I am extremely interested in the present discussion about diesel-engined vehicles. Four years ago I bought a 1963 Bedford CA van, fitted with a Perkins 4-99 engine, from the National Blood Transfusion Service. It had 104,000 miles on the clock, to which I have added a further 44,000. As far as I know the engine is original and untouched, apart from routine maintenance, and reliability to date has been 100%.
I have made four trips to the Continent, With excursions to Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Corsica (twice) and Andorra in the Pyrenees (five times!). Diesel fuel on the Continent is cheaper than petrol and that, combined with good m.p.g. figures obtainable from a diesel, makes for cheaper holidays. The van cruises happily at 45-50 m.p.h. all day, at which speed the engine is as smooth as any petrol one. I get approximately 40 m.p.g., a figure which is little affected either by load or town driving and I’m sure that this could be improved by fitting a higher axle ratio or larger wheels.
Features which particularly endear the diesel to me include clean pulling-power from cold (no fiddling with a choke control for the first few miles, as with so many petrol engines) and the absence of electrics. What joy it is not to have to contend with darnel coils, dirty points, duff condensers and wornout spark-plugs! With a healthy battery the diesel will start first time, every time, regardless of weather.
The only problems that I have encountered have been fuel seepages from loose unions and the occasional compression leak from an improperly seated injector. Both are easily rectified.
I would like to see more diesel-engined cars on the market. I understand that British Leyland produce diesel-engined Marinas for export. Please, Lord Stokes, may we be allowed to buy them, too?
Old Headington G. Elliot-Smith