Letters from readers, June 1963

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

Carrying skis

Sir,

With the top up skis can be carried in the passenger’s space of an M.G.-A—well, almost in—provided the near-side window is open the tips stick out and follow the line of the hood without projecting beyond the car.

I was stopped by a traffic policeman who inquired about the new type of turning left signal. He seemed happy to be told it was emergency transport for snowbound roads.

Ian Mackie.
Glasgow.

***
Rust!

Sir,

On May 2nd built-in obsolescence reared its ugly head again. A brand new Hillman Imp showed, among its other features, the inevitable British Standard Rust appearing in engine and luggage compartments. So a proud owner can expect to see his pride and joy rot and depreciate in a matter of months. (My Minivan has done so.)

Admittedly this is the throw-away age, but supposing one does have the guilty thought of wanting to own a vehicle for a number of years, what is the answer?

Perhaps Citroën Bijou owners can comment?

E.R. Lane.
Cranbrook.

***

Cortina comment

Sir,

With reference to your comments on the Ford Cortinas, I recently decided to pension off my 1957 A95 and replace it with a 1,000-1,200-c.c. car. I tried the Volkswagen, Mini-Cooper, Morris 1100, and Herald 1200, and marvelled at their individual ways of solving the same problem. That of transporting two, and sometimes four, people from A to B, over good and indifferent roads, in an economical, comfortable, and for the drive, enjoyable manner.

Having tried the various cars, I was about to make my choice, when it happened! The Cortina exploded across motor mags., daily newspapers and breakfast cereal packets. I phoned my Ford Dealer and, in a dazed state, begged a ride. The demonstrator arrived! The door opened, I settled myself in the comfortable driving seat (well, fairly comfortable). Then the sun went in, I was coming too, and had that feeling that I had been here before. Was it the taut ride (like driving a 5-ton lorry chassis), or was it the lorry-type gear-lever, or the cheap (perhaps I should say sensible) rubber “carpets.”

I think it was a combination of these, and several other things, that reminded me of my dear old 1955 100E Prefect.

Imagine, £9-million to develop a car at least 10 years out of date. I can’t wait to get my Morris 1100.

K.R. Monger.
Maidstone.

***

Mythical rarities

Sir,

You may remember that a couple of months ago I wrote to you when an advertiser described a Lagonda Rapier Eagle 2-seater as being one of only four ever built, whereas at least a dozen were made. This month they are claiming that the A.C. 2/4-seater shown in the advert. is one of only two left in the country.

If this is so there must have been a remarkable exodus of these machines from the country in the last few years, as I have taken photographs at various vintage meetings of three diflerent examples of this model. This would appear to add up to four, not including the “other” one mentioned in the advert. To make a claim at least 100% wrong appears to my mind to he a misleading statement, yet immediately below this is printed the fact that it is “not our policy to advertise misleading statements.” This, on top of last month’s “Old Number One” episode and the rather pitiful cover-up of this month, makes one wonder what a misleading statement must be before it becomes misleading!

J. Anthony Wood.
London, N.W.6.

***

An improved M.G. 1100

Sir,

I have justtaken delivery of a new M.G. 1100 and thought you would be interested to know that the rather cheap looking facia has been replaced by one of nicely fitted polished walnut. Also the general body trim seemed to be greatly improved over the model I saw at the Show.

It looks therefore as though some manufactorers take note of your comments and we, the customers, benefit accordingly.

My old car, traded in on part exchange, was a Singer Gazelle convertible which I had new in August 1958. In view of all the mud slinging in your columns against British cars, may I say that in some 60,000 miles’ motoring I have had no mechanical trouble whatsoever. The car was given normal service and I personally tuned the ignition and set the carburetter.

As a family car it gave us great pleasure and the only reason for the change of make is that a year ago I bought a Mini as a second vehicle and have “fallen in love” with front-wheel drive and i.r.s.

If I have the same degree of trouble-free motoring with the M.G. I will be more than satisfied.

W.S. Blewett.
Rudgwick.

***

Safety belts and the Mini

Sir,

A friend of mine made some inquiries concerning an offer of a reduced insurance premium if a well-known make of safety belt was fitted to his car. The following reply was received.

“We thank you for your inquiry to hand regarding motor insurance but regret, in this case, as your car is a Mini, we are unable to quote favourably.”

It must be rather disconcerting to learn that safety belts are of no use in your Mini in the event of an accident. Obviously the people most likely to benefit from this offer are the proud owners of a steam roller or a Centurian tank.

J.F. Jarrams.
Wimbledon.

***

Rigid axle or I.R.S.?

Having read your reply to Mr. Bird’s letter in the March issue on the subject of leaf-springs and solid rear axles, together with the advice of your correspondent J. D F. D. in his Monte Carlo Rally report to manufacturers of “conventional” cars to “take their heads out from under the mass of leaf-springs and solid axles which now befuddle them and realise that their products are hopelessly out of date,” it came as something of a shock to find in the very centre of the magazine an unashamed eulgy of the 250GT Ferrari line.

Despite the blurb in the sub-heading that the 250GT represents “the ultimate in modern high-speed sporting travel,” it is obvious that the 250GT and GTO with their “antiquated” rear suspension are “hopelessly out of date.” One photo caption informs us that Enzo Ferrari does not intend to change his cars for 1963, “not considering it necessary.” This is typical of the stick-in-the-mud attitude of so many designers today which is holding back development of the motor car. He is obviously befuddled by leaf-springs and should lift up his head and follow the lead of the forward-thinking manufacturers you list in your reply to Mr. Bird. He might then begin to get somewhere and even win a few races!

Sir, dare you admit just once, in print, that it is possible to build a good car with a rigid rear axle and leaf-springs—or are the Ferrari successes just freaks?

Ian Norris.
Northfield.

[I have always maintained that if a lightweight rigid rear axle is properly located, very good results, often better than with mediocre i.r.s, will be obtained. But, in the name of progress, i.r.s. must become pretty universal in the next couple of decades. —ED.]

***

The Bugatti Register

Sir,

Thank you for your comments on the new Bugatti Register. We had thought it wise to include cars only when their owners co-operated by supplying data. We know of course that Cordon Bleu and Cordon Rouge are in Mr. F. B. Taylor’s hands but he won’t tell us so, nor the cars’ numbers! As regards the omission of Baby Electric and Peugeot models—again the owners won’t tell us!

Now to whet the appetite of the research worker! I know there is a 4.9-litre Type 54 racer in Czechoslovakia and I am told one of the Type 53 F.W.D. cars (there were in fact two) is somewhere in France. Can someone find them?

H.G. Conway,
Bugatti Owners’ Club.
London, W.2.

***

Tyre life

Sir,

Mr. Heatlie from Cape Town asks for advice on Speed 25 tyres. Making due allowance for road conditions and the difference between a “25” and a “20,” may I suggest he tries Michelin?

I have used them exclusively for my Speed 20 for some 10 years and without claiming Mr. Heatlie’s “accuracy” I normally can count on about 20,000 miles per new tyre (a bit higher in front—a bit lower behind!) and about another 12,000 to 15,000 on remoulds by Michelin.

I am speaking exclusively of 5.50 x 19 sizes from my own experience—but I believe the larger size is available in the Michelin range.

Usual disclaimer re connection with the firm.

E.R. Wiblin.
Harwell.

***

Slush pumps or hand shift?

Sir,

As an Englishman living in the land of 300-h.p. slush pumps, I have read the recent correspondence involving Mr. Kenneth Purdy and others with much interest. It is always interesting to read conflicting opinions from both sides of the Atlantic but distressing to observe nationalism (or Chauvinism if you prefer, Mr. Purdy) turning a discussion into a personal slanging match.

The virtues of any British or American car are obvious to any buyer who can, if he so wishes, choose a car with slush pump (American designed) on either side of the Atlantic. That many people do so choose is evident by the increasing number of British cars offered with optional slush pumps. That such firms as Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, B.M.C., Ford, Vauxhall, etc., offer their cars this way is surely evidence that trends at all levels in Great Britain are following those of the United States. Therefore, I believe Mr. Purdy to be correct when he says that gearboxes are on their way out.

I qualify this conclusion, however, by observing that young men will most always elect to be different and will buy their cars with a “stick shift” until the advancing years and increasing traffic density shows them the real advantage of the slush pump.

As to the merits of horsepower, I am not really qualified to comment as none of my three cars develop anything like 300 h.p. However, I have noticed that as we added to our stable, each member of the family, whenever able, chooses to drive the most powerful car available at the time. Thus, since purchase five months ago, our 2.4 Jaguar (without slush pump, incidentally) has run up the greatest mileage despite the newer condition of our Minx. The elderly Morris Minor (now limited to a 50-mph. maximum because of a disgraceful appetite for big-end bearings) is used by the youngest, who disdains the old lady’s gutless state. So perhaps Mr. Purdy has a point there, too.

No doubt when Mr. Purdy reads my choice of transport, he will accuse me of Chauvinism, too. Yes, Mr. Purdy, you are right, I am Chauvinistic when it comes to cars (for no good reason really) and, despite Mr. Boddy’s oft printed opinion, I still believe that Jaguar is the best car in the world.

But let me end with the observation that I am not blind to the excellent merits of American cars and I am very much aware of the rising tide of interest in motoring sport everywhere in this country. I shall be delighted to read of American-built cars winning races in Europe* and perhaps this year’s Lotus Indy Ford will be a forerunner of successful Grand Prix cars from Detroit — and with slush pumps, too!

P.J. Shasby.
San Jose, California.

*Like the Ford Galazie which beat the trio of Jaguars at Silverstone on May 11th?—ED.

***

VW and Molyslip

Sir,

With reference to Mr. John Bastable’s letter in the May issue of Motor Sport concerning VWs and Molyslip, it is, of course, perfectly true that Volkswagen state in their instruction manuals that no additives should be mixed with either engine or transmission oil. Some months ago, however, our Company approached Volkswagen at Wolfsburg regarding these instructions in an endeavour to get them altered as Molyslip was being used by VW owners all over the world. Following technical discussions at Wolfsburg, Volkswagen confirmed to us that the policy of strong neutrality which they have followed for many years with all manufacturers of lubricants would forbid them to recommend Molyslip by name, but if it was the wish of any of their customers to use Molyslip as a supplement in VW engines they had no objection whatsoever.

We believe that Molyslip is the only supplement which has been given even qualified recognition, within the limit of Volkswagen’s declared policy of neutrality as regards lubricants. To avoid any misunderstanding a copy of the original letter in German is available at our offices.

C.M. Knight, Technical Liaison
p.p. Slip Products Co. Ltd.
St. Albans.

***

Gearboxes and gear ratios

Sir,

It was a nostalgic pleasure to find Motor Sport on the news stand recently, not having seen it since I subscribed several years ago. The subscription was allowed to lapse, mainly in frustation with not being able to look at any of the interesting vintage cars advertised for sale.

Disagreement with Mr. Ken Purdy, as quoted in the February letters to the Editor, is the main reason for writing this letter. With all respect to Mr. Purdy as an established writer on automotive matters, I am convinced he misjudges the present popularity of 4-speed gearboxes in American cars when he dismisses this as a “fad.” Admittedly, many of us would choose an imported car with a multi-speed manual shift as standard equipment when the U.S. manufacturer charges the price of an automatic for the 4-speed option. Even so, we welcome the availability of the feature on Detroit products and hope it will be a permanent one.

The list of my present cars may reinforce this opinion:

1930 Chrysler 77 coupé (“multi-range” 4-speed).
1954 Hudson Hornet sedan (B-W automatic gearbox for trailer towing—an expensive experiment—I will trade for a Hudson with 3-speed and overdrive at the earliest opportunity).
1958 Goggomobil T400 (electric 4-speed—wish the manual had been available).
1962 Corvette (Chevrolet), 250. h.p., 4-speed, 3.36-to-1 limited slip diff.

I should probably explain these cars are not the result of free choice. ‘The Corvette is an inheritance and the purchase of the others was dictated by limited funds and an interest in old, used, and small cars, respectively. Being a high school teacher with three youngsters, I can only afford to insure two cars at a time, and periodically change the coverage from one to another, with unhappy sounds from my insurance man, promising not to drive the ones uninsured at the moment.

One additional comment: The British cars I have owned (Austin A40 Devon and Sports, Hillman Husky) were all(?) under-geared for their typical use in this country as lightly-loaded freeway commuters. Why are these cars not offered with alternative rear axle ratios? I can understand why a 5 to 1 is good for caravan towing in Devon, but in California 3.5 would be more appropriate. Most people here who try a VW and an M.G. 1500 will end up with the VW simply because of its easy 65-m.p.h. gait (the California speed limit), in spite of the numerous advantages of the M.G. at a moderately higher cost.

James C. Crittenden.
Menlo Park, California.

***

Speedometer reconditioning

Sir,

With reference to the letter from J. W. Allen, published in the May issue, concerning the speedometer reconditioning service which we operate, in fairness to your readers we feel we should point out that since our quotation to this gentleman, we have been forced to increase our prices and for your information we enclose our current price list for reconditioning speedometers.

The cost for fitting trip and 1/10ths recorders remains the same, i.e., from £2 15s. to £5, according to the model and type of conversion required.

We feel this letter will ensure that your readers are not misled and will obviate the need for apologies on our behalf when replying to inquiries from your readers.

G. Smith,
p.p. G. & E. Ingle Limited.
Nottingham.

***
Morgan road test
Sir,
Would you please ensure that your initials appear at the foot of any future road tests of Morgans and other sports cars, and let M. L. T. back to his Sprites and Spitfires.

Roger H. Barsall.
Clevedon.

[I suggest Mr. Barsall refers to W. B.’s article in our October 1951 issue on his sad experiences with a Plus Four he then owned. In any case the Editor put in 300 miles in the test car on the Sunday before I drove it and said he was very glad to hand it over to me!—M. L. T.]