The British Industry (4)
I read with interest the comments of your readers regarding the reliability of British cars.
Since the war I have owned a 1933 Ford Eight, a 1937 Ford Ten, a 1939 Jaguar 2 1/2, a 1950 Austin A40 and a 1951 Sunbeam-Talbot 90. I have also had experience of Vauxhall, Standard, Armstrong-Siddeley and Daimler cars. The most reliable cars have been the Sunbeam-Talbot and the Ford Eight. Also since the war I have driven 30,000 miles a year. I work in large medical practice from early morning until late at night. I push my car to the limit all the time. My fault with British cars is not with their engines but with their fitments. My engine may be started a hundred times a day, the gears used hundreds of times a day, the steering used from lock to lock, the springs exerted on rough roads, the brakes applied on hundreds of corners, the lights are used every day, summer and winter, and the paintwork, upholstery and fittings come in for a lot of wear and tear. I may do thirty stops and starts in a couple of miles and then five miles at 70 m.p.h. I often start from cold in the early hours and immediately drive at high speeds. I try not to abuse my cars but what else can one do when major faults crop up with monotonous regularity and there is work to be done !
Manufacturers do not seem to appreciate that the day is gone when people kept cars for shopping on Saturday and picnics on Sunday; weather permitting, of course ! With the present price of petrol and the high cost of repairs the initial price of the car is of secondary importance in the long run. In one year I paid more for petrol and maintenance of a new Austin A40 than the initial cost of the car. A small car running badly with ignition trouble will use just as mutch petrol as a large car running well, as I have found out to my cost. In a free market who would buy a "depend on it" car that has recurrently jamming starter motor, worn ring gear, sticking valves, broken springs, faulty shock-absorbers, burst radiator, faulty door and window mechanisms and ignition troubles, to mention, but a few ?
Many car owners blame the apathy of garage foremen in not supervising the mechanics, but surely the makers are to blame. There is no excuse for car that develop faults shortly after delivery. Incidentally I recently tailed three new cars on delivery from the Midlands for a twisty twenty miles at speeds between 50 and 70 m.p.h.
If any maker wishes his car properly tested in a manner guaranteed to bring out all faults then let him send a car to a busy doctor for a month or two. Few British manufacturers would care to take advantage of such an offer and have a report published. Road tests carried out by staffs of motoring journals are all very well but we are not all such good drivers. How many cul-de-sacs do the "journal" testers back their car down and how often do they start a car with a flat battery and no starting handle in a back alley late at night ?
If a world market were available to Britain today then I fancy that some of the manufacturers would herald the event with consternation.
I am. Yours. etc.,
CLIFFORD C. LUTTON, M.B., Ch.B.