Taxation of the over-burdened (i.e., the motorist) is to remain stable for some time to come. The German war may be over by the time these Wanted—A Utility Sports Car words appear. Enthusiasts, many of them returning from the Forces, will be eager to resume sports-car motoring
many to so. they have a not inconsiderable problem to face. The cost of living will be high—sufficiently high to depress those whose war-time occupations have ceased and to discourage casual expenditure of gratuities. Tyres will be difficult to buy and expensive. Secondhand car prices have risen to absurd levels. Even now seven-year-old cars fetch twice their cost when new, vintage sports cars command four and five times prewar prices and, just recently, even the really old secondhanders are priced at upwards of £40, when once the owners would have gladly accepted a ” termer.” It seems almost impossible to obtain anything which works, and has soundish tyres, for under £50. The impecunious enthusiast will, more than ever before, have to devise his own sports car. We once suggested a three-car stable as being an excellent means of emtracing a wide variety of motoring at minimum expense. The plot was to own a saloon, a sports 2-seater and a trials car, all of the same make, for which tyres and spares would be interchangeable, the saloon being taxed continuously, but the trials car only in the winter and the 2-seater only during the summer. There still seems much to be said for this scheme, even if modified to a two-car stable embracing, perhaps, an open and a closed car. In buying his post-war car the impecunious enthusiast will do well to choose something which is in fairly wide supply, so that eventually he can add a second car for which wheels and various parts will be interchangeable. Austin Seven, Riley Nine, early Morris Minor and M.G., etc., come to mind. Certainly it is worth while to consider how easily the main components of a range of models interchange one with another—the Alvis is notable in this respect—as ownership of two cars can be a means of” keeping motoring,” while still spending enough time in the workshop to eventually produce something worth while from the
unpromising and depleted stock found at present-day dealers and breakers. However, this is not the sole solution to a problem that will confront many enthusiasts any day now.. Not all of us have workshop facilities. Not everyone wants to own an out-of-date car, especially if it smacks of a “boy’s motor car,” because it has had to he contrived from an oddment of parts or from a poor basis. Everyone will not be able to buy new sports cars, especially at post-war prices. The sports cars which really sold in any numbers before the war—T-type M.G. and ” 4?4 ‘ Morgan—cost under £250 new. With the higher cost of living and general disruption which the war has caused, half this price will probably • be all that many people will be prepared to spend. And it will be quite impossible, for many years yet, to produce utility cars at this figure, let alone brisk, wellhandling sports cars. If the prospective sports-car owner is not the sort to enthuse over an indifferent, secondhand vintage car, which way can he turn ? The answer is : at present, nowhere. But the question we would put to the Trade, particularly to persons like Peter Monkhouse, Sidney Allard [Correct spelling: Sydney Allard], L. M. Ballamy and others who have helped the enthusiast to motor properly in the past, is : ” Can a utility ‘ sports car be developed from existing parts ? ” The requirements would seem to be a maximum R.A.C. h.p. of eight or ten; a respectable, if simple, 2/4-seater open body; reasonable, if not sensational, steering and roadholding; a maximum of 70-75 m.p.h. ; a fuel consumption of around 35 m.p.g., and, most essential of all, an engine which would retain its tune and remain dependable over big mileages. Spares should be readily available and the cost as low as possible. . Can it be done ? We cannot supply the complete answer. But we can observe that engines like the Ford Ten function very well and give a power output which would result in quite decent performance id a car weighing, say, 8 or 9 cwt. Unfortunately, the later Fords have combined body and chassis structure, which virtually precludes open bodywork and weight reduction. This is tantalising, because the original Ford Ten saloon weighed 15-i cwt., and the weekly Press credited it with nearly 70 m.p.h. Nigel Orlebar
has advocated a Ford Eight engine in an Austin Seven chassis for amateur sprint-work or racing, and something on these lines might be the basis of a rOad car, although braking and roadholding would constitute a pretty pother.
Then one has not forgotten the successful trials exploits of Paul Meyrat with his .bored-out L.M.B. Ford Eight saloon. Incidentally, a ” Ten ” engine replaces the ” Eight ” in a Ford Chassis without necessity for any alterations, and the weight increase involved is a mere 8 lb. in respect of the engine and an additional 3 lb. in the gearbox department, the early 10-h.p. engine/gearbox unit turning the scales at 202 lb. The solution to the utility sports-car problem seems at times to be just around the corner, but how difficult is this corner to negotiate We must leave to experts in the Trade. Certainly there would seem to be two lines of approach. One would be to lay in a stock of used cars of the type ultimately decided on as the basis of conversion, and to overhaul such chassis before carrying out alterations, as Raining intended to do with “12/50′ Alvis. This would probably put up the cost prohibitively. As so many people buy secondhand sports cars and use them without troubling to lit new kingpins, or propeller-shaft universals or even new tyres, or to rebore the engine, it can be argued that it would be satisfactory to allow the customer to submit his own car of the specified type for conversion, on the understanding that he took full responsibility for snags arising due to poor mechanical condition. It might be that a firm would feel that, even so, its name would be too closely associated with indifferent machinery and that it would be wiser merely to get out a design for a utility sports car and to supply the components needed to construct it—as blower sets for popular cars could be bought before the war, and as Ballamy offered a simple means of cornering more securely on transverse suspenders. Certainly the introduction of a sound utility sports car, composed of secondhand parts and with a simple, open body shell, would be
welcomed by many, and we do not think the instigators would lose money on the project. * * * Just lately people have been debating whether German drivers should be excluded from any inter national racing which happens postBan the Hun? war, or whether, as in art and music,
politics should not interfere with the Sport. Our own feelings on this matter have, we frankly confess, been materially influenced by the reports of German atrocities. The individual German may have had no association with the fearful, completely uncivilised happenings in German concentration camps, but, nevertheless, it is difficult to see how such atrocities can ever be forgotten. Who will _want to cheer to victory, and congratulate, a man whose country on the one hand builds unequalled racing motor cars, but on the other, resorts to deeds so foul that it is with difficulty that one realises they have happened in our time—and would be happening still if we had not won the war ? It is possible that the national memory will be short-lived and that we shall forget—but it is improbable ; and it will be to our ultimate disadvantage if we do forget. Germany must be prevented for all time from promoting another war, so it is unlikely that Merc6des-Benz and Auto-Union will ever again be in a position to build racing cars regardless of cost. It is hard to have to support such a wish, but it is a question of humanity before the selfish interests. of motor-racing enthusiasts. However, we fail to see why the yardstick-value of the 11litre and 3-litre Merc6des-Benz and Auto-Union cars should be lost. If such cars are discovered by the Allies intact in safe storage, by all means let us press for them to be brought over here and raced by British drivers. We shall then have the pleasure of again watching such perfect machinery racing round Donington without having to congratulate a driver who knows that his place in the cockpit is not so indirectly connected with visions of world domination as he hopes we will believe.