Matters of moment, January 1963

Last month we commented on the disbelief expressed by the German motor journalist von Frankenberg as to the size of the Ford engines Lotus had used in their highly successful Formula Junior cars.

Frankenberg was lucky in picking on Colin Chapman with such unkind criticism, because instead of resorting to litigation, Chapman challenged his critic to a £1,000 return run. This has entirely vindicated Team Lotus and put von Frankenberg in his place and we can do no better than quote the dignified statement put out by the Lotus Group of Companies, which reads :—

“Peter Arundell driving his Team Lotus Formula Junior won the Monza Challenge last Sunday, 2nd December, by averaging 115.3 m.p.h. for the 30 lap test. In recording this average speed, which was 52 sec. quicker than the time for the Monza Lotteria Formula Junior race in June, Peter Arundell unofficially broke his own Formula Junior circuit record by recording a fastest lap of 1 min. 49.8 sec. —118 m.p.h. The car was scrutineered by both German and Italian officials; the car weighing 403 kgs. and the engine capacity 1,092 c.c. The results of this test should effectively disprove all von Frankenberg’s theories on oversize engines in Team Lotus Formula Junior cars during the 1962 season.”*

Richard von Frankenberg was indeed foolish, for has Colin Chapman ever been known to indulge in sharp practice.


It is the Editor’s constant regret that, with the readers of Motor Sport taking the trouble to write so many letters an so many aspects of motoring, only a very few can be selected each month for publication. In this New Year issue he would like to take the opportunity of thanking all his correspondents and of assuring them that even when their letters are not published they are read with interest and appreciation.

Thanks are due, also, to readers who send us clippings from newspapers and magazines bearing on topical matters of motoring moment, for this keeps us in touch with public opinion. From such clippings it is evident that public feeling against mis-carriage of justice in motoring eases is growing.

For instance, we have been sent cuttings from reliable papers relating to the policewoman who lost control of an M.G. on a bend, hit a lorry and wrote off the police M.G. on A6. Readers obviously consider the £5 fine and one month’s ban a light sentence, compared to a £20 fine and £4 costs, with endorsement, inflicted in Bedford on a motorist whose speed was estimated at 60 m.p.h. by a witness who saw the car from the front room of his house, and the £5 fine inflicted on a driver by Crewe Magistrates, with £4 7s. 6d. costs, because he overtook a couple of cyclists who intended to turn tight but who admitted they had not looked behind before turning (although they had signalled. previously), no collision of any kind occurring.

However, there was even a case of a driver who was summoned for not having a test-certificate for his vehicle; a Police Constable told the Court at Watford that a certificate wasn’t needed for vehicles over 35 cwt. “Well,” said the Clerk, “he has been summoned for it,” and a £5 fine was inflicted on a guiltless man! There is also the cutting referring to a farmer who passed a doctor in his sports car and braked when the doctor continually blew his horn and called the farmer a “bloody fool.” Witnesses gave evidence that the sportscar driver did not cut-in, again no .accident occurred, the doctor admitted he was extremely annoyed at being overtaken, but it was the sports-car driver who was fined £10, with 10s. costs, and disqualified for a month by Maidenhead Magistrates.

Yet when a Police driver of a van crashed into a stationary car he was found not guilty and the case dismissed, in Crewe, while a parking ticket placed on a Leicester police car was cancelled with the explanation, from the Chief Constable, that “plain clothes police were using fingerprinting and photographic equipment to investigate a crime and needed a car on the spot.” How nice to be a motoring policeman!

It is also evident that our readers take exception to the idea, propounded by the Eastern Daily Mail, that motorists themselves should report traffic offenders, nor have we overlooked a clipping which expresses Cannock Urban Council’s Public Works Chairman’s opinion of Mr. Marples as “a self-advertising, self-publicising, gimmick-using television showman.” Finally, while writing this editorial the following letter came to hand from a reader in Sussex :—

An hour or two before reading Sir John Whitmore’s letter suggesting a motorists’ defence league I heard that I could not appeal further against conviction on a charge of dangerous driving-a charge of which I was innocent. It was alleged that I had crossed against a red light. The penalty imposed—for a first offence of any sort—was a fine of £25, £6 6s. costs, licence endorsed, and disqualification for six months. I was represented by a solicitor appointed by one of the motoring organisations whose primary contribution was to advise me not to have the case heard before a jury. I would strongly advise anyone who feels they have a case to arrange their own representation.

“As an example of the level of intelligence of the bench, the following may be illuminating. The bench of five magistrates listened intently to a police traffic-signal expert giving evidence, during the course of which he mentioned the distance in feet a car would travel in a certain number of seconds. At no time did he mention speed and it was appalling to watch the bench assimilating this information without realising that it was meaningless. It was not until towards the end of the hearing that I had an opportunity of pointing it out and I was able to see understanding slowly but visibly dawning on the face of the Chairman as he said ‘Ah, yes, at 4 m.p.h. it would be different wouldn’t it?’

“The police evidence was highly questionable and I am taking the matter up with their superiors. I will let you know their attitude.

“I am in one of the lowest income brackets and used what little money I had to fight this case in an attempt to retain my clean driving record and if any satisfactory organisation could be formed to defend the P.B.M. I should certainly be one of the first to send in a contribution. Against the limitless resources of the police the average motorist does not stand a chance of proving beyond all doubt that he is innocent—a thing he clearly has to do before he will be acquitted by a normal bench.

If you will allow me a little more space may I stress for a campaign to call for a higher standard of proof and justice to go hand in hand with the severer penalties now being recommended by Parliament. At the moment an accused’s word, given on oath, and that of any witnesses who happen to be his friends, count for very little, if anything.”

We invite Magistrates and Mr. Marples to give motorists a square deal and thus put British Justice back in its former unassailable position, of being fair and dignified. This is a long-overdue New Year resolution which politicians of all colours would do well to keep before them.

*But see p.16


An excellent entry was received. The winner is Mr. T. G. Kreutz of Southbourne„ Bournemouth. There is no second prize but the runner-up was Miss Jane Jennings of London, W.9. The solution, as supplied by Mercedes-Benz of Stuttgart, is :— (x) 1939 W163 ;.(2) 1938-40 W154; (3) 1939 record-car (4); 1954 WI96; (5) 1935-36 170V; 6)1910 16/45; (7) 1927 Mannheim 230; (8) 1909 14/30; (9) 1902 23/32; 10) 1912/13 14/30; (11) 1937 W125.


The retirement of Coventry-Climax from the Grand Prix racing scene resembled Enzo Ferrari’s annual retirement as it lasted a matter of two months. In a statement, Mr. L. P. Lee the Managing Director said that leading members of the motor industry invited him to discuss his decision with them with the result that certain companies agreed to increase their financial support to a limited number of Formula One constructors so that the constructors would be able to pay more for engines. We understand that Lucas were one of the major companies interested in keeping the V8 Coventry-Climax alive as their transistor ignition and fuel injection equipment is receiving serious development work, although the V8 has not yet raced with fuel injection. This decision of interested parties in the motor industry may well mean that smaller constructors will receive less support and there are already rumours to the effect that smaller teams and private owners will have to purchase Dunlop tyres in future.


The East African Safari will be held from April 11th-15th this year. Entries already confirmed include ones from Renault, Saab, Ford Anglia and Zodiac, VW, Simca 1000, Peugeot 403, 404, Morris 1100, Hillman Minx, Fiat 1800, 2300, Mercedes-Benz 220SE, Holden and Rover 3-litre. The free entry for this rally, which is one of the prizes for the R.A.C. Rally, has been taken up by Erik Carlsson, who will of course be driving a Saab. Closing date for entries is March 16th.


CaStrol have offered to supply a free plastic frost scraper to readers who write to them at Castrol House, Marylebone Road, London, N.W.r.


The 500,000th Mini came off the production line at Longbridge on December 12th. The half million includes 313,000 saloons, 122,000 vans, 34,500 Countryman and Travellers and 15,000 Mini-Coopers. Over 50,000 have been exported to Western Europe, 25,200 to Australia, 19,200 to Canada, 14,200 to South Africa, 8,000 to New Zealand, and 6,000 to Malaya.


The Boat Show will be held at Earls Court from January 2nd to 12th.


Winner of the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy last season, Tony Hegbourne will drive a Lotus 23 fitted with a 1,600-c.c. twin-cam engine in the team sponsored by Normand Ltd. Mike Beckwith will also drive a Lotus 23 in the team.