N.B. – Opinions express are those of our Correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them – Ed.
Another satisfied Fiat owner
Mr. J. W. Cook’s letter (pages 43 and 49 January edition) gives cause for both thought and comment. As a Fiat 600 owner, and in the light of Mr. Cook’s experiences, my own, extending over fourteen moonths, may be of interest, if only to present the other side of the Fiat picture.
Mr. Cook has undoubtedly bought himself a “wrong’un,” I hope, however, that eleven months of dissatisfaction whilst in the hands of his local agent hasn’t coloured his opinions too brightly.
My own experiences with certain Fiat Agents in Belgium weren’t very encouraging, but I didn’t wait long before ranging further afield. (Perhaps I am even more impatient and unreasonable than Mr. Cook!). After but a few instances of bad service, etc., which caused both annoyance and inconvenience, I sent a letter of complaint to Fiat in Turin, with a copy to the local agent. To say that the service at that agency improved beyond all recognition would be an understatement, for other English customers who knew of my action were delighted with its result. I therefore suggest that Mr. Cook arms himself with sound weapons and good ammunition, and raises hell in Turin. If he doesn’t get satisfaction I shall be surprised, for I believe that Fiat are as jealous of their overseas reputation as are VW and Mercedes-Benz.
Waterlogged door pockets are a common source of complaint, but are easily put right. A strip of waterproof adhesive tape applied along the whole length of the trimming fabric “turn-up” on the inside of the door panel bottom will effectively seal off this gap and prevent further ingress of water. (It is worth noting that I advised Fiat at Wembley of this fault early last year, and that they have passed on my advice to the factory.)
Having had no experience of the other faults explained by Mr. Cook, I am unable to comment on them, save to say that where tyres are concerned, I have every hope of doubling the 14,000 odd miles covered to date on the first set of Goodyears. As for tyre squeal, it’s unheard of – I wonder if Mr. Cook is running his at recommended pressures, or whether his gauge is accurate, for Fiats are pressure sensitive.
So far as economy goes, I offer the following figures compiled from a painstakingly kept log book:
November 29th, 1958 – January 4th, 1959
Mileage: 23,431 km. = 14.560 miles
Petrol used: 302 gallons
M.P.G.: 47 plus.
Of the above, 5,415 miles were covered on Belgian roads of all classes, ranging from high speed autostrade to low speed pavé, and using 122 gallons of low octane Belgian petrol. The m.p.g. for this period was 44.39.
On returning to England, the m.p.g. figure over 9,145 miles, on B. P’. Super. has gone up to 50.8. The overall average for the 14,560 miles now “on the clock” is 47.59, which I personally find most satisfactory!
Lest it be suspected that I ant a mimser, let me make it quite clear that I do not drive at a constant 35 m.p.h. in order to secure economical running. Apart from weekend “family trips” I use my car five days a week for travelling to and from work. The route – 26 miles each way – takes in part of A 49, A 5 and A 518, and includes the following “slowing down hazards”: three winding hills between high banks and hedges; three main road roundabouts; one town (outskirts); two sets of red traffic lights; and a stop for picking up and depositing one passenger. Flat-out running occupies only four of the twenty-six mile trip, which I cover each morning and evening in not more than forty minntes. Given a clear run, good weather and green lights, no traffic and no farm animals, it can be done in 32-35 minutes without being reckless. Occasional runs to the South Coast (Sussex) of 210 miles, made early on a Sunday morning, have occupied 6-1/2 hours actual running time.
I hope that these figures will prove that in order to achieve a high m.p.g. figure from a Fiat 600 one does not have to potter around in flat country at 30 m.p.h. in top gear!
In conclusion, when I bought my car, the B.M.C. midgets weren’t on the market. Had they been, I’d still have bought the well-tried, well-proven, throughlt de-bugged Fiat. Whilst I am the first to admit that in the U.K., the Fiat, its sale price inflated by import duties, etc., is grossly over-expensive when compared on a value-for-money basis with the Morris Miero-Minor and Austin Semi-Seven, I do not agree that this situation exist in overseas markets. Pound for pound the Fiat Overseas has a very distinct edge on B.M.C., rubber suspension or not.
Finally, Mr. Cook, now that the B.M.C. tiddlers are available in Malaya, why not flog your leaky Fiat and buy British? If you do, however, take both gumboots and monsoon cape with you for wet weather motoring – or better still, persuade your local agent to include these items with your tiddler as standard equipment!I You’ll probably submerge in the first deep puddle anyway…
I am Yours, etc. P. S. Fagg, Church Stretton.
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Triumph TR2 Experiences
After having just read Mr. J. D. Hart’s article in the January issue, I feel I ought to do whatever I can to dispel the somewhat unfavourable impression he has given of the TR2. I have had one of these cars since 1956, and having driven it 102,000 miles since then, still consider that there is nothing on the market yet to beat it as a one-man transport, in its combination of performance and low fuel consumption. There are many other cars now with comparable performance, but none suitable for everyday use with anywhere near its economy. Checking through road-tests since 1955, I find that at a steady 70 m.p.h. only one car betters its consumption of 37-1/2 m.p.g, and that is the Lotus Eleven. Next in line is the Fiat Abarth with 35 m.p.g., and this comparison takes into account all cars, baby two-strokes and all. My own car has averaged 34 m.p.g. with utter consistency, and although it has a much-used overdrive. the engine is tuned for performance rather than economy, using rich mixture needles and so on.
I agree with Mr. Hart’s remarks on road-holding, but an S.A.H. Accessories anti-roll bar, Koni dampers and Michelin “X” would have worked wonders for him, considerably improving road-holding on dry as well as wet roads. This combination reduces the ground clearance to about 3 in., and the roll bar brackets need replacing at regular intervals as they get worn away by scraping on the road. But this is only a ten-minute job, and is a small price to pay for the vastly better handling experienced. One real disadvantage, discovered on a trans-Alpine journey last November when up to four feet of snow was found on the higher passes, is that in rutted snow the car tends to push the central hump of snow in front of it instead of riding over, necessitating frequent stops to shovel it away!
The oil pressure on my car was seine I() to 15 lb./sq. in. below the normal pressure, even when brand new, but this didn’t unduly trouble me until it got towards the end of the guarantee period, when I thought that Triumphs had better look at the engine in case something was wrong. This they did, and replaced all the bearings and the crankshaft, as there was apparently some scoring; so that so far I seem only to be confirming all Mr. Hart’s remarks! But this was at 5,000 miles or so, and I had not the slightest engine trouble after that, right up to a few months ago, when, the clutch having packed up, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take the engine to bits to see how it was, after 94,000 miles on most of it, and 89,000 on the crank. No wear at all was apparent on the crank or bearings, and was quite negligible in the rest of the engine. Whether this was due to the overdrive, the X-100 30 S.A.E. oil, the oil pressure of 90 lb./sq. in. I was getting, or just the fact that most of my journeys were long ones, I don’t know, but there you are! The only attention to it in between was at 57.000 miles, when I had to replace a burnt exhaust valve (caused by a carburetter working loose and the two cylinders concerned getting a very weak mixture).
The original Dunlop tyres lasted me just 21,000 miles, and were replaced by Michelin “X,” the front ones of which lasted 28,000 miles and the rears 34,000. This seems fairly typical, as I am now on my third complete set and about two-thirds through them. I usually blow them up to about 3 lb. over the standard pressure.
The king-pins do need frequent greasing – I do mine every 500 miles – and the rear-wheel bearings are about the weakest design point of the whole car. So far I have had about six complete sets of these bearings, and am now resigned to replacing them about every 10,000 miles. There is nothing wrong with the rear axle as a whole – it has been very carefully checked – it seems merely that these bearings are just too small to stand the strain. Park Royal have been unable to help me, and since these bearings are much cheaper than a new TR3 back axle (which is of different design and does not have this t rouble). I shall just have to go on replacing them!
One final point – this car has the habit of wearing out brake drums faster than it does brake linings! I’ve had three sets of front drums, but only two sets of linings (the original and one replacement set).
I am, Yours, etc., W. Blanchard, Langmere.
* * *
Tales of Woe
I would like to endorse the letter by Mr. Sneesby in the January issue re road tests. My experience during 6,000 miles of Herald motoring has brought the facts home only too vividly.
My coupé had all the usual faults, brake compensater fouling the prop.-shaft, door locks, windows disappearing, water leaks, smelly carpets, etc.; these faults were lapped up in the initial enthusiasm for what one hoped would eventually be as the advertisements tell us.
However, it was not to be, faults of a more serious nature crept in as the miles went by. The rear axle was changed three times in an attempt to achieve a reasonable standard of quietness, but the final one growled more than ever and it became obvious that this was one of the faults I had to accept whieb could not be cured. There was a continuous knocking from the rear suspension on city roads which necessitated the replacement of the rear shock-absorbers and rear hubs and one of the axle changes was intimated as being the cause. None of these replacements had the slightest effect, so the car still retained this noise even when sold.
There was chatter from the prop.-shaft when taking up drive or picking up the drive when manoeuvring. This fault necessitated two new clutches, a new gearbox and flywheel, presumably for balance. This set of replacements cured the trouble for approximately 500 miles but when I sold the car the same symptoms were returning. The complete rack and pinion assembly was changed after various adjustments in order to eliminate vicious kick back during cornering on a bumpy road. This cured the trouble for approximately 2,000 miles but was recurring when the car was sold. In addition I had a replacement water pump, two cut-out replacements due to charging failures and piston slap when starting from cold, etc., etc.!
These faults, like those of Mr. Sneesby, were all dealt with by the Triumph service dept., each major fault keeping the car from my use for approximately one week; in fact the car hardly belonged to me.
These faults listed were mechanical faults which were bravely borne. I would now like to enumerate a few details of road impressions, and other unbearable driving faults which led me to he thankful when l eventually disposed of the car.
The driving position as everybody will agree can be excellent, except that the seats are too narrow and too short. The position in fog is a little disconcerting, the headlights issuing very bad glare which made it virtually impossible to drive with dipped lights.
The next statement will probably stagger most people but the ride given by this car was quite the worst I have ever experienced. The jolting was quite nauseating over anything but the smoothest roads, in fact, during one 40-mile journey with a very experienced driver as passenger the car did cause him to be sick, something he had never experienced before. The noise generated by the suspension made it obvious that it was working double time over anything but carpet surfaces, and the high-pitched vibrations over drains, trenches, etc., has to he experienced to be believed. I have always felt that the chassis is the main trouble; no advantages are gained by a car with a chassis if the body (which obviously has to be attached to the chassis by insulating pads) is to be asked to take any stress or flexing, and the Herald certainly takes plenty. The whole car was extremely busy, the engine doing only 14 m.p.h. per 1,000 revs. She produced a most disconcerting buzzing on overrun particularly when changing into a lower gear and this generally busy combination, brought home the many intolerable faults which most motor manufacturers sell to the tolerant public. As far as I was concerned this was certainly no new experience in motoring, only a very old one dished up in it new coat.
To bring this letter to a conclusion I would like to mention the rather antiquated vehicle which has replaced the Herald: namely, a D.K.W. On first inspection this car can only be called a “tin can,” having no sound insulation panels or padding anywhere, but how they achieve the amazing standard of silence, lack of transmission of road noise, shock and engine noise is absolutely incredible. The complete absence of fuss from 900 c.c., the excellent finish and attention to detail (i.e., little rubber caps to the bolt heads holding the boot trim) and the at of the parts has completely sold me on this car. Analysing it, you find old-fashioned transverse leaf springs, fixed rear axle, a wrinderfully strong chassis with built-up bulkhead, excellent rubber padded detachment of the body from chassis, a rather innocuous two-stroke motor (but what smoothness, and only seven moving parts), a steering column gear change giving clear door and the added beauty of not needing to move the hands from the wheel, a free-wheel giving clutchless gear changing (why go to the trouble of 48 pages of fault-tracing with easidrive), and seats that fit. Except for the apparently inflated price in this country, I cannot understand why the roads are not covered with D.K.W.s.
I am, Yours, etc., J. A. Norton, Coventry.
Having followed with interest the recent correspondence regarding the merits of the Berkeley I thought that your readers would be interested to hear of my experiences with the three-wheeler version.
(1) The doors will not close from inside. If adjusted to rectify this fault they rattle whilst the vehicle is travelling.
(2) The hood leaks even though it has been reinforced after 1.000 miles.
(3) Padding on the seats is virtually non-existent; the metal atraps inside the back support force themselves into your back when driving.
(4) After 1,200 miles the speedometer cable broke.
(5) Two large splits developed in the rear end of the body. When repaired they split again after a week, and had to be returned for repair. How long the present repairs will last is a matter for conjecture.
(6) A constant knocking noise from the rear which as yet has not been traced.
Since I first acquired the car various modifications have taken place and at present it will be returned to the distributor for further modifications. Who, I would add, is doing all that is possible.
Whilst one may expect teething troubles with a new model it would seem that Berkeleys are using the customers as a test bed, and I have lost what confidence I did have with the vehicle.
I am, Yours, etc., L. Ochvit, Basildon.
I tried to avoid the obvious pitfalls of a brand new model and purchased a 100E Ford Popular, but now after three months of exasperating purgatory have had to sell the car.
During this period I covered 2,300 miles and the first thing I discovered was that it leaked like a sieve, then a hole was found in the top of the battery casing and the instrument panel bulb failed, but, as yet, these were minor faults which were not helped by the absence of the instruction book which followed two months after delivery.
At 2,070 miles the cylinder head gasket and cylinder block started to leak (this was confirmed later as a porous cylinder block). The wipers also started to rattle like mad. I returned the car to the Ford agents from whom I had purchased it. Three days later a new cylinder assembly was fitted and also found to be porous and a further change had to be made which took a further seven days to arrive and be fitted.
When I collected the car I found that the rattle had been completely ignored, despite my requests on various occasions that this should be rectified. I was also charged for a further pint of antifreeze which had seeped through the various leaks. On top of this the wrong radiator muff was enclosed and had to be returned. I would point out, however, that apart from the antifreeze I was only charged for the oil, but the cost of parting with the car for ten days at my busiest time was considerable.
Six days later I again returned to the agents and after waiting the customary half-hour I pointed out that the manifold was again hissing in an ominous way. I was told to bring the car back after a further 500 miles when, if a leak could be detected, I would be supplied with another new engine. The following day I was so thoroughly dissatisfied and after a further telephone conversation with the agents they agreed to collect the car the following morning, which they did in a most praiseworthy fashion at 7.30 a.m.
Later that day I was told that no leak could be trailed and they were therefore returning the car complete with the rattle which they said was incurable.
I have now purchased a Fiat 600, which I hope will give me the service that I require from a car, namely, reliability.
I am, Yours, etc., Brian M. Brookes, Harrow.
A Singer Le Mans in Rhodesia
I would like to thank through your magazine all those helpful Singer owners who answered my request made in the November issue for Le Mans spares. I enclose a photograph of the machine, which their kind co-operation will help to keep running. As far as I know it is the only Singer Le Mans in Northern Rhodesia, and probably the only pre-war sports car too. It is in daily use and gives very little trouble.
I am, Yours, etc., M. J. Dinham, Kitwe
* * *
As an enthusiastic owner of a Morris Mini-Minor, I was disturbed to read of the sundry troubles experienced by your contributor, Mr. Ian A. Davis.
I read in the newspapers a month or so back that a batch of early Mini’s was delivered to distributors with a body fault which admitted water to the interior of the car, and the makers, quite properly, announced that they would correct this fault under guarantee. Mr. Davis is indeed unfortunate if he has received one of these cars – but the trouble can be remedied without loss to himself.
Incidentally my own Mini is an early number – Chassis No. 1001 – engine No. 1201 – and without wishing to appear smug I can assure Mr. Davis that despite having been out all day in some of the foulest weather lately, I have arrived at my destination without any sign of interior wetness in the car.
With regard to the more serious complaints, the troubles could well be laid at Mr. Davis’ own doorstep.
For instance, rough running of an engine in its early days is usually due to “having a go” before the engine is properly run in, or misuse of the gearbox; furthermore, excessive tyre wear indicates “driving on the brakes,” and there is no quicker way of ruining a tyre than skidding to a halt!
Since holding my first driving licence in 1921 I have owned many cars (this is my sixth Morris). In the old days before synchromesh one learned to double declutch when changing gear – unless one wanted to hear expensive noises from the gearbox! Through the years and by force of habit this method of gearchanging still remains and I still do it with the Mini, and I can only state that I have experienced no trouble at all with the gearbox.
After all, a gearbox is there to be used, not only for hill climbing, but also for slowing down at corners and crossings and in emergencies, etc., but the trouble with some drivers is that they imagine the gearbox is merely a means of getting into top gear, and if they should engage reverse gear in the process, they blame the car – never themselves.
As to my own experience with the Mini, I did have one or two minor snags with accessory parts which were put right at the first 500 miles service, and apart from that I have nothing but praise.
There is no need for me to repeat here the many brilliant features which are known to have been built into this amazing little car.
Maybe I have been lucky – but I have treated it as any good piece of machinery should be treated – gently at first.
I am, Yours, etc., L. W. Roques, Bishops Stortford.
* * *
I was very pleased to read that B.M.C. have lent you a Mini-Minor for twelve months. I hope that you have as enjoyable a year’s motoring as I have had a month, in an Austin Se7en.
Since you tried the Mini-Minor two months ago it would seem that the fan has been quietened a great deal. Now all that can be heard at 50 m.p.h., when the heater isn’t on, is a muted whine from the collective gearbox and transmission.
The handling of this little car is amazing. I agree with you that one appears to be entering corners at a great velocity but one gets used to this surprisingly quickly and soon, as I have found, one is coming out of a corner at 45 m.p.h. where, in an A35, 35 m.p.h. was the fastest safe cornering speed.
The car remains perfectly level during all sorts of manoeuvres and the worse the surface, the better the ride seems to be in comparison with conventional cars.
One odd feeling had for a time was that, while cornering, the back end had become unstuck and was waving around behind me. This gradually wore off as I realised that I was being pulled around corners rather than pushed.
I cannot understand how the technical expert in one of the weekly magazines writes, in his annual “Account Rendered” article, that one might be disappointed at 40 miles per gallon. I think he must have worn clogs while driving the car as, over 1,030 miles I have used 18 gallons of petrol, which works out at an average of 57.2 m.p.g. – not exactly disappointing! This consumption is not a result of nursing the car or of long trips, but of travelling very near the maximum running-in speed of 45 m.p.h. over short distances and holding 55 m.p.h., since 500 miles has passed for fairly long distances, 5-7 miles, when possible. No oil has been used either before or since the oil change at 500 miles so now I am in the enviable position of being able to go into my garage on a Friday, fill up with petrol only, and not go near another petrol pump for at least a week!
Naturally, I cannot give any firm opinions after only 1,030 miles, but apart from one complaint, the fact that there are three separate interior lights, none of which one can read by, I continue to be amazed with this little “mini-Rolls.”
Happy mini-motoring in 1960, Mr. Boddy!
I am, Yours, etc., David J. Holmes, Pontypool.
[My petrol consumption is dropping now, being around 43 m.p.g. but I doubt whether even after twelve months I shall be able to get 57 m.p.g., although this is the sort of economy all truly tiny cars should give. – Ed.]
* * *
Jaguar v. Mercedes-Benz
“Motor Sport Fan” (January) does not tell us what experience he draws upon to confirm his belief that “the Mercedes would long outlast the Jaguar all round.”
I am not at all clear what he means by “the Mercedes” and “the Jaguar.” If a comparison between the 300SL and the XK150 is intended I do not care to comment because I know nothing about the cars, but personal observation of the more bread-and-butter products of both concerns does not incline me to support his views. Although I am probably as biased as he is, though in the Jaguar’s favour, it does seem that the average 10-year-old Mercedes-Benz still being driven in Vienna appears little more than scrap metal. Chromium plate seems to be of particularly poor quality and the wings are inclined to droop. In contrast the Mk. V Jaguar seems generally to have survived Continental roads and manners surprisingly well. I say “surprisingly” because one would not expect its hard springing and interior wood to work well together under these conditions.
While this is in contradiction to “Motor Sport Fan’s” firm belief, it does not in itself prove anything. It is quite possible that romanticists in each country would be careless in the expenditure of work and wind to uphold a particular motor car simply because it is “foreign.” This is a good thing and helps keep the road interesting. The more modern Mercedes-Benz saloon one sees in Vienna, seems most often to be fitted with a diesel engine and used as a taxi-cab, to which role it seems quite well suited.
An American acquaintance once owned a Mk. VII in the States. Although satisfied with its quality and performance he complained that he could never have a repair undertaken for under fifty dollars. Perhaps this explains the German car’s allegedly better re-sale value over there.
I am. Yours, etc., R. M. Cross, Austria,
* * *
Are we becoming a police state?
Your very timely editorial about the “estimating” activities of the Hampshire Police, prompts me to recount an experience in November, 1955.
Some two weeks after a journey from Cirencester to Christchurch via Salisbury in September, 1955, I received a formal letter from the Hampshire Police stating that a prosecution against me for Reckless or Dangerous or Careless driving at Fordingbridge at approximately 11 a.m. on the date of my journey was being considered.
I had not been stopped or warned in any way and, somewhat alarmed – naturally, I replied and asked for details and received a formal card acknowledging my communication: a further letter from me a week later elicited the same reply.
Shortly afterwards I received a visit from the London Police for check on my identity, driving licence, insurance, etc., on behalf of the Hampshire Police. The London policeman was courteous but told me that he was not permitted to let me know anything about the details as they were only carrying out a check on behalf of the Hampshire Police. I did, however, possibly illegally (although this took place in my own home), seeing my name and car number on the documents the policeman had with him, take them up and rend the Hampshire Police report. It was by a Constable Fergusson who stated hat while observing alone at the entrance to Fordingbridge he saw my car overtake two other vehicles at the approach to a sharp right-hand bend and pass through the bend, which was about 150 yards inside the 30 m.p.h. limit sign, at a speed of 45-50 m.p.h. and disappear up the High Street. He stopped one of the drivers I had overtaken and asked himt to confirm the registration number of my Mk. I Ford Consul.
In due course I received a summons to appear at Ringwood on a charge of Careless Driving. I immediately wrote again to the Hampshire Police and asked for details and received yet another printed acknowledgment card. I then telephoned them and was told, by an officer who refused to identify himself, that I was not entitled to the information and that I would ” learn the score” in the Court.
I appeared, unrepresented, which I was to regret later, but having seen the defeatist attitude of Association solicitors in other courts (not on my behalf) I felt that I would rather put up a fight myself than have my hands tied by an ineffective lawyer.
The plea was “not guilty”: the Clerk of the Court then held up proceedings to explain my position, rights of cross examination, etc., and also prevented the prosecuting Police Inspector from obtaining possession of my driving licence at that stage (the licence was clean).
The first witness was a civilian (who later proved to be a Hampshire County Council employee) who gave evidence as the driver of the car I had overtaken and how he was stopped and asked to confirm my number which was – (and quoted a number which was not that of my car), the Police Inspector then interrupted him and said “will you correct your notes. the correct number is —–” giving mine. I made a mild protest to the Bench but was over-ruled. Under cross examination by me this man said that he was doing 27-28 m.p.h. when I overtook him, that my overtaking speed was low and estimated 5 m.p.h. (i.e. my speed was 32-33 m.p.h.) and that I was inside the white line. Immediately after overtaking, I pulled sharply to the left and braked heavily and, in response to a question, said, no inconvenience to himself, braked again in the bend and pulled right over to the left and then “trickled round a stationary ‘bus just beyond the corner,” his words, and disappeared. The policeman then stopped him and asked him to confirm my number, which, as indicated above, he did not have correctly recorded.
The policeman’s evidence was that he was watching traffic on the outside of the bend and generally the same as in the report I had already seen, except that he stated the colour of my car and had that wrong! The Inspector did not intervene this time. The policeman also said that the bend was blind!
Before I started to question the policeman, I explained to the Court, displaying the correspondence, that officially, until my appearance, I had no detail knowledge of the charge against me but they were just not interested. The policeman had a plan of the bend (so did I) and I asked to see his, whereupon the Inspector took it and said “No! “; the Clerk however, took it from the Inspector and placed it in front of me and I offered my plan to the Police who, prompted by the Clerk, agreed its validity.
The policeman was asked to explain how he, a lone observer at a 30 deg. angle to oncoming vehicles, estimated their speed without the aid of instruments. He was silent but when pressed the Inspector intervened and said he had every confidence in his officer’s ability. A member of the Bench asked me why I was so persistent and I pointed out that they had already heard two speeding cases that morning and how in one instance the Police had given evidence of speedometer calibration in their car and stop-watch checks in the other. Under further pressure the policeman did not know the number of feet per seeond representing 30, 45 and 50 m.p.h. The policeman also insisted that the bend was “blind” and would not agree that there was a 176 yd. line of sight through it. Another member of the Bench asked me why I was wasting time about such a small distance as 176 yds. and I pointed out. that at 30 m.p.h. the transit time was 12 sec. and 45 m.p.h. 8 sec., and even at the latter figure that was a long time to observe, react and act.
I then asked the policeman to again state the colour of my car and again he gave it wrongly.
My own evidence commenced and I started by explaining my puzzlement which was now partly cleared by the errors in registration number and car colour, but the Bench would not accept that. On that I asked for the case to be adjourned so that I could bring in more evidence on my behalf. The Bench asked for the nature of the evidence and the Clerk intervened and told me that I was not bound to explain it at that hearing but I stated that I had nothing to hide and that the extra evidence I proposed to bring was:
(a) A series of certificated photographs from the driving seat of a car at various positions on the approach to and in the bend.
(b) A witness in the form of an acknowledged expert independent driver of the maximum speed at which the bend could be taken.
(I knew that the photographs would reveal a line of sight, and that it would be virtually impossible to negotiate the heavily cambered small radius right-hand bend in question at a speed as high as 30 m.p.h. in my Consul.) The Bench then refused an adjournment, fined me £5 and endorsed my licence.
I recount this story at some length, and in detail, as a warning to your readers not to attempt to defend themselves, however sure they are, but to get a skilled lawyer who understands something about the technique of motoring but also to be careful to avoid defeatist hacks employed by insurance companies and motoring organisations. A postscript to the story exposes yet another bit of bureaucratic nonsense and the growing power of the grey-flannel mind.
I am one of the early victims of the three-year licence racket, and my present licence expires in November 1960. In November 1958, the three-year endorsement having expired, I applied to have it removed and was informed that I must pay five shillings or wait until the normal renewal date arrives when it will cost nothing. Thus, we are not only quite arbitrarily forced to buy three-year licences, but also having been punished (justly or unjustly) must still further expiate the “crime” either by payment of another five shillings, or bear the stigma of a fouled licence for a period which could be as much as three years minus one day more than the original date of expiry of the endorsement.
Well, I may say that after over 30 years’ legal motoring, I am seriously considering giving it up because of the state of the roads and the bureaucratic and police hectoring – I wonder if you saw the filmed incident of an on-the-spot-fine in Beirut in B.B.C. T.V.’s “Tonight” on January 5th, and, in particular, the attitude of the policeman – it could happen here!
I anm no angel and have had speeding pinches and never complained because a fair cop is a fair cop – but the Ringwood/Fordingbridge incident has soured my relations with the police and reinforced my convictions that all Courts should be presided over by competent salaried professionals.
I am, Yours, etc., (Name and address supplied.)
Further to your article “Britain must not become a Police State.” Early in 1959 whilst the driver of a large vehicle, I was stationary at a road junction when a double-deck ‘bus crashed into me. I fetched a policeman and asked him to take particulars and measurements. He refused in the presence of three witnesses to take any measurements and left the scene.
Later, I was charged with “Dangerously Obstructing the Highway.” The policeman appeared in Court and gave a list of “measurements” which fitted his version of the accident and a sketch of the junction which bore no resemblance to fact.
When I protested in Court that he could be proved to be lying by a visit to the site there and then, I was told to shut up. I was fined over £10.
After writing to my M.P. I wrote to the Chief Constable and detailed my complaint pointing out that the constable’s “measurements” contradicted themselves and that other distances of static objects were still in existence and could be checked and proved false.
Months later I received a very abrupt note saying my allegations were unfounded (this without any investigation). The note was wrongly addressed three times and arrived three weeks after the date heading.
I am prepared at any time to prove my words by facts still in existence and by a transcript of the Court hearing.
Help or co-operate with the Police? Not ****** likely. Since my own experience, I have seen policemen give false evidence in two motoring cases not involving me.
I am, Yours, etc., (Name and address supplied.)
* * *
The personal element in motor racing
I hope Charles Beaumont will not think me presumptuous if I hazard a guess that his feeling that motor racing is becoming a matter of soulless machine-addiction has something to do with his age? I think he was born more than 30, probably a little over 40 years ago? I say this because I am sure that the weekly/monthly volume of personal information about drivers has always been much the same; that it is during one’s youthful period of intense enthusiasm that one acquires and absorbs the material of hero-worship; and that one seems to know more of the classic drivers because their legends have accumulated with the time which has flowed past us, and we look back to see, as unities, histories which began as piecemeal as those now beginning.
Again, I think that my guess may be correct because, if it is so, Charles Beaumont’s early enthusiasm would have arisen at a time when motor racing, though not so popular as now, had more significance in the world of physical achievement. We have become blasé; private cars now cruise at what used to be race-winning averages; war has accustomed us to feats of courage, endurance and achievement in a machine-context which was then necessarily much more restricted; regular airlines run to strict schedules at speeds twice as high as one-time Schneider Trophy records.
Then, too, personalities must play a large part in determining differences in reaction. Knowing, as an engineer myself, that engineers are as liable as any other sorts of men to be irritated, soothed, frustrated, fulfilled, angry, pleased, I have little belief in the soulless engineer of Charles Beaumont’s letter and of quite widespread acceptance. I never met one myself, and, to me, machines themselves have always appeared as human achievements. As a boy I learned to revere W. O. Bentley and all his works; I could, and still do, pick out the voice of a Bentley from a city’s traffic roar, or from the far side of a hill; while the car was in sight nothing else existed for me; I knew what any boy could know of “W. O.” and of the galaxy of drivers; for several years I loathed Barnato for what I felt to be “betrayal”, I cannot now, any more than then, think of the magnificence connoted by the world Bentley without remembering both men and machines.
I find that instinct is greatly to be trusted in most matters which are inextricable mixtures of cold fact and living emotion. Education and long experience can confirm sound instinct; a car which looks right usually is right; and if it looks wrong it is usually a brute; and given the knowledge one can usually determine and express the rightness and the wrongness. So with man-plus-machine achievements; one sees greatness when it exists; one acquires criteria by which to judge the greatness; one learns to analyse the greatness; and I think Sir, that one can never exclude the man from the greatness of the machine’s performance. Charles Beaumont need not lecture you – even if you were tending to advance some cult of machine worship, the thing is not possible for your readers.
I am, Yours, etc., Grant Fear, Khartoum.
The Beaumont letter titled by you “The Personal Element in Motor Racing” expresses a sentiment that is strongly supported by this subscriber.
The forte of Motor Sport during the eight years I have read it has been the highly opinionated and personalised writing of your good self and, in more recent years, the ditto of D.S.J. Technical details are fully covered by both of the English weeklies in your field – leaving the human side of the motoring scene up to you and your interesting publication. If it is a matter of choice, do chalk up one vote for “Give us the people, too.”
I am, Yours, etc., Charles A. Engelder, Wellsville, U.S.A.
D.S.J on A.M.
In the February issue of Motor Sport I see that Dr. Gibson takes me to task for being anti-Aston Martin. He is quite wrong, for I am not against Astons, I am merely not very impressed with the whole Aston Martin racing set-up and refuse to go into paeans of praise when it is not due. Nobody in the team has ever upset me; on the contrary, they have always been very friendly.
I cannot take a racing team seriously that goes to Italy to make a film at the same time as most other people were racing in the Mille Miglia. Nor can I accept the driver pairings at the Nurburgring when on two occasions Moss was forced to put more into a 1,000 kilometre race than one would reasonably ask of a driver. When Jaguars were doing so well at Le Mans they were battling against Ferrari, Lancia, Alfa-Romeo and Mercedes-Benz works teams all of which I consider powerful opposition and they fought wheel-to-wheel. Remember Fangio v. Hawthorn in 1955, and later Hawthorn and Titterington at Dundrod; I do not recall seeing Aston Martin cars in the thick of any such battles, which to me is motor racing. In the 1959 Le Mans Moss set the pace, but he had Gendebien and da Silva Ramos in Ferraris keeping up with him, which does not say much for the performance of the Aston Martin, and the speed with which Behra caught him up was indecent, in spite of the superior driving of Moss. These are just a few instances.
Winning by the default of your rivals is one form of motor racing, but not one that impresses me I am afraid. On the other hand if Dr. Gibson cares to read Motor Sport for July 1957-58-59 he will see that I gave credit where it is due, i.e., the wins at Nurburgring.
No, Dr. Gibson, I am not “agin” Aston Martins but I have to be impressed, not only by results, but by design, preparation, organisation, tactics and all the other things that go to make up motor racing.
As regards the Aston Martin G.P. car, I like it very much, but it needs a lot more b.h.p., which is a commodity that has always eluded the David Brown designers. We must keep a sense of proportion, unlike the popular Press who hailed the F.1 car as another “world beater” after its Silverstone debut. I don’t mind admitting I was surprised by Salvadori’s performance but I reserved judgment until I had seen the car on a real G.P. circuit. Having seen it at Zandvoort, Lisbon, and Monza I am satisfied with my thoughts, but I still think it is a nice car and I like to see it on the starting grid, and would certainly like to see it win a Grande Epreuve.
One final word on why the David Brown/Aston Martin set-up does not over-impress me is the way they have floundered about and around the art of gear making and gearbox design, and now I hear they are having a new gearbox made for them by Italians. As an Italian friend remarked, “who makes the David Brown tractors for D.B.?”
I am, Yours, etc., Denis Jenkinson, Odiham.