Matters of Moment, January 1981

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A Happy New Year?

If 1981 is as enjoyable as last year, we mustn’t grumble too vehemently! But with the increase in Atomic weapons, the Russian steam-roller raising pressure, and in our world the current unrest in F1 circles and the threatened changes in Car Taxation, implying a wealth-tax on vehicle ownership, one wonders. . . . On the F1 front we note that one weekly motor paper sees the fuss as causing a mortal blow to motor racing as the World’s leading sport, with the likelihood of the FOCA coming out on top, and another thinks that the situation has been saved by the timely Goodyear intervention. Our GP correspondents D.S.J. and A.H. will keep you informed, but the immediate effect of the dispute has been to cast doubts on the published 1981 Formula One Calendar (see page 31): as we go to press, we hear that the Argentinian Grand Prix has been postponed by four weeks to 22nd February.

The first Championship race in top-level racing is due at Kyalami in just over a month’s time. One hopes sincerely that by then this tiresome dispute as to whether it is seemly to run without wearing a skirt (cars are usually referred to as “she’s”) will have been resolved. Split-control of important organisations seldom works, so it is vital to have one body controlling world motoring sport — at present the FISA, with the RAC running things for Britain.

Some of us can remember the time when American records-claims were not recognised in Europe and Great Britain because the AIACR (as the FISA then was) did not accept the rulings of the American Automobile Association. For that reason the claim to have first exceeded 150 m.p.h. in “Land Speed Record” terms, with a 10-litre twin-engined Duesenberg, was rejected here. It wasn’t until Segrave needed to use Daytona Beach so as to fully extend the 200 m.p.h. twin-engined Sunbeam in 1927 that the Contest Board of the AAA agreed to join the AIACR and even then its electrical timing apparatus was only approved after Col. O’Gorman, Comdr. Armstrong of the RAC, and Col. Lindsay Lloyd from Brooklands had gone over to Paris to vouch for it.

Such proper care and conscientiousness over the control of motor racing must never be relaxed. Thus it is essential that the prevailing F1 battle is soon resolved, whether it be the FISA, the FOCA or, ha ha, the WFMS that wins.

On the thriving historical side, following the National Celebration of 50 Years with Vintage Cars on New Year’s day, we are promised another very full season. The Vintage SCC has announced 22 varied events as its 1981 contribution, including race meetings at Silverstone on April 11th and September 19th, Donington Park on May 10th, Oulton Park on June 13th, and Cadwell Park on August 30th, and speed hill-climbs at Shelsley Walsh on July 4th and Prescott on August 1st/2nd For the moment the fuel-shortage scare has receded but just in case it returns the VSCC will have another Bicycle Rally to Boulogne on May 24th, following its AGM on March 4th.

The Veteran CC has its own very comprehensive fixture-list, and Brighton Runs for its pre-1905 cars and the HMVC’s commercial vehicles will be major 1981 happenings, with the Sunbeam MCC running its Pioneer Run, the motorcycling equivalent, on March 22nd, entries for this closing on January 10th. The Vintage MCC’s 1981 calendar contains more than 200 events, of which the leading ones include Founders Day at Stanford Hall on April 26th, and National fixtures in Harrogate and the IoM, plenty of grass-track and other racing events and capturing the very essence of old-style motorcycling, fixtures such as Ernie’s Run, John’s Jaunt, the Pig-and-Whistle Run, the Tour-of-Birmingham, and Veteran & Belt-Drive weekends, etc.

The Regional and One-Make Clubs will be as active as before and the National Traction Engine Club will continue to cater for lovers of steam road-traction. So, all in all, there is every reason to hope for another good motoring year, during which Motor Sport will do its best to go on informing and entertaining those who like to do their motoring from the armchair as well as in the driving-seat. May I wish you all a happy 1981? — W.B.

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Metro Correction

In the October Editorial about the BL Mini Metro we inadvertently said that the Hydragas suspension is inter-connected across the car. This is not so; unlike some previous applications of Alex Moulton’s suspension units, there is no inter-connection on the Metro, either laterally or fore-and-aft. The pipes that misled us are for servicing purposes. — W.B.

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For Damp Days

A new 3-in-1 lubricating and damp-defeating spray, as useful in the home and garden as for the car, has been introduced by E. R. Howard of Ipswich. Called “Expert”, this liquid is said to avoid rusting up, to releasing “difficult” nuts and bolts, and to clean all metals in a non-greasy style. It comes in handy 7-oz. 200g cans.

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Service from Zenith

When many of the letters we receive are critical of service at garages, it is pleasing to be able to commend the staff at one London establishment for their courtesy and assistance. On the morning a recently delivered, long-term assessment 3-litre Capri was due for its first, free, service, the hub-bearing in the viscous coupled fan assembly started to fail. It would have been very unwise to drive the car any distance in such a condition in view of the possibility of the whole thing coming adrift, with dire consequences for the radiator. Zenith Motors in Aldersgate did not have the required parts, nor did any of the local Ford agents. The service manager spoke to me at lunch-time to tell me that it was unlikely the car would be ready that day, but they would do their best. . . and best they did. A new hub assembly was located across London, collected and fitted in time for me to collect the car shortly after 4.30 p.m.

A pleasant contrast to the tales we hear of motorists delivering their cars at 8.30 a.m., calling for them again at 5.30 p.m. only to be told that work has only just started and the car will not be ready until the following day.

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Alfa Romeo 8c Jubilee

The Jano designed 8c Alfa Romeo first appeared in 1931 and soon built up an enviable competition record, winning such classic events as Targa Florio, Mille Miglia and Le Mans as well as a number of Grands Prix. The cars were (or perhaps we should say, are) equally happy being used as everyday transport. To celebrate this anniversary, Alain de Cadenet plans to hold a suitable party at the Hurlingham Club on April 8th. Tickets will cost around £15 and priority will go to the owners. It is intended that the occasion should make a profit, and proceeds will go to the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Laser Scalpel Fund. Alain’s address is 30, Queensgate Place Mews, Kensington, London SW7.

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Page & Moy

Celebrating 21 years of organising motor racing tours in 1981, Page and Moy have increased their range of holidays for the motor racing enthusiast to take in trips to the Daytona 500 and Macau Grand Prix events. A well illustrated brochure listing the 47 holidays, ranging in price from £25 to £975 (2 day trip to Zolder and 12 day holiday for the Brazilian GP respectively) is now available from the company at 136 London Road, Leicester, LE2 1EN.

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1981 Motorsport Yearbook

It is not often that these pages have space for kind words about the RAC Motorsports Association, but the governing body for motoring sport in the United Kingdom deserve proper congratulation on the production of the 1981 Yearbook — for two reasons. First, it was published well before the turn of the year, for the first time in ages and second, because the contents have been completely revised and re-organised, again for the first time in ages. A quick flick through the pages is all that is needed to show that the regulations are presented in a more logical order and, with a clearer format, are easier to read. An improved index makes everything simpler to find and a cross reference chart has been included to ease the transfer from the previous, tortuously numbered, set of rules to their current equivalent. — P.H. J.W.

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Sir Oswald Mosley

Our condolences go to Max Mosley on the loss of his father Sir Oswald who died in his sleep at the age of 84 on Dec. 3rd 1980. A noted scholar and politician, Sir Oswald was the leader of the British Fascist Party for many years and suffered internment during the war because of his Fascist beliefs.

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Miniatures News

Danhausen, of Kleinkolnstr 20/22, 5100 Archen, West Germany, have issued their “World Model Car Book —81” which illustrates and lists literally hundreds of mode cars in plastic-kit, white-metal kit and complete forms, in scales of 1/8, 1/12, 1/24, 1/32, 1/36, 1/43, and 1/48, ranging from tiny miniatures to the detailed models such as the Fulgurex SSK Mercedes-Benz and the Jouets’ Type 35B GP Bugatti which are illustrated in colour. — W.B.

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BMC Mechanic

Nobby Hall, who among other achievements while at Abingdon, built the Liege-winning Austin-Healey driven by Pat Moss and prepared her rally Morris Minor and several Minors for Paddy Hopkirk, is now a freelance mechanic, willing to work on the better BMC cars.

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Oh Dear Department: Brighton Run

In last month’s account of the VCC/RAC Brighton Run due to a lapse on my part, or to a transcript error, this event was said to be for post-1905 cars. Veterans are still regarded as those made prior to 1905, of course.

Brigadier C. S. Maple’s position at BL Technology Ltd. is that of Director, Technical Audit, not as given on page 1857. The Albion has a gate gear change, and Mr. Ball was experiencing his first Brighton Run, not explaining it, among other errors. — W.B.

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