Matters of Moment, June 1953




The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has convened a Conference of Road Safety Organisations under its President, Lord Llewellin, in response to the appeal made by H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh that all bodies interested in road safety should work together.

We have kept a watchful eye on the reports, speeches and findings of this Conference and are glad to see that speed in the right place is not criticised and that a fair and realistic view is taken or motorists’ problems. Consequently, we have pleasure in introducing the R.S.P.A. to our readers.

We number amongst our tens of thousands of readers those who drive fast cars and old cars and who are exceedingly anxious to refute the idea, current in certain insurance circles, that such vehicles are invariably a menace to road safety. MOTOR SPORT is read by young enthusiasts, ripe perhaps for a little guidance in safety-first, and just the material which the R.S.P.A. seeks to manipulate. Conversely, experienced drivers are as anxious as anyone to see the road-toll decline. So we suggest to the R.S.P.A. that amongst our readership they will find those requiring guidance and those who can contribute usefully to increased safety on Britain’s highways and byways. They already direct their findings to us. You will find them at Terminal House. 52, Grosvenor Gardens, London. S.W.1.

Secretary, Helen Sutherland; Patron, H.M. The Queen.



The 750 Club reminds its members and us that in May, 1952, Mr. Boyd-Carpenter, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, stated:- “… the small horse-power car, by which is generally meant the pre1947 Austin Seven type, is probably on balance owned by people less well-off than the average of car owners. The steps my Right Hon. friend will take on the report stage of the Bill will mitigate hardship for that type of car owner.”

But steps were not taken to mitigate this agreed hardship. Solely because the “Right Hon. friend” didn’t know, or trouble to find out, that pre-1947 Austin Sevens are taxed as eight and not seven horse-power.

Relief is allowed under the £12 10s, flat-rate tax to 7-h.p. cars, increased relief is given to 6-h.p. cars, but the old Eights are required to pay up and look big, like 8-litre Bentleys and Phantom III Rolls-Royces and other monsters from which our “Right Hon. friend” accepts £12 10s. a year.

Eight horse-power cars – Austin Sevens, of which there are some 630 in the 750 Club alone, Ford Eights, Morris Minors, Morris Eights, M.G. Midgets, Singer Juniors, Standard Eights and others too numerous to mention, now pay 50s. a year more than they did before – helping to subsidise the popular flat-rate tax on larger cars. Thus, not only is the hardship not mitigated, but an assurance gven by a Minister of the Crown has not been honoured.

All owners of 8-h.p cars amongst MOTOR SPORT’S readers should point this out at once to their MP.s. We know writing to one’s M.P. is, like completing your Income Tax return, a matter one usually leaves until the day after tomorrow. In this case, for your own sake and that of justice, DO IT NOW !

You can easily find the name of your local M.P. if you do not know it. Address him c/o The House of Commons. Explain this, probably unintentional, miscarriage of correct Parliamentary procedure, adding that the 2s. 6d. a gallon petrol tax, increased rates for compulsory insurance and so on do represent a crushing hardship for small car owners. DO IT NOW—and tell us the result.



Debate has followed reports that three drivers were penalised during the recent Daily Express/B.R.D.C. Silverstone Meeting for jumping the start, albeit one, Tony Crook. did so on foot only !

Bob Gerard got away pre-flag-fall in a heat and, most unfortunately, Baron de Graffenried mistook the signal and released his Orsi Maserati too soon at the commencement of the final. There was no alternative but for the Stewards to impose the penalty of 60 seconds called for under G.C.R.s, Part VI, Articles 105 and 106, an impossible handicap in a 35-lap race against Hawthorn and Ferrari. Especially – and let this fact be fully appreciated – as de Graffenried realised that he had started a shade too soon and waited for the fast cars to go by. Had it not been for the G.C. ruling the incident could fairly have been overlooked.

The trouble seems to lie in the starter having to synchronise his signal with the time-keeper’s wishes, which, at Silverstone on May 9th, caused Kenneth Evans to hold the Union Jack aloft for a seemingly interminable period before he was able to release the impatient pack.

There was no appeal against the Stewards’ (correct) decision but perhaps light-signals, as used to start sprint, events, might be considered in future.