N.B. — Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them. — Ed.
I do not know whether to be pleased at having my name in your famous magazine or annoyed at having aspersions cast on my driving.
I did not, repeat not, hit a Lotus it Goodwood or any other car, chicane, or obstruction for that matter! In my mirror I most certainly saw a Lotus doing some funny things just short of the chicane, after I had overtaken it and car No. 19, and it also looked to me as if it was “going” rather than “arriving.”
Perhaps you would be good enough to put a correction in your next issue. Otherwise, many thanks for a most enjoyable publication.
I am, Yours, etc.,
G. Bryan Hewitt.
* * *
In answer to “Leonides’ request for fast ” tourers”” — surely open cars? — I feel my 1938 4.3-litre short-chassis Vanden Plas-bodied Alvis might well be included.
Taking his five specified ingredients in order: —
(a) It has superb comfort and leg-room for four people, and luggage space in the boot and on a specially detachable rack.
(b) It will cruise effortlessly at 80 m.p.h. at 3,500 r.p.m. engine speed and 2,400 f.p.m. piston speed on its 3.8 top gear.
(c) Roadholding, steering and brakes magnificent; suspension, i.f.s. transverse leaf; lights, P100.
(d) Ease of servicing and extreme reliability.
(e) Miles per gallon 16-19 at fast cruising speeds.
In addition to these features I can enjoy the pleasures of an open tourer, with all the comfort of a saloon with the sidescreens and hood in position.
I have only recently acquired my particular example and with a genuine 40,000 miles to its credit I see few models on the market for which I would exchange it.
I am, Yours, etc.,
* * *
I have been a subscriber to your publication for almost a year now, and have recommended it to all my acquaintances as the best available. I feel that your paper is far better than the weeklies, in that it contains so very much more readable material. As soon as each issue arrives, I do not put it down until I have read it from cover to cover, including the advertisements. Here in the United States we have several publications which are good, but there are none which are so thoroughly conversant with the imported car as yours. We have the road-tests and all that sort of thing, and of these I believe those by Road and Track are the best. I have all issues of all the magazines to which I subscribe bound yearly as I will have Motor Sport, and the index will be a handy supplement indeed.
I own an M.G. TD, my second, and only finance prevents me from collecting quite a few cars, particularly the British makes. I have long been enamoured with these, the Frazer-Nash Le Mans replica in particular. My greatest sorrow is that this particular type of car will probably no longer be in production once I reach the stage where I could afford one. My occupation is that of a physician and I am just trying to get a practice established, so it will be some time before I will be able to own more than an M.G. I must say that this car (the M.G.), above all, has done more to further and promote interest in sports cars here in America than any other. In the first place the price has been such that it was available to many, as I, who could not afford any other. Parts were cheaper, and easier to come by than others. I regret to see that it is being gradually crowded out by newer makes. Most of us here hoped for a larger engine in the TF model, but this was not the case. I understand that later the works plan to put the Magnette engine in the TF. doubt less with another cam and higher compression ratio.
I have touted the new AC to several of my friends in that they could get a tubular chassis, an independent rear suspension, Frazer-Nash type suspension in general, and rack-and-pinion steering for the same price, if not a little less than the price of the Austin-Healey. So far no one that I have heard of has purchased one here in the States. I would certainly like to be able to drive one of these, for it looks like a most exceptionally well-made car.
The Austin-Healey is another car that had some tragic mistakes made, especially when Donald Healey was allowed to put very little more than his name into it. Using the Austin suspension rather than his trailing link is costing them dear already. Although labelled as a “touring sports car,” they have been run in competition here, and in the hands of capable drivers have acquitted themselves well. This has been the case each time a factory-prepared model with a higher output engine has run.
I really think that English engines will have to go to more c.c.s, for it would seem that they have been extended, in the main, about as far as they will go in the present size. I make special reference here to those in the Bristol, Frazer-Nash and B.M.W. I would also include the Aston Martin. All of these are most excellent cars, in my estimation, and need only a little larger engine to make thern superb. The Jaguar has too much for they are really usable only in long-trip driving. Since most of our driving is in town and on short trips, Jaguar engines suffer terribly trying to get 14 quarts of oil warm for a run to the office. Then too the gasoline consumption rivals most of our American engines with larger bores and much more weight to drag around. Again my thanks to you for a very fine magazine, and may your present policy of honest criticism endure. I think it is most commendable.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Thos. E. McArthur, M.D.
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Another Hornte’s Nest
In your article “Historical Notes” of the April issue there were some terse comments on “so called ‘sports’ cars of the 1930 era.” May I say something about the Wolseley Hornets mentioned therein and leave the others to owners who no doubt will have similar feelings?
The definition of a “sports” car has yet to be clarified. There is certainly more to it than performance (i.e., speed).
Appearance, layout, cornering ability and pride mean most to me. I would say that a sports car was essentially one designed for the pleasure of driving as much as for mere conveyance. My 1932 Hornet, which I understand is in no way vastly different basically from any other, has only two of the presumptuous additions of a much more powerful car as mentioned by “A.B.C.” — namely a quick-lift filler cap, which I regard as a normal and quite sensible convenience, and a radiator ‘stone-guard which I tend to regard as a protection from the wheelspin divots of cars in front of me, which I assume will be travelling more quickly.
Straps are useful if the bonnet flaps, mine does not, a rev.-counter is not a waste of machinery and the bigger the instruments the easier they are to see. Mine are only five-inch and go up to 100 m.p.h., but much as I know that is a mythical speed for the car, the thing is at least accurate to 1 m.p.h. at 60 m.p.h.
I don’t know quite what these “cowls” are with which the car is “laden down.” Perhaps I may ask to be enlightened on that one? Furthermore, to say the Hornet Special is under-powered is nonsense.
My Hornet which compares favourably in performance with any standard M.G.s of that time is a four-seater, and I regard it mostly as an “open roadster.” It will hit 80 m.p.h. with four up and contrary to much opinion I don’t have to slow down appreciably for corners. It is in fact a pleasure to drive, which is good enough for me and my limited pocket, and it,does not pretend to be something more than it is.
I kept an XK120 “hard-top” in my lights from Staines to Basingstoke recently on a moderately busy road, although I must confess that the Jaguar driver seemed highly incompitent as I was alternately deafened by violent engine revolutions as he overtook a bicycle or blinded by flashing brake lights when he came to a bend, for the best part of 30 miles.
Let “A.B.C.” direct his annoyance towards the pseudo-drivers of sports cars rather than, on flimsy evidence, towards pseudo-sports cars.
I can see what he means, but I think he was a little hasty in framing his words and selecting his cars — at least as far as Hornets are concerned. I would not dare to lay myself wide open in your magazine about the others! Thank you anyway for raising this interesting point in your absorbing magazine.
I am, Yours, etc.,
David H. Stead.
* * *
Like many others, I was very glad to read Allan Gaspar’s letter in defence of the Vale Special. In fact, only a month ago I saw and still admired one of these cars at Box Hill. Dolled up it may have been, but it still looked good, sounded good, and I saw it later moving quite rapidly.
Actually, I was one of those teenagers (horrid word) who used to hang round the workshops in Elgin Mews, back of Maida Vale (incidentally, is that where the “Vale” came from?). We were never turned away, and I well remember a discussion on an overheating problem which the experts (Allan included?) finally decided was caused by the water circulating so fast that the top hose contracted causing restricted flow. No, sir, these cars were built by enthusiasts, and well built, they were no mere dolled-up “specials.” They could certainly see-off Porlock Specials, and give Daytonas a good run. Sic gloria transit!
I am, Yours. etc.,
The April copy of Motor Sport has just reached this desert outpost, and with it the article entitled “Historical Notes: 1930 and Afterwards,” by “A.B.C.” The contribution is dull and inaccurate, but the reason why I reach for my typewriter today is to refute the author’s absurd comments on that magnificent little sports car, the Vale Special.
In 1933 I left Aston Martin, Ltd., to become Works Foreman and Chief Racing Mechanic at the Vale Motor Co. I was attracted to the firm not by the money they offered (God knows), but by the mixture of technical skill and tremendous enthusiasm which had produced a very clever hand-made sports car at a very low price. I was responsible for building the last seven 8-h.p. cars and it was part of my job to see that every car, after running-in, could do 72 m.p.h. This was not achieved with a fast speedometer nor downhill with a following wind. From my experience with Aston Martins I thought that I knew something about fast cornering, but a short acquaintance with the fully underslung Vale quickly proved to me that I knew very little about it — there never was a better car into a corner than the Vale Special and I doubt very much if there has been a better one since production ceased. I am not attempting an absurd comparison, but I would like to mention that the only XK120 that we have so far seen at speed out here came into its corners leaning, sliding and lurching in a manner that made the writer retch. In fairness I should say that the car may have been mishandled, but a Vale in the hands of a novice would have made a better showing.
Here, at Lamberts Bay, I have four photographs on the walls of my room. The first is of a standard untuned Vale Special 8-h.p. car averaging 65 m.p.h. in the M.C.C. High Speed Trial of 1933, driven by Allan Gaspar, a director of the firm and part-designer of the car. The second is of an 1,100-c.c. car winning the Guernsey Grand Prix a 82 m.p.h. in the same year, driven by R. L. Sangan, and the third is of a blown 1 1/2-litre Vale high on the members’ banking at 120 m.p.h. plus, with Ian Connell in the office. “A.B.C.’s ” Austin Twelve-Six would have had to hurry a bit to catch this family.
The fourth photograph on my wall is of Miss Jane Russell and, far from her being put to shame, there are at least two points of great similarity between this charming young woman and our car. The two that naturally strike the observer most forcibly are the car’s wind cowls which present an over-developed appearance to the uninitiated but, while I understand on good authority that Miss Russell had a special undercarriage designed for her by Howard Hughes merely to give her an attractive appearance, our wind cowls were a perfectly natural development designed to protect the driver and passenger within a certain speed range.
After reading his article through again I feel that “A.B.C.” should stick to his Humbers and leave the discussion of real motor cars to someone else.
There is an old saying — “As simple as A.B.C.”
How simple can you get?
I am, Yours, etc.,
W. Francis James.
Cape Province, S. Africa.
As a Vale Special four-seater was my first new car I would like to defend Mr. Gaspar, although I only recall meeting his brother, who was at all times most helpful both before and after the car was made for me.
Admittedly the car was heavy, but nevertheless it was extremely lively in the lower gears, going up to some 6,000 r.p.m., had excellent hydraulic brakes, had amazing cornering capabilities, and did about 80 m.p.h. absolutely flat out. It was also a reliable machine; the only main fault, apart from odd accessory failures, was the remote control gearbox, which I think was a Triumph Gloria fitment.
It stood up to an awful caning, including cinder-track racing, for which of course it was never intended, and on one occasion covered just over 400 miles through Holland and Germany in eleven hours, including two main meal stops, which I thought, and still think, was pretty good for a side-valve 850-c.c. four-seater (there were not many of these built as the makers advised against them, because of added weight) with stacks of luggage. Someone once said to me “D(r)own the Vale,” but I disagreed.
I am, Yours, etc.,
* * *
Non-Standard Austin-Healey 100
I am particularly interested in Mr. Carter’s letter in the current issue of Motor Sport and your comment.
When the Autocar road-test first appeared I was incredulous about the recorded performance of the Austin-Healey 100 tested, and noticed that the registration number of the car was the same as that of the car tested by the Motor whose report had specifically higher gear ratios. I wrote to the Autocar asking if the test car was standard and received a courteous reply saying that it was to the best of their knowledge.
I am afraid that I am still a doubter as I have owned two Healeys, one of which was a Silverstone. This Silverstone was at least as fast as the average. We achieved a second and fourth at a Goodwood members’ meeting against stiff opposition, and it was subsequently handled by J. Buncombe in the Tourist Trophy, but in my hands at least it never achieved the performance reported by the Autocar for the Austin-Healey. On power/weight ratio my Silverstone should I feel have been equal to a standard Austin-Healey.
If your correspondence helps to clear up any remaining ambiguity it will have served a most useful purpose. I always feel that it is vitally important that any cars tested should be exactly in the same form as they can be bought by the normal public, unless of course the report makes it quite clear that it is dealing with a non-standard car tested for general interest.
I am, Yours, etc.,
B. Webb Ware
[We cannot tell you: the Austin Motor Co., Ltd., has not submitted an Austin-Healey for road-test, — Ed]
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Grand Prix Selection
Surely Piero Taruffi’ deserves a place in your selection of the 25 best Grand Prix drivers of today (May, 1954, Motor Sport)?
I admit that during 1953 he was normally at the wheel of a sports car, but the same applies to several of your selection. His 1952 record with Ferrari included wins in the Swiss Grand Prix, Ulster Trophy, B.R.D.C. Silverstone Formula I race; seconds in the British Grand Prix, Syracuse, Turin; third at Rouen and a fourth in the German Grand Prix. His victory at Berne in 1952 should alone earn him a place.
As a Grand Prix driver, I would rate Taruffi above nine of your selection, most of whom, like Taruffi, were sports-car-mounted in 1953, and none of whom, in my humble opinion, could equal Taruffi’s 1952 Grand Prix form.
I am, Yours, etc.,
must disagree with your placing of Behra in category 3 in your article “The World’s Leading Grand Prix Drivers.”
I should have thought that if any French driver deserved category 2 it was Jean Behra. I think the justification for this can be found on page 235 — the report on “XV Grand Prix de Pau.”
I wonder what your placing will be at the end of this season, especially if the Mercédès team is successful? A good car can make a poor driver look better than he really is.
Are we going to have your assessment of the sports-car drivers? I should think we probably have one or two in category 1 in this country.
I am, Yours, etc.,
J. A. Carter.
By Gad, Sir, you’ve put the editorial cat well and truly amongst the spectating pigeons now-25 drivers and not a mention of Taruffi!
I cannot see how you justify the inclusion of Simon and Schell in category two, nor have the audacity to group the legendary Chiron and Rosier with Macklin, Collins and Salvadori in category three. On past performance alone I would rate Chiron (and Rosier to a slightly less degree) in class two above Manzon, Marimon, Trintignant and Wharton. Even in the twilight of their careers these two are still brilliant stylists whose technique the younger generation might profitably study.
Similarly, and despite his series of crashes, Villoresi surely rates high in category two on ability alone.
I may be wrong but I assume the Lang you mention is the same Hermann Lang whose dice with Dick Seaman at Donington in October, 1938, will always remain in the minds of those who witnessed it as one of the classic duels of British motor-racing history. If he is the same man his showing at Le Mans two years ago (I know-this is not a Grand Prix!) surely puts him among the foremost drivers today?
So far as Hawthorn is concerned his performances in the French G.P., the Ulster Trophy and at Silverstone are sufficient to put him in category two. The rest — Goodwood in particular — are, I submit, pot-boilers, and not worthy of consideration — especially when one considers the age of the majority of the chariots lined up against him on most of those occasions.
And now (and this is where I feel like creeping stealthily into your office with my blackjack) — what about Bob Gerard? Here is a man who has consistently held his own in his ancient, but incredibly well-tuned, cars since the re-commencement of the Sport after the war — yet you do not even mention his name! Remember his brilliant drive at the first Silverstone meeting in 1948 when, in a B(?)-type E.R.A., he came right through the field to take third place behind Ascari and Villoresi in the, then, latest Maseratis? On my rough timing he would have caught them if the race had lasted another 10 laps, and although it might be said that he drove a badly-timed race, no one who saw it will agree. Given faster cars (and why wasn’t he chosen for the B.R.M. — at the time, I mean, when it was thought to be a world-beater?) he would have reached the top years ago. In my opinion he is one of the greatest drivers this country has ever produced, but his innate modesty (he does not wear bow ties or screaming pullovers) has contrived to keep him in the comparative background while others not so good but more flamboyant have caught the public imagination. Taking experience as well as potential ability into account, I would rate today’s drivers in order of merit as follows: —
Masters: Ascari, Farina, Fangio
Class 2: , Etancelin (? retired)
Class 3: Trintignant, Manzon, Marimon, Salvadori
Class 4: Landi, Marzotto,
This sort of thing is likely to go on all through the season and I congratulate you, sir, on starting what I predict will he a hard-fought battle. Vive le sport!
I am, Yours, etc.,
* * *
Reply To A Postle Theory
The letter in your May issue from a Mr. Postle reminded me of the famous American cleric who, when asked his attitude to sin, replied that he was “agin it.” Mr. Postle teems very definitely to be “agin,” but against what is not so clear. It may, however, calm him a little to be corrected on two points.
After referring to “Ministry of Transport Roads.” by which I assume he means Trunk Roads, he continues, “all other roads and streets are paid for to the last farthing by the local ratepayers.” In fact, grants are paid by the Ministry of Transport to local authorities, varying from 50 per cent, to 75 per cent. of the cost according to the class of road and the nature of the work done.
Later in his tirade, Mr. Postle discovers the general rate. Re points to a citizen paying £26 a year general rate and finds, says Mr. Postle, “that highways and bridges account for more than a third.” The general rate in my own borough for the financial year just ended was nearly 25s. in the pound. The cost of highways and bridges was 1s. 9d. in the pound, a ratio nearer 1:14 than 1:3. Mr. Postle should examine his next demand note more closely, on the back of which his council show the breakdown of the amount demanded. Perhaps the rising cost of education will be the next subject for analysis.
I do not write as one “in touch with the Parliamentary and Legal Council of the Motor Institute,” but as one annoyed by the loss of nearly a page of my valuable Motor Sport for the sake of misinformed generalisations.
I am, Yours, etc.,
* * *
German Car Longevity
On reading-your comments on the 1954 de luxe Volkswagen, I am astounded to learn, that the Volkswagen engineers consider twenty minutes bench running a sufficient “running-in” period. Usually 500 miles or more is the period for cars in this capacity, usually not exceeding 30 m.p.h. in top gear. This would entail about twenty hours’ road service.
I have yet to see details of the new Opel Rekord in a British magazine. It may interest you to know that this car, with about 1.5 engine capacity, which could be rated at between 14 and 16 h.p., returns 34 m.p.g. on “straight runs” on 74 octane petrol. This compares with about 31 m.p.h. by a Hillman Minx (1948) over exactly the same distance and country. Needless to say, the Minx was somewhat outpaced. A 1948 model, owned by the same person, did 120,000 kms. (75,000 miles) without having the cylinder head removed. It was going like a bomb when traded in for the new model.
Is there something wrong with our engine designs? I should like to hear of similar feats of comparable British machines.
I am, Yours, etc.,
(We are informed by VW Motors Ltd. in this country that our statement about the running-in of the latest VW engine is quite correct. As delivered to the customer no running-in is required, as Mr. Dear demonstrated by entering a brand-new VW in the recent R.A.C. Rally. — Ed.
* * *
Save The T.T.!
I would like to raise a problem that has often been discussed and has a particular significance now. Judging from the radio commentaries on the British Empire Trophy, the handicapping gave a final that was exciting to watch and rather unexpected in outcome. The Empire Trophy, however, is of purely national status and has little significance, and I imagine that few would decry the use of a handicap in an event of this sort.
Nowadays it is a far cry from the Empire Trophy to the T.T.in fact the only link is the anachronistic use of a handicap. To be honest, we used handicaps in the ‘thirties because our only real hope lay in M.G.s and Rileys, and these cars could not hope to compete with Alfas, Bugattis and Maseratis. In reporting the 1931 T.T. The Motor’s headline ran: “B. Borzacchini finishes second and breaks all records” — the race was won by an M.G. Midget. After Nuvolari’s first win, all the T.T.s run on the Ards circuit were won by cars of less than 1 1/2 litres. Now the French are doing the same and run events such as Roubaix and Caen for the benefit of their Panhards, D.B.s, Monopoles, Renaults and other small cars. But they have preserved their sense of proportion. In the major French event — Le Mans — the index of performance cup is greatly overshadowed by the main event, and this will be very evident in 1954 with entries of very large and fast cars from Cunningham, Ferrari, Talbot and Lagonda, and equally impressive Jaguars, Lancias, Gordinis and Aston Martins of under 4 litres. It is expected that the Ferraris will have much the same power and performance as the 1951 Grand Prix cars.
The field at the T.T. last year was purely national — more so in fact than that of the Goodwood Nine-Hours Race — and if the race is to regain its standing, the handicap must take second place to the scratch race, which is the only race of international significance. Last year the T.T. was the only event in the World Sports-Car Championship in which points were awarded on handicap; Jaguar received three points for a fourth place on handicap although they finished third on distance (according to Auto Course). It should be noted that both Sebring and Le Mans ran a handicap that did not score points for the championship.
I hope that there is still time to bring this event into line with the other championship races; it would be tragic for it to become no more than a memory.
I am, Yours, etc.,
A. J. Langdon.
* * *
Conflicting Views On The Citroën 2 c.v.
By a lucky accident I came across your April issue and the article “People’s Car Reborn.” I was simply delighted with it, as “W. B.” exactly expresses what I think about the Citroën 2 c.v. myself.
I have been the fortunate owner of one for 18 months (after waiting 17 months for it), and I would like to stress a few points which “W. B.,” on his 2,000-mile run, did not have occasion to find out for himself.
(1) Relative safety in a crash: Accidents in a 2 c.v. are not often lethal owing to the “pliability” of the body, as appears from the records of an important repair shop I know. For instance: an elderly gentleman was driving quietly in his 2 c.v. when a drunk in a much heavier car crashed head-on into the poor little thing at 40 m.p.h. The engine was somewhere under the old boy’s feet and the rest of the car just folded around him. He was disentangled and taken to a hospital, where they found out he had suffered only minor injuries. After a glass of cognac he just walked home. The drunk had a fractured skull.
(2) Durability: A friend of mine turned up recently with one of the very first 2 c.v.s and 4,300 plus 100.000 km. on the meter (about 65,000 miles). Repairs consisted of two valve grindings and about one dozen spark plugs, two front-wheel ball-bearings and four friction rings. Oil consumption had gone up to pint per 100 miles. The body was more or less falling to pieces, but the car still “rolling.”
Jean Vinadier stripped a 2 c.v., lowered it down to 5in, from the ground (which is easily done), fitted a single-seater streamlined body and souped up the “works.” He officially did 82 m.p.h. at Montlhèry. So the engine can take it. Jean Vinadier was also one of the team who took three Citroèn 2 c.v. vans around Africa a few months ago-25,000 miles and very few real roads. This has encouraged me to do some “tinkering.” I have fitted Houdaille Flexivar sponge-rubber balls, which quickly stop up-and-down float at “high” speed and make for better cornering with maximum load, and also two carburetters and special large intake lead. This gives a better torque and “ups” the second to a possible 30 m.p.h., which is not pleasant for long, but a much better threshold for third than the originally 22 m.p.h. This is to be appreciated in the very hilly country where I live. Petrol consumption has gone up about 15 per cent. and engine life may be shortened, but I think it is worth it.
I also own a 15/6 Citroën which I mostly use on long trips, and I am often amazed at the small difference in time between the two cars on narrow, winding roads. As you know, the 15/6 can do to 60 m.p.h. in a little over 22 sec. but it feels clumsy on narrow roads after driving the little 2 c.v.
I would be glad if you could tell me where Motor Sport is to be found in France or if there is a way of sending you subscription money for one year (and what amount, including postage to France).
I am, Yours, etc.,
It has seldom been my misfortune to read such a lot of wishful thinking as you employed in writing up the road test of the Citroën 2 c.v. (caterpillar vulgaris). It may be that the manufacturers of this Thing look after you very nicely whenever you happen to be in France.
Words almost fail me (like you, I wish they did). You, who, quite rightly in my opinion, have so often stressed the fact that cars should be things of beauty in addition to being functional, seem able to excuse ugliness so long as it is allied to economy. The points in your article which seem to reach to the realms of fatuity are these: —
(1) “Rides over the worst surfaces” better than a Rolls-Royce!! Comment: Of course it should. It looks like a dung-cart with extra wheels and no doubt is at home on bad surfaces.
(2) “Leaves many Eights and Tens behind.” Comment: Any fool of a driver driving the smallest of cars can always bank on overhauling larger cars which are either being run-in or whose owners are out for a leisurely cruise.
(3) “The engine clatters a bit . . . this was music.” Comment: Had it been a British car on test you would have used the word “criminal” in place of “music.”
(4) “When you are snug inside . . . you cannot see how ugly it looks.” Comment: You have prostituted your love of beauty for a few more miles to the gallon. And to please you, we normal motorists driving our normal cars would be condemned to seeing these little horrors, with all their ugliness, making our roads look worse than they are.
Remember the “Cloverleaf”? I do, very well. And I remember even in the days when there was more room on the roads the sight of a Cloverleaf nearly always meant baulking if not, indeed, a traffic hold-up.
Incidentally, when has France ever made a small car or motorcycle which wasn’t badly finished, grossly underpowered and fantastically ugly?
And, please, if you don’t want to bore or even sicken your readers (I am not alone in thinking this), I would suggest you try to be a little more charitable towards the products of this country. Oh! they are not perfect by any means. But you are not likely to make them perfect by praising to the sky a foreign car which looks revolting, has a clattering engine and whose speedometer can be influenced by the use of the small screen-wipers. I can imagine Austin and Ford turning in their graves, and Nuffield on his bed — shaking with uncontrollable laughter.
I am going to buy a very economical and ugly house. Ha-ha! I shan’t worry about its ugliness as I shall be inside — so long as I am bed-ridden.
I am, Yours, etc.,
S. C. Banks
[Englishman Banks’ letter hardly diminishes the praise we bestowed on the Citroën 2 c.v. for the simple reason that it contains no constructive criticism. We have received no courtesies from Citroën Cars at Slough other than being allowed to test the 2 c.v over a really big mileage (7,700, actually); none at all from the French factory as we use our feet and aeroplanes to cross France. That the Eights and Tens the 2 c.v. left behind were not being driven fast isn’t the point, which is obviously that if these speeds satisfy such owners they would find the far-more-economical 2 c.v. amply fast.
We should be critical if a water-cooled British engine clattered, but would forgive such noise from an air-cooled, anti-freeze power unit. The 2 C.V. is ugly, partly because it was planned for large-scale production in factories bombed out of complex machine tools, partly because it is cheap. A wheelbarrow is ugly for the latter reason but is used appreciatively by many Englishmen. The idea that low horse-power cars cause traffic congestion will remain a fallacy until heavy lorries and vans, autobikes and cycling clubs are barred from our roads, along with dodderers in cars of all powers. The slight engine noise of a 2 c.v. and the small degree of float on the speedometer-needle when it is raining is a small price to pay for the many advantages of this ingenious car. If Austin, Ford and Nuffield are revolving in their graves/bed it can only be because none of their designers thought of the 2 c.v. before the late M. Boulanger. In any case, with hints of police interest in fast driving and other people suggesting that old cars are unsafe, it seems as if soon the only way of motoring unmolested in this country will be in car, like the 2 c.v. — Ed]