MATTERS OF MOMENT, March 1956
MATTERS OF MOMENT
THE MONTE CARLO RALLY IN RETROSPECT
Because it is the most widely publicised winter motoring event. the Monte Carlo Rally continues to be news until the racing season recommences. This year’s Rally was highly satisfactory On wn counts—(I) although the average speeds seemed low, the organisers chose the route with such skill that the regularity section from Paris to Monte Carlo, and the subsequent. 150-mile mountain test for the 90 qualifying cars, was it very Severe test of men and
cars, was it very Severe test of men and machines, and (2) Britain won it.
It is the ideal of the organisers to find the winner on the road section and this they did, because the first ten places remained unchanged after the brake test, although these place-holders had to be driven as hard as the others over the brutal mountain course if marks were not to be dropped. Had snow and ice been added to the fog hazard we would not. like to guess how many competitors would have fallen out before reaching Monte Carlo or what the outcome of the race-on-the-mountains would have been ! Make no mistake. the 1956 Monte Carlo was exceedingly tough. the final ” regularity test ” becoming a miniature ” Mille Miglia ” or ” Targ,a Florio ” which alone eliminated over 20 per cent. of those running in it—and it was, indeed, a tougher preposition than the old driving tests or the timed circuits of the Monaco G.P. course used in former years.
years. We have already praised highly the consummate skill of Ronald Adams, Bigger and Johnston in winning the Rally outright in their
Mk. VII Jaguar, a car which ran faultlessly and which we tinder. on and was a perfectly normal example, although supplied by the works. Indeed. Adams apparently tried it round the Dundrod circuit before the Rally and considered it to have less “.edge ” than the Mk. VII he uses as everyday transport. Sunbeam did splendidly to capture the One-Make Team Prize for the third time, especially as Harper’s car demolished a portable petrol pump on route. Second place in the Rally was taken by another sizeable car, u Mercedes-Benz 220, while en extremely creditable third piney, in view of its modest engine capacity, was
taken by a D.K.W., which, with three-cylinder-in-line two-stroke engine and front-wheel drive, underlines the practicability ut a design which yesterday was called unconventional—tying with it was a British Sunbeam Mk. III. Dare we draw attention to the fact that the inexpensive air-cooled. rear-engined Volkswagen was fifth -and 11th nut of 233 cars placed ‘:’
The now Citroen D.S19 did very well, too, for of six of these futuristic ears which started six arrived at Monte Carlo, five qualified in the group of 90 which could do so and two completed the ” Milk Miglia,” two of the other three crashing and the third retiring with what could have been a flat battery. Indeed, the Citroen 135I9 was the highest-placed French car, finishing in seventh place, and Citroen DS19s were runners-up to Sunbeam for the Team Prize. Thus the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally has set this technically-exciting newcomer from a great European factory on the road to Success, the lie to those who were
giving the lie to those who were whis.pering that it is too uneonveutional to work or even appeal !
British cars took the prizes for Road Safety and Security, and that for Comfort, the former going to Gatsonides and Becquart in n new Standard Vanguard Phase lii, which was eighth in the Rally, and the last-named being awarded to Mike Cooper and Pat Effingham in a specially-fitted-out Austin A90. The best dozen makes when all the shouting and acclaim had died and Graise Kelly had reverted to the chief item of news in Monte Carlo are worthy of note :—
1st e Jognor Mk. VIT.
2nd : Mereedoe..13eux, 220. tmd SU/Abel”. Mk. III (tie
rith : Volk,i?vage.n. SrI,: ELM. I’,
7th : Citroen DS19.
8th : Stnalhird Vougutml 1/11.
9th Purthord 851.
111th Sun hewn Mk. M. llth cotkwngrtl.
121h Panlinr11 851. Students of design will not overlook the fact that four of theseexcellent automobiles were tooled by air and that six of them were: sores propeller-shaft
The navigational exercises necessary to ensure that cars did not arrive early or late at the many controls instituted for this year’s Rally were tedious to some and called for average-speed devices, not all of which proved reliable. In contrast, Salvadori, Young and Coombs paid no particular attention to time-keeping, opening a Michelin map and just pressing on, to arrive on time and qualifying-Salvadori described it as a harder task than motor racing–but, alas. their Ford Anglia finished on three cylinders, without brakes and with the gears jumping out, so that it %VHS unable to take the Monolain Test.
We can excuse failures in this test, and of the twenty whieh failed in. it. as far as we can ascertain the majority were eliminated by accidents, although this may not in every ease be put down as. ” cockpit error,” for brake fade and failure almost certainly spelt a crash. brake inefficiency. for eXample, cansing the accidents which.
eliminated Joan Johns’ and G. Burgess’ Austin A90s and Archie Scott-Brown’s Austin A50, while Wharton’s Austin A90 shed a wheel and Jopp’s Jaguar burst a tyre. All the more credit, then, to Adams and his Jaguar for making no mistakes and having no brake fade . . . Yes, failure on the Saturday you could forgive, but troubles on the 2,600-mile road-section stood out like sore thumbs in a Rally devoid of bad weather. Would you, for instance, want to buy three batteries on the equivalent of a tour through Europe to t he Riviera, which is virtually what Nancy Mitchell had to do for her M.G. Magnette, which also had several other troubles ? Or expect to have a couple of wheels come off as Les Brooke did in a Standard Ten, or lose your headlights and the ignition distributor as Raymond Baxter did on his Austin A90, or arrive at your hotel quite without brakes, as happened to a Riley Pathfinder, some of the small Fords and other cars ? There was the case of Reg Harris’ Jaguar which had clutch failure after only a comparatively few miles, the manifold troubles of the British-crewed A.C. Aceea, the collapse of the rear suspension of the only Vauxhall Velox entered, Put Moss’ worries about a non-charging dynamo on the Austin A90, Joy Cooke’s faulty wipers on her Ford Zephyr, the retirement of Gregor Grant’s M.G. Magnette with dynamo failure, loss of the cooling water, followed by failure of most of the electries, lights included, and
unreliable instruments, and Banks’ Bristol with a burnt-out dynamo, the privately-entered M.G. Magnette prepared by the B.M.C. Competition Department, which retarded its ignition and nearly shed its shock-absorbers before getting to the start, the burnt-out clutch which eliminated Fadum’s Sunbeam Mk. III, and an M.G. delayed by carburetter trouble. Moreover, shattered windscreens troubled the crews of an Opel, a Ford and a Jaguar, and the heaters on Nancy Mitchell’s M.G. and Grant’s M.G. ceased to function. Such troubles obviously shouldn’t happen, especially amongst works-prepared cars, but competitions are intended to divulge weaknesses and many valuable lessons can be read into the results of this year’s Monte Carlo Rally. However, it must be remembered that for British journalists news of British retirements is easier to obtain than news of why foreign cars were eliminated; Peugeot and Fiat apparently suffered from mechanical failures, Greta Molander’s Mercede.-Benz 220 was a very sick car, and in the limit test one cannot overlook that four Skodas, for example, started but none finishe /. By our reckoning, of the 76 startera who retired or were disqu Ilified for being too late getting to Monte Carlo, 28 were British and he remaining :18 were foreign, so we need not feel too sensitive about the Rally results, although the suppliers of dynamos, voltage regulators and batteries to our Big Five should certainly take heed of the electrical maladies which retired some of the British entry and delayed others. Nor must we overlook the fact that at the very Continued on page 121
end of the contest, of the 70 cars to return from the race round the mountains the proportion of foreign to British was 49 to 21.
Personal memories of the Rally ? The efficient Channel crossings provided by Silver City Airways, one of the finest examples there is of what private enterprise can achieve, who deservedly have been rewarded recently with the Cumberbatch Trophy for Air Safety. The efficiency of a 1 Hare Porsche for conveying two people and their luggage rapidly across France and back, the suspension, seats, beater, light controls and high cruising speed rendering this about the ideal for effintless, economic travel—which is emphasised by the winning of the coveted Coupe des Dames by the Porsche driven by Mme. Blanchoud and Mine. de Roq, which beat Mine. Thirion’s Renault 750 and Nancy Mitchell’s well-driven but unreliable M.G. Magnette (another Porsche heading the decisive brake test). The energy the French are expending on road improvements of the most effective and common-sense sort and the excellence of food and service in their better hotels.
In place of the cancelled Mont des Mules speed hill-climb, the Sunday was devoted to a driving test on the harbour-front, for a prize of £100. This was won by the Fabregas Bas Mercedes-Benz 300SL in 60.0 sec., Chiron’s Lancia Aurelia being second in 61.6 sec., and Tak’s Mercedes-Benz 300SL third in 62.6 sec. The best British competitor was Raymond Baxter in the modified Austin A90, in 67.0 sec., tying with a Lancia and a little D.K.W. and just beaten by a Volkswagen. Baxter deserves the highest praise for coupling excellent commentaries with really spirited driving—the B.B.C. is fortunate to number on its staff a commentator who really can drive competition cars.—W. B.
When the Continental Correspondent announced, after their fine victory at Syracuse at the end of last season, that Connaught Engineering had run out of money and might not be able to race this year, many readers wrote to us suggesting that we should open a Connaught Fund, and sonic actually contributed.
The Managing Director of MOTOR Srour was vitally interested, realising that the present circulation of this paper is such that even if each reader contributed but a small sum, an appreciable amount would be on hand to enable Connaught to further their racing activities. Ile telephoned Mr. Rodney Clarke, who manages the Connaught Engineering Co., and asked hint what he thought of the scheme, to be told by Mr. Clarke that he was off for a few weeks’ vacation in Switzerland, ” not to think that he was not interested,” but that he would contact MOTOR SPORT immediately on his return. Since then we have received no communication from him.
We also approached Mr. G. NV, Harriman, C.B.E., Deputy Managing Director of the British Motor Corporation, to ask whether, if we opened this or a similar fund, his company would subscribe to it. After 24 hours’ deliberation we were informed that his organisation is not in the least interested in furthering British participation in motor racing. As this apathy seems general amongst the big car manufacturers of this country, MOToR SPORT does not feel encouraged to start such a fund, but if we learn of a change of heart within the industry, or that Mr. Rodney Clarke feels that Connaught need the assistance of such a fund, Moron Scorer will be prepared to reconsider the situation. —W..I.
The Dunlop Rubber Co. Ltd., Fort Dunlop, Erdington, Birmingham 24, will send you their nicely-produced booklet ” Taking Good Care of Your Car Tyres,” which is illustrated with clear technical photographs and comic drawings, if you send them a postcard asking for it. It contains usefitl information about repair. as well as care. of tyres.
B.A.R.C. FIXTURES IN 1956
The British Automobile Racing Club hits announced its =ma ambitious list of fixtures for the 1956 racing season.
At Goodwood there will he major race meetings on Easter Monday. April 2nd; Whit Monday, May 21st; and on Saturday, September 8th; together with Members’ Sports-Car Race Meetings on March 17th. April 14th, July 7th and September 22nd. These Members’ Meetings will count towards the Moron Scoter Brooklands Memorial Trophy and accompanying prize money. The Easter Monday Meeting will include the Richmond Trophy race for Grand Prix cars. together with supporting short races. Whit Monday will be devoted to a new series of 100-kilometre ” Whitsun Hundreds ” for sports and racing cars. At the September Meeting the Goodwood Trophy race will be contested in a programme of short races. Goodwood. by the way, now has a new permanent members’ restaurant in the flying-control building by the starting line., able to accommodate over 200 at each sitting, where tables can be reserved, as well as that essential adjunct to successful British racing, a permanent drinking-bar.
The B.A.R.C. will also be active again in the drab North, for at the Aintree circuit they will organise major race meetings on April 21st and June 23rd, supported by Members’ Sports-Car Meetings on other days yet to he revealed. In addition, there is to be a B.A.R.C. Race Meeting at the Crystal Palace Circuit, on the Londoner’s doorstep, on August Bank Holiday, August 6th. Apart from racing the celebrated Eastbourne Rally with its Midnight Concours d’Eleganee will again be featured, on June 16th.
Members’ season brooches and car-park season’s are now available at £6 6s., admitting two persons to all public Goodwood meetings, so all you need is a car, a girl-friend, an umbrella and some lolly ! Full details of B.A.R.C, arrangements are obtainable from the club at 55, Park Lane, London. W.I. 104.4.4.+44
104.4.4.+44 SOME MORE DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
E. Lambert’s much-publicised M.G. Magnette which, as a roadsafety expert, he had prepared, at the last minute, for the Monte Carlo Rally, equipping it with 93 items of safety-first equipment in the hope of winning the Road Safety and Comfort award, hit a coal lorry head-on at a bend somewhere in Central France. Mr. Lambert spent many days in a French hospital. The wreck of the gadget-packed M.G. was shipped hack to England last month, after travelling by slow train to Dieppe, so that it could be stripped by engineers, whose findings will be sent to Road Safety authorities.