Matters of moment, June 1960

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Coronation Safari

The East African Safari, ranking as the toughest test in the world of rally-type cars, deserves more than passing thought – indeed, its lessons should influence buyers of motor cars all over the globe until the 1961 Safari is held!

In regarding the outcome of this testing 3,200-mile rally run over the worst of Africa’s roads at average speeds of from 48 to 55 m.p.h., it is open to question whether Mercedes-Benz, who fielded the outright winner in the form of a 219 saloon, another of these cars finishing in fifth place, deserve as much credit as Citroën, whose ID19s took second and fourth place after their third entry was eliminated due to a trifling failure. It could be remarked that an outright win is worth more than these lower placings but against this, in this instance, must be weighed the fact that the Mercedes-Benz were losing oil from their i.r.s. mechanism and only their splendid performance and roadholding enabled them to stay in the Safari while making up this lubrication deficiency. Moreover, in the 1,300-2,000-c.c. class the Citroëns vanquished the Mercedes-Benz 190.

Ford did exceedingly well to take the first three places with new Anglias in the 750-1,100-c.c. class and the team prize with their Zephyrs, beaten in this class only by the winning Mercedes-Benz 219. Nor can the other class winning make be disregarded – Volkswagen led home a Simca and a Peugeot 203 in the 1,001-1.300-c.c. category. No G.T. cars or series production cars up to 750 c.c finished the course.

It is significant that so tough were the requirements of the 1960 Safari that the B.M.C. Mini cars fell by the wayside, excellent as the reputation of these brave little vehicles has been in less arduous contests. This underlines the fact that these cars are truly universal.

For a year ahead discerning motorists, particularly in Africa, are likely to regard very favourably Mercedes-Benz, Citroën, Fords large and small, and Volkswagen, when shopping for a new automobile.

More bouquets

Citroën followed up their convincing performance in the East African Safari by winning the Tulip Rally from a Saab 96 and a Mercedes-Benz 220SE. It is a tribute to the strong, safe construction of this ID19 that it won the Tulip in spite of an appreciable crash near the finish when one of its drivers went momentarily to sleep. In handing this well-deserved bouquet to the manufacturers of the world’s most modern car we would like to produce another bouquet and place it in the arms of Pat Moss, sister of a great racing driver, who, aided as ever by the imperturbable Ann Wisdom, daughter of a famous competition driver-cum-motoring writer, completed the course without loss of marks in an Austin Healey 3000. The big Austin Healey is a difficult car to drive over the limit- – a weekly contemporary recently referred to it tersely as “a beast” – and this adds all the more credit to the splendid showing on the part of the British girls.

Go slow! Be careful!

Mr. Marples, Minister of Transport, has announced a maximum speed limit of 50 m.p.h. on certain roads over the Whitsun holiday. Everything that can be done must be done to reduce road-accident casualties, even if these are low in relation to the millions of miles covered by vehicles of all kinds and merely equal casualties arising from mishaps in the home, about which we hear little.

If the imposition of a 50-m.p.h. speed limit (on roads on which 40 m.p.h. is seldom easy to achieve in holiday traffic) appreciably reduces traffic accidents pertaining to motor vehicles, Mr. Marples will be entitled to a feather in his cap, or tucked into his cycling shorts.

If the expected result is not achieved, let us have no more of a policy which goes in the retrograde direction of reducing speed instead of making fast-flowing traffic safe, on the false assumption that speed is always dangerous. Can such a view be justified in 1960? Is it right to extract 30% purchase tax from those who buy high-performance cars with outstanding controllability and extremely efficient brakes and then, without warning, restrict them to the pace of the lowest-powered family saloon?

Presumably Whitsun will provide the answer – if accident statistics are to be trusted and conditions happen to coincide with those last Easter, or at Whitsun 1959. So let us all go ever so slowly as well as carefully, to please Mr. Marples. If he has endless traffic queues on his hands over the holiday we shall not be to blame! And if he proposes to extend the 50-limits, will the ingenious Minister of Transport please let us know where we can find a decently-preserved Trojan, that we may henceforth motor in a manner befitting to a civilised nation in the year A.D. 1960? 

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