I have read with interest and sympathy the considerable number of letters recently appearing in MOTOR SPORT from writers in various parts of the world complaining about post-war British cars, and I hope that you will publish this letter, which records my own experience with a cheap (by modern standards !) post-war British-made car.
In April, 1947, I took delivery of a Ford Ten Prefect and I have just sold it in part-exchange for another Ford, after having driven it hard for 52,000 miles. The paintwork of the car is unmarked, except for one small piece of flaking on the boot, the front bumper grew a rust patch about three weeks after the car arrived but apart from that the chromium is good. During these 52,000 miles I have only had one involuntary stop and that was round about the 3,000 foot contour mark on the Aigle-Villars mountain road (Switzerland). At the time the car was carrying two adults, two “teenage” children and all our luggage for a month, and was boiling somewhat vigorously. The trouble was quickly located as an air-lock in the petrol pump. I may say that we subsequently overtook several motorists in larger and more expensive cars who were suffering the same sort of trouble on mountain roads. As the remedy for the fault is extremely simple it is perhaps worth a passing reference. All that is needed is a small supply of cold water and enough hardihood to pour it onto the overheated petrol pump.
Apart front annual holidays in England, Scotland, and one on the Continent, the car ran mostly on those short journeys that we are told promote excessive wear. The following repairs and replacements were necessary during nearly six years. A reconditioned engine was fitted at 25,000 miles. The brakes were relined once; new kingpins and bushes were fitted at 40,000 miles. Last summer, while the car was on loan to a member of my family, a fault developed in the gearbox; as a result it had to be reconditioned. The work was promptly undertaken by the nearest Ford agent; it took one day and cost £20 – I wonder how many other makes of car could be treated so quickly and inexpensively. The car has also had three sets of plugs, and, apart from the above items, the only costs have been for regular servicing, petrol, oil and tyres. The car was driven hard, by several different drivers amongst our relations and friends. I have been a motorist for over 20 years and really do consider that I have had as good service from my post-war car as I had from any of the dozen or so cars of popular make that I owned or drove as a family car in pre-war years.
I have also in my stable (literally, as it happens) a 1937 Hillman Hawk which I bought at painful cost just after the war for towing a caravan. It is only fair to say that the Hillman has done its job well and provides an excellent ride and any amount of reserve of power for hills and sticky places, but I must side with your other correspondents in complaining about the really terrible cost of spares and the great difficulty in obtaining them. It does seem to be long past the time when other manufacturers should follow the lead provided by one British motor company in selling a car that will not fall to bits and in organising proper spares and servicing facilities.
I suppose that I should say that I have no connection with any motor company, save as a customer who feels that he has received reasonable treatment from one of them and no animus against any other manufacturer.
I am, Yours, etc.,
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