LETTERS FROM READERS, July 1958

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

“PETROL, PETROL EVERYWHERE. . . “

Sir,
Just reading Editorial re petrol, Oxford, etc,

Agree with sentiments completely but as nothing will ever be done (Jack ! !) remember that you can fill up with juice up to about 11 p.m. in the garage attached to the Randolph.

It is as well to give a slight Hic ! when you ask, so to give the impression that you have recently been a client of the hotel.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Woking. D. EGAN ANDREW.
[We were told of this but not as a definite after 9 p.m. service for juice—nor could we manage that Hic.—ED.]

THE BRITISH GRAND PRIX

Sir,
Recently I had reason to write to the competition departments of the R.A.C. Having read previously that the British Grand Prix had been cut to 200 miles, I was in no mood to muck about and closed my letter with somewhat pithy remarks to the effect that no doubt in years to come the G.P. would be further reduced to the status of a 10-lap race at Brands Hatch. I also enquired the reason why the race had been reduced to comply with F.I.A. minimum distance regulations. I can do no better than to quote Mr. Basil Tye’s remark (he is assistant manager of the competition department). “As no doubt you fully realise the cost of staging a race of this nature is, of course, very high and promoting clubs have to obtain as large a gate as possible.

“Statistics show that the public generally prefer shorter races as opposed to virtually one long major event.”

No doubt this reply will stagger you as much as it did me, especially when I remind you that the races we are forced to endure in place of a 300-mile G.P. are a touring car race and a 500-c.c. event !

My own opinions with regard to this matter are quite unprintable, but it seems to be high time that someone told the R.A.C. what the race minded public want. To my mind they are pandering to the taste of the uneducated masses who throng the course to see the spectacular and do not care a jot about pit work and endurance of the cars.

Please draw the R.A.C.’s attention to the complete fiasco they are making of this event.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Ashtead. C. T. HUNTER.

THE FORTHCOMING VEHICLE INSPECTIONS

Sir,
Congratulations on your excellent article in your May issue on the utter folly of the proposed system for the compulsory testing of pre-1948 vehicles.

Your very pertinent comment of the testing of these vehicles by private garages may be reinforced by the enclosed copy of an advertisement front a motor-trade journal—note the motive.

For doing three comparatively simple jobs, well within the range of any competent mechanic or enthusiast, a charge of 14s. plus a levy of 1s. to the Government is made. Fourteen shillings for doing a 20-minute job – 8½ d. per minute !! Fantastic charges by any standards, giving a vast profit to the garages, plus 1s to a Government which already penalises road-users; particularly private motorists, to the hilt in any case. One wonders just how long successive Governments can go on soaking motorists.

Well may your correspondent. Mr. J. K. Abbott, refer to the whole set-up as a “racket for garages.”

You mention that the police have powers to condemn the real “bone-shakers” : if it is necessary, strengthen these powers. Motorists who do cause accidents, whatever the age of their vehicle, should be forced to be themselves tested by the driving examiners in the same way as ordinary L-drivers are tested, for I firmly believe that “it’s not the car that kills, it’s the driver.” [Hear, hear—ED.].

I sincerely hope that enough motorists concerned will refuse to submit their vehicles for this compulsory test (the principles and purpose of which I do not disagree with) until a reasonable charge, of say 5s., with no Government levy is laid down. The extent of lunacy to which certain members of the Government are prepared to go in supporting these tests can he shown by the words of one Lord Bathurst in the House of Lords when he declared, ” I am sure your Lordships agree that the driver of an unsafe vehicle is as much a public menace as a criminal at large with a loaded lethal weapon.” This is the type or attitude we have to contend with !

I am very glad to see that you have taken up the cudgels for the pre-1948 vehicle owner. I agree with Mr. Abbott that the A.A. and R.A.C. should take a more active part in opposing these grossly unfair anti-motorist proposals, and I sincerely hope that the lead which MOTOR SPORT has given in the matter plus the general feeling among nearly all motorists will eventually force the Government to see commonsense and fair play.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Rugby. G. J. NOON.
[The advertisement to which our correspondent refers, after emphasising that there is only 14s. to be gained for each test, states : “But you can still make a healthy profit if you plan for a smart ‘in and out-‘ service. You only need four minutes to test the brakes if you use a — — brake tester. Remember that the scheme has come to stay, and it will not be so long before over 4,000,000 cars will have to be tested every year. Look ahead and start off on a production basis which will double your profits . . .”

If all garages had refused to undertake the tests the scheme would have collapsed. As it is, we hope all our readers will boycott the “test centres” for repair work and petrol sales, etc., so as not to in any way occupy the time of mechanics engaged in carrying out inspections for the Government .—ED.]

A TOO-FAST A35?

Sir,
An item recently published in a motoring periodical states : “John Sprinzel’s Speedwell Austin A35 will now reach (and sustain) 7,000 r.p.m. in top gear, a speed of 102 m.p.h.” This is an epoch-making sentence.

It means that all these years the designers and engineers of the motor industry have been completely deluded. The total resistance curve for the Austin A35 indicates a requirement of nearly 90 b.h.p. from the engine to attain 102 m.p.h. or, of course, a 37-m.p.h. tail wind and 45 b.h.p. from an indestructible engine.

If Mr. Sprinzel could get a true mean of two ways at 102 m.p.h. under engineering test conditions with his poor little pushrods, those of us who spend our harassed lives struggling in the low eighties with all the engineering resources of the industry at our disposal would cheerfully retire to click stopwatches and applaud the genius of this mighty intellect.

As it is we will sadly deprecate the gullibility of those who pot their faith in belt-driven tachometers and battle on at a dicy 6,200.
I am, Yours, etc.,
“IRATE AUTOMOBILE ENGINEER.”

PERFORMANCE CONFIRMED

Sir
A number of unsupported generalities on this subject fill your correspondence columns nearly every month. I wonder if you had a reporter at the B.A.R.C. Firle Hill-climb on June 1st ?

If not you may be interested to know that a Standard (i.e.; crash gear-box and mechanical brakes) Volkswagen, running in the modilied saloons up to 1,600-c.c. category, achieved the following :

(a) Fastest Saloon, out of a total entry of 51, and new absolute saloon car record for the Hill (previously held by Webb’s Jensen 541).

(b) Over 1½ seconds faster than the runner-up, which was a 3.4 Jaguar with disc brakes (!)

(c) Faster times than at least half the runners in the sports and sports-racing classes. Scanning the programme at random I see that it beat all the M.G.A.s, three or four TR2 and 3s, an XK 120, a DB2 Aston-Martin, etc., etc.

Furthermore l understand that the car was driven by a novice without any previous competition experience.

The anti-VW set will have to bluster pretty loudly before they can get out of this one!

I Am, Yours, etc.,
Hurstbourne Tarrant. E. GRAHAM.
[And I wasn’t even there to ” will ” it along !—ED.]

NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Sir,
Perhaps my recent experience with a new Vauxhall Velox may be of interest to your readers.

The car was delivered to me in March 1958, with rusty chromium and peeling paintwork (I repeat, this was a new vehicle). The locks on two doors were jammed, and the rattles were too numerous to identify and locate.

Immediate arrangements were made to re-finish the car, and this was endorsed by the makers, who also supplied new chrome parts as necessary. However, before the re-finishing process was organised, the car lost its forward gears, due, I discovered, to the fact that the linkage had been tightened only “finger tight.” This fault having been rectified, the car was sent in for its first service with a recommendation that the valve clearances should be adjusted as they were audibly uneven. The car was collected after the service with the clearances much as they were, and four nipples on the front suspension not having been greased due to the fact that they were facing the chassis frame.

Finally, the re-spray was effected, and resulted in an improvement, though not still to my satisfaction because it was what the trade call a “blow-over” and it looked rather sloppy.

The new grill was fixed, and various strips were re-attached which had been loose and rattley. But the door locks still gave trouble so back to the dealer, who finally reassembled the offending locks successfully.

At this stage I took stock and discovered that though I had owned the car for five weeks, it had spent two-and-a-half of these weeks in the repair shop. The rattles were still apparent—worst of all being the front seat springs—anti the car was not water-tight. Difficulty was experienced in getting the key into the doorlocks which resisted the process by means of a sprung flap. The rear axle was noisy. Second gear was noisy, and there was a rather disturbing engine knock under full throttle acceleration—this might have been a periodicity of some sort and possibly not important.

So at 1,600 miles I decided that I would rather not own this example of “painstaking workmanship” (quoted from the guarantee) and sold the car at a considerable loss.

In all this, there was a spark of humour when, after the re-spray, the dealer’s service manager impressed upon me the necessity of bringing the car in for regular service !

This was probably a singularly bad example of this marque, but that affords me very little consolation for the money that I lost and the time and trouble wasted.

In contrast to the foregoing, I should like to relate the events which followed the sale of the Vauxhall, which was replaced with Simca Montlhery.

The Simca was delivered in excellent order, and was promptly driven 1,800 miles in the first week-and-a-half without the slightest trouble, however, the car developed an axle whine so I contacted the dealers, Messrs. Platts Garage of Longton. They arranged to have the car in at 9 o’clock on a Monday morning, and thanks to a most efficient staff of mechanics. I drove the car away three hours later after the whole of the final drive had been replaced as a unit.

I was assured that this was the second faulty axle in over three hundred Simcas–the first being due to lack of oil.

As for the car itself. I can only say that I find myself using the car unnecessarily in the evenings because of the pleasure that I derive from driving it. In fact, my enthusiasm for this beautifully. constructed vehicle embarrasses my wife, because conversation with friends is monopolised by my discussion of the merits of this car.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Manchester. N. BRADPIECE.

SALESMANSHIP

Sir,
I recently found myself in the happy position of being able to contemplate buying a new car. After much thought relating to cars in the middle-price range offering good accommodation for two with sone luggage space left over, the choice boiled down to four – three British and one German. These were Austin-Healey, Triumph TR3, M.G.A. and VW Karmann-Ghia coupe. I read all I could get about these four, including MOTOR SPORT road-tests of the three British makes, and, with a colleague who is something of an expert on cars, set out to visit the local showrooms to see each model in turn. The Austin-Healey, TR3 and M.G.A. were in three separate showrooms in this city. In each instance we walked over to the model in question and spent between 15 and 20 minutes taking a really good look, including trying both driver and passenger compartments, studying ground clearance works, luggage space, extras and everything else we could think of. In each ease there were numerous flaws in the model—in one case a handbrake which came to pieces on being gently applied. In each case no one took the slightest notice of our presence, and, after this pretty thorough inspection, we left.

With regard to the Karmann-Ghia—at the VW showrooms there was a certain subtle difference. As one would expect no model was available for inspection, but a very able and willing salesman spent a good 20 minutes describing, without blurb the details, and answering many questions regarding the car. Delivery date could not be ascertained exactly after calls to London, but free loan of another vehicle was offered until such delivery could be effected.

Which car do you think I am going to buy ?
I am, Yours etc.,
Leeds. JOHN A. HOLGATE

ANOTHER NEWSPAPER CONTEST

Sir,
The Winner of the Daily Express competition, putting ” ideals ” for a sports-racing car in order of merit, won with:-

1. High top speed.
2. Great acceleration.
3. Sturdy chassis.
4. Suitable springing and “shockers”.
5. Streamlined body.
6. Good roadholding.
7. Dependable transmission.
8. Efficient cooling and lubricating systems.
9. Firm and precise steering.
10. Powerful brakes.
11. Trouble-free “electrics.”
12. Comfortable, convenient driver’s seat.

Apparently it doesn’t matter if you can’t stick on the road, or stop, as long as you can look pretty and scorch along. Personally I’d sooner have an M.G.A. than the M.G. Ex 181—wouldn’t you ? This isn’t sour grapes, as, having seen previous competition results, I didn’t enter for this one.

I am, Yours, etc.,
Wigan. JOHN B. SMALLSHAW.

FOREIGN SPORTS CARS FOR PRESTIGE

Sir,
I think the attached cutting from the personal column of The Times today might amuse you. Perhaps MOTOR SPORT readers may have special notions of the precise make that should be most status-raising. In my own young days parents’ cars were definitely most important, though I remember the unfortunate son of a Metallurgique-owning parent, most opulent of Belgian chariots, who lost for all time on the deal since the unfeeling little beasts always referred to it thereafter as the ” Metalgrid “!
I am, Yours. etc.,
Leighton Buzzard. H. LAIDLAW-DICKSON.
The advertisement referred to reads :—
SPORTS CAR. preferably foreign. WANTED weekend June 22 by respectable middle-aged civil servant, to raise sons’ status at preparatory school where most fathers have Jaguars.—Write Box A.1672; The Times. E.C.4.

PRAISE FOR THE PEUGEOT

Sir,
As an enthusiastic Peugeot 203 owner (and Volkswagen enthusiast), I felt that I should write with reference to your road test of the 403.

Two details in your description of the car surprised me. Firstly, the 403 has in fact plastic upholstery and not leather as stated, and, a minor detail, it is not fitted with an auxiliary handle for emergency operation of the screen-wipers, as is my 1954 203.

I was also surprised that the gear change was adversely criticised, since you did not comment adversely on that of the 203 tested by MOTOR SPORT in 1955, which is identical to that of the current 403.

I feel sure also that some fault must have been present in the particular car tested to affect the fuel consumption, as I know of one 303 at any rate which manages substantially more than 24 miles per gallon under similar conditions.

I imagine that the majority of 403 owners will agree with me on the last point, but having read your otherwise excellent test report, they may be wondering why their car has no leather upholstery !
I am, Yours, etc.,
Totternhoe. J. S. D. AYERS.
[The gear change occasionally caught out two different drivers when changing in a hurry, which merits criticism of the faster 403 model. The fuel consumption, we have since been informed that the choke on the test car was sticking. However, a contemporary obtained 26.8 m.p.g., which is far below the 30-40 m.p.g. sometimes claimed for this spacious 1½-litre car.—ED.]

THOSE HOODED HEADLAMPS

Sir,
In the May issue of MOTOR SPORT I read with interest the comments of Mr. C. Harrison on the current trend in headlamp hoods, and thought perhaps readers would he interested to hear of my own recent experience with this fitment.

The single screw fixing to the combined rim and hood, on my three-day-old Sunbeam Rapier, dropped out. The wind from the forward motion caught under the hood, rolled it up, the short bonnet and crashed it into the windscreen.

I have a few more grey hairs as a result ! !
I am, Yours, etc.,
Kuwait, ARTHUR E. LONG.

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