there would be a lot less grumbling by Ford owners.
A new bearing had to be fitted to the gearbox on my return home.
During the time I had the car it was meticulously serviced, carefully driven and run-in, and it is scarcely surprising that after these experiences I parted with the car in the early part of this year.
On the credit side it is fair to say that the paintwork was excellent and the plating responded well to the great care I lavished upon it.
I had no bother from the engine and, what is more curious, no back-axle trouble either. Petrol consumption averaged 25 m.p.g. and on one occasion I actually obtained 31.4 m.p.g. on a long run, driving with economy in mind.
A friend bought a Consul at about the same time and sold it after a year — during which he had to renew the back axle and the steering-box apart from some trifling faults as well.
The Ford Motor Co. were at all times helpful and, apart from the front-wheel bearing, the tyre wear and the wheel balancing, I was never called upon to pay one penny of the various repairs. Unfortunately they act only through their agents and, in any case, who wants to have all the bother, inconvenience and worry which come with faults of this kind?
I, like Mr. Campbell Kemp, will never buy another Ford.
I am, Yours, etc.,
W. D. Kearns.