Letters from Readers, March 1966

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B.M.W. 1800 TI Road test

Sir.
Reading your road-test report on this car, I was left wondering once again why it is always the TI version which is submitted for test, rather than a standard 1800. The “TI” and “GT” market is almost exclusively a British one, and like all these highly stressed models the B.M.W. TI sacrifices economy, refinement and simplicity for a gain in performance which, in this particular case, is hardly worth the £150 extra on the price.

The standard 1800 was recently described in Motor as one of the best saloon cars in the world, and if you had tested this model I am sure you would not have been tempted to compare it with a Cortina GT, but with the market inhabited by the Rover and Triumph 2000s. the smaller Jaguar and Mercedes. On the Continent the B.M.W. has knocked the Mercedes market into a cocked hat, and it is no coincidence that the 1966 Mercedes now looks like a B.M.W. with a longer bonnet.

Here is a car which will seat five grown persons in comfort, will carry two school trunks in the boot, does a genuine 100 m.p.h. at between 24 and 28 m.p.g. on “mixture” fuel, handles like a sports car, arid is extremely well built and finished.

Its nearest equivalent on the home market is the Rover 2000, but this is useless to a family with three growing children due to the unfeeling insistence of the manufacturers that the third must be left at home. The Triumph has the same passenger space. but will not take the luggage; neither of these British cars is as fast as the B.M.W., in spite of’ their 250 extra c.c.s.

I wish you had paid more attention to the technical merit of the B.M.W. engine, which is probably the most advanced 4-cylinder unit in the world. It is certainly the quietest, yet has no apparent rev, limit and is utterly untemperamental and reliable. No doubt one of the reason’s for this is that its cylinder head represents the ultimate development to date of the design originated by Georges Roesch in his Talbot 105 in 1931. The Talbot “bathtub” combustion chamber, set diagonally across the head to escape the restriction on valve sizes otherwise inherent in an in-line o.h.v. layout, was taken up and improved upon in the post-war Mercedes, whose valves still lie on the same axis though inclined together, and has now been further refined in the B.M.W. by incorporating valves inclined at 60 deg. to each other.

The fact that both these German developments use overhead camshafts does not affect the issue, as it must by now be generally known that the reciprocating weight of Roesch’s push-rod valve gear was no more than that of most o.h.c. designs.

Callington. Anthony Blight
[I hardly compared the B.M.W. with the Ford Cortina GT— merely remarked on the superiority of the German car to emphasise again what is apt to be forgotten in a mediocre age—that you do, or should, get what you pay for and therefore the Cortina GT can be called excellent only in relation to its price, the B.M.W. by any standards, although I expressed some disappointment over details of the TI version.—Ed.]