Matters of Moment, June 1955

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Come along Britain!
Mercédès-Benz, with the aid of two Englishmen, have won Italy’s Mille Miglia, one of the world’s toughest motor races. The German firm spared no effort or expense to achieve this victory, as will be apparent from the account of the race published in this issue of Motor Sport.

This month another important sports-car classic takes place in France, the Le Mans 24-Hour Race of June 11th/12th. Mercédès-Benz will make every effort to win this as well, opposed by strong Italian and British teams.

The Motor Industry is one of the few commercial undertakings in which products can be assessed directly, and sold, on the results of publicly-observed and widely-reported competitions. Air-lines no longer order aircraft on the outcome of the King’s Cup Race, but purchasers of motor cars all over the world are influenced according to placings in races like the Mille Miglia, Le Mans, Reims 12-Hours, Nurburgring 1,000 kilometres, T.T. and Pan-America.

So we beseech the British Motor Industry to put its very best effort into building G.P. and sports cars capable of winning today’s stern races.

In the sports-car field the endeavours of Aston Martin, Austin-Healey, Bristol, Jaguar and Frazer-Nash amongst the established manufacturers are noteworthy, and at Le Mans M.G. will re-enter the field, in competition with the astonishing Porsche.

So far as Formula 1 racing is concerned, the highest praise is due to Kenneth McAlpine, Alfred Owen and Tony Vandervell for attempting to build British G.P. cars, respectively Connaught, B.R.M. and Vanwall, of which the Connaught and Vanwall showed distinct promise at Silverstone last month.

If the B.R.M. turns out to be a copy of the Maserati (this is pure surmise, based on the fact of successful modifications having been made by O.R.M.A. to one of these cars), and if the Vanwall chassis has a distinct affinity with Ferrari design, this is no cause for shame.

Rather let us copy successful Continental designs and get a British car first past the chequered flag than spend time and our unfortunately limited resources on attempting unsuccessfully to perfect a fresh design, which was the mistake we made with the V16 B.R.M. After all, is not Sunbeam always spoken of with respect as the only British car to have won the great French Grand Prix and in fact, was not Segrave’s victorious car at Tours in 1923 very like the Italian Fiats of the year before, having been designed at Louis Coatalen’s request by the Italian engineer Bertairone?

Consequently, if Britain is able, by borrowing points from Maserati, Ferrari and others, to provide her drivers with winning cars, built by Englishmen in English factories and aided by British components — as the O.R.M.A. Maserati driven so ably by Peter Collins at Silverstone was aided by Dunlop disc brakes — let us, indeed, rejoice. Once Britain gets into the G.P.-winning groove an original all-British Formula 1 car might well follow — if Connaught haven’t got such a car already.

In the vaster sphere of ordinary motor cars the unique and excellent VW is making inroads into export markets, and we repeat our sincere hope that matters like air-cooling, weight-reduction (our VW, with considerable extra equipment, weighs only 14 cwt. 1 qtr.), independent rear suspension, etc., are receiving urgent attention on British drawing-boards and that we shall soon be able to report on Mr. Ferguson’s people’s car from first-hand experience of it, instead of reading about it in the newspapers.

The Tulip Rally
The R.A.C.-West’s Tulip Rally attracted much attention in this country and was a good rally, perhaps with overmuch emphasis on the handicapped racing at Zandvoort. It was won by the Dutch drivers Tak and Niemoller in a 300SL Mercédès-Benz, with the Bristol 404 of Banks/Meredith-Owen-Owen second and another 300SL third, a German-British-German sandwich. British class wins were gained by Standard Ten, Jaguar, Bristol, Ford Zephyr and A.C. Ace cars, the last named defeating the TR2s. Pat Moss’ M.G. Magnette retired with lubrication trouble, its gasket being borrowed for the sick Magnette of Shaw and Lawson, and Blockley’s Austin-Healey retired early with gearbox failure.

The English Sprint
While circuit racing may be infinitely more exciting, it would be a thousand pities if that traditional English event, the sprint, should fade away. Consequently, it was nice to see a reasonably large crowd enjoying the B.O.C. Prescott Speed Hill-Climb on May 22nd. Fastest lady was Nancy Mitchell, who got Bill Sleemun’s fearsome s/c 1,132 c.c. Cooper up in 51.3s.

Class winners were: Sports Cars: Mackenzie Low (Elva), 51.14 sec. (class record); B. Eaglesfield (Tojeiro), 53.33 sec.; P. A. Everard (Aston Martin DB3S), 48.66 sec.; T. A. D. Crook (Cooper-Bristol), 49.13 sec. Racing Cars: W. A. Taylor (Caesar Special), 50.18 sec.; D. Parker (Kieft 500), 46.54 sec.; M. Christie (E.R.A.), 45.12 sec.; A. P. Rivers-Fletcher (Cooper 1,100), 45.08 sec.; T. Robins (Bugatti), handicap