A girl and her Herald

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Sir,

I am always interested to read what your correspondents think of different makes of car. May a woman driver get into the act ? Maybe I ought to keep quiet, because I read Motor Sport but I am not a speed merchant when it comes to my own driving. Also, I fear I am plunging into the lion’s den, because here is a member of the Society for the Encouragement of Triumph Heralds writing to the monthly journal of the VW Admiration Society. I can’t argue cars in technical terms, because I don’t speak the language. I just do a good deal of driving, and have been at it for over twelve years, in all weathers, day and night, in eight different countries. (Damage to others, so far, a pound’s worth of paint off the step of a ‘bus.)

My work involves long-distance pressing-on to get there, followed by days on end of start/stop/turn in narrow city streets. I do a bit of closed-to-club rallying; would always prefer to drive rather than go by train; and am fortunate in that I have to drive a good deal like it or not, and I happen to enjoy it. In fact, I may not know anything but I know what I like.

My last car was a Fiat 600, and I loved it like a mother. When circumstances indicated a change, I decided the only car I wanted and could afford was a Herald; after a year and something over 11,000 miles I am sure I was right.

After the 600, I wanted good all-round visibility, turning circle and road-holding, general ease of handling. I’ve got them. I’m a big girl with long legs, and I like to sit well back from the wheel; before buying the new car, I sat in the driver’s seat of all the other cars that I could afford, and decided I would get cramp in all of them. If a driver can’t find the right position in a Herald he must be a most unusual and fascinating shape.

I know that people say the 948-cc Herald is under-powered. I don’t think in terms of acceleration against the stop-watch; I need good average cruising-speed and good hill-climbing, and I’ve got them both. So far, top indicated speed (not far off reality, I think) has been 77 mph on M1, with something more in reserve if I had wanted it.

In the first year, petrol consumption has averaged 37 mpg; oil and water consumption are so low that I don’t bother to work them out. Tyres look as if they will do the same distance again. I have spent recent weeks charging up and down such inclines as Porlock Hill with the car loaded to capacity, so I intend having the brakes relined at 12,000, and I am coming to think the clutch will need adjusting at the same time. If I’m in a generous mood, I’ll stand the car a new set of plugs, but they won’t be essential.

Major fault : A bad boot-leak in early days, which has not recurred.

Minor faults : Intermittent trouble with the near-side door; occasional tendency to stick on the part of the off-side window; the handbrake is no better than most others (and they should all be ashamed of themselves). A steering-column squeak, now cured; various squeaks, thumps and bumps which vanish after tightening-up all round. A mild attack of hiccoughs at 2,000, cured by adjusting the carburetter setting. The wheels needed balancing at 6,000.

Minor snags : Wind-whistle; difficulty of balancing warmth, fresh air and dislike of draughts (or am I too fussy ?). My coatcuff gets mixed up with the door handle when I reach for the winding-knob. Inaccurate petrol gauge; and I should like either more instruments or more warning lights. The sequence of light-control settings seemed back-to-front, and I have altered them to give an upward sequence of side-dips-full. The main beam is nothing special. The wipers are noisy.

Major advantage : No trouble. I just keep on getting in, switching on, driving away, getting there, coming back, switching off. Very restful. Minor advantages : Paint and trim still in good shape after a rainy year. Upholstery bearing up under the combined strains of supporting a mobile office and a large dog. The wide range of basic equipment cuts down on expense for extras. Infrequent servicing is a great boon. Interior layout incorporates a lot of sensible details. And what is all this about interior leaks ? Until I started reading your magazine, I didn’t know there were such things.

Comments from experienced drivers : I couldn’t have got my car round that bend at 40. I never believed in this turning circle, but now I’ve seen it ! Oh, how I wish I could see all four corners. Why on earth don’t more cars have irs?

Comment from a learner-driver : It all seems easy, in this car; I haven’t clashed the gears once !

Every non-driving passenger has said that they find the car unusually comfortable.

In short, I like my Herald ! It meets my needs, hasn’t let me down yet (where’s some wood to touch ?), and I find it fun to drive. So here’s my neck, sticking out; and I expect the knowledgeable bods, and the speed boys, and the VW Admiration Society will all chop my head off with one swift stroke of the pen. While waiting for the blow to fall, I’ll keep chuntering on—in and out of London, off on a couple of rallies, pressing-on to a business appointment, mooching about the countryside, doing the shopping—just a poor, innocent, ignorant female adrift in a horrid, horrid Herald, and both of us very happy.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Paula V Grieve, (Miss). Ditchling.