For more years than I care to recall, I have purchased your magazine mainly on behalf of my son who is perhaps an even more fanatical car enthusiast than I am myself. When I tell you I was trained and worked in the Coventry car industry and have never lost my love of real motor cars, you will appreciate the point. I can even recall the time when drivers stopped on the roadside to assist one another!
I write to you now on two points both of which I believe are significant to enthusiasts generally. They concern BMW and TVR cars, i.e. one German, the other British. Over the years I have noted the regard you and your editorial colleagues have for the BMW marque. It happens to be one of only 7 or 8 makes, both British and Continental, which I would personally choose. Accordingly when the opportunity arose in June 1976 to acquire a 1972 model 2002 I did so.
Obviously I was already convinced, and six months of ownership has confirmed my original opinion except for one vital aspect —service and spares supplies. Generally servicing, charges are far more expensive than equivalent British makes. Only other German cars such as Audi and Mercedes dare to apply skyhigh charges for work undertaken. The standard excuse, and it is an excuse, given both by BMW and any of their dealers in the UK is that the quality of BMW parts is to superior etc. etc. that the cost is both justified and reasonable, plus inflation and the low value of the £1 sterling to the Deutchmark. the exchange rate can only be responsible for part of higher costs.
Since June 1976 I have needed a petrol pump repair kit, a screen washer pump unit and may shortly require to change the water heater valve. New BMW prices are £12.02 for the repair kit including VAT, and around £15 each including VAT for the washer unit and the heater valve. A well proven British made repair kit costs around £1.67 and contains far more parts than the BMW kit, a good British screen unit is about £3 and a complete system can be had for around £6/£7. I was forced to buy the repair kit, otherwise a “dead” motor car, but I refused the extortion of the other items and obtained secondhand parts. Even here I had to pay almost exactly half new prices because all over the UK dismantlers are obviously aware of the “skyhigh” BMW prices and in my view are simply and quite legally “cashing in” on a difficult supply position. To sum up the BMW situation I feel
1. You should be made aware of the invidious state which exists, and
2. Whilst I would accept as fair and reasonable BMW original parts at twice the price of equivalent British parts is probably justified, there can be no way in which prices more than 5, 6 and 7 times the British equivalent costs can he justified no matter how good the quality is reputed to be.
To illustrate the point, my last car was a Rover 2000 TC I kept for 6 1/2 years. I had no trouble and the car was 9 years old when disposed of. The BMW pump failed after 4 1/2 years. Had the Rover pump failed it would have cost £1.67, to correct. The BMW actually cost me £12.02 i.e. more than 7 times the British repair kit cost!
Now, the second point regarding TVR cars. With very great pleasure I report an experience with this car maker over the Xmas/New Year holiday period. My son purchased a 1972 “Vixen” S3 at Xmas time 1975. For almost 12 months he had no problem whatever, having covered around 10.000 miles during the year. On December 22nd 1976 the car was sent for MoT test and because of its condition and his own care and work on the vehicle he anticipated no problems. It failed the test due to a knuckle joint fault on the nearside front suspension. Here was XMaS upon us and unbelievably his car off the road!
I took him over to the Blackpool works on the morning of December 24th where we were most courteously received by the few staff still on the premises, and the Company’s buyer produced the necessary parts without doubt or fuss and charged for them at reasonable prices. The young receptionist produced a cup of tea as if out of a hat. Back home on December 28th we tried to repair the fault, had more problems and found we required a new wishbone. My son went back to TVR on December 29th using the BMW. Only one man was at the works but he found the parts required and even pressed in bushes for my son. We had the car back on the road later that day. Finally it was arranged my son should go back to TVR when the service people returned on January 4th to have camber angles checked etc. This he did. He was more than made welcome and the check was carried out with a minimum of fuss and cost, plus a lot of sound advice about the marque. I find it so refreshing that we still have at least one car maker who really does care about his customers even when a car is almost five years old, and at the worst possible time of year. With that sort of dedication from obviously the youngest employee to top management, TVR deserve to prosper and I most sincerely hope they do. Other makers please try to copy!
I hope the comments made will help other motorists and finally I must emphasise my son and I did firstly telephone the TVR works before we travelled to Blackpool on each occasion. It would have been unreasonable to have called on the off chance. I leave you to guess what marque my son is liable to stick with!
Preston C. H. V. SHEPPARD