Matters Of Moment, June 1959

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The Successful Debut of the G.P. Aston Martin

It is the changing face of the motoring scene which makes the subject so engrossing. Already, with the year but half spent, we have witnessed welcome, but unexpected, changes. At the beginning of the season it seemed that Grand Prix racing would be a dull affair, suffering from the withdrawal (through its sponsor’s ill-health) of Tony Vandervell’s victorious Vanwall team and the diminished participation of Maserati. Yet already a promising new British Grand Prix car has appeared to brighten up the outlook and our National prospects — David Brown’s two Aston Martin DBR4/250s made a sensationally satisfactory first appearance in last month’s B.R.D.C. International Trophy Race. Those who predicted, if not failure, at all events no early successes for these F.1 cars built by a firm only conversant with sports/racing cars, have been proved very wide of the mark. The advent of Aston Martin in Grand Prix racing — a return to the sphere in which the late Count Louis Zborowski and Clive Gallop placed this marque 37 years ago, when its names were hyphenated — will make a big difference to the 1959-60 outlook. We welcome most warmly this addition to the ranks of British G.P. cars, which will bring fresh vitality to F.1 racing, in which the Surbiton-built Cooper is doing so well. But we hope also that the Vanwalls will return to racing.

Those who expressed doubt as to the ability of David Brown’s Company to build an effective F.1 car surely overlooked the enormous technical “know-how” built up from years of effective sports-car racing, and, particularly, that Reg. Parnell is no fool when it comes to motor racing . . .

The performance at Zandvoort of these new green cars will have been watched with the greatest interest and, meanwhile, owners of Aston Martin DB4s and Mk. IIIs will surely feel increased pride in their cars, just as, years ago, those who bought Bamford & Martin Astons must have felt their choice justified by the public performances of the sixteen-valve Aston-Martin G.P. cars.

This courageous venture on the part of David Brown, the third millionaire industrialist to embark on a programme of serious motor racing, serves to emphasise the sudden changes that make study of the motoring scene so intriguing and keep motoring journalists busy.

Other significant recent changes have been the taking over, in the small sports-car class, of former Lotus supremacy by Lola and the introduction of the Triumph Herald (one of which Motor Sport is at present road-testing) at a time when it seemed that nothing really new would ever emanate from our “Big Five.” The Herald technically outclasses the cars built by the other four big mass-production manufacturers in this country, and most other British cars as well.

Motor Sport congratulates David Brown on his entry into Formula 1 racing and presents its best wishes to all who are associated with this newest Aston Martin racing venture. If the DBR4/250 cars are half as successful this season as the Vanwalls were last year they can be counted as eminently satisfactory racing cars.

Justice Prevails

In April we devoted an Editorial to the savage motoring sentences imposed at Ayr by Sheriff-substitute J. A. Frame, who disqualified for a year, and heavily fined, 15 drivers, five of whom were convicted of driving vehicles with mechanical defects. This astonishing travesty of justice caused us to recommend motorists to avoid driving in Ayr for their holidays this summer. This suggestion received further publicity in the Sunday Express and apparently resulted in widespread dismay amongst hotel-proprietors and other interested persons in this part of Scotland. The cases were also widely publicised in the Scottish Daily Express.

We are delighted to be able to announce that this has apparently had its effect, for when six of the drivers concerned appealed against these savage sentences, the Judiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh, headed by the Lord Justice-General Lord Clyde. referred to the bans as “harsh and oppressive.” Three of the disqualifications were withdrawn altogether and the others reduced from twelve months to one month. Their Lordships Clyde, Carmont and Sorn ruled that Sheriff-substitute Frame had not approached the subject of disqualification in a proper way and did not appear to have exercised the discretion of a judge at all.

No-one will have the slightest doubt as to the wisdom of this ruling, bearing in mind that disqualification is intended as a punishment for serious motoring offences and, indeed, cannot be imposed for a first or even a second charge of exceeding the speed limit, and for one month only in the case of a first charge of dangerous driving. Motorists who have defects pointed out to them and take steps to remedy these defects or who, through being in hospital, forget to re-new a driving licence, cannot, except in the mind of Sheriff-substitute Frame, be regarded as twelve times as wicked as those who exceed the speed limit or drive dangerously.

On the day when these six motorists’ appeals were upheld the Sheriff-substitute was, according to The Scotsman of May 7th, still slinging disqualifications about with gay abandon — 12 months for driving without insurance, six months for driving alone on a provisional licence, three months for using a van the tyres of which were considered faulty. He is surely to be associated with muddled thinking in restoring the licence to a person who drove under the influence of drink, while refusing to do so in the case of a driver whose crime was that of driving without a licence and having a car with faulty speedometer and brake cable.

Now that the Sheriff-substitute has been censured by the Lord Justice-General Lord Clyde we can regard the roads of Ayr as restored to justice-loving motorists. Tourists may again travel hopefully there and, providing they drive reasonably, should not any longer have to go in fear of losing their driving licences. We may even visit Ayr ourselves!

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