Letters from Readers
N.B. - Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and "Motor Sport" does not necessarily associate itself with them. - Ed.
I enclose a photograph which I took at Monaco this year, and the first thing that struck me when I saw the original was: "HOTTEST - TEAM - AT - MONACO."
P. W. H. Culby, Burgess Hill.
* * *
Enthusiasm for Citroens
Dr. Lillicrap's letter remarking on Ins experience with a Citroën DS calls for some comment, lest it should mislead others into thinking that his unfortunate experience is the lot of Citroën owners (DS or ID).
I feel able to write with some authority on the subject since not only am I myself the proud possessor of a DS19, but, having lived 4-1/2 years in Germany, I have known several other Citroën owners. Members of N.A.T.O. Forces Europe buy cars for their own use without tax or import duty and it is perhaps little wonder that Citroën is one of the most popular marques. But price alone is not the only deciding factor. Living in a closely-knit British community, where every second family buys a new car during their tour of duty, one hears the pedigrees of all cars hotly defended or attacked. If so and so is having trouble with his shiny new -------------, then it is of vital interest to all those who were thinking of buying one. And word quickly travels along the grapevine.
If there is one firm who has made ''converts' by the cars they have sold to N.A.T.O. forces, then it is Messrs. André Citroën. Many a purchaser bought his ID or DS with a steely eye to the value-for-money compared to British prices, but having bought one, steely-eyed stock-broker types become dewy-eyed enthusiasts overnight. "Drawing-room on wheels," "business-man's express," call it what you will, those who have experienced it never sit in another car again without feeling slightly uncomfortable.
There is necessarily an element of luck in buying any car. "Rogues" come off the assembly lines of makers with enviable reputations and amongst models with noted vices is sometimes an odd one that is trouble-free. To argue the merits of any car from the repair bills of one owner is futile. I myself spent infinitely more in the four years I possessed a TR2 than in the equivalent time I've had the DS 19, but maybe I was lucky. So far as owning the DS is concerned, I know I am!
D. S. Tice, Plymstock.
* * *
I read in my "Castrol Achievements Book 1963" that: "Apart from the skilled attention received during routine maintenance, a Rolls-Royce Dart turbo-prop engine has remained undisturbed in a B.E.A. Vickers Viscount airliner for more than two years. During this time the (Castrol-lubricated) engine has been in operation for 4,500 hours and the aircraft in which it was installed has travelled more than 1,000,000 statute miles. Rolls-Royce claim that this is the longest operating time for any aero-engine in the world to be left installed in the same aircraft." (Page 38.)
And it probably is! I am Rolls-Royce biased.
P. J. Pwen, Bath.
* * *
Free Lubrication Charts
Your readers might be interested to know that there are now at least two sources of free lubrication charts for their cars.
They can write to Castrol or they can fly to the Continent by British United Air Ferries. It was very pleasant to find a letter waiting for me on my recent return from France thanking me for using their services and enclosing a free chart. The cost to them may have been a few pence only but this sort of service, I think, deserves encouragement.
Usual vehement disclaimers.
Philip Warner, Wimborne.
* * *
A Styling Expert
I think your readers would be interested in the following quotation from Product Engineering, April 13th, 1964, because it helps to explain several things about American cars. It is attributed to Mr. Gene Bordinat, Vice-President and Director of styling of American Ford, and he is talking about the new Mustang.
"Primary goal Was a car with the total look of total performance. This was achieved by styling with classically aesthetic proportions incorporating the perky hop-up above the rear wheels, full wheel openings - suggestive of power and performance - a chrome simulated air scoop plus a performance-type filler cap. Lettering and emblems have been omitted from the rear of the car since they would not be in keeping with the clean honest styling to which we were dedicated."
After that lot it is hardly surprising that the Mustang's appearance is the usual combination of ugliness and vulgarity. Perhaps you could persuade Mr. Bordinat to write an article on the place of perky hop-ups in classical aesthetics, or explaining how to dedicate oneself to clean honest styling without feeling that chrome simulated air scoops are out of place. I feel sure that an article on the influence of the petrol filler cap on performance would be equally well-received.
It is incredible to me that any industrial firm should appoint as a Vice-President a man who can spout such complete and utter rubbish without apparent effort. If this is what the vice-presidents are like what kind of cars can the firm produce? It does not seem to occur to these people that to get "the total look of total performance" one needs to have the performance first.
D. Gilbert, Lincoln.
* * *
Lament by a Hobbs' Customer
A letter from Mr. Chivers in the May issue of Motor Sport prompts me to write concerning my experience to date with the Westinghouse-Hobbs Automatic gearbox fitted to my Ford Corsair GT.
As you know, Corsairs are made near Liverpool, and to comply with the laid down procedure my car had to be delivered to me in London and then driven up to Manchester for the Hobbs box to be fitted. The car was booked in there on March 18th and was eventually ready for collection on Match 26th. No allowance is made for the old manual box and clutch, etc., so they were returned to me in the boot of the car. I was disappointed with the behaviour of the automatics, so when the car went into the Specially Appointed Main Dealer for the 500-mile service on the gearbox I pointed out that, compared with the demonstration car I tried, (a) it changed into a higher gear too soon on light throttle openings, (b) it changed down too late on quite wide throttle openings, and (c) it went into neutral instead of changing-down a gear when the throttle is left closed. I collected the car in the evening and the only difference I could detect was that the driver's seat and arm-rest were a bit dirtier, there was more petrol in the tank, and I had been relieved of £1 10s. 11d. for a gallon of transmission oil and a gallon of petrol. I returned to the garage the following day and the Westinghouse-Hobbs trained fitter came out with me in the car and agreed these faults. Next, the Westinghouse-Hobbs Field Service Engineer was summoned and he also confirmed these faults, plus another - the upward changes took place too soon on full throttle! I had never tried doing this as the engine was so new. As the Main Dealer is so disinterested or incompetent, the Field Engineer showed my local dealer, how to fit certain parts which he arranged to have sent. These have now been fitted but have made no noticeable difference.
My local dealer has been trying to contact the Field Engineer again for over a couple of weeks without success. Although the last fault has been rectified by adjustment, I'm wondering how long it will take to sort the troubles out. I also wonder how long the rest of the transmission will last as gear engagement takes place with quite a lot of slipping and a snatch.
An error seems to have crept into Mr. Chivers' letter when comparing this box with the Borg-Warner 35. The net outlay for the W.-H. is of course greater, not smaller, than for the B.-W., even with a minimum delivery charge.
I shall continue to respect your comments but may have to ask you one day for the name of the mechanic who was clever enough to sort your test car out when it needed adjustment.
I. W. McCulloch, Pinner
[No doubt the complete lack of interest on the part of the British Motor Industry in what was the best automatic gearbox on the market depressed its sponsors. And now that it competes for favour with an American gearbox in this country of American take-over bids and is at the mercy of Ford salesmen things may well go a bit astray with this excellent British gearbox. - Ed.]
* * *
Hobbs or B.-W.
Mr. J. Chivers complains about the lack of articles on the Westinghouse-Hobbs transmission, but it was the article on this in Motor Sport last December that made me decide to order a Cortina Super Automatic rather than the standard GT model that I had been considering (the prices being about the same).
Later, when the Cortina was offered with the Borg-Warner 35 transmission, I considered that the -advantages of a fluid torque converter far outweighed the almost negligible drops in performance and m.p.g. shown by the Autocar test.
As my Cortina Super (B.-W.) Automatic was only delivered at the beginning of May, I can only say that at "running-in" speeds of up to 50 m.p.h. in "Drive" I have yet to detect a gearchange, up or down, and it seems almost the perfect answer for those who still sigh for the flexibility and continuous torque of a steam car!
Although a motorist since 5959, I cannot imagine anyone, except perhaps a competitor in sporting events, wanting to return to a gear-lever, subject of course to Automatics being proved to compare in reliability over 30,000 to 50,000 miles with an ordinary gearbox, which time alone will tell.
Wm. E. Mather, Oban.
[See above footnote! This letter should warm the cockles of the B. W. publicity organisation, who themselves write us so many letters! - Ed.]
* * *
Timing Races and Car Performance
Being interested in all well-made quality engineering products, I find your review of the Breitling Chronomat, and Navitimer, of interest. Should you be interested in the purchase of the Volkswagen of all watches, might I suggest you start in the following order: Patek Philippe, the best available, followed by Vacheron et Constantin, in my bumble opinion the next best. However, since the above mentioned are only available in the salary range of Motor Sport editors [This correspondent is a humorist! - Ed.], I would say the finest of the normal range are those produced by the Schaffhausen International Watch Co.
A friend of mine is the proud owner of an International watch, which has maintained a consistent plus or minus one second per day accuracy over the past twelve months. The movement of the International Engineer model is encapsulated in mu-metal, adjustment of the timing lever being by a vernier. It is not a pretty watch, and is rather too bulky to wear on my small wrist, but, for lap times, unbeatable.
Frank H. Thomas, Aberdare.
As a jeweller I must be biased towards the products I sell, bur for a modest outlay the model I wear, the Tudor Oyster (slightly cheaper version of the Rolex Oyster), gives very satisfactory timekeeping.
This model 5016 is complete with a stainless steel bracelet for £27 10s. Although not of the chronograph type, it has a sweep-second hand, which enables quite accurate gauging of time.
Since November 13th, 1963, it has been regulated once by our watchmakers, and keeps time to half a minute a month; this, coupled with the best waterproof case in the whole of the industry. must surely make a desirable watch?
M. Illingworth, Fixby
* * *
Batteries and Starting Handles
I am very pleased to hear that Mr. W. D. Marquis has had Such excellent service from his Lucas batteries; perhaps Mr. Lucas exports a better version of his product for the delectation of motorists abroad than he supplies in Cheltenham. Whatever the reason, his batteries have never lasted me more than a bare two years. I do top 'em up, too, Mr. Marquis.
Shame on you, too, Mr. Boddy, for failing even to mention in your road test that the Imp actually has provision for a starring handle, although Messrs. Rootes charge an extra 22s. 6d. for the privilege of supplying the bits to make it work.
J. A. Everrett, Cheltenham.
* * *
Although your correspondence columns are frequently used by readers to cosh one another with verbal con.-rods, there should be no place in them for ill-mannered, insulting nonsense such as the letter from Mr. Fred W. Buess, Jr., contains in your May issue. Its contents are of no interest to anyone but its peculiar writer, and its publication is an extreme example of Editorial tolerance towards the apparently feeble-minded. Abuse from a Buess may be your transatlantic correspondent's idea of humour; I suggest, in future, he keep it for home consumption.
I see you question my point about the alleged British nationality of the Dagenham Fords. Perhaps it is my poor old side-valvebrain, but I cannot see upon what grounds you argue this point. Had Henry Ford come to Britain and set up his factory here in the first place, as Benjamin Hotchkiss did in France, I would not for one moment dispute the nationality of his cars. However, he was already firmly established in his native America. and he simply decided it was economically sound to set up a factory in Britain in order to build cars for us on the spot rather than to export them.
The company is 100% American; it does not matter a hoot how many years it has been at Dagenham; it does not matter two hoots that the cars are designed for British conditions and stuck together by British workmen; and whether or not we add an assortment of British bits and pieces and smother the lot with British paint, we still have an American car underneath.
Do the West Germans claim German nationality for the Fords built in their piece of Europe? I doubt it; if they do, then their much vaunted patriotism is a myth. And would you, Mr. Editor, have the temerity to claim British nationality for either Mercedes-Benz or VW should they set up factories in this country? And what would be your reaction if Rolls-Royce were to do the same in California, and Mr. F. Buess, Jr., claim American nationality for the cars produced?
However, Mr. Editor, there is a perfectly simple and simply perfect solution to your side of the argument. Should the Labour boys win the coming slanging match, persuade Comrade Wilson and his British Red Flag Choir to do a Nasser and grab the oufit.
Joseph Nayley, Charlton.
[When the Ford New Anglia was introduced Motor Sport published a picture of it captioned "A new American automobile." So in the main we agree with Dr. Bayley and if the Chrysler take-over of Rootes goes through the only British mass-production cars will be B.M.C.s and Triumphs and we shall have to sing Hurrah for Jaguar, Daimler, Rolls-Royce and Rover! - Ed.]
* * *
A Fast Anglia
Reading your report on the May and Silverstone meeting, in referring to the dice for leadership in the 1,300-c.c. class of the saloon-car race, you casually mention that Mike Young's Super-Speed Anglia "mixed it with the tail-end Minis," whilst in the centre-page photographs you showed a mud-splattered Anglia pushing Hopkirk's works Mini; to me these two statements contradict. Even you must admit that this class has been much enlivened by the Super-Speed car, and very little credit has been given to them. You may have noticed that Young's fastest lap is only 0.8 sec. slower than that of any Anglia round the G.P. circuit: the fastest being Chris Craft's 1,650-c.c. car; no mean feat when you consider what a 1200 Anglia has to start with in Group 2.
The remaining races should also be enlivened by the appearance of a second Super-Speed car, to be driven by Chris Craft, which should go very well and give Mike Young help in a class where he is completely outnumbered by Minis.
Stewart Hands, High Wycombe.
[Apologies. - Ed.]
* * *
I thought I would write, just to give your VW fans heart, to let them know I have waited nine weeks in vain for the front bonnet motif of a 1962 Volkswagen 1500. Marvellous service, don't you think?
B. Brookes, Harrow.
* * *
Chivalry from Rally Crews
May I refer to the letter headed "The Chivalry of the Road Isn't Dead," printed in your June edition. I would like to inform Mr. Walsh that the two characters involved were two members of the Worksop and District Motor Club named Bob Clark and Don Wilkinson, who were, in fact, returning home after competing in a motor rally which had just finished at Gainsborough.
The South Yorkshire Car Club co-promotes with the Worksop Club, and we would like to express the very great pleasure it has given us to be aware of this action of comradeship by our two members to another motorist. This merely shows, we hope, to those not quite so motoring sport minded as the rest of us, that we in motor clubs have the interests of all road users at heart.
I. Maden, Hon. Sec., S. Yorkshire C.E.C., Balby.
[How nice if other Club member reading this also decided to revive the Chivalry of the Road. - Ed.]
* * *
Ramon Dunyon Writes
I am reading my favourite auto magazine and I am much disturbed by this Buess, Junior (this is a name?). I am certain that some well-informed guy is going to deal with this Buess on account of his ignorance, and on account of his personal attack on Boddy.
But this month's edition comes, and no well-informed person has dealt with Buess. Now, I do not care for this Buess, and I am even less enchanted with his style, in respect of which I desire to deal him off the bottom of the deck.
I am Ramon Dunyon, Senior, and I am sorry for this Buess character who is very junior indeed. Any guy who compares a Mercedes auto with a Buick hotel must be a shmoo! This guy should go see his oculist, for he is suffering from quality-blindness, which is a very prevalent disease Stateside, due to specular reflections from thousand-dollar dills. He is the sort of guy who will compare anything to make an argument. This is because he is deep in love with his opinions which he desires to exhibit. When he re-arranges his prejudices, he believes he is thinking.
Furthermore, he is very junior in my opinion when he makes with the challenge to Boddy, like "print this!", which is like writing "bum" on walls. I do not see this Buess, hut I reckon he Must be a Mini-Buess according to his nasty manners.
Ramon Dunyon, Senior.
[Which closes the Rolls-Buess correspondence. - Ed.]
* * *
Your magazine is always interesting and sometimes provoking. In "What is a Vintage Car?" lies an irritating aside. As you say, a car made after 1931 is worth less than an older one. For this reason alone I own a 30-year-old post-vintage non-thoroughbred which nevertheless gives more pleasure than contemporary tin-ware used in business.
Every month I dream through your sales columns, but cars are bought through Swap & Bazaar.
Some of us are well-informed but not well-heeled, so hands off Swap & Bazaar, which serves the impecunious enthusiast.
R. W. Fell, Fleet.
* * *
The Police State
You are to be thanked for your timely editorial on this matter. After forty years of accident-free driving I was convicted of careless driving on perjured evidence by a boy cyclist and wrong evidence by a policeman, and was fined £5 plus £11 costs.
I appealed; the policeman admitted his mistake. The Chairman of the Appeals Committee said he had great sympathy for me and that I was not the major cause of a minor accident. But he dismissed the appeal. The police were ordered to pay their costs but I had to pay mine, which came to £50. The rule that a man is innocent until proved guilty is ignored in motoring cases.
On All Fools' Day traffic wardens began to operate in this unhappy city at a cost of £20,000 per year to the ratepayers. These little tin gods and goddesses "book" motorists for trivial offences at £2 per time. Traders have complained that takings have dropped by £100 per week.
One is driven to conclude that the police are finding it increasingly difficult to detect serious crime and are consoling themselves by persecuting motorists. In fairness I must add that I have no quarrel with the "bobby" on the beat. One such permitted himself to tell me I had not been guilty of careless driving and that I had his sympathy. When the case was all over the Superintendent called on me. It may have been unwise but it gave me some satisfaction to tell him just what I felt. But he "wins" and I am branded as a criminal. Would to goodness one could see any way to stop this un-English tyranny.
J. Roscoe, St. Albans.
[One wonders how many motorists, who feel as our correspondent does, will vote in the forthcoming General Election? - Ed.]
* * *
We are writing regarding the championship points awarded to Graham Hill (B.R.M.) and Jim Clark (Lotus-Climax) for the Monaco and Dutch G.P.s.
It seems unfair that both drivers should now have an equal number of points. Jim Clark who failed to finish at Monte Carlo because of a seized engine was allocated the same number of points as Graham Hill who at Zandvoort, after a long pit stop of 35.6 sec., to cure a vapour lock in the fuel system, owing to overheating, made a valiant effort to make up for lost time and managed to finish in fourth position despite a "sick" engine.
It seems unjust that a driver who has failed to finish a race should gain as many points as one who put up a tremendous fight and did in fact finish.
Philip and Andrew Worsley, Ullenhall.
* * *
The Bard Again!
Further in the matter of "Shakespeare and the Motor Car," there is the question of the personal number plate - "2 B, or not 2 B" - doubtless referring to the well-known Porsche featured in "The Merchant of Venice."
In Act 1 of the same play, the archetype of car dealers, Shylock, is anxious to get a GT customer off the premises quickly - "Give him direction for this merry bond; and I will go and purse the ducats straight."
Gerald Mortimer, Uxbridge.
* * *
I note that in their report on road casualties last Christmas, the Road Research Laboratory state: "The Road was wet or icy in two-thirds of the accidents. Dipped Headlights were being used by 12 of the 21 vehicles which struck pedestrians in the dark on roads with good street lighting" (my underlining).
This may prove nothing, but it does give support to the view I have held for some years, both as motorist and pedestrian and particularly in the last few years during which I have been more pedestrian than motorist.
My view is that in conditions of good street lighting, dipped headlamps do little to help the motorist and much to bewilder and confuse the pedestrian. This after all is logical as a dark object will show up more clearly in conditions of good light than a light object, and a light object will blend more into the light background. Adding light to the dark object will therefore only make the object less visible and in the case of a moving vehicle will only further confuse the pedestrian as one more light among many, and if recognised for what it is will only make judgement of speed and distance more difficult and many pedestrians are particularly weak in this respect.
The argument of the Birmingham Headlight Committee, that the motorist should conform at all times and should not be left to be a judge of street lighting in addition to all his other duties does not hold water, as surely the first, and most important, rule of "road sense" is that the motorist should at all times drive in accordance with the conditions prevailing in that place at that time.
H. P. Wright, Lewes.
* * *
A Free-Status Symbol
I enclose an advertisement taken from the Liverpool Echo of June 6th.
This relates to the sale of an 3.8 S-type Jaguar; the mileage is 600 and the car is two months old. This car is for sale at List price!
It may be that these cars are in such short supply that the firm in question can obtain this price. It may also be that there is some quite convincing reason for this apparent anomaly, but it occurred to me that one of the principals of a firm could use this as a way of providing two months' status-symbol motoring at no cost to himself or his firm. For this reason alone I would be very loth to buy any car in similar circumstances, on principle.
I would be very interested to hear any reason for this state of affairs (perhaps the firm in question will explain?).
Arthur Bayley, Ainhill.
* * *
Whilst I must congratulate your excellent magazine on the general run of its race reports, I feel I must point out a couple of mistakes in your report of the saloon-car race at the Silverstone International Trophy Meeting, in your June issue.
Firstly, if I remember rightly, Dan Gurney was mounted in the Alan Brown Galaxie, and, secondly, Mike Young's Anglia was up dicing with the works Cooper Ss for the whole race. Your photograph of Young and Hopkirk on the centre pages justifies this.
Once again, thank you for an otherwise excellent edition.
Terence F. Buckley, Solihull.
[We also referred to Jackie Stewart as Jimmie Stewart. Sorry! - Ed.]
* * *
More Imp Opinions
I have just received the June issue of your excellent publication and, having read the "Imp Opinions" of Michael Sedgwick, feel it time to air my own views of this remarkable little car.
Judging from your road test in the May issue and Sedgwick's comments, I must have a "dud" one. Purchased early in February, replacements and troubles to date have been:
- New water pump,
- New radiator,
- New carburetter and choke to cure flat spots,
- New set of latest type plugs,
- New off-side rear shock-absorber,
- New speedometer head,
- Attention to water leaks in floor,
- Attention to oil leaks in transaxle and engine,
- Dashboard creaks; still present in cold weather;
- Door rattles.
All these troubles in four months and 3,500 miles; not to mention 30 m.p.g. for the last 2,000 miles or so. My suppliers have now "Cryptoned" in an attempt to improve this. Needless to say the car is not driven particularly hard as it is still very new.
Perhaps I shall be more fortunate when the NEW ENGINE is fitted; yes. I did say new engine! Apparently the oil leak is caused by a faulty pressing, the only cure for which is complete replacement.
My main reason for buying a new car, this is my first, was to obtain trouble-free motoring after three years with a Goggomobil T300 (a very good little car and great fun to own), a Wolseley 6/80 (rather expensive to maintain) and a Singer Gazelle (sheer luxury). My trouble-free motoring has not materialised to date!
Now for a few credits to the Imp. It has one of the best driving positions I know; particularly for someone of my height of 6 ft. 4 in. It is fun to drive, has a very willing engine, and is more of a car than the Minis.
Finally, I think I would buy another given the opportunity, but not until a few more of the "bugs" have been disposed of. It is, after all, Rootes' first attempt at a small car, which appears to have proved reasonably successful, and no lack of co-operation can be complained of from Ladbroke Hall, nor the suppliers.
Paul R. Draper, Hayes
P.S. - I am 20 years of age and have been reading Motor Sport for approximately 18 months.
* * *
"You just can't win"
Referring to Mr. Paul's letter in the June issue, what a pity a genuine grievance cannot be stated without it being embellished; firstly a precis to obtain the facts:
"I renewed my policy on a 1959 Zephyr with the Zurich Insurance Company in October, 1962, and on February 19th, 1963, I was involved in an accident which was in no way my fault, the other driver being subsequently convicted of driving without due care and failing to halt at a traffic signal. On March 13th, 1963; the Zurich told me they had inspected my car, which was beyond economical repair, and that in their opinion the market value was £405, which I disputed because of the exceptional pre-accident condition of the car. On March 19th, 1963, the Zurich increased their offer to £415, which I refused to accept. I also refused to accept their alternative offer of April 8th, 1963, of £410 plus the radio from the car, and I decided to claim direct against the other driver's insurance company. I asked the A.A.'s legal department to act for me and as a result I obtained on March 21st, 1964, a settlement of £410 for my car plus £150 for uninsured losses. I then wrote to the Zurich asking them for a proportionate refund in premium between the date of the accident and expiry of the policy, which they refused to do, and the only concession they would make was to withdraw the charge for a hired car which I had temporarily added to the policy."
Leaving aside extraneous considerations such as the effect the reduction of purchase tax had on the value of secondhand cars, whether the Zurich like to insure a particular make or car, and any criticism of the public relations angle, I think the Zurich were in error in not allowing a refund in premium less their charge for the hired car bearing in mind the clear-cut liability, although it must be stated in their defence that there is a divergence of opinion upon this point within the insurance world, and presumably it was open to Mr. Paul to include this item in his claim for uninsured losses in the some way as he included the insurance costs of his hired car.
John G. Lynch, Hillingdon.