Letters From Readers, July 1957

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

That Car Again

Sir,

Perhaps you would like to publish the fact that my 1947 VW with its second engine has just topped a quarter of a million miles, has never been off the road except for de-cokes, a renewal of one front-wheel bearing, two clutch cables, and major repairs to the off-side after having been hit for six by a German Post Office lorry.

The chrome on the hub plates is still in excellent condition — have no other chromium plating — but the paintwork is now showing signs of its ten years’ wear.

“The proof of the pudding . . .!”

I am, Yours, etc., “2232 BZ.” Bristol.

*

The Brooklands Party, July 6th

Sir,

With reference to the Brooklands Memorial unveiling on July 6th I wonder if I may seek the hospitality of your columns to state that owing to restriction of space, etc., it is regrettably not possible to make this a public ceremony and that admission to the track will be by invitation only.

With the help that has been given by the motoring papers and organisations we hope that our guest list will be very representative of the drivers and riders who competed regularly on the track and also of the aviators who flew here. We are only sorry that we cannot accommodate the many thousands of Brooklands’ fans who, we know, would like to pay their respects to this historic site.

I am, Yours, etc., Charles Gardner, Manager: Information, Public Relations and Promotions, Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Limited. Weybridge.

*

Mille Miglia 1957

Sir,

In view of the misunderstanding regarding the placings in the Price Limitation Category for Production Sports Cars in the recent Mille Miglia, we feel it necessary to clarify the position.

When we eventually got the provisional results we were surprised to find that we had not been credited with third place in the Price Limitation Category. We therefore found it necessary to approach the organisers to establish the true position.

Obviously the two Le Mans cars of the Fitzwilliam team were not eligible for this category, therefore we felt quite sure that, being an organisation of undoubted integrity, they did not enter them. It was later established by the Auto Club di Brescia that this was in fact the case.

Contrary to the odd rumours going about, we would like to make it quite clear that at no time did we even contemplate putting in a protest. We were merely pointing out the mistake made by the organisers.

We are quite certain that had the Fitzwilliam team eventually realised the seriousness of this mistake — depriving us of our rightful third place (and prize money) — they would have done everything in their power to see that we got fair play and that the true position was established.

I am, Yours, etc., J. M. Sparrowe, Michael Reid. Christchurch.

*

“The Great Insurance Grab”

Sir,

My 1931 20/25 Park Ward Rolls-Royce saloon is insured with the Vulcan Boiler & General Insurance Company Limited at standard rates. They are a tariff office.

This car is not “age loaded” because I have pointed out the following facts. Firstly it is a Rolls-Royce and therefore benefits from the most comprehensive spares service in the world. Secondly it is well maintained (I made sure that the company knew that I had had the brakes tested and gave them the efficiency figure). Thirdly because I have had only one claim in six years’ business with them. This was for only £16, which was less than the no-claims bonus which I lost. I claimed because, although I wasn’t sure, I thought that the accident was my fault and so admitted claim to save the other fellow’s bonus. I have therefore so far cost them nothing. There is no “pull.” My family’s very substantial general insurance cover is all written by another company. My motor insurance goes to Vulcan Boiler because they will allow 17½ per cent discount for an excess of £10 damage to my own car only, which seems sensible as on one occasion a Consul drove into the back of the Rolls and pushed a wing on to the tyre. The damage was so slight that the cost of repair was trivial and not worth claiming. I later heard that someone paid out nearly a hundred pounds on the Consul.

One reason why insurance costs are so high is simply that insurance offices are run on very safe business lines. In deciding whether to pay an obviously phoney third-party claim an experienced claims man will be guided solely by whether paying will be cheaper than losing the costs not recoverable from a legally-aided opponent if they fight him in court. If he thinks it would be cheaper to pay then the insured loses his no-claims-bonus and has no appeal. If the insurers showed more moral fibre it might be expensive at first but would be a lot cheaper later.

Motorists and the Motor Trade do not set a very good example here. Whilst some garages are downright dishonest about insurance repairs, nearly all do a much better job than is warranted by the previous general condition of the vehicle in order to avoid any “come back” from the customer. Motorists lack the honesty to avoid this and the insurance people lack the guts to act individually to stamp out this racket.

May I deal with the points of your editorial in turn.

(a) Lloyd’s underwriters made a profit on motor business last year but have you read one of their policies? I remember being shown a policy which stated that the policy did not cover claims arising from the vehicle being driven or maintained in a negligent or dangerous manner and left the insurers to decide when this was so!

(b) I know a driver of 50-odd with a stiff left leg who has a TR3 on normal rates: he has never had an accident in his life. Another much younger friend has a TR2. After a great deal of searching round he managed to get insurance of a sort. Neither he nor anyone else in the car is insured against personal injury; he pays £50 per year premium and is subject to a compulsory £50 excess supported by a compulsory £50 deposit with the insurers. His record is shocking.

(c) I am told by someone in the insurance business that he has never known a sports-car driver successfully defended in court in any case within his experience where there was a claim by a third party for personal injury. For that we must blame our fellow men and sports-car drivers must blame them for the premiums they pay.

(d) Is answered with (c).

(e) Accident-prone drivers are loaded. Rating cars on power, district and use is a very rough and ready means of charging according to average mileage and cost of repairs. It probably leads to lower administrative costs than dealing with things like sealed odometers. The use of the archaic R.A.C. formula still leads to ridiculous anomalies. A 3-litre car can be 16 h.p. or 21 h.p. according to whether it is a Rolls or a Bentley.

(f) The general lack of enterprise of the insurance companies with regard to insuring good old cars can be remedied very easily. If, say, 1,000 vintage-car owners instructed their bank managers to buy for them one share in each of six tariff insurance offices and then went to the A.G.M.s and let all hell loose, the resulting publicity would soon stir up some action. What about it, V.S.C.C.?

The insurance industry has been “bad” on the motor side for some years. Premium income for each year has not covered claims plus running costs. Premiums, however, are collected now for next year all the time and so long as business continues to increase there will always be enough of next year’s money to pay for this year’s claims. The increase is now slowing down, which means that the same amount of money has to come from fewer people, which means simply that we pay more.

What’s the answer? Motorists have got to be more honest and less niggly. Garages have to be fairer. Insurance offices have got to show enterprise and guts. In other words, we have all got to stop acting like a set of kids!

I am, Yours, etc., Roy Jenkins. Mansfield.