Readers' Letters, March 1984, March 1984

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Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents, and are not necessarily those of MOTOR SPORT.

Speed limit plea

From the Earl Howe:

Sir ,

I feel that your readers and those motorists who use the motorways would wish to congratulate the Editors of MOTOR SPORT / Motoring News for the initiative they have shown in raising a petition to lift the present 70 mph speed limit to an advisory 80 mph. This is for the second time of asking for something to be done in the interest of road safety and common sense on our motorways. At the moment the overtaking lane is used by those who wish to have a safe journey clear of the potential shunt caused by traffic bunched up on the slow and middle lanes, but in doing this they may have to break the law by exceeding 70 mph before returning to the slower inside lane. This petition with well over 70,000 signatures was handed to Mrs Chalker, the Minister of Transport, together with an excellent letter explaining the situation. Quite naturally, she had spoken to some misguided individuals who wished the present limit to remain unchanged. But I feel sure that the number of signatures on the petition should give the Minister more than a moment for consideration of the strength of feeling by those who have cause to make frequent journeys on the motorways. It is more than certain that the valuable time of the police and the Magistrates Courts would be considerably eased by the changes as suggested by the increase of the present unrealistic speed limit to an advisory 80 mph.

Amersham HOWE

Napoleon’s Failure

Sir ,

I have read with great interest your editorial on “Mixing our metrics.”‘ Of course everything would have been more easy for you if Great Britain had adopted the Metric system invented by the French Revolution and introduced to the whole of Europe by Napoleon . . . But at that time we were not friends as we are today! What a shame! And what an awful loss of time and energy.

But reading your editorial and the huge variety of suggested “would-be-possible” solutions, I wonder if you are really looking for simplicity when you procure me such an amusement in being complicated!

Keeping this in mind, I wonder if my terribly simplistic suggestion could be of any help to you:.

9.38 litres per 62 miles ( 100 kms), or more simply: 9.35 litres / per 60 miles, which is roughly the same as 62 (horrible approximation!).

Doing this you will have the same way of calculating as all the continent which represents a mere 350 million people plus eastern Europe which adds up to a total of 600 million natives. . . But of course you will lose a lot of fun and mental arithmetic ability.

On another subject I thoroughly agree with your point of view expressed in your article on the FISA / CART quarrel. I only hope that God . . . and president Balestre will be sensible. . . and read you!

And I add that as a French continental one of my favourite pleasures is to bring back from Great Britain a copy of your magazine.

BARON PHILIPPE GROUVEL, Marly le Roy, France

All the Way

Sir ,

The problem of describing fuel consumption now that the pumps have changed from gallons to litres is of our own making; we should have changed our speedometers from miles to kilometres at the same time, but with typical compromise we have tackled metrication half-heartedly, as if this would somehow make it less painful.

I have recently returned after several years in South Africa where they have also changed from Imperial to metric measurements, adopting SI units at the same time. In their case there were no half-measures; every measurement and every measuring device was metricated, all references to Imperial measures in the press, TV, advertising, schools, factories, etc were abolished; and after a remarkably short period of confusion, expense, and adaptation it all seemed easy — my car had a 75 kilowatt engine, it did 10,5 litres per 100 kilometres, with the tyres inflated to 180 kilopascals, a standard marathon was 42,2 kilometres, and my wife went on a low-kilojoule diet to lose mass while I enjoyed a 300 gram steak. Mind you, when the paper said that snow approximately 15,2 cm deep was reported in the Pennines, we all knew that what the AA man in Derby had said was “about six inches”.

When I look at the progress of metrication here over the last decade I am convinced we are only prolonging the agony; Mrs Chalker and her cabinet colleagues would do us all a favour by enacting swift, total metrication.”.

Renfrewshire A. G. MARJORIBANKS

Sellout?

Sir ,

I see that Governmental consideration is being given to the possible sale of Jaguar Cars Ltd to General Motors of the USA. To my mind this would be a shameful and a very foolish thing. Jaguars have woven their name into our motoring history in such a way as to bring credit to themselves and this country.

Now that they have regained their reputation for reliability and have become profitable again, I cannot understand why our government should even consider selling them off to a foreign company.

Lord knows we haven’t had so much to be proud about in our motoring industry of late years; let us at least hang on to a good thing when we have it.

I would suggest that your readers should write to Mr Norman Tebbitt MP, the Minister responsible for handling this matter, and suggest to him, politely but firmly, that we should keep Jaguar British. To write to their local MP as well might be a good thing. I have heard that if an MP gets one letter on a general subject, he throws it away, if two letters, he says “H’m” and if three letters, he takes notice! (I have already written to Mr Tebbitt and my local MP.)

London N20 J. CLASSEY

Canadian spares

Sir ,

Mark Ransome, whose letter you published in December, should possibly own a Jaguar as I do. Admittedly our climate in Canada is considerably different to that of southern California (although this has nothing to do with my point), which is the exorbitant cost of parts in this country. I work as a service manager for one of the largest Lincoln Mercury dealers in Canada and therefore know about the cost of parts and service in this country.

My own Jaguar is an XJ12, which had been sadly neglected before being traded in on a new Lincoln. I bought the car with the hope of bringing it back to its former glory; however, after quotes for $1,200 for one new fender, $100 for one chrome tailpipe, and even $28 for a wiper blade I began to think this was a mistake. However, I continued to refurbish this car, unfortunately this cuts into my Formula I racing spectators funds, which when you live in western Canada involves considerable travel; however, driving the Jaguar is worth the sacrifice. I feel that Jaguar Cars should look a little closer to the cost of their parts in Canada. I realise that the car is destined for the upper market; however, even our Lincoln range which is also up-market does not attempt to make exorbitant profit from its customers in the area of parts cost. Alberta, Canada T. BRIDGES [We wonder what Lincoln would charge for these spare parts in the UK? — M.L.C.]

How old is the Motor Car?

Sir,

I am writing concerning your notes on the earliest cars used for the London to Brighton Run, especially since it appears that some major celebration in Britain is planned for 1985 – 99 years after the first motor car ran – not 100 years. Our continental friends smile indulgently at this latest British eccentricity.

Although Karl Benz and Gottleib Daimler were working on 4-cycle engines when Otto’s 1877 patent number 532 was being repudiated in 1884, there is no evidence that either had a car running before 1886. Daimler installed his engine in a crude wooden hobby horse with outriggers like a child’s cycle as a sort of mobile test bed for the engine he was interested to promote for use in boats, trams, railcars – even airships. This “single-track machine” was tested in November 1885. It did not go into production and was never intended for sale. The next year, 1886, he installed a larger Daimler engine in a horse-drawn carriage bought from Wimpff und Sohne, Stuttgart. Again, that was a mobile test bed not intended for production or sale. The first complete Daimler car was the Stahlradwagen (wire spoked wheels) designed by Wilhelm Maybach between December 1888 and February 1889.

Benz’s wire spoke 3-wheeled design was patented on January 29th 1886. His first car was according to that design with minor improvements. Its first public appearance was on the Ringstrasse, Mannheim, early on July 3rd, 1886. A local paper reported that they had seen it running at the factory in June 1886 and another local paper, Generalanzeiger, on September 15th reported having seen it several months previously (to September). He did not make a 4-wheeled car until the end of 1891, when he had devised a rack-and-pinion-operated steering with Lancksperger (or Ackerman) geometry, rather than the centralling pivoting front axle of a horse-drawn carriage.

The Science Museum 3-wheeler is a Roger Benz of 1888 (Emile Roger was Benz concessionaire in Paris). Benz’s original vehicle is in the Deutsche Museum, Munchen, as is the Daimler motorcycle, but the Stahlradwagen which was in the Deutsche Museum is now at the Daimler Benz Museum, Stuttgart. At Stuttgart they have constructed for exhibition very beautiful, faithful copies of the Benz 3-wheeler and Daimler wire spoked 4-wheeler.

The above would, I feel sure, be confirmed by Dr. Nubel, Archivist at Stuttgart, who has in his care many authentic documents like the first sales order book in Karl Benz’s writing (Interestingly, Adam Opel, then a cycle maker, is listed there as an early Benz customer). We drove with two descendants of the great pioneer inventors to a 75th anniversary celebration at the Deutsche Museum where they were photographed facing one another on their respective earliest machines.

As a MOTOR SPORT reader for more than 50 years, I acknowledge the Editor’s concern for accuracy of dates and details.

S. Norwood
RICHARD HARE

Lancia a better bet

Sir,

I would like to offer some practical opposition to the volatile aura that constantly seems to surround that naughty word – Lancia. After having read Mr C.H. Cuthbertson’s letter concerning his 1975 Lancia Fulvia 1300s would like to oppose his “Moral” of not keeping a Lancia for too long.

In May of 1982 I was given yes, given – a 1975 Lancia Spyder by an owner who had neglected the car and consequently run the engine dry, and had neither the time nor enthusiasm to correct it. I purchased a secondhand 1600 cc engine for £90 and had it fitted by a couple of mates for £40. The front wings had completely rusted through and I replaced them for £120 and had them sprayed. After giving the car a general servicing (wishbone rubbers, oil/changes, plugs, points, etc). The car ran absolutely faultlessly for six months when I sold it for £400 to a guy equally enthusiastic about Lancias as myself.

I then went on to buy a 1977 Triumph TR7 that was totally rust-free, however, in a four month period the following faults occurred: the differential unit seized; the exhaust virtually fell off; the general wiring was faulty, creating constantly blown fuses; the windscreen wiper rack seized; the headlight motors were temperamental; the brakes needed overhauling; the head gasket blew after constant overheating.

Three weeks ago I saw my old Lancia parked in the town centre and I waited for the owner to have a chat on how it was going. It had caused no problem other than a new battery since the beginning of 1983. However as fate would have it, I pulled up beside my old TR7 at the traffic lights and after asking the owner the same question, was told that after an engine rebuild, two head gaskets, a water pump and radiator it was still “temperamental”.

So Mr Cuthbertson, my moral to this story would be that if you ever contemplate buying a TR7, don’t keep it too long, it would be better for you to wait for your parts. At least you know that they will do the job that they are designed to do.

Brighton.
RUSSELL HAYNES

Choose with care

Sir,

Mr Cuthbertson (Stuck for a Belt, MOTOR SPORT, January) has chosen his car with, I suspect, more care than his garage.

I have owned three Fulvias to date and love my present one dearly. If I needed a fan belt or HT leads I would get them from Euro Car Spares of Penge, London, SE20, who always give me excellent service (usual disclaimer), or possibly Halfords. Any garage that cannot provide such simple parts is not worthy of the name.

If Mr Cuthbertson plans to keep his car, he will find the Lancia Motor Club very helpful.

London SW6
PAUL LECLERCQ

Elite Ford

Sir,

For historical accuracy I am trying to obtain corroboration that Lotus produced at least one old style Elite with the Ford Lotus twin-cam engine.

In 1963 I was often at the Cheshunt factory and eventually bought a Lotus Seven (reg DMP 7A). At that time almost as a joke I was offered a works Lotus 16 formula one car for the same price as the Seven (!) or for £100 more the prototype Elite Ford. I remember it as red with a large red low oil pressure light on the dash.

I have also seen an advertisement in MOTOR SPORT in the last five years from one of the larger sports car dealers offering a twin-cam Elite.

Perhaps one of your readers could help by adding further details to my memory.

Miami
STEPHEN C. GOSS

Oriental express

Sir,

After following your excellent publications for some years, I feel I must write to rectify an apparent omission by yourselves.

Late last year, I took possession of a Nissan Cherry Turbo, and have found it to be a most excellent vehicle.

Since this car accelerates faster, is better equipped, gives better economy, and is cheaper than any of its rivals (XR3i, Golf GTi, Astra GTE), could it be a prejudice against Japanese cars that prevents it ever getting a mention in your article (Dec 83) on the Astra GTE?

I await a road report on this wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing with eagerness.

Coventry
PETER HARRIS

[No prejudice, Mr Harris. We described a Colt Cordia in December and a tuned Datsun Stanza in January. – M.L.C.]

Warming

Sir,

How clever of you to contrast the photograph of the Bristol Brigand on page 65 of your January issue with the advertisement on page 64 which shows how appalling a car can look. I refer of course to the Rolls-Royce Camargue and the AMG Mercedes (AMG – A Mucked-about German?).

I doubt that I shall ever be able to afford a Bristol, but just to know they are made gives me a warm feeling inside.

Cambridge
C.M.W. TOOLEY