Vintage Postbag, July 1972

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“The Beginning of the End?”

Sir,

I read the above article in the May issue of Motor Sport. I was not aware of any regulations of the name mentioned by you nor have careful enquiries disclosed any.

Whilst I personally feel that your article is unduly alarmist, I would like it to be known that the Historic Vehicles Clubs Joint Committee has it very much in mind that with the entry into the Common Market, there might be a danger of certain of the continental regulations affecting older vehicles, which in some cases restrict their use on public roads, being adopted in the UK. This is a matter which we have taken up with the Minister who fully appreciates our concern. It is not envisaged that this country will adopt any continental regulations as such and although the UK will have to observe the regulations and directives adopted by the Common Market, we do not at present know of any adversely affecting older vehicles in the manner suggested.

London, W.1. James W. T. Crocker.

Chairman, HVJC.

————

Sir,

No smoke without fire, but a first class scout’s badge to W. B. for his article “The Beginning of the End ?” wherein he created a whole conflagration simply by rubbing two bits of rumour together. And a “Keep Britain Out” star, with nut cluster, for the lady with the Singer who started it all.

Perhaps now we could return to reality. Has neither W. B. nor the lady concerned noticed that more than half the “wogs who begin at Calais” drive vehicles at least 15 years old ? Indeed France has no need of an old car movement, for they are still using them—and in breach of a common market regulation too . .. tut tut, not to say. touf touf. If W. B. or his Singer lady could produce one shred of evidence, let alone chapter and verse, for the story they have promulgated, good old Motor Sport might seem to be returning to its more rational and more readable self; and as one of those who would be affected I would willingly join your crusade. But a study of the published documents—admittedly a brief one—and a telephone call to the Transport division of the Department of the Environment revealed neither the offending provision nor, which was more to be expected, the provision which might have been misconstrued as the offending provision.

So before we beat our spring leaves into swords, may we have some facts ? I am sure W. B. would not, without facts, begin to discuss matters on which he is an expert. I refer, of course, to motor cars.

Camberley. Peter Graham.

————

From Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.

Sir,

I would like to take issue with your suggestion that an EEC Regulation concerned with transport contains a “hidden” clause which would effectively ban cars of more than 15 years of age from public highways.

No such clause in fact exists in any Community Regulation, nor is there any hint of such a clause even in draft form. Those few Community Regulations which do deal with private motor cars concern themselves mainly with accessories, such as mirrors.

Furthermore, after discussions I have had with Government Ministers, I am confident that if any such move was made in the future the British Government would strongly resist it.

Beaulieu. Montagu of Beaulieu.

————

Sir,

The article under this heading in the May issue of Motor Sport, in which W. B. wrote on “old-car matters” seemed determined to cause as much alarm and despondency as possible to owners of old cars—and quite unnecessarily.

There is no truth in the allegation that the regulations governing our entry into the EEC include a clause which bans cars over 15 years old from being used on public roads. The Department has not been asked to consider such a proposition; and if we were asked, we should oppose it. This has already been stated on a number of occasions. There is also no reason why reform of the vehicle testing scheme. referred to in the article in typically vague terms, should “make life more difficult for the old-car owner”. The proposals, announced last September, are for a reduction in the number of testing stations, so that adequate supervision can be given to ensure reasonably uniform standards of testing. The Minister has stated that he does not intend that these should be Government run or staffed. The proposals are now under consideration by a working group, including representatives of the Motor Agents Association, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and the Scottish Motor Trade Association.

I might also mention that the new computerised vehicle licensing system is based at Swansea not Cardiff, and is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment not the Post Office.

London, SW1. J. P. Morris,

Deputy Director of Information Directorate

Department of the Environment.

[These are but a small number of the letters from a voluminous correspondence which has resulted from the Motor Sport “stir-up” —some grateful, most of them polite, a few which could hardly be more rude. I will accept that I was rather hasty in rushing into print and I note that Lord Montagu has taken me to task, saying that I have caused “a rather unnecessary scare”, and that “to set the facts right there is (1) no such regulation, (2) the veteran and vintage movement in the Common Market Countries is flourishing and regular rallies take place, and many people from this country take part in them, and (3) the Government here has made it quite clear that our motoring regulations are independent of those on the continent, as witness a recent Bill in Parliament to prevent the very large lorries from the Continent using British roads”.

I accept all this and am relieved that it is so. But I was looking ahead at the future of the old-car movement as a whole. If I am still around in 1982 and we still have exactly the same freedom to use old vehicles as we have now, I promise to bake a very big humble pie and try to eat it. — Ed].

* * *

Respect for Old Age

Sir,

May I be rather rude and suggest to your correspondent, Mr. McGrath, that there is nothing particularly commendable about averaging over 40 m.p.h. with 750 c.c., over forty years old ?

I quite agree that all cars should be used (we do not use ours enough) but suggest that it is far more sensible to treat metal that has aged, and must therefore be becoming brittle, with great respect. Where practical we work on a maximum speed of about half the original, as a cruising speed. It will be no consolation to future generations to know that the then extinct X-mobile of 1910/30 covered 500 miles in 1970 in record time.

If one wishes to press-on, use something expendable and very plentiful such as post-war Jaguars of various kinds, as do I, with no 70-limit here, usually driving with my foot on the floor, as a yearly average of about 9 m.p.g. and 2,500 per tyre will testify.

Crosby, IoM. R. J. Evans, Curator,

Manx Motor Museum.

[Perhaps Mr. McGrath did regard his Austin 7 as expendable, because shortly after his Land’s End/John o’ Groats dash he advertised it for sale (for £250), quoting Motor Sport‘s reference to it in his advertisement ! — Ed].