Letters from Readers, January 1973

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

No Dinos


I enjoyed your excellent Road Test article on the Fiat 130 coupe, but feel that you should make it clear to your readers that your reference to the Fiat Dino is purely academic.

This Fiat Dino is not available in England and the only way to obtain one is to go to Italy, buy one, and import it personally.

Perhaps you could use your influence to correct this state of affairs, as this truly great car would undoubtedly sell in the UK?

Kington. J. O. H. Greenly.

Gilbern Styling Origins


Whilst reading through the November edition of your excellent (as usual) magazine, my mind was jarred by the likeness in profile of the Alfa Romeo 1750/2000 GTV series, in the colour Section, and the Gilbern Invader in the advert on page 1295. I will go further and say that the cars are practically identical, from the window shapes right down to the door handles and the badges on the sills. This likeness reminded me of the comments of Mr. J. Goulbourns in the July edition, in which he deals with the likeness of the Jaguar XJ6 to that of the Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV. Again in the case of the Gilbern it is obvious which car was designed first. It seems to me that Messrs. Gilbern’s designers have been using Bertone’s drawing board for their “shapes”.

Thanks again for the best magazine.

Nottingham. Robin A. Pounder

(16 years).



Further to the recent article and subsequent correspondence in Motor Sport regarding the supercharged Triumph Dolomite, I am writing in order to add my two pennyworth to the subject.

Mr. Bathurst-Brown will, I am sure, be pleased to know that the pre-1940 Triumph Owners Club is flourishing, boasting a greater number of members than ever before. From discussions with far more knowledgeable club members than myself, such as Tony Cook and the late Len Roxby, I believe that the whereabouts of at least three of the cars is known. One, I understand, is somewhere in the South of England, the owner apparently not being interested in parting with the car, or joining the TOC. The second, the one with the Jaguar engine, I also saw advertised in Motor Sport, but do not know its present home. As for the third, according to Len Roxby the gentleman in Scotland who has an engine in a boat also has the chassis from which the engine was removed, but no interest in mating up the two again. All this information is rather second-hand and I feel sure that Michael Sedgwick and Tony Cook could solve the mystery once and for all.

You may also be interested to know that in spite of the continuing lack of interest by the VSCC in pre-war Triumphs, I have been racing a 1937 Dolomite Special in non-VSCC historic events, my best results so far being second in class at the May Snetterton meeting of the Romford Enthusiasts Car Club (against, it must be admitted, some not terribly inspiring opposition!). The engine, at the time, was a completely standard 4-cylinder push-rod o.h.v. 1,767-c.c. Triumph cross-flow unit. An exceedingly-large Marshall blower has now been acquired and will hopefully be frightening the opposition next season (if not myself!).

Over a period of seven years I have owned four pre-1941) Triumphs, a 1936 Vitesse saloon (4-cylinder), a 1937 6-cylinder Vitesse tourer, the Dolomite and a 1936 Monte Carlo tourer. Without exception they have provided fast, comfortable and reliable transport. The design and workmanship of engine, body and chassis has been of a high order. The pre-war sporting Triumph is, without doubt, one of the most underrated cars of the period. I can only hope that the VSCC will eventually take a more enlightened view of these excellent cars than is at present the case.

I should like to add that this is not sour grapes at not being allowed to play with the big boys as I also own a 4.1/2-litre Lagonda and a 25/30 Rolls-Royce (originally owned by one John Player of Nottingham. The rumour that this is the car being used as a prototype for the future Lotus luxury car is completely untrue).

Kenton. Christopher Mann

In Defence of the AA


Your correspondent, S. J. Snook, takes the AA to task for refusing breakdown assistance to him on the MI because he was a non-member.

As an AA member myself, I would be justifiably irritated if I was in need of water on the Motorway and I thought that the AA Patrolman on his way to me had stopped to give his last gallon of water to another motorist who was not a member. I have, after all, paid £4.50 for service.

Newton Toney. J. R. Johns. [Other readers have made the same point. —ED.]

Desirable Nipples


I was interested to read the letter from Mr. T. R. K. Davey, in the November Motor Sport. I had an almost identical experience last month, also in a medium-priced British car (Triumph 2000), which had done 53,000 miles. I was also going very slowly when it happened, and my car had passed its M.o.T. test only 9 days before the steering failure.

I asked my local BLMC dealer what would have happened if the failure had occurred at say, 70 m.p.h. I was told that there was practically no danger of this happening, as the greatest strain on the steering mechanism is at low speeds. I have now had a complete new rack and pinion unit fitted, as I have no wish to have the same experience again.

Norwich. A. J. Hind.


Because it takes three weeks for your excellent magazine to reach us in South Africa, the topic of this letter will be slightly out of date, nevertheless

I own a 1968 Ford Escort 1300 in which a similar event happened to that of Mr. Davey.

I was driving around a left-hand bend on a dual-carriageway at approx. 50-55 m.p.h., in a 35-m.p.h. zone . . . when the off-side balljoint at the end of the steering-rack pulled out of its socket!

Mr. Davey asks the best way of maintaining control. I can only tell you what I did, Mr. Davey.

I pulled the wheel hard to the left, the right was facing right, pulled up the handbrake, and then changed down to third gear.

By this time, I had mounted the island in the middle, gained some form of control and moved to the left, down the kerb, here I changed into second, across the road, bounced against the opposite kerb, down to first and then at about 10 m.p.h. I gently touched the brakes and stopped the car.

The damage sustained, apart from the ball joint, was a broken exhaust, a slightly bent rim (rear) and a Dunlop SP49 with a slight split in the wall (excellent tyres; I rally on nothing else). There was no personal damage as I wear a 4-point harness, even on the roads.

Let me make quite clear that the joint failed through no fault of Ford. The rack and pinion assembly is supposed to be filled with oil but the garage I had recently bought the car from had failed to even check it. The car went through the South African Roadworthy without comment. Of course, I admit that I didn’t check it either, but you don’t expect things to fall off a newly bought car, even if it is only secondhand. So I suggest that all Ford owners with rack and pinion steering go and check their oil levels.

Just as a matter of interest I drove down to Cape Town in December, our summer, which is a distance of 1,000 miles, three-up in the Escort. The time was 18 hours non-stop, try that in Europe and this time of mine is not exceptional. Durban, which is 400 miles, is done in six hours without too much comment.

Johannesburg, S. Africa. S. J. Davies.

Wants More Drag Racing


It was with considerable delight that I found A.R.M. waxing so enthusiastically over the drag racing scene in North America. I hope that this will be a portent of things to come in your excellent periodical which I have read for the last 18 years. But, please, also how about more coverage on Formula Two? Or doesn’t it matter to you?

Westcliff-on-Sea. Alan Henry.