Letters, June 1986

Driving Standards


I have been entertained by the various views on driving standards expressed in MOTOR SPORT over recent months, but find none of them particularly convincing. A. P. Swann has it most right but his examples of the misleading use of signals fail to support his point. I would like to comment on the two main points so far raised. It is not a question of how much signalling but of correct signalling, which could be none. There are situations when a signal could be interpreted in more than one way, and in this case it is necessary to choose the least bad action. Driving is not about black and white situations and frequently a driver has to decide on the best compromise given the unique conditions at that time. To take the attitude that you should always signal is to blunt the judgernent needed on the approach to every hazard.

There is clearly a misunderstanding over how the advanced driver brakes and changes gear on the approach to a hazard. The first point is that braking and changing year are separated; first the brake is applied to reduce speed, followed by the selection of the correct gear. This means that both hands are on the wheel while the car is in the potentially unstable condition of braking. There is no “ON-OFF-ON” the brake as, the speed being correct before the gear change, there is no need to re-apply the brake. The double-declutch downward gearchange is made while sustaining the revs, not boosting them as is usual with heeling-and-toeing.

For those who want to know more, I recommend the Police driving manual, “Roadcraft”, available at HMSO. The only problem with this book is that it is more suited as a course manual, rather than a teach yourself book. A readable treatment of the same techniques is given in “Safe Driving The Police Way” by John Miles. Arborfield, Berks ALAN WHEATLEY



I am writing in the hope that you or your readers might be able to shed some light on the history of the car I have just bought.

It is called the Senga Special and was built by a gentleman by the name of Ed Rogers supposedly around 1950. The chassis is a very nicely made tubular affair with Austin 7 wheels and brakes Power comes from a pair of 175 cc two-stroke cylinders mounted on a common crankshaft with separate oiling.

I understand the car was built to attack some 350 cc records bull do not think Mr Rogers actually attempted them, although the car was sprinted by him in the 1950s. I would dearly love to know more of the history of this interesting car and also how I can contact the 500 Owners Association to see whether they would accept the Senga Special for their events.

I enclose a photograph which I hope willing a few memories. London SE15 J. R. HOLLAND

Alta Conversions


The reference in your article “The Sport Model Altas”, to light-alloy cylinder heads for Austin 7s, took me back to 1958 when Geoffrey Taylor replaced the cylinder head on my 1953 Morris Minor side-valve with an ohv conversion — as far as my memory goes the overhead valves were operated by extended pushrods from the original camshaft. The price, including a straight-through exhaust. was £54.15.0d. It certainly improved the Minor’s performance and surprised quite a few people.

Geoffrey Taylor showed me around the works on the Kingston By-Pass and I found him of a very friendly disposition and quite prepared to give his valuable time to a “mere nobody”.

Welwyn Garden. City, Herts B. G. HADDEN

Pity the Poor Historian


Your correspondents writing on the subject of von Brauchitsch’s rear tyre failure in the 1935 German GP (February and May issues) overlook one other reference to this detail from half a century ago Cyril Posthumus’ The German Grand Prix (Temple Press 1966) reproduces two photographs of the incident, one as pieces of tread were thrown from the bursting left rear tyre. one of von Brauchitsch arriving at the pits on three wheels with good tyres and the rim of the rubberless left rear As this was a race incident, might a race history not have been a more logical place for your correspondents to search?

Crowthorne. B F. HEDGES Berks.

Archie’s Prior-Alvis?


I have read with interest M.L.’s article on Archie Scott-Brown and the subsequent correspondence. Some years ago I heard of a barn in North Lancashire which contained, amongst other things, an interesting Alvis TA14 drophead coupe which had been purchased new by Morris Cargill Esq in March 1948. Mr Cargill cannot have been happy with the Alvis engine (why not?) for he engaged a motor engineer, Ernest Prior of 15 Chilworth Mews, W2 to substitute a flat-head Ford 118 engine and gearbox, in June 1949. A plate on the bulkhead gives details of the Ford engine and proclaims the car to be the “Prior-Alvis-special-V8”.

In 1952 the car was owned by Raymond Dawson of Coventry who sold it in June 1953 to Wm A. Scott-Brown who owned it for five years whilst at two different addresses in Scotland. Eventually it was acquired in rough condition by Melville Tyson of North Lancs. Melville hilIclirnbs a Ford engineered Marlin with a vigour which belies his years, and knowing of the fun I have with the side-valve Ford V8-engined Batten Special, “persuaded” me to buy the Prior-Alvis. It is now in need of complete restoration, but will be worth the trouble, I think. So eventually I get to the point— was this Alvis, JLY 26, owned by Archie Scott-Brown or his father, or by each in turn? And can anyone explain Morris Cargill’s reasons for changing the engine and gearbox from Alvis to Ford? I would be most interested to learn more of the history of this car.

Winchcombe. Gloucs NEIL P. BENNE,

5,000,000 Minis


Your April leader on the five millionth Mini and the state of the British Motor Industry struck a sympathetic chord. I happened to be in France when Peugeot acquired the erstwhile Rootes Group from Chrysler, and very enlightening it was. Le Figaro delightedly reported that it made Peugeot-Citroen the largest motor manufacturer in Europe, triumphantly listing the various other contenders for the distinction, while BL rated not so much as a passing rnention!

You say that we need more designers of the calibre of Sir Alec Issigonis. William Haynes, etc, and also men like Sir Leonard Lord to back them. I believe that the design talent in Britain is not in question, as evidenced by our achievements over many years in motorsport in general and Grand Prix racing in particular; but as for the backing, that is an entirely different matter. As the article on Daimler-Benz developments in your March issue made abundantly clear, and the Japanese have repeatedly demonstrated. It is overall technical capability, not just individual talent, that is the key to consistent industrial success. Until Britain — that is to say, British politicians, British Industry and the City of London—appreciates the need for a major and concerted investment in product development, as opposed to simply installing imported robots in production lines, the occasional “mini” success is all that we can realistically hope for, so perhaps we should make the most of it! In the meantime it seems scarcely surprising if the would-be pioneers of our industrial resurgence seek their fulfilment elsewhere. Enfield. Middx I. J G. BERRY,