I have a 1937 Riley Monaco. It is not, I must admit, anything to write to Motor Sport about. I have not owned it long enough to be able to claim any outstanding performances and, apart from a pretty little “mod.” on the tail, there is nothing outstanding about the car.
It has acquired some distinction, however. It is the first car I have owned on which I have been refused insurance, and my past is strewn with enough superannuated saloons and misbegotten two-seaters to stock a small breaker’s yard.
There was a 1929 Singer which always caught fire on Tuesday afternoons; a 1931 Morris Minor which didn’t know its right from its left; a Model Y Ford which collapsed under me after two years of dreadful hack work; and a 1939 8-h.p. saloon which darted about the road like a Mexican jumping bean when one steered it straight, and rolled murderously when one cornered above 18 m.p.h. All these, and several more, underwriters fought to insure and, except for two trivial damage claims, they did nothing but give me a receipt for my money.
Now, when for the first time I have a car which is in first-cass order throughout, I am turned away. Insurance company No. 1 made me pay a guinea for an engineer’s report, which said that two spokes were loose in a front wheel and there was slight play in a steering ball joint, and then turned me down flat. Insurance company No. 2 is insisting on having these very serious faults remedied and will then, I understand, consider taking me on, subject to various other undertakings. I am hoping to be allowed to drive the car sometimes…
My brokers, who are as angry with firm No. 1 (a Lloyd’s syndicate) as I am, tell me that underwriters have taken a beating on car accounts lately. Evidently, the blancmange shapes you mentioned last month and the multi-millionaires who drive them are proving expensive. But it seems to me that you and I and everyone who drives a pre-war car are going some way towards bearing the burden. Insurance company No. 2 has not yet been sordid enough to discuss the cost of underwriting my 1937 death-trap. They need not; they have the law on their side and I must pay a king’s ransom to any company who will deign to exact it. Without being political, is it not time the Government provided the cover the law demands and put an end to this legalised blackmail?
I am, Yours etc.,