Letters From Readers, June 1957

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N.B. – Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and Motor Sport does not necessarily associate itself with them. – Ed.

Are Tubeless Tyres Foolproof?

Sir,

Having read the letter from H. A. Smith of Ipswich under the heading “Are Tubeless Tyres Foolproof” I feel that I must, in fairness to tubeless tyres, give my experience of them.

The car — a Hillman Husky — registered November 1955 and already fitted with Dunlop Tubeless. To date the car has done 36,000 miles and with the exception of one new cover fitted at 35,000 is still running on the original covers which still have tread on them. During this time I have only had to change a wheel once on the road. This was due to a piece of metal swarf entering the tread and working its way out through the wall of the tyre. Dunlops admitted that they could not repair this cover as there is no method of repairing a hole in the wall of a tubeless tyre. Of course I have had other punctures including those made by a couple of 2-in. screws but apart from the tyre pressure dropping a few pounds a week these could be ignored until there was time to repair them.

In case your readers should think that the Husky has been driven in a quiet manner I would like to point out that on regular trips to Manchester from Romford and back I used to cover the journey in each direction in 5 to 5½ hours. This time included a stop for refreshments.

I have no connection with the Dunlop Co.

I am, Yours, etc., H. E. Legg. Romford.

 

Sir,

H. A. Smith’s letter in your May issue concerning tubeless tyres surprised me considerably.

I have in my possession a 1956 Mark I Consul which has covered to date 15,250 miles on the original set of Dunlop Tubeless tyres, which appear to be good for at least another 5,000. There have been no punctures and the spare is unused.

Mr. Smith’s average figure of 5,000 miles would appear to suggest that the cars have been driven fast and furiously, and it would surely be unfair to judge and condemn the makes mentioned under these circumstances.

I am, Yours, etc., E. J. Willis. London, N.9.

 

Sir,

Reading the letter of H. A. Smith of Ipswich in the May issue of Motor Sport respecting the wear of his tubeless tyres, I should like to inform him that my Morris Minor, registered January 4th, 1956, has to date completed 26,047 miles.

The tubeless Dunlop tyres are the original ones. They have never given me any trouble, not even a flat tyre.

Every 3,000 miles the wheels are changed round, and my estimation is that there is at least another 5,000 miles of wear in the tyres.

I am, Yours, etc., G. H. Herniman. Hove.

[Jolly good luck, then, to the tubeless. The question remains, are they worth the extra cost — remembering 36,000 miles with only one (nail) puncture and little tread wear, on the normal Michelins on the Editorial hack? Perhaps not until we have such faith in them that we banish the heavy, space-wasting spare wheel! This correspondence is now closed.—Ed.]

The Value of Lindley

Sir,

As an avid reader of your stimulating journal and also, as one who has spent his eleven years working life in various capacities within the structure of that controversial enterprise popularly known as the “British Motor Industry,” I should like to register a plea for less biased and more enlightened criticism from those readers who write to you.

A point in question is the slighting reference made by one of your correspondents in the May issue to M.I.R.A.’s test track at Lindley. My present employers, albeit makers of heavy commercial vehicles, have gained invaluable data by utilising the facilities available at Lindley. To suggest that time spent there with a prototype, be it car or lorry, is wasted or superfluous is utterly ridiculous. I should be very surprised if Mr. Taylor could get much “joy” by lapping the Belgian pave section for hours on end. Probably Uganda roads would seen, quite reasonable after that.

In my opinion, Mr. Taylor’s comments would have been more valid if it had been found necessary to completely re-design the Vanguard suspension layout after experience in Uganda. Shock-absorbers, although essential, are by no means the heart of a suspension layout, and to select a particular shock-absorber whose damping characteristics are entirely suitable for road conditions anywhere is asking a lot if not an impossibility. That it has been found necessary to fit larger capacity dampers in this instance surely does not merit such scathing criticism? Or again, is there in existence a road-spring with periodicity suitable for an infinite variety of road conditions?

I do not claim to be an accomplished expert in matters of design, but those of us within the industry and familiar with its day to day problems can only say to the laymen: you just don’t know the half of it!

I am, Yours, etc., C. D. Watters. Birmingham.

[No, the British Industry should not look a gift-horse in the mouth and Lindley is of considerable value to designers and manufacturers — on the other hand, nothing equals long-distance racing and rally driving for finding the weak places in a motor car. — Ed.] 

Alvis Engine Life

Sir,

I was interested to read Mr. Douglas’s letter regarding the probable life of the Alvis 3-litre engine. This I understand to be on the average, 50,000 miles.

I own a 1952 drophead bought at 16,000 miles. It was reasonably trouble-free until 38,000, within six months the fan had penetrated the radiator three times, at 44,000 starter teeth on flywheel were renewed, at 45,000 the main bearings went and a new engine was advised, estimated cost £111 against the old one. Then a telephone call from the distributors, there would be an additional £50 as my cylinder head was distorted and Alvis said it was of scrap value. I wrote to Alvis who were polite but in no way upset by the performance of their product. I have maintained the car as the advertisements say “regardless of expense.” I have always taken it to the Alvis distributors in Glasgow for anything apart from greasing. They fitted repaired radiators and water pumps. I know of two other owners whose fans went through the radiator, but only once each.

Since the reconditioned engine was fitted I have done 4,000 trouble-free miles apart from two blown exhaust flanges. I write as an Alvis addict, when I form an affection I am not readily swayed. My first car was a 12/50, I have had two post-war Fourteens, I have owned no other make until I bought a Morris Minor as a spare for use during the various indispositions of the 3-litre. The 12/50 was unbreakable, I sold it two years ago; it was a little galling when walking the dog at night to hear this twenty-six-year-old burble pass while my three-litre lay in Glasgow having a major operation. The Fourteens were good for at least 70,000 miles.

I like the 3-litre, the drophead has excellent lines, it handles well though the brakes should be better. I shall keep it. As a photographer I have occasion to hear the wedding service,”Love suffereth long and is kind”; it seems to be true, even where cars are concerned!

I am, Yours, etc., George Crawford. Ayr.

 

Sir,

Before the unfortunate story of Mr. W. S. Douglas’s friend and his experiences with post-war Alvis 3-litre engines spreads too far and becomes to be taken as characteristic of this make. I should like to relate my experience of a 1951 3-litre Alvis saloon.

Bought in November 1955, with 53,000 on the milometer, it was two months and 2,000 miles later before a pint of oil could be squeezed into it to top up the sump. Now, after 72,000 miles, the oil consumption has not increased and the engine will still pull this heavy car from 15 m.p.h. to any speed required up to 90+ m.p.h. in top gear with no other sound than the proverbial whisper.

I can only suppose that the previous owner of Mr. Douglas’s friend’s car treated it without the customary care and affection common to the majority of the owners of these lovely cars.

I am, Yours, etc., John R. Gerrard. Cambridge.

 

Sir,

I would like to reassure your correspondent W. S. Douglas regarding the Alvis 3-litre engine that he need have no fear as to the engine life of that model at the mileage he mentions.

I have just fitted Hepolite pistons, Hepoflex rings, valves and big-end shells. Mains were o.k., at 45,000 miles, cylinder bore wear was not more than .004 in. in any bore, but it was essential to remove the “top lip” of the bores.

This operation has, with careful running-in, brought the engine back into full performance again.

There is one other point worth mentioning: that whilst the job is being done it is advisable to remove the engine and replace the rear oil seal.

I am, Yours, etc., A. Breeze. Sutton Coldfield.

Team of Minors?

Sir,

I would be most grateful if you could squeeze in a mention somewhere in Motor Sport of my need for a few keen Morris Minor owners to complete a team for the Silverstone Six-Hour Relay Race.

Ideally, I would like Alta-headed cars, but anybody with a 1000, o.h.v. or even s.v. car — and of course an unrestricted competition licence — would be welcomed.

I can be reached at Horsforth (Leeds) 3726.

I am, Yours, etc., Allan Staniforth. Leeds.

“But, My Dear, He Drives a Foreign Car . . .”

Sir,

In support of your remarks in the April issue of Motor Sport, I would suggest that it is NOT patriotic to Buy British UNLESS it is the best. To do otherwise is to encourage inefficiency, incompetence and complacency. In the long run these will do more damage to British interests than any temporary loss of sales while the motor industry puts its house in order.

I am, Yours, etc., H. W. S. Marshall. Iraq.

A Matter of Styling

Sir,

A second reading of your correspondent G. Richard’s letter which describes the Vauxhall Victor as a “really good bit of contemporary styling” suggests that it was written tongue in cheek. For the preservation of his sense of good taste I can only hope that this is so. For surely no odder stylist’s nightmare has been produced for a long time even for a British factory.

Without wishing to indulge in an orgy of destructive criticism it really is time for the Vauxhall company to be taken to task for combining every “styling” gimmick into a superbly incoherent mass of bobs and bows. Take those two vestigial knobs at either end of the front bumper — Cadillac did it better years ago and used real points. They did the concealed exhaust system too, and Vauxhall’s do it no better. Note also the super side elevation — from front to back, a flute, a twiddle and a chromium-trim all unrelated, insignificant and entirely unfunctional. Clever too those parallel rust-prone strips of chrome over the bonnet; indelicate though to ask their purpose. A final mention of the brilliant advertising copywriter who whets our imagination by suggesting that a four-cylinder four-seater car is something really new. I seem to remember something called a 30/98 which had the same specification 30 years ago.

Seriously though, the current crop of British cars are even worse than their predecessors from a styling viewpoint. Most designers on the Continent have realised long ago that a motor car is a functional piece of machinery, devised to transport human beings from place to place at varying speeds and in varying degrees of comfort depending on price and specification. Styling has been related to the prime function of the machine and thus has harmony and beauty been achieved.

The Fiats, Simcas, Lancias, even the Borgwards to a lesser degree, look like precision machines. The fact that they also perform that way is incidental. In this country some of our popular cars perform quite well; to say that their looks are in keeping would be to ignore everything that has ever been written or spoken about design.

I am, Yours, etc., J. S. Stephenson. London W.2.

The Mille Miglia

Sir,

Yet another accident has occurred in the Italian road race, the Mille Miglia, claiming the lives of many spectators. However, one must not be misled by public outcry into condemning the Sport itself forthwith.

In an event of this character, unlike closed-circuit racing, the onus of adequate spectator control lies not with the organisers, but in the hands of the spectators themselves. In watching this race, they are given the responsibility of choosing individually a safe vantage point.

If by irresponsible actions they permit in encroaching upon the road to within inches of the competing vehicles, are we to be expected to offer our sympathies if they are run down and killed or injured?

It is the spectators who jeopardize their own lives, and those of others, and place motor racing into disrepute and disgrace. It is all the more deplorable that they should call themselves enthusiasts.

I am, Yours, etc., Stephen J. N. Wright, Secretary, Epping Forest Motorsport Association. Loughton.

[It was unfortunate that, lacking front-page news of murder, rape, robbery with violence, etc., many English newspapers used the Mille Miglia accident as their horror story. Not content, further horror reports followed the triple crash at Monaco, caused by Moss’ error of judgment, but in which neither drivers nor spectators were injured, the majority of newspaper reports omitting to pay tribute to Fangio’s skill and mastery in evading an accident which two front-rank British drivers failed to do. This horror journalism was sparked off before either race had even started by self-confessed “Frightened Man Cade,” who was permitted to give prominence on the front page of the Star to, in our opinion, unnecessary sensationalism.– Ed.)

V.S.C.C. Light Car and Edwardian Trial (May 19th)

While Grand Prix cars were storming round Monaco vintage light-carists were competing in gentle tests of skill along English country lanes, such is the versatility of our sport. The annual V.S.C.C. outing drew a commendable entry of 29 light cars and five Edwardians. The popular makes were Austin Seven, Jowett, A.C. and Fiat with three each, the last named comprising 509 tourer and saloon and 501 two-seater. There were two Humbers, a 9/20 and a 12/25; two Rileys, an Eleven coupe and a Nine; two Wolseleys, an E3 Ten two-seater and 11/22 tourer; two Lea-Francis; two Trojans; two Gwynne Eights; two Swift Tens; and lone examples of bull-nose Morris, 10/23 Talbot, and 11.4 Standard. Intrepid girl-dicers were Miss Pat Stocken (Trojan) and Miss Woolley (A.C.) The sprightly small cars were joined by Edwardian Clegg-Darracq, 11.9 Swift (with one instrument, a speedometer hung in solitary slendour from the plain wooden dash), Tubb’s 7.6-litre Gobron-Brillie (which came all the way from Kent to the start at Thame), a 1910 Renault and Bendall’s lofty 1911 Rolls-Royce. Most intriguing spectator’s car was a 1922 A.B.F. light car with s.v. flat-twin water-cooled engine and, my dear, the most remarkable hub-caps.

Competitors had to submit to an inspection for originality, cleanliness and upkeep, a quick-starting test, a width-judging and positioning contest, a cross-roads driving test, a hill restart, a 100-yard acceleration/braking gambit and a check of average speed. Little trouble was experienced, except by Bird, who had to remove his Riley Nine’s sump, but replaced it and arrived successfully at the finish. — W.B.

A Speedy Shine

We are certain that the people who “taught cars how to shine” would not lose the race in making them shine quicker.

It was no surprise to us to find that Simoniz have produced a new polish, namely Speedwax. It now ranks as our choice, for with very little effort a black D.K.W. was given a really fine, high, non-smear finish. Unless the car is thick with mud, it is only necessary to administer a thin film of Speedwax with a damp rag to ensure a good, lasting shine.

Ten shillings seems a little dear, but as you dispense with the cleaner and do the job in half the time, the outlay is small. — J.W.

 

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