I was delighted to see that you declined to report, or comment on the Economy Run. That publication devoted a double-page spread to it, of which some 30% was an apologia for modifying the rules to enable a car which is not yet on the market to win, the VW diesel Golf.
One has known publications not a million miles from Bonhill Street to state their preference for the Volkswagen, but The Motor’s prejudice has prejudiced the credibility of this Run. Sixty-three m.p.g. is a remarkable achievement, but I fear that few will buy a £4,000 motor car for its economy, particularly in view of rather ordinary performance.
Much more signficant was the 52 m.p.g. of the Mini 1000, an average of 15% better than the Fiat, Ford, Jap, Peugeot, Renault and VW offerings which have paid Sir A. Issigonis such sincere compliments by following his ideas so faithfully. One would have thought the imitators should have improved on the original by now, but they have not even caught up. One can well understand BL reluctance to replace something so good.
They would do better to publicise the superiority of the Mini more forcefully, like bringing back the Cooper S works rally team.
But of course the petrol car which came second to the diesel was of a basic layout which is some 80 years old. The Reliant Kitten was 10% more economical than the Mini, and a resounding 25% better than the aforementioned group of foreign or “Eurocars” (to be spoken in a phoney mid-Atlantic accent). In 27,000 miles my Kitten has had no mechanical trouble. It can do 60 m.p.g., can do 0-60 m.p.h. in 14 seconds, can do 80 m.p.h. in 3rd gear, often does 8o m.p.h. for hours on end – 4,500 r.p.m. in top, and never spends any time under cover.
The real sadness is that by re-designing the rear suspension 20% of its frontal area could be lost, enhancing its performance generally and particularly its high-speed economy. But I don’t think Mr. Reliant was listening when I tried to tell him; they used my last letter to you as publicity. Perhaps they’ll take notice of this one. But it is nice to know that in many ways British cars are still best. So why do the beggars still go out and buy foreign rubbish?
Salehurst, Robert Elliot-Pyle