Letters from Readers, May 1947

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36

Sir,
Your remarks in “Rumblings” in the April Motor Sport led me to believe that you might be interested in some details of a more modern Morgan than the 1927 Aero” there described.

I own a 1937 Matchless-engined two-seater, purchased in July last year. I paid £160 for it, being in urgent need of a car at the time and unwilling to pay East Anglia’s over-inflated prices. In passing, Rover Tens change hands for around £800 in those parts! I was not really robbed, as I have seen less well-preserved specimens than mine offered for £200 and more, but a sound example should be available for nearer £120-£140.

Chief charms of the Morgan, to my mind, lie in its very low running costs and very satisfactory performance. Cruising at 45 m.p.h. gives 45 m.p.g.; at 50 the engine is quite as happy but considerably more thirsty. Oil consumption is heavy, but this is not really surprising with an air-cooled twin, far from oil-tight and not in the first flush of youth.

My car has, of course, the three-speed and reverse gearbox, readily detachable rear wheel, reasonable brakes and low build, which are such a contrast to earlier models. I must insist that the car is not unstable, as on occasion I have entered a corner far too fast and the car slides before a front wheel lifts, and as I possess an American wife, this does not entail acrobatics on the part of the passenger. That the said wife, brought up on heated American saloons, tolerates the car at all is surely a point in favour of a Morgan’s “austerity.” I admit the thing is austere; the hood is adequate but there are no side-curtains, and as there are no doors it is not possible to enter or leave with the hood erected. However, it was quite wet at Prescott last year, and very wet at Shelsley, and yet my wife is eager to come with me again this year.

Very shortly after purchase, a bolt fell from the gearbox, letting out all the oil and smashing the worm-wheel into a thousand fragments. Frantic telephoning to the works, all known dealers, even Mr. Boddy himself, failed to disclose a spare. However, an Ipswich firm agreed to make one up on receipt of drawings. I asked Morgans for these, and they sent worm and worm-wheel by return post. Surely there is a moral here? And a local garage have told me this sort of thing is not unknown with other makes.

As these ramblings have continued too long already, I will cease on a few salient points in favour of the cyclecar. (1) by no means unreliable, (2) certainly cheap to run and my insurance company raise no objections, (3) performance is most satisfying, not the 96 that some claim for the “T” type M.G. but an honest 70 (vide “Motor Cycling Road Test” for this model in 1937), 45 in 2nd and 25 in 1st ensure very reasonable acceleration, and (4) they take enough driving to be interesting.

Beside the Matchless, twins of the same age as mine by J.A.P. usually give a little more urge, the Ford Eight and Ten-engined jobs more refinement and often more room (many of them are 4-seaters).

Really, the secret is light weight, thanks to a taxation demand of 8 cwt. maximum. It certainly makes me think when a famous 10-h.p. car comes out in 1947 weighing 22 cwt. as a saloon, and the technical press call it a “brisk performer.” My o.h.v. Matchless is 1,000 c.c.
I am, Yours, etc.,
A. H. Wilson.
Bolney, Sussex.

Sir,
Having read your article on some of the first M.G.s with interest, I am reminded of a car built by the managing director of my firm in 1926-27. I was only eight years old at the time, but can remember being very impressed by the appearance of the car even at that age.

Both Cecil Kimber and William Morris were very interested at the time, and both got ideas from it which appeared in subsequent Morris and M.G. cars. Being o.h.v., this car performed rather better than the current M.G.s of that day. In about 1930 the Cowley engine was replaced by a modified Isis engine (18-h.p. overhead camshaft) and the car would then do well over 80 m.p.h.

The steering was modified to rake the column nearly horizontal by raising the box to the top of the bulkhead and then taking a link vertically down to a bell-crank which was mounted in the normal steering-box position. I have never seen this done before but it is a tip well worth remembering.

Unfortunately the car was completely written off in a smash and Mr. Milner parted with it.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Brian Morgan.
Birmingham, 20.
[This sounds an interesting car; Mr. Rivers Fletcher has also drawn our attention to it. — Ed.]

Sir,
have just finished reading the April issue of Motor Sport, and was interested in your criticism of my article concerning new sports cars. In the interests of accuracy, I would like to correct the misunderstandings present in your criticism. My article was not an editorial, as I am not the editor of the Sports Car. The article concerned all new sports cars, British and Continental, that are now offered in open 2-seater form, and was not written for the purpose of “depreciating the new British sports cars.” The appearance of new British utility cars was criticised, not the size — the reason for the size being appreciated. I did not admit that I had “not heard of the new Healey, Invicta and Lagonda,” nor did I mention those cars in the article. I expressly stated that the cars described were “cars designed for competition in sports car events, i.e., two-seaters.” I am familiar with the specifications of the above three cars, and also with the fact that none of them are offered in 2-seater form. In regard to the Allard performance figures, I stated that “Possibly the ‘Pool’ petrol used in the test was responsible.” New Cadillacs get around 12-13 miles per U.S. gallon, equivalent to 16 miles per Imperial gallon, as reported in the Allard road test. Again, as the article concerned only new cars, the description “out-of-date” applied to the basic design of new British two-seaters, and not to vintage cars, as you apparently misunderstood. We appreciate good vintage machinery, as you observed, but we also appreciate the fact that when an enthusiast decides to buy a new sports car, he wants it to be new in chassis and engine, as well as in bodywork. In general, the continental 2-seaters appear to be ahead in this respect at this time.

The matter of availability of sports cars in the U.S.A. has changed considerably in the last month. British, French and Italian cars are now available in New York, generally at prices beyond the reach of most enthusiasts. The most convenient price reference is probably the Ford “V8” cabriolet (drophead), which, while not a sports car, is the most popular enthusiasts’ car now produced in America. It is upholstered in good leather, develops 100 b.h.p., has a 3.54 rear end, good performance on our roads, and sells for $1,595. Another $100 spent on readily available h.c. heads and two-carburetter manifolds gives around 95 m.p.h. maximum. The average American enthusiast has this car in mind when he prices the “TC” Midget at $2,150, the Allard at $5,500, the Talbot-Darracq at $7,500, the Pinin Farina-bodied Lancia at $11,500, the Delahave at $12,500, and the Bentley at $14,600. Typical saloons are Austin Ten at $1,950 and Lancia “Aprilia” at $4,600, all prices at New York.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Theodore F. Robertson.
Massachusetts, U.S.A.
[As Healey, Invicta and Lagonda were not mentioned we ventured to think Mr. Robertson had not heard of them. Healey’s certainly make a 2-seater, which we have illustrated in Motor Sport. — Ed.]

Sir,
I read Mr. Clutton’s article on the “40/50” Napier with great interest. It certainly was a beautifully made car, but its performance as described by him seems woefully short of that given by the pre-1914 Napiers. My father’s 1911 model would have run rings round the car as described by Mr. Clutton and would easily hit 65 m.p.h. when loaded with six up and a lot of luggage and with a heavy coachbuilt body. I feel certain that with a bit of tuning the model as described by him could have given a very much improved performance. Incidentally, in the 1920’s Napiers developed a lighter 6-cylinder, with a first-class performance which, however, never went into production. I understand that several of these chassis were produced for the use of the directors and would be interested if anyone could give details of their performance and to know if one of them is still in existence.

As an owner of three A.B.C.s and the last of the “Super Sports” models, which was turned out in June, 1928,I would like to correct the information given in the April number. The performance was very much better than that quoted and on a number of occasions I easily obtained the performance guaranteed by the makers of 0-30 m.p.h. in 5 sec., this being obtained on bottom gear. I easily held a “12/50” Alvis on long dicing matches on A.1. The makers guaranteed 0-50 m.p.h. in 13 1/2 seconds and this could also be easily obtained, through the gears as the gear-change, especially upwards, with the clutch stop properly adjusted, could be made just as quickly as you could move the lever through that delightful vertical gate. This car was not fitted with a skimped body, but a really solidly built one, quite the most comfortable 2-seater sports body I have ever owned. The car was the acme of reliability. Incidentally, A.B,C.s, in their later days, could be fitted with Whitehead front wheel brakes. The A.B.C. was the first light car to be fitted with finger-light and positive steering, worm and nut type, and with the first decent and effective springing. If it had been fitted towards the end with a Meadows or an Anzani engine would have had a much longer life. In all, some 1,450 A.B.C.s were built and it would be interesting to know if any are still left on the road.

With all best wishes for the continuance of Motor Sport, whose arrival is always one of the bright spots of the month.
I am, Yours, etc.,
O. S. M. Raw (Lt.-Col.).
London,
S.W.1.
[We heartily endorse Lt.-Col. Raw’s enthusiasm for the A.B.C. — Ed.]

Stop Press!

During the racing season we have to find space in Motor Sport for reports of a large number of topical events. In consequence, it may be necessary to publish “Baladeur’s” popular “Sideslips” bi-monthly while racing is in full swing. This feature is held over this month but will appear in the June issue.

Some fifty Lagondas, 2 litres predominant, attended the Farnborough, Hants, Lagonda Rally on April 20th, one coming from as far afield as Blackpool.

McMichael’s “TC” M.G. won the Circuit of Ireland Trial, from, An M.G. “Magnette.” A Hillman “Minx,” Vauxhall Twelve and H.R.G. tied for 3rd place.

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