Letters from readers, June 1943

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Sir,

I was very interested to read ” G.H.W.” on the subject of Class I sprint cars in your May issue. It may be recalled that Kenneth Neve wrote on the subject, in August, 1941, while I did likewise in Jury and October of that year.

Unfortunately, the number of people who took a serious interest in the scheme at that time was small, Neve, Bolster, Birkett and Green being the only ones I heard from directly. It was perhaps unfortunate that the scheme did not also receive publicity in weekly journals, but at that time The Motor was pushing a scheme for “one design” sports-racing cars.

I believed then, and still believe, that there is a future for 500-c.c. sprint cars. As a means of advancing the scheme I cannot improve on suggestion of a Motor Sport Cup, presumably to be awarded for the most consistent success in a season’s events.

I am, Yours etc.,

J. Lowrey.

[Certainly, if one of the sprint-organising clubs will guarantee a 500-c.c. class! – Ed.]

 

Sir, 

I would like to congratulate you on the high standard of interest that you are maintaining in the Motor Sport in spite of the difficult times and lack of current sporting information.

Mr. Hampton’s recent article on the cars he has owned was, I think, one of the best of this entertaining series. I always admired the immaculate condition of Mr. Hampton’s cars, especially his 1 1/2-litre “Targa” Mercedes which was always beautifully turned-out.

I can assure Mr. Hampton that the old Sunbeam that he has bought from Guy Warburton will be no disgrace to his stable. I saw this car whilst in Manchester, and both the Sunbeam and the old Renault owned by Warburton are in perfect order both as regards mechanical condition and bodywork.

Another interesting and unusual article was that by Mr. Peter Clark in your May issue. As I also owned a Jensen Ford V8 and attempted some trials work in it, I can sympathise with Mr. Clark’s inability to get this car up any section that could not be charged from about half a mile away.

I did many thousand miles of road-motoring in my Jensen with considerable enjoyment, but as soon as she saw an observed section the car just dug itself in, boiled, wheel-spun and generally misbehaved herself. The trouble was, the machine was far too front heavy and had not the power to cope with large lumps of ballast in the rear seat to get wheel-grip. I always felt that Mr. Clark’s H.R.G. was his most trialsworthy car, but I expect he found out that with modern specialisation one cannot use the same car for racing and trials and rally work with much degree of success.

I think it augurs well for post-war motor Sport generally that so many people are taking trouble to acquire, preserve and even to build sports and competition cars. There should be a wealth of men and machines to quickly put the Sport on its feet after the war. It is up to all who have the interests of these things at heart to plan for the proper conduct and organisation of motor Sport in all its varied aspects. A situation such as was created by mass events in 1939 must not be allowed to arise again.

With best, wishes to your excellent journal.

I am, Yours etc.,

Farnham. K. Hutchison.

 

Sir,

In a letter published in your May issue, “G.H.W.” has raised once again the suggestion that 500-c.c. four-wheeled sprint racing be organised for the impecunious after the war. Last year Mr. J. Lowrey was asked to find out how much initial support is likely to be available to get such a scheme going. He reported the existance of a satisfactory nucleus, and the matter was shelved until a more propitious time. The club’s idea was to provide centralisation for the movement until it became self-supporting.

Now that the planning of post-war motoring sport is so much in evidence, I would like to make a proposition which would serve a similar purpose to that put forward by “G.H.W.,” and would be complementary rather than opposed to it. I suggest that we (the 750 Club) should organise events, including road racing if possible, for side-valve, unsupercharged cars limited to 750 c.c. (not 850) and road-equipped, other cars being run in separate races for different prizes. This would confine entries in the class almost entirely to Austin Sevens, and inexpensive “backyard” specials, never previously catered for, would be able to run without any opposition. A fast unblown Austin Seven can be built extremely cheaply, and is so highly responsive to tuning that competitors with great financial resources would have relatively less advantage than in other spheres of competition. Tuning and driving skill would be the dominiant factors.

It is often said that the pre-war calendar was over-crowded, yet the problem for the man with the modified Austin Seven was where to get any kind of a “dice” at all. If he were to enter for the usual sprint meeting it would cost him a farish bag of gold, he would be up against such cars as Q-type M.G. Midgets and works Austins, and would be bound to make an apparently poor showing. So he eschews competition motoring altogether, eventually loses the desire, and a second Nuvolari or Murray Jamieson may have been lost to posterity. For it is undoubtedly true that the majority of enthusiasts who cannot really afford to motor commence by rebuilding an ancient Austin Seven, and many a brilliant “special” is born to blush unseen.

I would be glad to hear from anybody with views on this subject before submitting a plan to the club committee.

I am, Yours etc.,

H. Birkett (Captain 750 Club)

3. Pondtail Road, Fleet, Hants.

[This seems an excellent suggestion and we are glad Mr. Birkett advocates road-racing type contests – presumably he has Donington and the Crystal Palace circuits in mind – because so much more solid enjoyment within a given class should arise from endeavouring to succeed in such events than would be the case if these same-sized cars merely had to beat one another up round a field or muddy hills. – Ed.]

 

Sir,

A few of your readers might be interested in some of the cars that I have owned since 1928. I started motoring in that year with a “7.5” Citroen 2-seater; she was very slow but most reliable, and the reason I chose this make was the fact that they were designed on large car lines with a proper chassis. Many will remember, no doubt, at that time the so-called cycle-car had the most odd ideas with regard to bodies and chassis – I am thinking of the A.V. Monocar, G.N., etc. My next was a “11.4” Citroen with an English open 2-seater body, again a slow mover and the drumming from the solid steel disc wheels was most trying, but she did me well until, poor thing, I got the desire for speed and in a very short time she rattled like a tin can.

I next went for a “12/40” Alvis 2-seater; she was great fun. Never shall I forget arriving back in London from a thick night with the Black Watch at Borden when a policeman held me up at Hyde Park Corner (this was before traffic lights had even been thought of). I attempted to stop but failed to do so by a few yards, having only back-wheel brakes. This annoyed the policeman; he made me reverse back to the correct imaginary line and kept me waiting for a long time. As you can imagine, this did not please the taxi drivers who had to pull up behind me. After a time the policeman got tired and so did his arm, which slowly dropped until his hand rested on the radiator of my very warm Alvis. The result was most amusing and so were the taxi drivers’ remarks.

I then bought a Hudson, known in those days as a “Super Six.” I did not keep her very long; she always ran very hot indeed and was, I thought, a dud car to drive. I then had the idea that I could get a lot of fun out of old pre-last war cars, so I bought a Daimler coupé and a Beeston Humber open 2-seater. I kept the former for about two months when I sold her, making a profit of £10, which I thought was very good considering I did not like anything ahout her; but the Humber I had great fun with. I removed the centre of the body, which looked rather like an old dog-cart and left the bonnet and dickey which were quite low. I then visited a firm called Coley, at Kingston-on-Thames, who were selling a lot of ex-R.A.F. stuff. I bought a most enormous Handley Page steering wheel, some three-ply wood and two aeroplane seats and fixed them on to the Humber. I think I had more fun as a youngster with this car than any other; she went everywhere I asked her to and never gave me any trouble whatsoever.

While I was making these alterations to the Humber I bought a Stellite; this was the forerunner of the Wolseley Ten and she had everything wrong with her. It was not her fault but only the neglect of her previous owner. I could not take this car out alone as the passenger had to hold the windscreen up and keep his feet hard on the floor boards. otherwise they blew out. She also did not like left-hand corners; many times in the heart of London I had to get out and turn the wheels round much to the amusement of the police force and the taxi drivers. Once when I wanted to stay in the country with a very charming person and I could not think of a good enough excuse for her mother, I poured a garden watering-can full of water into the magneto, but even this did not stop her from going extremely well. Shortly after this I got a Brescia Bugatti which was the joy of my life; in fact. I wish I still had her. When she did go she was a perfect motor-car, but she was a bit temperamental. The only cure for this, I found, was to drive her hard twice round Brooklands; this seemed to cure her indigestion completely. It was a very sad day when I had to sell her, and ever since I have promised myself another of these real motor-cars, but up to date I don’t seem to have managed it somehow.

I had a lot of fun with a T-type Ford in South Africa, especially in mud during the rains when no other cars dared venture out. If one got stuck one just rocked her with the reverse and forward pedals and out she came. After these I got two Bentleys, one a 3 litre and the other a 4 1/2 litre. I liked the 3 litre much the best, although I did a very large mileage on the 4 1/2 litre in France, Italy and Spain; but the 3 litre was touch more fun to drive, chiefly, I think, because she had an open body – the 4 1/2 litre had a Weymann 2-seater fixed-head coupé. I also ran for a number of years an old 1919 “Silver Ghost” Rolls Royce, with a 1929 body on her, but after a time I thought £49 per year on Road Tax was rather too much for such an old car (this was in the good old days of £1 per h.p.). She was in perfect condition when I sold her and she never let me down once the whole time I had her. She had only one trick and that was, unless you blocked the clutch in the out position over night, in the morning I have never known anything so fierce.

In 1936 I bought a Chevrolet Master on which I covered 37,000 miles of very pleasant family motoring until the outbreak of war. My last effort is to obtain two O.M. cars; one is a 1928 open 4-seater and the other a 1934 open 2-seater that was originally built to race in Italy. and was supercharged. The supercharger is missing, which is rather sad. I am going to rebuild one using the other as spare parts after the war. I should much appreciate any helpful suggestions from anyone who has done this sort of thing before. Of all the cars I have ever had I think I had more fun with the old Bugatti than any other, and I have a sort of feeling I shall buy another when I can find one at the right price.

I am, Yours etc.,

H. Tufnell-Barrett, Captain.

 

Sir,

Concerning the photograph on the cover of the April issue, and the explanation given on p. 87 for those of us who cannot identify these excellent action pictures, the description seems accurate enough except in the following details -:

(1) It doesn’t look much like Borzacchini’s style.

(2) It isn’t on a straight.

(3) It is premature for a car in 1932 to carry English index numbers issued in 1937/8.

(4) It doesn’t look like a Monoposto or –

(5) an Alfa.

I am, Yours etc., John Gaul.

Horley, Surrey.

 

[Mr. Gaul is quite correct on points 1 to 5 and we shudder to think in how many respects he will find fault with the H.R.G. which unfortunately posed as an s.v. Aston-Martin, last month. Lots of readers noticed the cover error and corrected politely what was obviously a mistake. – Ed.]

 

Sir,

I have been meaning to write to you for some time, but for one reason or another it has always been put off, About a couple of months ago I was able to have a look at the Tripoli circuit. I drove right round it and the surface appears to be quite undamaged. It is for almost the entire circuit an ordinary road and in no sense an artificial track. Only the home straight, however, is part of an actual public road, the back straight simply running round the Mellaha aerodrome. The curves at either end of the home straight, one of them the famous Tagiura Oasis, are actually cut-offs to right-angled bends on the road and are slightly banked, but no more than a bend on one of the better English roads.

The grandstand is an enormous affair overlooking the pits on the other side of a very broad stretch of road. Both stand pits are rather dirty and full of rubbish, but appear to be more or less intact.

It is quite incredible that anyone could get round these eight miles in a mere three and a half minutes. It makes you realise the superhuman skill of the Grand Prix drivers and the fantastic performance of their cars.

I am, Yours etc.,

By Air Mail,

Kenneth Wallace,

M.E.F. Captain.

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