Going Green

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The Global-warming panic is on! HRH The Prince of Wales has presented convincingly his own long TV documentary telling how we are destroying the environment. Mrs. Thatcher has said what she will do to combat the “greenhouse” effect. So how will “going Green” affect the car owner?

Already much nonsense is being bandied about. One professor wants a 500% VAT increase on fuel, just the excuse the petrol companies need to raise prices again. It is suggested that cars be used only for essential journeys and be banned from big towns. But many people regard their car as their most valuable possession after their family and home (some say the other way about!) and it is only necessary to look at the enormous use made of private cars by commuters to know that such restrictions would not work. The PM is being blamed for promising vast increases in expenditure on new roads, regardless of the fact that even if the number of cars has to be reduced to meet emission requirements, better roads will reduce pollution from vehicles which are at present frequently stationary in traffic snarl-ups.

The threat to the Earth from carbon dioxide comes 80% from factory emissions, etc, 20% or less from road vehicles. The required reduction represents about 12% in the latter case, a not impossible target. The Motor Industry deserves praise for its work on reduced lethal exhaust emissions long before the present scare. Peugeot/Citroën and Volvo, for example, already have more fuel-efficient power units, and Ford has spent over £50 million on “friendly” engines and has catalyst-converters on some of its engines. Lead-free petrol is now used by 35% of British drivers and we have more service stations supplying it (90% of 20,000) than anywhere else in Europe, says the AA. Diesel engines are another useful development on the environmental front. Forget electric cars, which are yet far from practical for ordinary use.

It is obvious that improving the atmosphere will make motoring more expensive. And the Government could use obvious means to reduce car useage if it deems this desirable. But doing so would jeopardize the transport system and have a dire effect on our already brittle National Economy. A better way might be to encourage smaller engined cars and make unleaded fuel compulsory. The only naughty lead-burners now seem to be those who run 635CSi BMWs, Turbo Bristols, Dacias, De Tomasos, Maseratis, Ferrari Testarossas, the more powerful Lancias, Escort Turbos, top-poke Peugeots, the big TVRs, some Lotus models and Lamborghini Countachs — and there cannot be too many of those. Along with those too casual to have other engines converted . . . .

So we hope the Greens will not point accusing fingers too readily at the motor car! Nor at competition motoring, which is now very Big Business for Britain, with many thriving small firms making chassis, engines, speed equipment, tyres (Avon in F3 for example), drivers’ kit, etc, while the crowded fixture lists prove just how much the Sport benefits hotel, catering and tourist trades. Lead-free petrol might be encouraged in competition motoring as alcohol-fuel was promoted in this way, and maybe we should re-introduce motor-coach classes (as in early Monte Carlo rallies), with each passenger taking a turn at navigating, thereby preparing motorists for a reduction in the permitted quantity of private cars . . . . (Or perhaps we shall get alternate-day licences, with a higher tax for Sunday motoring?).

However, apparently nothing too awful is due to happen to this planet in the next 40 years. The cynics will say that, before then a greater threat to Homo Sapiens may come from atomic disasters, riots, war and famine than from the first effects of Global warming.

WB

Over the weekend of June 30/July 1, Brands Hatch is hosting a round of the Mulberry championship for members of the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association, but it is being rather overshadowed by the next race in the series, that being held at Silverstone on the last weekend in July. In what promises to be the best grid of Historic GP cars ever assembled anywhere, what is purported to be the entire 1957 Maserati team is expected to turn out as well as a lone Vanwall. The Mulberry race is the main event of what should be a tremendous weekend of historic racing. The Association has also been involved in the planning of two other events, the Christie’s Sports Car race and the BRDC race for pre-1965 GP cars, both of which have first class grids.

The “Oldtimer” Grand Prix at the Nürburgring on the weekend of August 11/12 is the third date and venue for a Mulberry race for cars up to and including 1957. There will also be a round of the FLA championship and invitation races for pre-1957 sports cars. If last year’s event is anything to go by, it is worth making the expedition across to Germany to see some superb cars in action.

Practice takes place on Friday followed by two full days’ racing on the Saturday and Sunday.

For the younger enthusiasts, Bantam Cars of Warwick Ltd have manufactured and instigated the Bantam Challenge for children.

Develped by club racing drivers David Eccles and Richard Dencer, the Bantam is a child-size replica of a 1930s single seater racing car powered by a 76cc Kawasaki engine which runs on unleaded petrol. The attractive car is suitable for children aged from 5 to 10 years old, depending on size. The challenge takes the form of driver skill tests and timed events as well as seminars on vehicle safety and maintenance. The next round is at Silverstone on July 29 where MOTOR SPORT will be represented by a driver in a ‘works’ car.

Following WB’s article on Crystal Palace last month, it was with interest that we noted that the circuit, or that part of it which is still discernible, was used as the venue for a publicity stunt for a road safety campaign in association with the Metropolitan police.

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