Letters from Readers, May 1949

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Sir,
I feel that your report in “Club News” of Mr. Raymond Mays’ article in the Daily Mirror was not quite fair. I consider that Raymond Mays’ contribution to motor sport in general over a period of years is second to none. He was partly responsible for the E.R.A. and his work for the new B.R.M. is greatly appreciated by many enthusiasts who realise how difficult it is to stimulate enthusiasm in this country where motor racing is appreciated by so few. I remember last year Mr. Mays visiting the Castle Donington Council in a gallant effort to again secure the Donington circuit for racing. He is, in my opinion, a very worthy British Hill-Climbing Champion and one of the finest sprint drivers in the country.
I am, Yours, etc.,
John H. Farrar
Calverley, Yorkshire.
[It was never our wish to belittle Raymond Mays’ fine past efforts and we are glad to associate ourselves with the sentiments of our correspondent by publishing his letter. — Ed.]

Sir,
We have read with interest your article appearing in Motor Sport, and with your permission we would like to comment on two little items.

You have referred to the Vauxhall “Velox” suspension as being “torsion bar Dubonnet independent at the front.” Strictly speaking, it is known as a torsion bar and tube suspension, and differs quite appreciably from the Dubonnet design such as we were using on the Vauxhall Twelve and Fourteen six-cylinder models from 1935 until 1938, which was the true Dubonnet

The second point, which we are sure arises from an oversight, is the statement to the effect that the instrument panel lighting is permanently on when the side lights are switched on. It is true that the instrument panel lighting and the side lights are in the same circuit, but there is an independent switch underneath the right-hand side of the instrument panel of ready access to the driver, which enables the instrument panel lights to be switched off when not required.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Vauxhall Motors Ltd.
F.J. Woodbridge
Manager—Technical Division Service Department.
Luton.
[We are glad to publish these corrections and, indeed, corrected our mis-statement about the facia lighting last month. — Ed.)

Sir,
Having resigned my directorship of Aston-Martin Ltd., and from my position as Chief Designer to the Automobile Division of David Brown Tractors Ltd. (Aston-Martin and Lagonda), I shall be glad if you could kindly arrange to make an insertion to this effect in the next issue of your journal.
I am, Yours, etc.,
C. Hill.
Feltham, Middlesex.
[This news, coming so soon after our published interview with Mr. Hill in last month’s issue, prompts us to remark that we hope the continued development of the outstanding Aston-Martin car will not be impaired by the departure of its designer to what we hope will prove palatable and profitable new employment for his talent. — Ed.]

Sir,
I notice in the April Motor Sport that you mention a Vee eight-cylinder Guy car of 1922 or thereabouts. At about this year my father, in I suspect a convivial moment, purchased a Guy motor car chassis, which to this day has left an impression of being more polished and plated than any other piece of machinery ever made. Perhaps its dazzling glitter misled the eye of a very small boy into seeing its eight cylinders in line. Was it then a case of having been rendered permanently incapable of assessing the relative positions of eight cylinders, or of following in father’s footsteps, when I recall seeing about twelve years later, a George-Roesch-designed Sunbeam with a staggered eight-cylinder engine?

It would indeed be interesting to learn of the survival of an example of these cars.
I am, Yours, etc.,
“Eight to a Bar”
Northam, N. Devon.
[The Guy was a V8 and the later Sunbeam production eight-cylinder models had their cylinders in-line, so the dazzling effect of the Guy owned by “Eight to a Bar’s” father must indeed have been intense, and have lasted for some appreciable time! — Ed.]

Sir,
Mr. Alan W. F. Smith is so kind in saying that I am “usually so correct,” that, had he detected me in an inaccuracy, I should have been inclined to leave it at that. But on re-reading my contribution to your March issue, I find that I have been not inaccurate but misleading, which, in a journalist, is a far worse fault, as you, sir, will, I am sure, be the first to agree. I have evidently given the impression that Clément’s productions were from the first known as Clement-Bayards, whereas, as Mr. Smith rightly points out, the Bayard part was only added in 1903, and, to prove that I knew it before he said so, I would plead that I described the Paris-Berlin racer of 1901 as the “12-h.p. Clément light carriage,” and the Paris-Vienna racer of 1902 as the “Clément light car.” In fact, as the car only became the Clément-Bayard after Barbarou had left the firm, I had no real excuse for mentioning the fact at all; but as the story about the Bayard statue at Mézières appeals to my warped sense of humour, I worked it in in the only place I could — as soon as I had mentioned Mézières. I will say no more — or Mr. Smith and others will learn too much of the scurrilous tricks of the “Baladeur” trade.

With regard to the spelling of Barbarou’s name, however, I remain adamant. H. O. Duncan, I agree, calls the designer of the Benz-Parsifal Barbaroux; Gerald Rose calls the driver of the Clement light cars in 1901 and 1902 Barbaroux; Omnia and other contemporary French authorities call the designer of the Lorraine-Dietrich Barbarou. The identification of these divergently spelt persons might seem hazardous, but if Mr. Smith will consult the official Renngeschichte der Daimler-Benz A.G. at page 382 he will find that the designer of the Benz-Parsifal is clearly stated to be Marius Barbarou, and enough information is given definitely to identify him as the designer of the 1900 Paris Exhibition voiturette, the Clément driver of 1901 and 1902, and the Lorraine-Dietrich designer of the 1920s. Our printer, I notice, has dubbed him Barbarod; that will set another puzzle for future historians.

While I was in Johannesburg recently, I saw a car in the museum there which is described as an 1894 Clément. It is actually a typical Clément-Panhard, of the 4-h.p. type designed by Krebs, with the engine at the back and centre-post steering. Its date, I take it, would hardly be earlier than 1899. Mr. Smith could doubtless confirm me in this, and, if I am right, might care to draw the attention of the Curator to his sideslip!
I am, Yours, etc.,
“Baladeur.”

Sir,
I should like to take this opportunity of pointing out a trifling mistake in your April issue.

C. Posthumus, in his article on motor-cycle racing, states that Walter Rusk, on the then new A.J.S. V4 machine, put up the only 100 m.p.h. lap on the Clady circuit; this is incorreat, since, later in the same race (1939 Ulster G.P.) Serafini set up the present lap record of 100.03 m.p.h.
I am, Yours, etc.,
A. D. Robinson.
Worcester Park, Surrey.

Sir,
Regarding your remarks under heading “Calling Competition Organisers” in the February issue, I wish to point out that a competition, similar in all respects to the one you outline, has been in existence with the Yorkshire Sports Car Club since 1934, and known as “The Horsfall Trophy Trial.”

The event is staged as: 1. A short Sporting Trial; 2. A Test Trial; 3. A Speed event, usually in the form of a hill-climb. In all cases a competitor must use the same car.

In some years the trial has been held as three separate events and on different days, and in some years all three events have been held on the same day, and it appears that from a competitors’ angle it is preferable to complete the trials on the same day.

At all times the event has received good support from Club members and is one of the Club’s most popular events. It seems, therefore, that there is little new in your excellent suggestions to Club organisers, and is now surely the case of “The Y.S.C.C. told you.”
I am, Yours, etc.
Thos. C. Wise,
Hon. Comp. Sec. Yorkshire S.C.C.
Guiseley, Yorks.

Sir,
Your contributor “Baladeur” in one of his always interesting “Sideslips” — and I presume that all his writings are literally devoured by the readers well sunk in the game — makes comparisons between the 1910 Coupe de l’Auto Hispano-Suiza and the 1927 1 1/2-litre Delage. Well, in true fact the original 1 1/2-litre straight-eight Delage was conceived in 1926, and more is to follow regarding this. But the 1910 Hispano-Suiza I think was not a “racing “model, at least as the meaning of the word racing is to-day applied in the car world. That car was a sports model, the prototype or experimental model of the afterwards famous Alfonso XIII. Therefore, comparisons in this case are unfair to the Hispano-Suiza. To be just, I think “Baladeur” — to our good luck so well acquainted with Methuselah times — ought to find, for all his comments about twenty years of design of racing engines, a Grand Prix racing car of the 1910-11 period, because the 1926-27 Delage was also a Grand Prix type, the sort of car now we name a genuine racing model.

By the way, I like to mention here that all the Hispano-Suizas before the Kaiser War were “all Spanish cars.” Only since that conflict were Hispano-Suizas made in the French works of Bois-Colombes, the famous six-cylinder o.h.c. 37.2 h.p. being the first. The name of this marque is of course Spanish, Hispano is our word with Latin ancestry for Spaniard and Suiza for Swiss. The meaning is that the founders were a Spaniard and a Swiss, the former Sr. Damian Mateu and the latter M. Marc Birkigt, who were making Hispano-Suiza cars at Barcelona as early as 1904.

Well, returning to the matter, “Baladeur,” if insisting in preferring to mention the Hispano-Suiza from 1910 I believe that then he should choose for comparison something approximating to the first Le Mans performers, Bentley, the 1923 Clement and Duff 3-litre model.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Antonion Fernandez Nava
Barcelona.

Sir,
I was very interested to read the account of the road test of the Vauxhall ” Velox ” in Motor Sport, particularly so as my father has a “Velox,” and I have one on order.

My own observations tally with yours in most respects, but the petrol consumption of this car is 27 to 28 m.p.g., and no water has been added since taking delivery. I hope you will forgive me if I correct you on one small point. The wipers on this car are mechanically operated by a flexible shaft, which is driven by “skew” gears from the camshaft.

I think these are the finest wipers I have come across to date and the self-parking device has improved them considerably. I believe that Vauxhall Motors have fitted these wipers since about 1935 or ’36 but they were not, of course, self-parking.

I look forward to the next issue of your most interesting publication.
I am, Yours, etc.,
S. R. Waine.
Birmingham, 26.

Sir,
In your description of the “Countryman” body on a Mark VI Bentley chassis, you mention that it should appeal to Americans who require a “100 m.p.h. Station Wagon.” It might well do so, but what I believe would appeal to them far more is a vehicle shorn of the stylised timbering and plated trimmings attaching to the conventional station wagon, and designed expressly as a high-speed private goods-or-passenger carrier.

The coachwork of such a vehicle would be a judicious compromise between capacity, weight, ease of loading and drag reduction. Mounted on a chassis such as the Bentley and embodying the acknowledged qualities of British high-grade coachbuiding, a specialised vehicle of this type should prove popular overseas and might well open up a hitherto untapped export market.
I am, Yours, etc.,
C. Powell.
London, S.W.1.

Sir,
With regard to the question of gear ratios of the 1 1/2-litre H.R.G. recently raised in these columns, might I suggest that if Mr. Godfrey were to revert to a practical form of transmission then the customer could be supplied with two back axles giving two entirely different sets of ratios; one set being for “mudlarking” and the other for “motoring in the proper sense” (i.e. chain drive).

Furthermore, this arrangement would enable Mr. Clutton to replace his ratios whenever he strips them.
I am, Yours, etc.,
M. P. Lovell.

Sir,
Your contributor, C. Posthumus, has misled your readers more than a little in his survey of International motor-cycle racing. Britain is not supreme, as he would have us believe, and a careful summing-up of results would have shown that our decline, which became apparent in 1935, ended in almost complete obliteration in the 1939 season. In that year, German or Italian machines won the five 500-c.c. classics, the Swedish Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Europe, the Senior T.T., the Ulster Grand Prix, and the German Grand Prix. The best we could do was a third place in the Senior T.T. and Ulster Grand Prix. In the 250-c.c. class we had “had it” long ago. Our last victory in that class in the Isle of Man was in 1936. In 1937 we were second, losing by 37 sec.; in 1938 the gap widened to over 11 mins. Our supremacy in the 350-c.c. class remained only because our opponents had not commenced serious operations in that field. It is significant that Continental 250s hold the s.s. and f.s. kilo and the hour record in the 850-c.c. class. If supremacy is claimed by the total number of victories gained over a period of many years we are certainly on top, but in racing, as in war, it is the last battle that counts.

To-day, supremacy is disputed between ourselves and Italy, but the rules are so farcical and so much in favour of our “Pool”-developed monstrosities (the A.J.S. excepted) that our victories are without merit. I am not decrying the Norton, which has done so much for British prestige in the past, but the design was obsolete and hopelessly outpaced a decade ago by the pukka Continental jobs. We cannot reclaim supremacy until we better pre-war Continental performance. The banning of blowers has no bearing on that issue. In motor-cycle racing, engine capacity, and that only, is the governing factor.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Josephy Bayley
East Malling.
[In fairness to our contributor, perhaps we were a trifle over-enthusiastic when writing the heading to his article. — Ed.}

Sir,
In your April issue you say that my S.S. 100 Brough motor-cycle is being done up by Noel Pope for competition work. In fairness to Mr. Pope I think I should deny this rumour since the engine has not been touched and only the chassis has received attention. I am an extremely timid motor-cyclist, having only come onto two wheels late in life, and it is extremely unlikely that I shall use the Brough in competition.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Cecil Clutton
Blackheath, S.E.23.

Crystal Palace Road Circuit

Sir,
With reference to H. J. Blythe’s article on the Crystal Palace circuit, I should like to enlighten him as to a recent meeting of the Crystal Palace directors and the Croydon Council. It was proposed to use the two-mile circuit for cycle racing and not car racing owing to the likelihood of too much noise affecting local inhabitants. To the best of my knowledge in pre-war days when I attended every meeting at this very popular venue there were no complaints with regard to noise.

I consider it would be an excellent idea for the B.R.D.C. or some such likely organisation to endeavour to get the Crystal Palace circuit re-opened for car racing as soon as possible.
I am, Yours, etc.,
R. Bousher.
Thornton Heath, Surrey.

Sir,
I cannot say how much I enjoy my Motor Sport; it is one of the greatest pleasures I get in this petrol-starved era. I have never subscribed to these columns before, but on reading Mr. Clutton’s letter in the April issue, stating that trials are not motoring in the real sense of the word, I feel that I can restrain myself no further.

Has it not occurred to Mr. Clutton that trials are the only outlet for the really hard-up enthusiast.

To participate in sprint or formula racing with any success requires an enormous financial outlay.

On the other hand, with a normal, or one-off car, costing very little, and naturally a certain amount of skill and luck, there is no reason why the impecunious should not pick up an award.

I must say I should be very interested to find out what Mr. Clutton calls motoring in the true sense of the word.
I am, Yours, etc.,
G. H. Verner
Salisbury, Wilts.

Sir,
May I say anything new or forgotten about that famous racing car, the 1 1/2-litre Delage? In the modern literature of motor racing of which actual abundance we have to congratulate ourselves, it seems to me that there is some mistake or erroneous data about these racers’ original year.

In journal reports and in many books, i.e., “The 200-Mile Race,” by W. Boddy, and “Motor Sport Racing Car Review — 1948,” in “Ettore Bugatti,” by W. F. Bradley, and in “Robert Benoist, Champion du Monde,” by Roger Labric, one may read that the 1,500-c.c. straight-eight Delage appeared in 1927, and references are made to the 1926 Delage as a 12-cylinder and in some instances it is described as a 2-litre, 12-cylinder, which was really the 1925 Delage.

I think this is not correct. The Grand Prix status limiting the size of the engine to 1,500 c.c. was established in 1926 and already in that year appeared the now famous straight-eight Delage and also the new Talbot (Darracq in Great Britain). The first important race for this formula was the European Grand Prix of 1926 on the Lasarte (San Sebastian) circuit. There I saw, in the hands of Benoist, Wagner, Morel and Senechal, the Delages, which, like the Bugattis, were blown straight-eights.

This race was won by the veteran Jules Goux, with a Bugatti, these cars less fast but then stronger than the Delages, which suffered the unavoidable teething troubles and resisted less the effects of an African hot day. One event until that day never seen in motor racing was that the Delage drivers had to stop frequently in the pits to cool their feet, putting them in water buckets.

In August the same year took place at Brooklands the first British Grand Prix, Robert Senechal being the winner with one of the wonderful little 1 1/2-litre machines with eight cylinders and two overhead camshafts first seen at the San Sebastian course one month before. Writing about this race at Brooklands, the late Sir Henry O’Neal de Hane Segrave says in his book “The Lure of Speed”: —

“The Delage team, who eventually won, had by no means an easy task, because their cars were so designed that the exhaust pipe passed within a few inches of the accelerator pedal and successfully fried the feet of the drivers. Their pits were kept busily engaged passing out buckets of cold water on to the track into which the drivers jumped every time they stopped. One could actually hear their boots hissing as they went into the water.”

With the training and experience acquired in these two races in Spain and Great Britain, the Delages were modified in some details for the following year, 1927. The exhaust pipe was changed from starboard — as these cars were right-hand driven — to port, and a new inclined-front radiator was fitted, following the trend introduced by the Talbot, in substitution of the vertically-arranged radiator. In this way, the same cars without substantial modifications were the winners of all the 1927 Grand Prix races. And it seems to me that these changes in the external appearance have been principally the cause of the confusion lately suffered when referring to the birth-year of the 1 1/2-litre straight-eight Delage.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Antonion Fernancez Nava
Barcelona.
[In Volume II of W. Boddy’s “Story of Brooklands” will be found photographs of the 1 1/2-litre Delage in both 1926 and 1927 form. — Ed.]

Gemeente Zandvoort
Sir,
Thank you for the nice write-up you gave Zandvoort in the last issue of the one and only Motor Sport. I would like to point out to you one or two alterations. First the telephone number of the Foundation is now 2920 (without Dorpsplein. The telephone number is just plain “Zandvoort 2920).

Second, the K.N.A.C. have decided not to hold the Formula II or 1,100-c.c. race on May 29th, but are running this race on the same day as the Grand Prix (July 30th).

Third, anybody can take his car round the course for a very small sum.

This will be regulated in a short time. A plaque will be for sale, too. The prices given refer to the tariff for agents, manufacturers and traders who want to test cars officially. This tariff (in sterling) reads as follows: One hour, £3 10s. One morning or one afternoon, £12. One day, £22. Every consecutive day, £15. For motor-cycles the figures are £2 10s, £8 10s., £15 and £10, respectively.

I intend to charge about 10s. or 12s. for the special plaque, which can only be purchased after lapping the circuit. As soon as the circuit is completely closed (which it isn’t yet) I will charge a small fee of a few shillings to drive a private car on it.
I am, Yours, etc.,
John Hugenholtz.
Zandvoort, Holland.

H.R.G. Road Test
Sir,
I read with interest Mr. Clutton’s letter in connection with the H.R.G. road test report carried out by Motor Sport and notice that you have adversely criticised the gearbox ratios of the H.R.G. I would respectfully point out that my company has always claimed that the H.R.G. in its standard form can be used for all sporting events, which must include speed trials, road racing, “mud-slinging” trials and rallies, and finally as a fast means of road transport.

I feel that the gear ratios fitted as standard are the best compromise to cover all such events. On the other hand, those owners who wish to specialise in any particular type of motoring sport are able to choose from a range of four other gear ratios which we can offer, three of these giving sets of close-ratio gears of higher and closer than standard and one set giving slightly wider and lower than standard. These are obtainable as optional extras and I feel would completely satisfy your need for very close and high intermediate gears for fast road work.

Further, we can also offer alternative rear axle ratios both higher and lower than standard. The combination of both of the above gives an extremely wide range which is obtainable as required.
I am, Yours, etc.,
G. Robins,
Works Director.
H.R.G. Engineering Co., Ltd.
Tolworth, Surrey.

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