Letters From Readers, January 1961

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N.B.—Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them.—Ed.

Ford, VW and Matters of Policy

Sir,

Having read Mr. Morgan’s letter on the Ford Anglia (November MOTOR SPORT) with one cynical eyebrow raised, and a mental picture of a large ham-fisted man with a leaden right foot, I felt compelled to offer a few words of praise for this controversial Car, and at the same time to air a long-standing grievance.

I have driven many cars in my time, ranging from a 1931 B.S.A. three-wheeler to Humber Pullmans, Daimlers and the like, yet of all these no car has given me so much pleasure as the new Ford Anglia. Bearing in mind its low cost, the steering, suspension, gearbox, gear ratios and brakes are extremely good, to say nothing of a lion-hearted, almost burst-proof engine. As with most new models, we experienced the usual sickening teething troubles, but on the whole the car has run exceptionally well and is a pleasure to drive. Fuel consumption appears to be in the region of 40-42 m.p.g. on a long fast run, dropping to 36-38 m.p.g. in town. I am genuinely sorry to hear of Mr. Morgan’s mishaps, which I sincerely hope are exceptional, for I feel he has missed the true excitement of the Ford Anglia, which I submit has more to offer than its initials might suggest !

Mr. Morgan’s last statement raised my cynical eyebrow even further—he offers no prizes to MOTOR SPORT readers for guessing the identity of his next car ! A damning statement indeed, Mr. Editor, for what it implies is so true.

A year or so ago I stopped buying MOTOR SPORT for this very reason and, indeed, I only purchased the November issue for the extremely good review of the Motor Show models. However, a quick glance at ” Matters of Moment ” confirmed the continuance of your incredible bias towards one make of car, and the odd little digs at the Ford Motor Company contained in the report of the 7-day-and-night marathon at Goodwood were sufficient to convince me that no radical change of policy had taken place since I last read the magazine.

I would have thought that the Editor’s role in a magazine of this kind was to maintain a frank, unbiased view of British and foreign cars, untainted by personal preferences and prejudices. That the British motor sporting public continues to accept such wanton propaganda for Messrs. VW from the Editor himself is beyond my comprehension. I await the day when I shall see on my newsagent’s stand : ” THE VOLKSWAGEN MONTHLY (incorporating MOTOR SPORT) “—under this heading I would purchase your magazine with pleasure.

If you have the nerve to publish this letter you will at least have my undying respect for a brave man, if not for an Editor.

I am, Yours, etc.,

West Harrow. James B. Lewis.

[If Mr. Lewis cares to count up all the words I have written about motor cars in the past five years and then deducts those applicable to the VW he will surely retract his suggestion that we are “The Volkswagen Monthly.” The fact is we praise a good car when we discover one, and four million other people seem to agree in this case. Otherwise we try to publish unbiased criticism and recently we have not been alone in finding fault with Ford. As I hold no motor-car shares and have no relations or close friends working in the Motor Industry, I fail to understand why Mr. Lewis thinks I harbour personal preferences and prejudices. I might as well say he is a prejudiced Anglia addict !—Ed.

* * *

Jack Brabham

Sir, Jack Brabham has clearly been proved by your readers to be on a par with previous holders of the World Championship. For all of these (according to critics of the time) were not ” worthy ” of the title ! Farina was only champion by ” the grace and favour of Fangio “; Ascari was No. 1 driver of a team which had no opposition; Hawthorn would not have been champion if the scoring system had been different; and even the great Fangio was not ” versatile ” enough—he never succeeded at Indianapolis!

As to the ” one-make ‘ criticism, this knocks at many past “champions ” of their day. Lang and Rosemeyer were one-make men, while the great Carraciola only drove for another make in one single year (1932) of his long life, and that for no reason than that there were no Mercedes available for racing. And was not the fabulous Georges Boillot a ” one-make man ” ? And was he not a “champion” ?

Jack Brabham is at least in good company !

For the enlightenment of Mr. John J. Robinson, the ” Golden Age “. has indeed passed. It was past in 1903, before even the old man was born. Motor racing ceased to be a ” sport ” and became a ” job ” in 1906. It has never been the same since 1914. The last ” real ” Grand Prix was run in 1924, and the ” faithful multitudes ” ceased to watch it in 1929, while the last racing car which looked like a racing car was the 3.3 Bugatti of 1934.

How long, I wonder, before men are writing to MOTOR StORT lamenting the ” Golden Age” of 1960 when men like Jack Brabham were ” real ” champions, and when we had ” real ” Grand Prix cars like the Cooper-Climax !

I am, Yours, etc.,

Eastwood. Peter M. Caporn.

* * *

The Rising Cost of Motoring

Sir,

We hear a great deal of outcry from motor manufacturers about the recession in the motor trade, and no doubt a great deal of blame for the slump attaches to the manufacturers themselves for lack of initiative, poor designs, excessive costs, and the ridiculous way in which production, distribution and selling charges are inflated by the marketing of so many models differing in minor details only. It would be interesting to know how many models are, in fact, made in this country and how many, for example, in Germany.

However, the high initial cost of car purchase is not the only factor which is tending to turn the motoring public towards other sources of leisure-time interest. The high cost of running a car is a significant factor, too. Take the price or components, for instance. For my Austin A70, a Girling rear shock-absorber costs £6 14s. 9d. For £3 15s. I can buy a Koni imported damper of higher technical quality, or, for even less, a Variflo. A rubber bush for the linkage of the Armstrong rear shock-absorbers is worth about a shilling. Armstrongs do not supply them. One must buy a complete arm at 15s. A new tyre costs at least £6 – this is over 100% higher than the bulk selling price of a new cover. A replacement steering column costs a mere £8—what is there in an exchange column to justify a charge of more than a couple of pounds. Why should a carburetter cost £10, when in the United States a new carburetter can be bought for less than this in dollars ? Why should a piece of cheap bent rubber about a foot long for my radiator cost 5s. 9d. Is there anything in a brake lining to warrant six or seven pounds for a set of exchange shoes ? Is a sparking plug worth three times its bulk selling price ? Is a paper oil filter worth 15s. ? In short, is it not time the manufacturers realised that the British public is fed up to the back teeth with the appalling technical service offered by the makers, and with the exorbitant costs extorted for poorly-made components and accessories ?

As an interesting sidelight on this, may I repeat the remark made to me some time ago by a manufacturer of steel pressings. He said that he would produce an enamelled tray as a baking dish to retail for 5s.; the same tray, un-enamelled, would sell as a motor-oil drip tray for 15s., and as a photographic print developing tray for 25s. The only consolation the motorist can derive from this is that the average photographer is an even bigger mug than he—unless, of course, he is a keen photographer himself also !

I am, Yours, etc.,

Abingdon A. L. Pullen.

* * *

20,000 Miles in a Ford New Anglia

Sir,

Let’s be fair about this Ford ! I took delivery of a new Anglia just before Christmas 1959 and have completed 20,000 miles under conditions varying from tough National rallies to day-crawling in London from my home in Chelsea to offices in the City. My conclusions are :—

(1) There is not a more exciting light car on the market.

(2) The engine is a winner and after this mileage it is using no oil and appears to run quieter every day.

(3) The gearbox is a sports-car job-68 m.p,h. in third can be very useful !

(4) Road-holding is excellent, the back-end is almost impossible to break away and cornering can be done at very fast speeds. There is some tendency to understeer.

(5) The comfort of the front seats has deteriorated and the seats have lost their shape. There is far too little range of adjustment to the driving seat.

(6) A major criticism is felt towards the brakes, which are inadequate—even after replacing linings with a good antifade lining rather than those supplied by Fords, which wore down to the drums after a 290mile rally ! Incidentally, both front drums have had to be replaced at. a cost of £5 5s. each.

(7) Front tyre wear is heavy—tyres lasting 6-8,000 miles.

(8) Finish to the exterior was good but interior-wise it was quite bad—lumps of’ Bostik on headlining and a vile verse written on the underside of a sun-visor did not amuse.

(9) A very good Ford—backed up by Ford Service—which must be the worst in the whole of London—my supplier showed little interest in my problems, and their ” salesmanship after sale ” could be summed up by their remark : ” It must be the bad way you drive, Sir.”

To have an ordinary 1,000 miles’ service done, a fortnight’s notice was required. However, I have found an excellent back-street garage in Chelsea—whose address will be supplied to any other service-suffering owner !

I’ll buy another !

“A. J.”

Chelsea. (Name and address supplied.—Ed.)

* * *

Special or Standard. ?

Sir,

I was interested to read in the same (November) issue of MOTOR SPORT the account of the Ford Anglia’s marathon run at Goodwood and the letter from a reader whose Anglia had, to say the least, not given such a satisfactory performance.

One hears from pretty reliable sources that cars to be used for these publicity pranks are first stripped and rebuilt by mechanics after coming off the normal production line.

The result may be perfectly standard from a design and material point of view but far from standard where workmanship is concerned.

True or false ?

I am, Yours, etc.,

Old Windsor. R. S. Meggs.

[It is practically impossible to know whether or not a car submitted to an officially-observed run is standard, and this will be so until the R.A.C. insists on taking such cars direct from the manufacturer’s assembly-line. But so far as the Ford Anglias which ran as Goodwood are concerned, they used non-standard tyres (Michelin ” X “) at the request of the racing drivers signed on to drive them. When Graham Hill’s car was exhibited at Earls Court it had whitewall Goodyears but after MOTOR SPORT had drawn attention to this anomaly these were changed for somewhat soiled Indias !—Ed.]

* * *

Comment on the Vehicle Tests

Sir,

I note that Mr. D. J. Bracey had his car damaged when it was submitted for a ” Ten-Year Test ” and that the garage disclaims liability. This they cannot do, as it is contrary to ” The Motor Vehicles (Tests) Regulation, 1960.” See page 8, Statutory Instruments, 1960, No. 1083—H.M.S.O., which makes the testing station’s liability clear.

Further to these tests : the aforementioned publication is very vague. Page 24 refers to the king-pins and bushes being ” . . . free from excessive stiffness and wear.”

Elsewhere similar unprecise wording is used, e.g., page 20 : ” .. reasonable amount of reserve travel …”

Therefore owners are at the mercy of the judgment of an unqualified tester. Opportunity for dishonesty is another disadvantage of the loose wording.

So far as I have been able to ascertain, the R.A.C. are satisfied with these regulations, which in my view are too loosely worded to form the basis of legislation.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Wallington. P. E. Richardson.

———————

Sir,

While my heart bleeds for Mr. D. J. Bracey and his broken Ford Ten, why on earth did he take his car to be tested in the first place. He points out that his car has just passed a far more stringent test for insurance purposes and he also affirms that the 10-year test is an iniquitous affair pouring money into the pockets of the garages. Why then does he pour his money in, too ? I have several cars which are more than 30 years old and all have to pass tests for insurance purposes. When the 10-year test becomes compulsory these will all have to be inspected (and I have no doubt that they will be pronounced roadworthy) once a year and all at my expense. I certainly do not intend to take any of my cars for inspection until compelled to, and possibly not then.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Chalfont St. Peter. W. S. May.

* * *

Service !

Sir,

We believe the antipathy of the police for the motorist is a myth. Policemen are human but it is easy to forget their more helpful moods and always to listen to tales from the peeved motorist.

On October 25th our M.G. disappeared from a busy Soho street. The first policeman directed us to Piccadilly Circus, where a most helpful officer, seated on his Thunderbird, called up the station and traced a black M.G. to the Kentish Town pound. We slipped down a tube station and emerged as the last train back was leaving. We were a little uncertain as to our means of return because the car we had left in Wardour Street was green, but we were courteously received and shown the only M.G. they had. They had covered it against the rain but in the dim light we could recognise the outline of a J2. Before being allowed any closer we were ushered into the office; the sergeant, after obtaining proof of ownership (a problem, as we had all forgotten the registration number) returned the keys(!). A be-breeched attendant— who had sought out its p.v.c. rick cover—was a little concerned at its reported reluctance to stay in third. He looked much happier, however, on being told that this usually happened and was not their fault.

We sped off to deposit the lady of the party, reflecting as we bounced homewards that although it was nearly 1 a.m. at no time had we been treated to anything but courtesy and good-natured assistance. Moreover, the whole episode had cost us no more than three train fares. p>

I am, Yours, etc.,

B. GRAY,

London, W.4. R. H. Redston.

* * *

Good Components on a Good Car

Sir,

Pats on the back for the VW probably infuriate most of your semi-elliptical and water-cooled readers by this time, but two non-German standard fitments on mine deserve a very big hand in my opinion.

Firstly, the Michelin SDS tyres have deep tread and no uneven wear at 30,600 miles, notwithstanding full-throttle driving on all possible occasions; secondly, the original Silver Exide battery is now five years and three months old and has never missed a beat, surely an extraordinary record as 90% of my driving is in town with much starting and stopping.

At 30,000, the VW is now nicely run-in, I suppose, and certainly goes far faster than when new—noticeably faster than other VWs I have a go with, perhaps because it is the somewhat rare ” standard ” model and must be quite a bit lighter than the de luxe, whatever the handbook says. Bearing in mind that the price, new, was under ,£600, no car could have given better value for money or less trouble.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Norwich. Richard Mason.

* * *

Mini-matters

Sir,

Having read in your excellent magazine the views of Austin 850 owners, I feel I should tell you of mine, after approximately 16,000 miles in Canada.

(1) The car leaked like a sieve but underseal cured this.

(2) Car arrived fitted with right-hand-drive headlights.

(3) The car is very draughty, despite the efforts of my dealer.

(4) The sliding windows leak rattle, and are easily opened— from the outside.

(5) The heater is ineffectual.

(6) Speedometer failed after 3,000 miles and took five months to replace !

(7) The exhaust pipe fractured after 6,000 miles.

(X) The gearbox is O.K.—if you double declutch.

(9) The trim is falling apart already.

(10) One of the rubber suspension units failed after 7,000 miles,causing a lean to one side—replacement took three months.

On the credit side; however, the car gives me 40-55 m.p.g: and an amazing top speed. The handling and brakes are superb and oil consumption is 4,000 m.p.g. My tyre wear is less than 50%, which is good considering my driving. This is better than U.K. owners. The body is still raffle-free despite Canadian roads. This car is terrific but lack of detail finish spoils it and in my opinion it’s got a long way to go before it reaches VW standards. My dealer has been most helpful but suffers from a poor spares situation, as mentioned above.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Ontario. D. G. Goddard.

* * *

Praise for Standards

Sir, have owned eighteen cars; fourteen of which have been Standards. I have owned Phase I, II and III Vanguards, and at present

I have a Vignale Vanguard, which I have run from new for 20 months. The car I have at present has now covered 30,000 miles, and has an overdrive. During the time I have had it, I have been to Germany with my family of four, and while travelling on an autobahn I covered 90 miles at an average speed of 71 m.p.h., and have averaged 73 m.p.h. while travelling down the M 1. During our holiday in Germany I covered 2,000 miles at an average of 29.8 miles per gallon, and, depending on the driving, it has a range of 320-360 miles.

The only repairs I have had so far are four new tyres, two radiator hoses, two sets of brake linings, and a new speedometer.

The cruising speed in overdrive top is between 70-75 m.p.h. but she does get a bit noisy up at the top, while 65 m.p.h. can be obtained in second overdrive, which is an excellent passing gear and allows brisk acceleration.

Personally, I do not think there is another family car to touch the Vanguard for economy and comfort, and early next year I am going to purchase a Vanguard Luxury Six. I hope it serves me as well as all the other Standards have.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Edgbaston. R. G. Smith.

* * *

Jaguar Pros and Cons

Sir, I entirely agree with most of the Criticisms listed by Conn. McCluskey in your October issue. I have owned a 3.4 Jaguar Mk. II since January last year. In an attempt to improve cornering I recently fitted Michelin ” X ” tyres all round. The improvement both in road-holding and in reducing understeer is quite remarkable. I should perhaps mention that some months ago I had a higher steering ratio fitted, also a stiffer anti-roll bar, both fitments well worth while.

Why Jaguar Cars Ltd. do not specify ” X ” tyres in their catalogue as standard, or anyway as alternative equipment, defeats me.

My only additional grumble is back-axle hum in the drive between 30 and 40 m.p.h. Unfortunately the British Motor Industry seems quite incapable of making an entirely quiet final drive.

I am glad to be able to report that I had no teething troubles at all other than a rattling exhaust system which was fairly easily cured.

Apart from the very inferior synchromesh, I am now very well pleased with the car. Usual disclaimer.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Maidstone. H. F. Dodds.

———————

Sir,

When comparing his Mk. II 3.4-litre Jaguar with his six-year old Bristol, Mr. McCluskey writes as if his former car were devoid of faults, and suggests that his present one has many. No car is devoid of faults (as anyone who has driven a Bristol in heavy traffic knows), for the simple reason that no manufacturer can cater for all tastes in one car; he can at the best compromise with the mass of virtues the perfect car would possess, if such a car could be built.

Compromising in this case means producing an attractive article at an attractive price, and this Jaguars have certainly done. They are, as I write, one of the few firms still working full time.

However, to deal with Mr. McCluskey’s main points.

(1) He admits Jaguars are good value for money. He can hardly do otherwise. But, as is so often the case these days, he uses the term as if it were a disparagement of the car’s quality.

(2) He complains that the synchromesh is weak; if he finds gear-changing difficult, and this is hard to believe after the practice he must have had in his Bristol, why did he not specify automatic transmission ? True, the Jaguar gearbox is not outstanding, but it is better than most contemporary mechanisms, and the driver who double-declutches will never know whether the synchromesh is weak or not. I have seen Duncan Hamilton make clutchless changes, both up and down, at peak revs. in each gear (without a tooth touching) in a Mk. I 3.4 I owned, in order to demonstrate what a flexible box the car possessed. To see him push the lever into unsynchronised first gear at 35 m.p.h. without touching the clutch pedal was an educative experience.

(3) The seating. The 1961 Mk. II can be fitted with seats adjustable for rake; at very modest extra cost, so I will not dwell on this complaint, save to say that the rake of my own 1960 Mk. II 3.4 is perfect for me, and presumably many others.

I personally would prefer bucket seats in the front but realise that many people do not like them, and that it is not possible to fit the useful picnic tables to the back of a true bucket seat. Jaguars are catering for the majority who find the opulence of the appearance and comfort of the seating to their liking. Jaguars sell enough cars to know. The man who really needs bucket seats can fit them; any Jaguar agent will be pleased to oblige.

(4) The Jaguar, like most cars of high performance, can be tricky to handle, and wheelspin is easily induced, though a Power-Lok differential does help. The normal shock-absorbers are soft because that is how most people like them, but heavy-duty dampers can be specified, as can a heavy-duty anti-roll bar, and a leaf can be added to each of the rear springs. The real answer is, however, to fit Koni shock-absorbers—in connection with the other modifications I have mentioned—after which, by touring-car standards, roll is virtually eliminated and the general handling is much improved.

In conclusion I would like to say that I have covered 80,000 miles in three Jaguars (a 2.4, 3.4 and Mk. II 3.4) in the last four years, 12,000 of them on the Continent, and though I have had my odd troubles—mostly due to faulty servicing—I intend to remain faithful to the marque until some other manufacturer can convince me that he has a car that will give me equal performance, comfort, silence and refinement of running at less cost. Until then that ” best value for money ” tag will ensure that I travel by Jaguar.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Petersham. L. R. St.J. Scott.