Letters from readers, July 1962



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

A 3.4 Jaguar MK. 2 after 31,000 miles


The October 1960 issue of Motor Sport printed a letter of mine in which I set out my impressions of my new Mk. II 3.4 Jaguar. The car has now covered 31,000 miles. After re-reading that letter I can find little to change of my ideas then.

The Jag. has proved to be a trusty and willing friend. Virtually nothing has been spent on repairs and it has never come anywhere near to letting me down.

What I still dislike as much as ever is the heavy steering at slow speeds, the tendency to roll, and the car’s ferocious appetite for tyres-8,000 miles per set. Whilst I do not belong to that large class of people who own a Jaguar as a status symbol and bumble along at 40 m.p.h., I am not an erratic driver, as my m.p.g. of over 21 proves.

Jaguars depreciate rapidly in price from new—I suppose the cause is the poor serviceability of the body—one often sees a very tatty Jaguar with a layer of rust at the bottoms of the doors and the paint stripped along the edges of the mudguards. Unlike the Rover, a Jaguar is not thought of by the public as a car to buy and keep. Indeed, to say the least, the paintwork is very poor, chipping easily and scraping for almost no reason. (How often do I cast envious eyes at the finish of the new VW 1500.)

Before I bought the car I knew that the cantilever rear springs, which are really only an improvisation, would, as they sagged, leave me with only 3 or 4 in. of ground clearance. This indeed has happened. How Australians or rural French, or anyone else who has to use the car on unmetalled roads, manages is a mystery to me.

Finally, the noise of the loose timing-chain after my small mileage is becoming far too insistent for comfort. They tell me at the garage that this very often happens. Since it takes two days’ dismantling to get at this lower chain to tighten it, and since they also tell me that when I am about it I might as well have the engine decarbonised, we have a further example here of a quality British car which has to be partially stripped down for what I consider to be a major overhaul before it has covered 40,000 miles.

Against World competition, this just will not do !

Dungannon. – Conn McCluskey.

Tyres—How should you change them round?


When I traded in my 1958 De Luxe VW last year for a new one after completing just under 70,000 miles it was still on the original Michelins (never a decoke either). These tyres were still good enough for the local agents to re-sell the car without replacing them. They had been changed round according to the manufacturer’s instructions—or at least the garage said they had.

As my car lacked the advantages of cable brakes I am reluctantly forced to attribute the tyre life to my superlative driving skill.

Guildford. – G. I. Wilson.

Mobil economy


I was very interested to read Mr. R. C. E. Robert’s comments in the May issue of Motor Sport with regard to the BP 100,000 miles test, and then to read the Editor’s excellent article “The Grand Prix of the Globules” dealing with the recent Mobil Economy Run. Having read of the phenomenal m.p.g. figures of the M.E.R. in 1957, Mr. Robert’s letter heading ” Who d’ they think they’re kidding,” could well apply to my thoughts at that time. How better to find out the facts than to enter myself in 1958. Being a private motorist with no “access to assistance” thought I would be taboo, so—first surprise-I was accepted. Assuming that the “regulations ” were merely only so much paper work, I listened with interest to the devious economy devices my colleagues suggested—pumping up the tyres, carburetter economy jets, thinning additive in the gearbox and so forth. You may guess my surprise when they found the lot during scrutiny and others of which I did not know. This convinced me that this was a genuine event but not being a “globule don” I still wondered how “economy tuning” and lubrication with the “recommended products” would affect a car after say 20,000 miles. To find out the answer I sold my old car and purchased a new Gazelle which I had accepted for the 1959 run. We did not win but we averaged over 43 m.p.g. The intention was to enter the car again in 1960 and ’61 and compare results but as the routes varied each year the idea was not foolproof. The obvious thing would be to repeat the 1959 route under the same conditions and under the same scrutiny—unfortunately, on looking into the possibility of this, I found that expense’s, R.A.C. Officials, fuel, accommodation, etc., would amount to well over £100 so that is off but the following data might be of interest.

Since purchasing the car in February 1959 it has been run on Mobil Special (except when not available) and lubricated since new with Mobil Oils. The average daily run is three miles to the office and three miles back, with a twenty/thirty yards reverse at each end. It has been used continuously for rallies, driving tests, tours abroad, including the Sete Rally. The average m.p.g. over short journeys when new was 33.3 m.p.g. The average now over the same journey is 33.2 m.p.g. Over long journeys it is 40 m.p.g. (with overdrive). Replacements since new—battery (18 months) set of tyres (21,000 miles), speedometer (23,000 miles). Other than normal greasing and tappet settings no other maintenance has been necessary, the cylinder head, manifold, etc., have never been off and compression remains at peak.

I admit to being now convinced there must be something in this manufacturer’s claim for his products.

West Wickham. – E. Jones.
[Good for Mobil!—Ed.]

Let out


In his letter in June Motor Sport, Mr. H. N. Hillier suggests that the Austin designers have overlooked the fitting of a hinged rear number-plate to the A40. The following is taken from the Austin A40 Drivers’ Handbook :

” In common with other vehicles of this type, i.e.where the rear-seat squab hinges forward, it will be found that if the vehicle were driven with luggage compartment lid open, exhaust fumes would tend to enter through the lid opening. In addition it should be noted that the number is not displayed according to regulations with the lid open, and for these reasons the lid must always be closed before using the vehicle.”

This problem of exhaust fumes is present in any vehicle which is not perfectly streamlined; the most extreme examples are, of course, station-wagons.

Greenock. – Donald R. McSwein.

The correct shade of service


The letter from Mr. John M. Bell in your April issue is clearly very damaging to the reputation of my Company, and I trust you will publish my comments on it in your next issue.

In the first place great care has been taken to organise the Reception Department in such a way that every caller during working hours is interviewed by a responsible official, which was obviously not the case on the occasion of Mr. Bell’s call.

There are two qualified receptionists on duty from 8 a.m., covering one another during the lunch hour. When either is away through illness a senior member of the service department clerical staff replaces him.

The works lunch hour is between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., so that no authorised member of our staff should have stated, as Mr. Bell infers, that the lunch hour did not finish until 2.15 p.m.

In the second place, exhaustive inquiries have failed to elicit any knowledge of this incident, or of any employee eating his lunch in the Reception Office, or of any recent occasion when this office has not been properly manned during the period 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

A tester is on duty during the lunch hour and none of our employees has any recollection of this incident, so it seems inconceivable to us that any customer could enter the reception department at any time without being properly received.

Mr. Bell is unknown to us and we are disappointed that after many requests he has found it impossible to come and identify the person who let him and us down so badly.

For nearly thirty years we have endeavoured to build up a reputation for courtesy and efficiency as distributors of Standard and Triumph cars, and we greatly regret that Mr. Bell should have been treated in the manner stated.

Although we have been unable to take any action against the individual concerned since we have not been able to trace him, we have given a strong general directive to all employees concerned that any discourtesy of this nature will be followed by instant dismissal.

Coventry – S. H. Newsome, Managing Director, S. H. Newsome & Co. Ltd.

Slippery or slip up?


I must express my Agreement with the views of A. G. Tillman, but he seems to have missed mentioning the fuel consumption of the Molyslip Mini. In the owner’s own words: “Yes, I must admit I cane the Mini very much,” and yet he still gets between 58 and 60 m.p.g.! There would seem to be a big discrepancy somewhere, since the Mobil Economy Run Minis were only recording 54-55 m.p.g.!

Nelson. J. Holmes.

The last word!


With reference to the wintry VW advertisement, since the one that got away has got away so thoroughly that it has gone right out of the picture, how do we know that it was a VW?

Manchester. Patrick Mussett.
[This correspondence is now closed.—Ed.]

From The Viscount Curzon, C.B.E, D.L. J.P

Motorists and the police


I read with some interest in “Matters of Moment” your article on motorists and the police, and I endorse all you say.

For some years now as Chairman of the Bucks. Road Accident Prevention Committee, and a member of other similar committees, and as a Magistrate in the County, I have been pressing at every opportunity the necessity for amicable relations between the police and the motorists. It is indeed encouraging to see that Brigadier Cheney, Chief Constable of Buckinghamshire, has announced that his constabulary is holding a Road Courtesy Campaign during the months of May and June with the object of bringing about a better relationship between the police and all road users, and to make road courtesy and safe driving a habit.

Brigadier Cheney is, of course, an honorary member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and shares responsibility with the Northants Constabulary for the excellent traffic arrangements on the approaches to Silverstone.

I understand that during the first week of this Courtesy Campaign 1,529 road users in Bucks, were stopped and cautioned or advised by police officers; and during the second week 2,117 people. This can be split into first week, 185 pedestrians, second week 278 pedestrians, cyclists 283 and 509, motorcyclists 66 and 68, other drivers 995 and 1,242. It is obviously too early to comment on the success or otherwise of this campaign, but it is a serious attempt to do something helpful as opposed to the recognised police procedure which so often ends in prosecution for what might be considered by the motorist as a minor offence, with its attendant wastage of time at the Courts.

Penn Street. Curzon.



Two flagrant pieces of gross injustice towards the already long-suffering motorist were recently reported in the National press.

The first was a case presided over by Mr. Justice Megaw, who held that motorists have an absolute duty to give precedence to pedestrians on zebra crossings. In the particular case reported, the unfortunate driver was held liable to the pedestrian whom he knocked down, even though it was admitted that the pedestrian had “foolishly dashed across in front of his vehicle.”

On the face of it, this would appear to be a case of the motorist being penalised to provide compensation for a “jay walker.” The most disturbing factor of the whole affair, however, is the worthy judge’s incredible contention that the driver should be held responsible for not doing the impossible despite the fact that the necessity to do so clearly arose through the stupidity and thoughtlessness of the plaintiff.

The second case is perhaps even more astounding than the one related above. It concerns a scooter rider who was fined £5 with 17 guineas costs, and disqualified for a year, for allegedly driving while unfit through drink.

In this case, Mr. E. R. Guest, the West London Magistrate, apparently completely disregarded the expert evidence of the doctor who examined the rider within 40 minutes of the alleged offence, and pronounced him fit to drive. Admittedly there was a time lag between the time of arrest and the examination, but I find it hard to believe that in 40 minutes a person could cease to be a drunken menace on the road, and be passed as fit to drive by a fully qualified doctor who, by virtue of his profession, must be absolutely certain of his decision.

This case raises the question of whether, if charged with an offence similar to the above, it is worthwhile being examined by either the police doctor or your own doctor, if the Magistrate, in his wisdom, will, as likely as not, disregard expert evidence, and accept that of a police officer in preference.

Surely it is high time that the combined voices of the large motoring organisations, to which so many of us belong, made themselves heard in an attempt to secure more careful regulation of the powers of some of the people who sit in judgment of motoring offenders, to ensure that the sentences pronounced are not left so much to the discretion of a few people who are apparently as illogical as they are dictatorial.

Wimbledon Common. – D. De. C. Crothall.

Mini records


I note that one of your correspondents has managed to do over 100 miles and have a Mini-Minor for a few days without any trouble. Indeed it must be a record. I purchased a Riley Elf, a so-called luxury Mini-Minor, which costs well over £100 more than the normal Mini. Before doing one mile or having it one day it was delivered with British racing rust in the following places :

1. Round the base of the boot lid.

2. Door panel off-side.

3. Round the windscreen.

4. Underneath the chrome strips on the side of the car.

5. Round the rear lamps.

6. The windscreen wipers run rust on to the rubbers which in turn deposit it on to the windscreen.

The sound-proofing material in the boot was held on at two corners only and was hanging down disconsolately across the boot. The roof lining became detached and is held up by the flimsy so-called sun visors. The so-called stainless steel runners at the base of the bodywork show signs of rust at the joins. A wonderful extra finish for considerably over a £100 more than the average Mini!

In the five days I have had it it has been a source of interest to many, being one of the first around our district, and I have not been slow to point out the rust, the hanging sound-proofing, the hanging roof lining, the paint-free edge of all four wheels where the tyres have been bashed on.

My last car bought new was foreign; my next one will again be foreign.

My personal transport is three tons of Teutonic brute force, a 1936 Mercedes Benz 540K cabriolet, which has yet to show any rust, and the chrome, which is still good, is on brass.

Not again will I buy British and should have known better, having been an avid reader of Motor Sport for thirty years.

Please continue to criticise new cars constructively as in the past and publish such letters as these in the hope that one day we can buy British and be proud of it.

Thames Ditton. – T. R. O’Neill.


F. E. Mallett, Surbiton (May issue Motor Sport) makes me see red, after reading his remarks regarding those tough Minis.

Possibly your correspondent is in possession of one of the earliest models—he omitted to state whether this is so.

Speaking from personal experience, it is true they did leak, but it was possible to have this fault corrected at your local garage— and on the later models this doesn’t occur at all. Water getting in the distributor during wet weather has also been cured. Other components? Horn button did give trouble—cured; two door pulls—replaced. The only other trouble—loose shock-absorbers —again cured.. As a member of the female brigade I’ve not had the opportunity of examining a brake drum, so do not know whether there is one leading and one trailing shoe in each drum, or not.

It is agreed the jack is rather frail looking, but this has done the job it was required to do.

But really I could explode when he says tyres are finished at 15,000. I can only speak for my husband and myself, and, while we drive speedily, we don’t find it necessary to slam on brakes! On our Mini No.1 we coveted 29,000 miles in 18 months, replacing only two tyres at 21,000, the remaining two having ample tread for a few more miles when Mini No.2 was purchased—and after 17,780 miles to date in 12 months on all kinds of road surfaces, the amount of tread is good for at least a further 6-8,000 miles. (On the second model we have not changed tyres round every 2,000 miles.) Of course, we do not keep our Mini’s tyres at low pressures.

For economical running at a large mileage rate and ease of maintenance, comfort, particular roominess in front, etc., etc., give us a Mini every time. If money were no object we would have a Jaguar E-type, or a Mini-Cooper as second string to our great little de luxe Mini!!

Stanmore. – P. D. Thompson (Mrs.).

Perverted publicity


Having started your May issue at the front cover and been fascinated until I reached the back cover, I am suddedly a puzzled man. Confronting me as I solemnly contemplate the end of this month’s quota I see two pictures. The first picture shows a moron trying to see through a windscreen with rain on it. The second picture shows that someone has switched on the wipers. Moron, it appears, was, and still is, parked (see speedo.) in the middle of a wet street. I then read that it was clear that our hero was in a safer situation in the second picture than in the first picture. Why?

Further, what has all this to do with windscreen washers ?

London, W.11. – E. R. Rix.



As a reader of many years, and the holder of a Driver’s Licence since 1919, I have now become heartily sick over the repeated misuse of the word “visibility.” Almost every motoring journal, and quite a few others, refer to the so-and-so having excellent “visibility” over either a sloping bonnet or through a curved windscreen, or for some other reason totally unconnected with the word.

Even some aeronautical journals, to their shame, are falling for this totally erroneous description of a characteristic which can only be described as “the field of view “—shortened usually to “the view.”

Visibility is usually associated with the length (distance) of perceptible vision, which can be reduced considerably by other features certainly not connected with motor-car design, and a return to the correct descriptive word would appear overdue.

Ask any qualified commercial pilot if there is any difference between these two words and mark his answer, ditto any master mariner!

Without any apologies.

Ryde. – L. S. Ash.

No chains!


You have rather caught me over a barrel about the Porsche Carrera 2, and its camshaft drive.

The advertisement was, of course, inserted by me, but in this particular instance it did consist of an extract from The Motor article on the Carrera 2, and they made this erroneous statement. I can really only add that I did this ad. in rather a hurry, and did not spot their error at the time. It was not repeated. We did write to The Motor asking them to insert a correction.

Isleworth – W. H. Aldington – Director, A.F.N. Limited.



On Thursday, May 3rd, I helped at an accident involving one of three Ford Anglia vans being delivered along the A34. north of Congleton. Its front tyre had collapsed and the vehicle had swerved, hit the bank, and rolled over. Fortunately no vehicle was proceeding in the other direction. Another motorist who stopped to assist said that some half-mile back, while he was doing 70 m.p.h., these three vehicles had passed him, in close formation, crossing a double white line. The milometer reading on the crashed vehicle was 196.

It seems monstrously ironical that the eventual purchaser will be advised not to exceed 40 m.p.h. for the first 500 miles or so, and to steadily run the motor in thereafter. The least the purchaser of a commodity can expect is the privilege of wrecking it in his own way, not having this “built in,” as it were, on delivery.

Manufacturers apparently condone this abuse by implying that a skilled driver can reach these speeds without damaging the working parts. I cannot understand how skill will cool the high temperatures generated by the tight unbedded bearing surfaces, or the gears of transmission and back axle. If skill in fact has these desirable influences I should be pleased to know how and where one obtains it. I think it is dishonest clap-trap.

Tamworth. – J. Reynolds.



Whilst your excellent magazine usually confines itself to motoring, not political, issues, I feel that the letter of Mr. John Thorpe, published last month, cannot be allowed to go unanswered.

In his skilfully worded letter, Comrade Thorpe—I am sorry, Mr. Thorpe!—ridiculed the idea that Communist countries undercut with the prices of their goods to be able, when the time is ripe, to disrupt the home markets of the country in which their goods are sold. This, he says, is the contention of an unreliable “professional anti-Communist”; to rely on such a man “is as wise as forming an opinion on democracy by a prolonged study of Mein Kampf.”

Mr. Thorpe obviously has a great sense of humour. Otherwise he would have mentioned what happened in 1958, when Russia suddenly closed all her markets to Finland (nearly 20% of whose trade was with Russia) in an attempt to force Finland to admit Communists into her Cabinet. In the ensuing chaos, it was by luck alone that the Finns were able to resist the demand.

Having shown Mr. Thorpe that the Communists do use trade for the disruption of other countries, let us now show that they also undercut with their prices. Since it was the Skoda car which comes from Czechoslovakia which brought up this argument, may I quote the Czechoslovak Statistical Institute, which stated in 1955 that Czechoslovak trade was not guided by “purely practical considerations . . it follows a plan carefully drawn up in accordance with political considerations.” In other words, the Communists undercut, “to capture markets, and with and through them, the minds of free men” to quote the Prime Minister of Canada. But I suppose Mr. John Diefenbaker is just another unreliable “professional anti-Communist.” . . .

Mr. Thorpe still seems unable to explain why a Skoda should cost £1,370 in Prague, yet under £400 in Egypt—or why the pre-import duty price of the car entering this country is only £330. The Triumph Herald 1200, the most mechanically similar English car, costs nearly 50% more, and we know that the Leyland group is doing all it can to keep the price of the Herald as low as possible. Is this not proof that the Communists undercut? Or are we to believe that the Czechs put a purchase tax of over 300% on their cars? Since Mr. Thorpe says “many of us might well feel that the tax on cars here is hardly a light one ” (it is in fact 45%), I would like to hear his views on this matter!

Finally, Mr. Thorpe asks why the British record of Labour Relations is defamed so often—and says that the time lost through strikes is “hardly disastrous.” I suggest that it is disastrous, and mostly through the influence of factory-branch Communists, of whom the Daily Herald, hardly a fanatically right-wing newspaper, once said, “If they cannot stop exports at the factory, they always end up by fomenting strikes at the docks.” How peculiarly true that was in May 1962. We have the workers of the Ford Motor Company, and of many other firms, on unofficial token strikes in sympathy with the nurses (how sweet!), and a threatened National dock strike, which was only averted by an eleventh-hour agreement. Funny, but one never hears of such things happening on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

Mr. Thorpe appears to me to be a great advocate of the cause of the Communist countries; he said in his letter that anyone who supported such views as are expressed in this one must be dim-witted. Many of us might well feel that the boot is on the other foot. . . .!

Barford. – M. Begbie-Clench.