Letters from Readers
N.B.—Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and Motor Sport does not necessarily associate itself with them.—Ed.
The Real Healeys
For years now I have had a monthly grumble after reading Motor Sport! Mr. P. D. Mace's letter in your January issue has brought this matter to the point where I must protest.
Why do people who have purchased that first instance of badge engineering in the sports-car world, the Austin-Healey, persist in calling the car a Healey? The two are as different as chalk and cheese.
When some lucks person bought a new Healey back in 1946 or '49 he did at least know that only a very few cars, and all these with much larger engines, could equal their performance. What of today's happy young man with twelve hundred pounds to spend, however? If he buys an Austin-Healey 3000 what can he expect? Peerless performance, to be eclipsed only by Cobra-engined monsters? Oh dear, no! Only the certainty that he will be outgunned by the first clapped-out 1,200-c.c. Lotus Elite that he comes up against. Not to mention other possibles.
Are Mr. Mace and the many others like him shy about the Austin bit in the name? I think they must be. If this is so, then B.M.H. or Leylands, or whoever controls it all now, should put their thinking caps on, and come up with something to equal that achievement of the Healey Motor Co. of long ago—they should set out and build themselves (and us) the World's fastest production saloon. This was done on a shoestring over twenty years ago—surely this mighty empire can do it now. Then Mr. Mace and Co. might start using the Austin bit of the name again, and all the owners of real Healeys would be spared the appropriation of an honourable name by those not entitled to it.
Grenoside. M. Trickett.
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"I Say, Volvo O.K."
From Sir Clive Thomas, Lit.
I think Mr. Boddy must have had a very bad Volvo 144 or a very bad luncheon beforehand. I have now done nearly 3,000 miles with my 144S, and have never experienced any of the faults he mentions. Indeed the car's road-holding and general performance are excellent, the gearbox is exceptionally pleasant to use, the engine exceedingly smooth and quiet. These remark's also apply to the original demonstration car I tried for a weekend before making my purchase. Volvos also pay most courteous attention to the slightest inquiry.
Isle of Man. Clive Edwards.
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Take Those Fingers Out!
I wonder if it would be possible for you to draw car manufacturers' attention to the danger of young children having their hands or fingers damaged by cooling fans or belts, when this could surely be avoided economically by enclosing them in wire mesh?
London, W.C.1. A. Eddington.
[Why not enclose the kids in wire-mesh? Seriously, the belt-drive to the o.h. camshaft on the new Vauxhall engine sounds very dangerous but at idling speed it is as visible as the fan, so should not constitute any greater danger.—Ed.]
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We would like to thank you for your kind mention of our tailpipe trim under your review of "My Year's Motoring," Rover 2000TC, page 102. However, respectfully, we would point out that our "Nevarust" trims are not chromium as stated, but solid stainless steel.
Further, we are proud to inform you that the trim in question is now an official Rover Approved Accessory, and is available through all Rover dealers. Also, by the end of next month, Rovers will be marketing our trims for the pre-1967 1 7/8-in. diameter tailpipe Rover 2000, and all Rover 3-litres (not 3½, V8). We still distribute "Nevarust" stainless steel exhaust trims to fit the majority of other cars.
M. J. Stevens.
Leicester. p.p. M.R.A. Motor Accessories.
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Police Persecution . . .
In spite of the advice of the Highway Code to use headlights in reduced visibility in day-time and the extensive campaigns by the Ministry of Transport and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents to encourage this, any driver who does must be only too well aware of the reaction of a not inconsiderable proportion of road users to what they appear to regard as a most heinous sin.
Having been waved at, shouted at, flashed at, and driven at for driving on dipped headlights in day-time fog, the ultimate imbecility was to be stopped recently on the A35 at Lyndhurst by a motorcycle patrol of the Hampshire Police because, in his opinion, I should not have had my lights on. This after having driven for twenty miles in conditions of patchy fog and drizzle against a background of forest plantation and very low cloud.
My complaint to the Chief Constable having been dismissed as "trivial" I would appreciate your readers' views on this matter.
[Name and address supplied.—Ed.]
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. . . But it's Worse Abroad
Your reader Peter Frazer (Letters, January issue) thinks we are a Police State, and quotes an experience when he broke, or perhaps bent, the law by temporarily running his car without bumpers. Well, just listen to this one:
I used to live in Zurich, Switzerland, and one night, returning from a dance in Baden, about 25 kilometres away, I was unfortunate enough to make sudden contact with a large, solid wall. Not my fault, I hasten to add, but in swerving on slippery snow to avoid another car that had already lost control, I lost control, managed to avoid the car that caused the trouble but could not avoid the wall which came out of the side of the road and hit me. Result was a dented wing, radiator grille and smashed headlight.
Now, in Switzerland, it is required by law to have all lights in pairs—including spot/fog, lights—and therefore by driving further I was committing an offence by only having one headlight. However, at 1 o'clock in the morning, with a miniature blizzard raging and with my pride and joy bashed in around the front end, I was in no mood for minor technical legalities. The Polizei were.
It was back in Zurich in an area of street lights they got me. I explained that it had only just happened half an hour before and how else was I supposed to get home at that time in the morning, but to no avail. It was after dark and it is written that cars must have two headlights, not one. But there are street lights all the way from here to where I live, I explained, but it was after dark and cars must have two headlights, not one. Just to prove his point, the policeman removed the ignition key and told me that if I cared to call at the police station the following day I could have it back. Thus powerless, I called a taxi home, and went to bed thinking of all the unpleasant tortures I could cheerfully have subjected the horrible little whatsit to.
Next day, Sunday, I went to the police station at about 1 o'clock in the afternoon—in daylight—to claim my car. The police station was closed. (I'm sure not many English cop-shops close their doors and go home just because its Sunday!) A telephone call to the alternative number given in the book for out of office hours informed us that the police station was closed, but if we'd like to wait around for about an hour he'd come and open up for us. The prospect of an hour's wait in the snow was not very inspiring, but when he was eventually sighted, at 4 o'clock, three hours later, I was decidedly cold—apart from under the collar! However, I wanted my car back, so decided not to comment. I was taken to the office and after an hour's lecture on what I, as a foreigner, must and must not do in Switzerland, and after innumerable forms had been filled in, I was handed my key and allowed to drive my one-eyed car home. But by this time it was gone 5 o'clock, and already dark. . . .
N. Wembley. Ron Fisher.
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I wonder if any other motorists feel as I do about the irresponsible placing of, and in fact sometimes the existence of, temporary road signs at the site of road repairs. To be confronted with a "STOP" sign along a stretch of open road (presumably one stops until the sign is removed), mixed with other signs, all usually equally meaningless, seems to indicate to me an attitude of mind among contractors that, as long as a sign exists, they are absolved from all further responsibility towards road users. And why not make it compulsory to have "ROAD CLEAR" signs at the end of such road works? I don't know if plans already exist to bring about such control but, if not, then it is surely time that something was initiated towards this end.
Grimsby. J. T. Alvey.
[Yes! And we had two instances of stupid/dangerous temporary traffic-lights on one journey recently. At new road works between Basingstoke and Newbury there was an extremely long one-way stretch of road, guarded by temporary lights. It was so long that drivers had every justification, for thinking the lights had failed at red. One driver. at the head of the queue, did start to drive on, and had to reverse back as another vehicle approached. A special notice, "long dwell lights" or suchlike, was called for here, or else embarrassment if not an accident may well result, especially after dark—remembering these contractors' traffic lights have no legal significance.
Then, the opposite applied on the downhill run into Newbury from the Whitchurch/Newbury road—temporary lights guarded a short stretch of road so wide that two 'buses could probably have passed safely in opposite directions.—Ed.]
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Come On, Chaps!
Can anyone help a distressed young lady with problem! My 1964 navy Fiat 500 saloon was parked in town just over a fortnight ago for a period of two hours. When I returned to the car I discovered that the metal strip along the bonnet had been torn away. Ever since, I have made several futile attempts to acquire a replacement. In vain—my local garage at Kingsbury tell me it might take about six weeks—the main Fiat dealers in Wembley and Battersea say that the strip will have to he ordered from Fiat's in Turin, and this could take anything from one month to three months. Other garages give the same story.
Are there any suggestions any kind person could make as to how and where I could obtain this strip, quicker than in three months?
Edgware. Avril Walters (Miss).
[No 'phone number—letters can he forwarded!—Ed.]