I was interested in Mr. Jack Warner’s letter regarding the possibility of starting an engine by switching on the ignition. It seems that his memory may be at fault as switching on merely produces low tension current. This has to be generated into high tension current by the “make and break”. Thus in order to start an engine the ignition points must be brought together and then separated at least once before anything can happen. I believe some Rolls-Royce and similar high-grade cars could be started by switching on in the usual manner and then sweeping the advance/retard ignition lever through its arc and back again thus opening and closing the points. At this juncture a well balanced and scrupulously maintained engine would, under good conditions, start; the single spark being sufficient to explode the charge in the cylinder which happened to be on its compression stroke at the moment when the engine previously came to rest.
Even if all this happened successfully, I don’t think you can consider the engine to have started without human agency! Hickley, Kent B. W. RIVETT (Thank you, Mr. Rivett. You are the only one, of a considerable number of readers who have written about this, to take the point – that for a car to start itself, after standing idle for some months is impossible. A very rude letter from Mr. A. R. Colyer of Caversham saying I am apparently so young that I am ignorant of motoring matters of 50 years ago, one from Mr. G. B. Woolley of Loughborough expressing surprise that I have never seen a car started “on the advance lever” and one telling of a starter solenoid on a 1935 Sunbeam which operated the starter motor on its own (a different matter, which once afflicted my Morgan Plus Four) all miss the point that no-one was near the Daimler referred to by Jack Warner when it mysteriously started its cold engine without human aid – Ed.)