Letters from readers, June 1972

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

Poor publicity

Sir,

Please—Tell me there’s a way by which advertisements such as that of “India GT Radials” (April) can be kept from the pages of Motor Sport.

There’s no denying it caught my attention, but now I shall NEVER buy that make of tyre.

Apart from this, my compliments on the continuing excellence (admittedly a subjective judgement) of Motor Sport.

Purley. John K. White.

———

Sir,

They say nothing is perfect but I regret to say even Motor Sport has developed a blemish. Please, Please, eradicate it forthwith! I refer, of course, to that ghastly advert for India Tyres between pages 372-373, (April), which is simply an insult to the readers of Motor Sport. It’s the sort of ad. that is, and should only be, found in American comics and the so called “With it”, (“Without it” might be more accurate!) car magazines. The obvious retort is “don’t look at it”, but would you, for example, feel happy driving a car, (however good), that had in chrome letters on the boot the words “Super Duper—Zoom Zoom Model” ? Now be honest!

Do please print this letter, if only to show the perpetrators what some Motor Sport readers think of their moronic effort.

Anyone else agree ?

The Gambia, E. Africa. R. K. Bartholomew.

* * *

Good service

Sir,

With reference to your recent articles on Ferrari and other Italian exotica, it seems to me that many Italian classics suffer from oiling up problems. I have a Lancia Aurelia GT 1954 which would run on 3 to 6 cylinders because of oiling and on consulting Harry Manning (who else ?) he suggested NGK plugs, which have cured the problem completely. They may not be wonder plugs but they do cure oiling problems which can be most annoying when trying to overtake bicycles, etc.!

My Aurelia has covered 200,000 km + and has not had a major overhaul and still does 25 m.p.g. petrol and 150 m.p.p. of oil. With such vehicles one finds that people show enormous interest in non-mass-produced boxes. Recently I had an accident in a new type Rapier, sustaining roof and body damage and I find that spares for this vehicle are harder to come by than for the Lancia. Although many innovations have been made since my Aurelia has been constructed, at 18 years old, apart from the inevitable rust (not as had as some modern cars) it does not suffer from rattles and many maladies of latter day vehicles.

Another point about running vehicles of this type is that one finds usually a club for the particular marque.

I recently joined the Lancia Motor Club (UK) and find the information available, contacts, and help invaluable. Perhaps the Flaminia owner in last month’s issue should do some investigating as he will get spares quicker and cheaper if he knows where the best place is to get them. I think this situation is the same with Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and various others.

Newbury. Barrie J. H. Crows.

* * *

More good service

Sir,

When I had to replace a leather seal in my Jaguar’s servo unit, the local Jaguar agent told me that supplies at the factory were exhausted. The same answer came from several Jaguar agents in England, contacted by a friend who tried to get it for me. I then decided to write directly to the Clayton Dewandre Co. Ltd., who made these servo units for Jaguar. And Clayton Dewandre promptly sent me the seal free of charge. I think this kind of service deserves a special mention, especially as it contrasts sharply with the car maker’s attitude.

Uruguay. Alvaro Casal Tatlock.

* * *

Rover—A defence

Sir,

Several years ago I bought a Rover TC 2000 largely because of your praise for this particular Model in Motor Sport; what was good enough for the Editor was good enough for me! I became forthwith a Rover enthusiast and I have now got a 3500S, bought through the SMT after a delay of four months, though I am an ordinary individual with trade connections. I was somewhat surprised at your adverse comments on the Rover V8 in April’s “First Impressions Of the BMW 2500”. I wonder if this is not somewhat a case of “sour grapes”, since you say that in five months you have been unable to buy a 3500S, or even to drive one. I seem to remember a certain congratulatory telegram once nearly sent to Peter Wilks from a remote part of Wales!

You say that the Rover has an outdated cramped body shell. If this means that it is not one of the aerodynamic monstrosities often depicted in your pages, long may the Royer remain outdated. The Rover seats four people in great comfort ; the average motorist seldom wishes to take all his relations along with him. A “very big boot and unlimited internal stowage” means for most people carrying a lot of empty space around for perhaps fifty weeks in the year. At an extra cost of about £1,000.

The motor trade complains of foreign cars encroaching on the home market. This is something for which, I think, the motor press is partly to blame, by giving foreign cars a disproportionate share in its pages for road tests etc. I confess I am myself too prejudiced to contemplate buying a foreign car, unless the home industry becomes non-existent due to the “spoiled child” attitude of many of its workers. So, despite the apparent excellence of the BMW it will always be “A Rover for me”.

Langholm. Robt. B. R. Bloxham.

[It wasn’t sour grapes, merely a statement of facts which the BMW brought more directly to my attention. Times change and cars with them! I used to subscribe to the “unwanted—big boots” theory but many people these days use a car for long spells away from home, including holidays. Are they to buy two cars because one will not accommodate the holiday luggage ? My unbiased overdue report on the Rover 3500S appeared last month. As to better Press coverage of foreign cars, we can only comment on what is submitted for test ! — Ed.]

———

Sir,

I deduce from your comments in Motor Sport that you are tempted by the Rover 3500S, and I thought you might be interested in my comments, having just traded in my BMW 2002 with 68,000 miles on the clock for the 3500S. I should add that I made my choice after trying Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Triumph PI, Rover 3500 Auto, BMW 2000 TI and 2500, Peugeot, and even a second hand Bristol 409, so the decision was not made without thought!

The Rover is now nicely run-in, and there is no doubt in my mind that it is vastly superior to the BMW on virtually every count, and that provided the bodywork is big enough, you would be pushed to buy a better all round car at any price. Having just completed a big mileage in the BMW, the most outstanding points of the Rover in comparison are its great superiority in ride, seating comfort, ventilation, instrumentation and equipment, and the smooth and effortless performance and high cruising speed from the engine. (A recent trip down from the north of Scotland showed that the BMW is much too low geared in top for effortless high speed cruising which is strange in a car from the home of the Autobahn, though the engine is clearly quite happy to be revved hard all day, but it does not make for effortless long distance travel.)

The standard of paintwork and interior trim is also in a different class.

The only points on which the BMW scores is naturally on fuel consumption, quality of gear-change, (though the Rover has been improved), and possibly in handling, though my Rover has heavy duty suspension, which may contribute to much better handling than I had expected. Last but not least it is perfect for towing my Lister Bristol to the JCB Historic Car races!

Broxworth. D. S. Muirhead.

[My further comments on the Rover 3500S appeared last month and some more thoughts about the BMW 2500 appear on page 626. Shall we leave it there, for the moment ? — Ed.]

* * *

That “Pomeroy Trophy” Rover 3500S

Sir,

As the proud owner of the orange Rover 3500S which you mentioned in the brief report of the Pomeroy Trophy in the April addition of Motor Sport, I thought perhaps you might be interested in its history to date. It was first built in 1966 as a pre-production prototype of the 3500 automatic. After about six months or so development work, it was converted to a manual gearbox and proceeded to break several axles and gearboxes, since at that time they were all fairly standard 2000 units. In 1968 it was loaned to Brico for development of fuel injection, mainly, of course, their electronic system, and having completed development work as far as was permitted was then sold for a short time to one of the AE staff, who had it resprayed and a vinyl roof fitted.

Amidst many amazingly complicated negotiations between the owner at that time, the Rover Company and myself, the car was updated to latest “S” specification in December 1971 by the fitting of a latest gearbox and clutch unit, steering box and rear suspension arms, so that mechanically it is virtually a production 1972 3500S.

I have now covered about 6,000 miles in the car and have found that it lives up completely to all claims made about it. It is extremely quiet, extremely smooth and has a performance comparable at worst, and superior on many occasions, to the previous car which I ran, which was a BMW 2002 with Alpina conversion.

I should perhaps explain that for ten years I worked at the Rover Company in the Engineering Department for Mr. J. Swaim, as Assistant Road Test Engineer and later as a project engineer on exhaust emission control. I left some three years ago and now work near London Airport, still in the Motor Trade but connected with foreign cars. After this sort of working life I am not easily impressed with any particular car but suffice it to say that during most weekends my firm’s car stays in the garage and the Rover is out travelling the countryside. I hope the above comments are of interest.

Windsor. Brian R. Terry.

* * *

Motorway instruction

Sir,

Further to the recent letters regarding Mr. Enoch Powell on the Motorway. I have expected Mr. Powell to make a reply to your invitation but he has failed to do so and I think that now is the time for the Minister of Transport to make a clear statement as to the position of the driver on the Motorway who wishes to overtake and is unable to do so legally, that is without passing on the nearside because someone in front is breaking the law by refusing to get back to the nearside when not overtaking.

When a driver comes across one of these queer types who refuses to pull over and allow the overtaking motorist to pass alter a courteous indication with the winkers or perhaps a short flash on the headlights to attract the attention of the driver in front that one wishes to overtake, if the driver in front refuses or declines to pull over to his nearside and allow the overtaking driver to proceed, can you please tell me what is the correct thing to do, I mean other than staying behind, because it is obvious that if one driver catches up with another driver on any road, the overtaking driver wishes to go at a faster speed, and if the leading driver does not want to go at a faster speed the least he can do is to pull over and let someone else pass by who does ?

Huddersfield. S. Beardsell.

[We are as disappointed as our correspondent that Mr. Enoch Powell had no reply to make! There is still time, if he wishes to justify his actions, for a letter to be published. — Ed.]

* * *

The Rover 3500S

Sir,

I read every word of your report most carefully. My car has only travelled 800 miles and so I am not yet in a position to make any very useful comments. Solely because of your one-time thought of using one yourself as personal transport. I briefly compare my experience with yours:

Oil consumption.—After 800 miles my dipstick shows at least as high a level as at mileage 50 when I first checked it.

Wander when driving inside winds.—I find the wander very evident (and my greatest disappointment).

Whine in lower gears.—Yes, there is (personally, I like it!).

Brakes.—Immensely smooth and powerful, requiring very gentle pressure. Superb.

Engine.—I don’t attain 4,000-4,500 r.p.m. yet, but at around 3,000 “smooth but hums in a subdued fashion” is le mot juste. Lovely.

Steering.—Low-geared, as you say (my second criticism after “wander”, although the latter is a much worse fault). Mine is not heavy, but light, and too light for my taste.

Yaw.—I haven’t experienced it at all. Perhaps it’s because my suspension is unworn. My brother, who has a 1968 Rover 2000, commented on how taut my car felt in comparison with his.

London, W2. Paul. Baddeley.

[The excessive yaw on the road-test Rover 3500S was extremely unpleasant and in my opinion spoilt the car completely. I thought it might be due to a fault or wear in the particular car, so I telephoned the Press Officer who arranged for us eventually to test a 3500S, suggesting that when he got the car back he might like to drive it and then let me know if the ride and handling felt normal. I have heard nothing more since our report was published, so can only conclude that the Rover Company is satisfied that all was in order. — Ed.]

———

Sir,

Attracted by its performance and price, I was persuaded to change my Scimitar for one of these cars in January; I have not been as disappointed as I was afraid I was going to be.

The funny wheel trims, and crinkly Fablon on the roof one has to accept, protestingly. My car came with power steering, which initially I hated, but after a fortnight amongst the Italian avalanches in February I came to trust the steering a little more, because there is a certain amount of feel left. The alternative Rover offering of soggy lorry unassisted steering is not very attractive either.

After Italy I realised why the boot was so small. If it were any bigger the lurchings induced by having it full would make the car uncontrollable; luckily the power steering is quick enough to damp out the more vigorous oscillations.

For the past two months springy Konis on the back, and ordinary ones on the front, have made the handling much more joyful. Perhaps it is a pity that one should have to spend £40 on a £2,000 car to make it handle.

As a high-speed, long-distancecar the Rover is superb. Mine has an irritating trick of losing all its clutch fluid if driven over 110 m.p.h. for any length of time. I can cure the symptom with a piece of bleeding tube. I wish the manufacturer’s plus agents’ enthusiasm to cure the disease before the guarantee expires matched my own.

The Rover is very nearly a fun car, and there is nothing else at the price which goes anything like as well.

Shawford. T. J. Threlfall.

* * *

“The adventure of the ill-fated Singers”

Sir,

I feel I must put pen to paper and add some information about the Singer team cars. I did write to you in 1963/4 for information about AVC 484—one of the team cars which I had just acquired. Acquired is a good descriptive word here—I did a straight swap for a 1936/7 Austin Ruby, that cost me precisely nothing! How about that for a bargain—a works sports/racing car for free!

Anyway, I did a quick bit of rebuilding and used the car for everyday transport and, believe me, this was fun. My car had, I think, an ENV back axle with Brooklands ratios: 40 m.p.h. in 1st, 60 in 2nd, 80 in 3rd, and a speed (at Brooklands) of 103 m.p.h. To try and drive this in Manchester city traffic was not the easiest of things to do. On the open road this car gave me the most fun I’ve had for years. The whine of straight-cut gears, bags of fresh air and really superb steering and road-holding. There is absolutely no comparison between the normal everyday Singer Le Mans and the team cars. Each one reputedly cost Singers in the region of £10,000 to develop and run for a season and each one was hand-built, even the nuts and bolts on mine were numbered. Every part that could be made of alloy was, even to filler caps and radiator shell, etc., and I was informed that the sump was elektron, or some similar light alloy.

Correspondence at the time with the SO Club gave me the information that mine was the only original car left in existence—one other in the Club being extensively modified.

Chassis number on mine was 62799 and I finally sold the car to a gentleman who promised to rebuild it to as-new condition. This I believe he did, but I moved to another part of the country and lost touch. If the car is still in this country I should appreciate the opportunity tosSee the car again„ and if possible beg just one more ride in her.

Horwich. J. E.:Anthony Barclay.

———

Sir,

I own TT Singer AVC 481 and have done so for the past nine years. Due to marriage and two moves of house my car is still undergoing restoration, after a practice shunt at the VSCC Silverstone meeting in July 1963.

AVC 483, Which you illustrate, belonged to Archie Lymon of Glasgow for many years. Both of our cars competed in the 750 MC Relay Race some years ago, but the actual year escapes my memory.

I know the approximate whereabouts of the third car but this is a closely guarded secret. As to what happened to the fourth, this still remains a complete mystery. My one ambition is to own all four cars.

Incidentally, I have a copy of the other photograph you published; this was presented to me by S. C. H. Davis when he found out that I owned one of the cars. Many thanks for an excellent publication which I have enjoyed regularly for almost twenty years, Carry on the good work.

Radley. Peter Fennell.

* * *

Styling

Sir,

I read with interest your amide on the Rovor 3500S and in particular the remarks concerning the proverbial chrome strips and plastic to which Rovers now seem to have degenerated.

I seem to remember that two or three years ago Rovers used the advertising slogan, something to the effect that “Thank goodness that in this day and age of built-in obsolescence a Rover is still a Rover”. I think many will agree that the Rover 2000 range of motor cars is fast becoming a built-in obsolescence range with the totally unnecessary changes in wheel spats, roof vinyl, radiator grilles, and even moving the name “Rover” from the middle of the boot lid to the bottom righthand corner.

The particular reason I write this letter is because I must be one of the many motoring/vintage enthusiasts who either for financial or domestic reasons cannot afford to run a vintage motor car but still appreciate quality when they see it.

In this connection I recently purchased for £75 a 1963 Rover 3-litre which, apart from a little sill rust, a weekend’s elbow grease and a new overdrive solenoid, needs very little to restore it to very reasonable condition. Not being very familiar with Rovers up until now, I find the general quality of the product leaving little to be desired and in no circumstances can it be equated with the 2000 range which now seems to have joined Ford, Vauxhall, Triumph, etc., with some sort of totally irrelevant biennial face-lift.

I could go on for pages but suffice it to say it would appear that quality is fast disappearing in British cars in deference to the demand for “styling”.

Little Bookham. R. C. Hall.

* * *

Move over, Rover!

After reading Mr. Townsend’s letter in the May issue concerning the Rover advertisement, I had a closer look at other Rover ads.

And surprise! In the Severn Bridge photograph the same impediment happens. Further more, in the Mersey Tunnel scene the Rover seems to be stationary and unattended. Surely a breach of tunnel regulations. Keep up the good work.

Worcester. M. J. Sanders. (aged 16)

[Sharp eyes herel — Ed.]

* * *

VW Advertising

Sir,

With reference to Volkswagen’s current advertising for the K70 in the Daily Telegraph for May 1st, the advertisement asks the question, “Why would anyone give them up for a Volkswagen” beneath pictures of six different cars apparently traded in at dealer points around the country for K70s. What I do find extraordinary is that of the six cars pictured not one has a registration number pertaining to the locality in which, according to the advertisement, it was traded in.

I would like to know if there is any validity in the supposition that VW Dealers deal exclusively with long-distance motorists who, when seeing the overpriced K70 cannot resist stopping on the forecourt in a haze of tyre-smoke, rushing in and doing a deal ?

The advertising statement which begins with “Not only is it quite attractive” I find a delightfully negative approach as the copy writer is obviously uncertain of the appeal exuded by this unremarkable vehicle.

Having recently been on the Continent in my £1,100, 1-litre, front wheel-drive, hydro-pneumatically suspended, power disc-braked car and leaving K70s for dust on both motorways (where I can cruise at 93-95 m.p.h.) and on badly surfaced, twisting roads, I can tell you there is one car that nobody will give up for a K70.

The car ? A Citroën GS.

Wye. A. Chantrill.

* * *

Rover comments

Sir,

have been a Rover owner for many years, beginning with a 1936 14, 1949 75, a beautiful car, 90, 3-litre, and subsequently, with a farnily reduced in size, a 3560.

I have had quite wide experience of many other makes and always felt that the old 3-litre with manual steering was very stable in a straight line in cross-wind conditions and, provided that one had the courage of one’s convictions and good tyres, would negotiate main-road bends in a very satisfactory manner. My later power-assisted coupe was was not as good on the straight. Nevertheless I find the 3500 acceptable and, due to its more compact size, a great deal better on winding roads.

Handling and standards of comfort are always a matter of opinion; the big. Rover is about the last of the really well-made ears of yesterday, and I regret the scrapping of its successor, after all we need all the opposition we can muster to counter the Mercedes invasion of the European and World luxury market: everyone does not see the XJ6 as their answer to their particular need, many prefer something less bulbous and bulky.

Your road test of the 3500S prompted this missive; as usual the article told you very much more about the car in terms of the things that matter to the prospective owner than most found in other publications. I always leave those in your contemporaries with the impression that all cars tested are marvellous, the faults glossed over.

However, you have made one point common to the majority of tests of the 3 1/2 litre-engined Rovers, namely a fairly thirsty oil figure. The old long-stroke engines in my experience tended to settle at about one thousand miles to the pint at about ten thousand miles and gradually increasing consumption with age, particularly if driven hard, to the point of embarrassment. Now my Three-thousand-Five uses perhaps a quarter of a pint between services, at 65,000 miles. I can only assume that cars submitted for test purposes are not fully run-in, or perhaps have been subjected to-a youth of hard driving at too many hands.

May I thank you for Motor Sport, which I have enjoyed consistently since the mid-thirties.

Dinas Powis. G. A. Perrott.