The British Industry (6)


I cannot for the life of me recall whether I have written you to congratulate you for your remarkable courage as displayed in your Editorials and letters to the Editor since the unhappy day when I wrote you my opinion regarding some British cars. However, in the event that I might have forgotten to do so, I am taking the opportunity of thanking you now and telling you that I really admire and appreciate your courage, as I can well imagine the criticism and pressure that you have received.

It might interest you to know that I have somehow received a number of letters from people in various corners of the world who have taken the trouble to tell me that they agree 100 per cent. with me, and most of them have gone even further. I don't intend to get anywhere near the Rolls-Royce argument, as I long ago discovered that discussing a Rolls with an Englishman is about as ridiculous as arguing religion with a devout Catholic. I have even had some very profound criticism of' that car, the Bentley and several other really high-priced cars with which I have little or no experience and therefore do not discuss one way or the other.

One very large and prominent dealer in the east of the U.S. wrote me: "I am ashamed to sell some of the junk, and I don't mean just the cheap stuff, but the really high-priced cars that you don't even mention. Wish to God I was back selling Chevrolets as at least I could live with myself at nights." He also says that about twice a year they have a convention with British manufacturers in the States to discuss problems, but the stock answer of the manufacturers is: "After all, old chap, the U.S. is only a very small part of' our overall market, and we have to build for the overall picture." Now if some one told me that about Peru I could believe it, although the conditions here would apply to a great extent with most Latin countries, and almost all of the Commonwealth excepting Canada, and to some degree there. As I understand it, from talking with and writing to many people in the trade, the British manufacturers seem to feel that there is still a sellers' market and that anything that runs can be sold.

You state in your Editorial that two British manufacturers sent representatives here to investigate the letters, or rather the conditions I merely outlined in my letters to you. I was rather amused to see this. I am well known in the automotive business here as I am not only vociferous, as you doubtless have noted, but I race a bit and that always brings a bit of notoriety plus, I have at least a speaking acquaintance with anyone in the business here who amounts to anything. Now the thing that amuses me most is why didn't these representatives look me up to shout me down or prove me wrong ? I would have welcomed talking to them, believe me. In fact, when I heard from Linder - the Nuffield factory man here to look after their service, and a very swell guy he is and doing a wonderful job, and Nuffield is to be congratulated at least in that respect - that the Lucas representative was in town and inquired about that "dirty name" who owned a Riley and was always writing nasty letters back to the British magazines, I (lashed over to the Lucas headquarters here to look up the chap as I wanted to prove what I said by dragging new stuff off the shelf and running checks, plus taking him about the town to let him talk with other people here, and then show him the enormous markdown that exists on British cars that are used. However, I couldn't locate him but left word with the Lucas people that I would enjoy talking with him. However, I never had the pleasure . . .

Believe me, I am not trying to be a pest. I honestly think that most of your cars have a definite place in the automotive industry if a few things were ironed out, and I would like to help as much as possible, therefore I trust that you understand that I would like to make constructive criticism, but the details involved are a bit lengthy in letters. Also, at this stage of the game, after listening to dealers and reading letters from others. I am not at all sure that such criticism is welcome, well meant and useful or not. In the event that such constructive and well-meant criticism isn't properly received then I say to hell with it. I am sure that you and your grand magazine can do more to assist in the overall improvement of British cars than any other single factor. However, continue to stress in your magazine that it takes a bit more than nice leather upholstery and walnut veneer to make a good serviceable car.

I shortly intend writing you a note with names of some dealers and manufacturers who simply will not answer letters requesting information; will not ship although payment in full has been made; will not even explain why shipment hasn't been made, etc. It is something I cannot understand. I, personally, will hop about no end to make an honest buck and I have found all U.S. dealers the same way. But I have gotten the idea that some British dealers just don't give a damn if they sell anything or not, and probably would prefer to forget the whole thing.

Once again, thanks for the wonderful sportsmanship and fairmindedness that you have shown about the whole thing, and you are always at liberty to print anything I write. I am, Yours, etc.,