I write in reply to your editorial in the December ’76 Motor Sport concerning “getting the most fun” from fuel.
My definition of a for motor car is a car which is crisp to drive, it excels in acceleration, braking, road-holding, etc. It extends my ego by responding precisely to my every wish. If it is economical, then I can enjoy this sensation more often. If it is also warm, dry and capacious, I am hardly ever restricted in its use. I would further suggest that if this car were impervious to rust and one can think in terms of a twenty-year life, that one has real economy in one’s grasp.
Which brings us to the question of rigidity. Whilst the space frames you mention were adequate in their clay, there can be no doubt that a monocoque construction provides the best strength/weight ratio for a car. It is a shame that the economies of mass-production restrict the major manufacturers to a primitive steel structure. However, a specialist car manufacturer is able to use what is arguably the most advanced structure ever used for a road car — the fibreglass monocoque. Let us straight away raise the strength aspect, as this is the point where somebody usually does. Why is it the general public will accept a fibreglass monocoque warship with a structural length of 153 feet, and yet raise an eyebrow at a car with a wheelbase of just seven feet in the same material? A simpler demonstration I use in the factory is to jump up and down on the roof. Perhaps I could try that on the editorial BMW?
So let us reconsider the fun car. Let us base it on a fibreglass monocoque of immense strength proved in eleven years of continuous production, impossible to rust and with no steel chassis to fret on. It will have low weight (inherent) and we will give it low frontal area and low drag. We now have the three basic requirements for high performance and economy if we were to make it to accept without modification, parts from a high volume popular car, it could even be made cheaply at home from secondhand parts. Finally it should have accommodation for adults up to 6 ft. 4 in. and room in the back for children (with legs) up to about ten years. An opening rear door would improve the usefulness.
I make no pretence that I have just described the Mini-Marcos, and, yes, we do sell them. In fact we sell a great many not only in England but in the USA as well. I believe that the reason is that more people prefer the definition of fun car outlined previously to that of flapping hoods, dripping water, freezing elbows and no luggage space. I have enjoyed the glorious sensation of blasting through the rain behind aero-screens (MG PA) and dropped windscreen (Healey Silverstone), but they have no place in today’s economic climate where one car must fill many roles.
Finally to return to fuel consumption. Perhaps you would be kind enough to outline the “rules” for your long-standing 60 m.p.h./ 60 m.p.g. target and whether it has been achieved, as 50 m.p.h./50 m.p.g. is already behind us.
HAROLD J. R. DERMOTT, B.Sc.
Managing Director D. & H. Fibreglass Techniques Ltd. Oldham
[There are no “rules” relating to the optimistic ideal of a normal sort of car able to achieve a genuine 60 m.p.h. and return a regular 60 m.p.g. in everyday driving. It is just a happy thought in the Editorial mind — or can a Mini-Marcos comply?—Ed.)