MATTERS OF MOMENT, July 1958

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BRITISH SUPREMACY IN GRAND PRIX RACING

It is immodest to blow one’s own trumpet but the supremacy which Britain has attained in Grand Prix racing should be acknowledged. It does not seem so long ago that we were bewailing the fact that no British car had won a classic race since Segrave did so in a Sunbeam at Tours in 1923 and at San Sebastian in 1924.

Then came the unexpected Connaught victory by Brooks at Siracuse in 1955, welcome but isolated. But it pointed the way and the subsequent efforts of Tony Vandervell, following those of Alta, Connaught and H.W.M., resulted in three British victories during the 1957 Grand Prix season. This year British G.P. cars have won in the Argentine, at Aintree, at Monaco, at Zandvoort and at Spa. From never entering races, then entering but eternally retiring, Britain has become the leading exponent of Grand Prix racing. For this, let us rejoice—and give thanks to Tony Vandervell, Alfred Owen, and John and Charles Cooper, to Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant and Tony Brooks, to Rob Walker, to Alf Francis, to the team managers, the mechanics, the backroom boys and the components manufacturers, all of whom have contributed to this significant revolution in our racing fortunes.

Enormous praise was bestowed on Continental teams when they were in the ascendant. Now Vanwall, Cooper-Climax and B.R.M. have them beaten. Much valuable prestige for Britain results from the widely-publicised successes of our green cars and no doubt the splendid recovery in British car exports is attributable in considerable measure to these G.P. victories. Don’t overlook the fact that BRITAIN IS NOW SUPREME IN GRAND PRIX MOTOR RACING!

THE USED-CAR SLUMP

It’s a sad sight—the hordes of used cars which stand exposed to the worst the elements have to offer on the dealers’ parking plots. The fact is, there is a slump in used cars. This is partly due to the excellent value represented by new cars and partly to the pending compulsory inspections of cars over ten years old. But too-high prices are also to blame.

To state this may seem impertinent, because anyone has a right to put his own value on his own property. However, as those who spend money on advertising cars presumably hope to sell them, the time is opportune to suggest that, they would do so far more easily if prices were lowered all round.

Historic vehicles may be beyond price, but it is rather startling to discover that one now has to pay £300 to £700 and more for a veteran or Edwardian—especially as many of those advertised were bought for the proverbial song during or just after the war and have frequently been “done up” with no particular regard to original specification, often with paintwork and upholstery unrealistically “better than new.” Vintage cars, too, now seem, with some notable exceptions, to command excessive prices, even humble vintage light ears, which should be obtainable from £10-£50, depending on condition and desirability, being advertised at well above this limit. As for used cars not possessing any nostalgic or historic appeal—in fact, just cars—unless vendors slash their prices by far more than single pounds or tenners, these will continue to be exceedingly difficult to dispose of. After all, most cars wear sadly after the first three years, in future the older vehicles are likely to be more and more hemmed about by troublesome official regulations, and it is now merely a dealers’ dream that America pays top prices for our old cars, whether these are good, bad or merely indifferent.

CRASHES AND CANCER

It cannot be proved that old cars cause accidents. But the Government is introducing its compulsory tests.

It cannot be proved that diesel fumes cause cancer, but medical opinion suggests that they may.

Will the Minister of Transport—who so far has not accepted MOTOR SPORT’S invitation (May Editorial) to drive with us along the arterial motor roads to see why we criticise his new 40-m.p.h. speed limit—tell us why commercial vehicles should not be tested for smoky exhausts at the same time as pre-1948 cars are being tested for supposedly-dangerous steering, brakes and lamps? In fact, why introduce unnecessary tests in a clumsy attempt to prevent accidents which (vide accident statistics) seldom happen, while snaking no provision for reducing the filthy fumes emitted by the majority of diesel-engined commercial vehicles, which very probably cause cancer? Did you notice how much fresher were London’s streets while the ‘buses, like their drivers, were idle?

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