Matters of Moment, July 1970

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Bravo Britain!

Just recently this country has produced some new cars which should go a long way towards improving British prestige in world markets. Not only have Ford announced the RS 1600 with Cosworth racing-type 16-valve d.o.h.c. engine (which Peugeot introduced to the world as the proper way to build high-efficiency i.c. engines 58 years ago) and won the Circuit of Ireland Rally with it but they effectively wiped up the much-publicised World Cup Rally with their well-established Escort light cars.

Now comes news of two completely new British-Leyland cars, the Triumph Stag GT with all-round independent suspension, power steering, and a 3-litre o.h.c. V8 engine, and the Range Rover, with V8 engine four-wheel-drive and cross-country traction at the pull of a switch, self-levelling rear suspension and a wide choice of gear ratios as befits a true cross-country vehicle, in short a sort of luxury Land Rover. (That this new Range Rover has a beam front axle yet is said to corner like a good normal car, should intrigue pre-war Bugatti enthusiasts.) Both are cars in the £2,000 price-bracket. Although we tried to get pre-release tests of both cars they were not made available to us, so we shall reserve judgement until full road-tests have been carried out. But based on the short drives a Motor Sport representative had in both cars and their “paper” merit, it looks as if British Leyland really has produced the goods, in the form not just of fine new models but of cars quite as revolutionary as former unique events such as the arrival of the T-Ford, Volkswagen Beetle, Citroen 2 C.V., Jensen FF, Issigonis Mini and other world-shaking vehicles. It is significant that advertising for the new Stag is in the American image, with deliberate reference to other makes – look out, British-Leyland say to Alfa Romeo and Mercedes-Benz, the Triumph Stag will dull your great reputation; although one motoring editor has already criticised the Stag on the counts of high weight, indifferent space utilisation and wind noise. Nevertheless, Mercedes beater or not (and Triumph saloons certainly beat Mercedes in the World Cup), we welcome the Triumph Stag as an important addition to the ranks of multi-cylinder cars, and an open one at that.

It will not escape notice that Triumph have beaten Jaguar to a vee engine, although there may be interesting developments in that direction soon; meanwhile, Bob Berry, PRO at Jaguar Cars Ltd., apparently still thinks we are too enthusiastic to enjoy an XJ6, hence the continued absence of a road-test report in Motor Sport.

As for the Range Rover, our high opinion of the engineers at Solihull induces the feeling that only they could have evolved such a universal car and that it is bound to be in at least as great demand and just as successful as the unique Land Rover. What other make offers so many amenities, including 4WD, in a £2,000 p.t.-paid package? So we say, bravo Britain! And, writing before the General Election, we only hope that its outcome will be such that these brave new British products will not be retarded or stifled at birth by politicians…

Bruce McLaren

Over the years, and with a great experience of racing from the inside and the outside, I have got used to the possibility of something going wrong and the end result being death. It is something that you must accept if you get involved with such a violent human activity as motor racing. Some drivers get killed, others die, and you have to accept the news accordingly, and while some are received in a shocked silence others are received with open tears of grief. Such was the reception of the news that Bruce McLaren had died in a crash at Goodwood, while testing his latest Can-Am Chevrolet-powered sports car. The 33-year-old New Zealander had lived for nothing else than motor racing and Bruce McLaren Motor Racing was his whole world, yet fate was to make it his death as well. It would be trite to express sympathy and say that he will be missed. – D. S. J.