Letters from Readers , May 1953

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64

N.B. Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and Motor Sport does not necessarily associate itself with them — Ed.

 

The British Industry

Sir,

It is seldom that I put pen to paper, but the forthright nature of your journal prompts me to do so.

Can nothing be done to make British manufacturers produce a car for the overseas colonial market  —  just one make of car that can satisfy a very real demand?

In the Rhodesias, where there is a fast-expanding country involving thousands of miles of motoring, it can be safely said that only American models are built to last. I have seen Humber Super Snipes (two in our firm) pack up in twelve months, Rileys rattling like tin cans, Sunbeam-Talbots, Wolseley 6/80s, wasting in showrooms because they are unfit to take out of town, and Hillman Minx and Vanguards sold as worn out after 40,000 miles. The family’s Vauxhall Wyvern cannot be driven over 45 m.p.h. in case it turns over, while there is no need to open the bonnet for water or the boot for luggage as they spring open in turn at the slightest bump. Jaguars are popular for town and country, and Austins have a fairly successful time, but the Morris Minor for roadholding and cruising beats all comers.

The finest car I have had was a Citroën Fifteen, and these cars, I would say, sell as well as American cars. Although twelve years old, my favourite gave me 33 m.p.g. (water injector fitted, of course) running at 60-65 m.p.h. when I drove from Beit Bridge to Cape Town, some 1,400 miles, in 33 hours’ continuous going in December, 1951. She had only a set of Cord rings in the engine, new valves and springs, new front drive, and on the roughest of Rhodesian roads, with 57,000 on the clock, did not have one single rattle or squeak. Despite one head-on collision and a crash over a bridge, she was as sweet to drive as the day she was born. After 7,000 miles of holiday driving in South Africa, ending in 300 miles of driving in torrential rain when the car seemed more like a boat, the only running expenses were one shock-absorber bush and a burnt exhaust valve.

Just before leaving Rhodesia one of our engineering staff was told to buy a car, expense unlimited, for a company representative from abroad. How well I remember his face when, after three days of testing models, he returned empty-handed, saying that as no American cars were available, he would prefer not to spend the money. Would our zealous friends at Earls Court try to explain that away ?

If there’s not something radically different on the market when I return to Africa next year, having had a quiz at some of our sales friends in London, then I shall wonder whether Britain really does want to recover her prestige.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Roy Buckland

Newport

***

Sir,

Having just returned from Uganda after two years, I was extremely interested in the correspondence in your April issue about the standard of British motor manufacturers. I feel that little more is to be gained by merely stating that I endorse the general run of writers, who assert that some of the defects in new vehicles are absolutely appalling, but you may be interested in two recent tours in Africa that I have completed, both of which necessitated using vehicles or every description.

The two greatest problems in Africa are dust and rough roads. Time and again one hears people say about certain well-known makes of British cars, “Yes, but the engine is good.”  Meaning the suspension and bodywork are terrible. My own popular make of British car completed 52,000 miles in East Africa, and at the end of that time was still using the minimum of oil. But how many pairs of shock-absorbers had I used?  How many temperature gauges have I had to have fitted, each with three months’ delay?  How many buckets of African red dust have been carted out of my upholstery?  How many times have I been locked in second gear for many miles?  And how many cracks in the chassis has our farm welding apparatus had to stitch up?  In each case the total of occasions is very numerous, and I have regretfully joined the band of old and wise in East Africa, and pray for the day when the dollar problem will be solved. But the engines are superb.

On the first of my two journeys I travelled to Kenya to test vehicles for agricultural stations. An economical and simple vehicle was required which would give passengers freedom from dust and provide the minimum of maintenance. In each case the test was practical, followed by inspection of stores and spare parts, and an examination of the rate of usage for certain well-known vulnerable parts. My conclusion came firmly to the side of three Continental manufacturers. One of them is the superb Volkswagen. Both French and German products were superior to anything I could get from U.K. The engines were not as good, but suspension and bodywork were two years ahead. English vehicles were eventually purchased, as patriotism still has some significance.

I then went down to Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland on a six weeks’ tour of farms. I went over some appalling roads, and covered some 3,000 miles. The vehicles I used were hired, and represented Germany, America and Great Britain. All had done over 10,000 miles, and the American car had done 56,000. In spite of heavy rain throughout the trip I never once got stuck in the German vehicle. I got thoroughly bogged down in the American car, though otherwise I was in great comfort. The British car was as wet inside as out. The engine behaved superbly, but the bodywork was terrible. Pieces of chromium came off internally, the radiator broke loose from the chassis, and one of the control knobs came away as I pulled it.

Now that I am home I have bought a new version of a well-tried Midlands product. It looks good, and again the engine is a pleasure. I find, however, a whistling draught in the rear seat because there is no separation between the boot and the rear seat. No boot was ever made leak-proof, and the cold air sucked into the boot whistles around the interior like a gale. In Africa this would mean a cloud of dust. And this is in 1953, on a model that has been in production at least five years, and by a firm that takes more than normal trouble to rectify export problems.

If this is the best they can do in Britain, we wish we could keep the dollars we earn in East Africa and buy some decent American cars.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Arvian D. Llewellyn-Jones

Masindi.

***

Sir,

I was most interested to read your views on the M.G. 1-1/4-litre. saloon and thought I detected a trace of disappointment, reading between the lines. The words “let’s face it”  at least had a ring of ugly foreboding unless I am unduly sensitive following my recent purchase of this model.

I had decided the car was under-powered and it was cold comfort to be informed that the car was not a “sports saloon” but a “saloon for the sports motorist.”  In another age this could have been considered misrepresentation, especially as the car appears to have no claim to the word “sports” at all.  My 20-year-old Hornet-Special, weighing nearly the same as the M.G. and with a comparable capacity engine, can equal it for top speed, petrol consumption and roadholding, which prompts me to ask what progress has taken place in the meantime. And the gear lever has a far more restful time!

Admittedly, the trimming and appointment are good by modern standards, being up to pre-war quality, but the reputation of the M.G. was surely not founded on upholstery, nor, I hope, was it founded on inertia.

Incidentally, the plywood dashboard is showing signs of losing its walnut veneer. Let’s face it, indeed !

I am. Yours etc.,

M. K. Johnson

Birmingham, 13

***

Sir,

I want to add my warmest praise for your hard-hitting editorial in the March issue. Every word of it is so true ; it is no use, as you say, consoling ourselves with a Le Mans state of mind, we must get down to brass tacks if we are going to keep our export markets.

British manufacturers seem to fail to realise exactly what is expected of their products in foreign countries. Here in Canada cars are not treated fondly, they are a method of transportation and are driven accordingly. No one cares two hoots whether a specially prepared product was driven through umpteen countries in Europe. The day when a British car is used as a taxi in Montreal will be a far greater achievement!

One the great failures in British cars is that they do not seem to be thoroughly road-tested before they are mass-produced. American manufacturers make a great feature of this and also advertise the fact.

Let me end by adding a bit of praise for a British product.  I am the proud owner of a Morris Minor, a grand little car in every respect, but even here why did the windscreen have to leak, why did the floor become a morass after a bit of wet driving ? Could it be bad workmanship, lack of road-testing?

I am, Yours. etc..

Bryan Stamp

Montreal

***

Sir,

I rejoice to see that Mr. Denis J. S. Fletcher has contributed some comments on the distribution and servicing of British cars in South Africa. Three years ago I bought a medium-weight, not-so-expensive British car. Within two months I discovered around 30 faults, mostly in the bodywork, but including stripped bolts on the cylinder head. After a running and largely unsuccessful fight with the suppliers, I ripped off a stinker of a letter to the manufacturers, who issued instructions that the car was to be fixed to my satisfaction free of charge. This included dustproofing it  —   an essential in this country. (Incidentally, believe it or not, a Rolls-Royce recently imported had to be dustproofed here, costing the owner an additional £39 10s.)  I saw the letter of instructions, by accident. It stated that the car had better be fixed up as I was a newspaperman and they did not want to fall foul of the Press.  Other owners, I assume, were less fortunate.   It was never, however, satisfactory and was duly got rid of.

Being still of the opinion that a good British car cannot be beaten, I acquired the 1949 3-1/2-litre job of the greatest sports car outside the millionaire class with an honest 12,000 miles on the clock, which had never been driven more than 50 m.p.h. on tarred roads. The seller’s parting words were:  “For God’s sake never let the agents get their hands on it.”  Owners of cars of the same make and another famous car represented by the same company hold firmly to the same view. Apart from carrying virtually no spares, both they and the factory seem completely disinterested in helping others. I required a spare urgently. The local firm wrote to the factory, while I made arrangements to have it flown out here at high speed. Nothing happened. I cabled the factory. My friends in London telephoned. After a month, the factory announced that they didn’t have it, they didn’t know whether the company that made it had it.  Fortunately, I had a brainwave and wrote to Henlys. Within a week, they advised that they had not a new part in stock but could pick up a second-hand one in good condition. Two days later, an airmail parcel arrived at my office  with the part, accompanied by a note, “With our compliments  —  No charge”. When I do manage to hit London, one of the first things I intend to do is to buy the guy at Henlys a quantity of doubles at the nearest local.

This action did my morale a world good after my local experiences.

Seriously, however, the U.K. has a great market for its cars in this country. But manufacturers must devote time and money to picking agents, seeing that their workshops are properly equipped, that the mechanics are top-class men, preferably with factory training, and that spares are available in all main garages throughout the country.

I am, Yours etc..

G. M. Thain

Johannesburg.

***

Sir,

The March issue of Motor Sport  focuses an uncomfortably penetrating spotlight on the British motor industry which is, I sincerely trust, profoundly disturbing to its complacency and false sense of well-being.

Quite apart from the disintegration of the seller’s market, which alone is sufficient to jerk some of the smooth gentlemen with the title of salesmen out of the artificial world of quotas, four-year delivery dates, waiting-lists, and covenants. Your correspondence columns indicate widespread and informed criticism of the finish, performance and after-sales service of British cars which they will ignore at their peril.

Add to this the dramatic resurgence of the German motor iudustry, which is tearing into our overseas markets with its customary diligence and efficiency, and the picture is far from bright for anybody who takes the trouble to look.

Woven into this pattern of international sales competition for export markets is motor racing, whether the Grundys like it or not, and it is not difficult to forecast which country will dominate international motor racing next year, when the new formula is unleashed.

If we accept this, and I think we must, our position as an exporter will be affected and undermined to such a point that, with the home market able under present economic conditions to absorb only 50 per cent. of production, the industry will find itself in very grave difficulties indeed.

The contention that export sales depend entirely on motor-racing successes cannot be supported, but that they have a very considerable effect cannot be denied. Next year even Ferraris are going to find it difficult to cope with the new Mercedes, and in step with the string of successes which inevitably the Mercs will chalk up at our expense the overseas sales of the Volkswagen will climb, to the detriment or the Minor, the A.30 and the Anglia.

If it is important to win races, and it is, we must approach the problem with some of the ruthless commercialism of the Germans, the inventive fertility of the Italians, and for good-measure the Gallic ardour of the French. The British Formula I cars in 1954 should be the best that the British industry can produce, but in fact they will be the best that scattered groups of bright, young engineers, working on shoe-string budgets with limited facilities, can produce and they will put up a gallant show, but with sadness in our hearts we will watch them finish nowhere, blow up, shed wheels, demonstrably and lamentably outclassed by our late enemies and present rivals.

We have, scattered throughout our industry, the inventive fertility, we can match the Gallic ardour with our own brand of enthusiasm. That leaves “ruthless commercialism”  —  and it is this which requires the most fundamental change in our approach to motor racing. Motor racing is no longer the sport of the monied young man thundering round Brooklands in his Sunbeam, it is the conflict of slick, meticulously prepared, and organised teams representing their country with world prestige and consequently world markets at stake. The fact that it is the greatest spectator sport on earth is largely incidental.

The racing team which is going to win races as the Ferraris have been doing, and the Mercs almost certainly will next season, needs financing on a scale which no private syndicate can provide —  since sucessive governments have declined to support a national British racing car, it therefore devolves on the industry itself to pour money into the development of cars which will win races, if for no other reason than the basic one of self-preservation. Surely, now, there is a case for the development of cars sponsored by the component manufacturers, the oil companies, the tyre companies, etc., as in America. It would open the hallowed atmosphere of motor racing to the publicity hounds but if that meant a green car being first past the chequered flag wouldn’t the sacrifice be worth it!

I am, Yours, etc.,

Peter Ross

Brighton. 

***

Sir,

The Poske criticisms and the replies are most enlightening. While the European cars, particularly the English, are held in high esteem in the eyes of Americans, it is necessary to correct the defects that exist. Reliability must be improved.  It has been found that two faults are prevalent in most English cars: the wiring fails to last more than 30,000 miles and, worse, the rubber hoses no more than 20,000 miles. There is, of course, room for improvement in all automobiles, but I should like to point out a few details concerning one of the best of your cars sold in any quantity in the U.S.A., the Aston Martin. Its virtues are too well known, so I shall be pessimistic and list only faults. Steering, too much play and wander;  rattle of the bonnet; reflection of panel lights on the windshield; brake grabbing; overheating in U.S.A.; instability of the cylinder liners; and last, and probably most important, seating  —  no support for legs or back. These small defects are so vital that they tend to drive one (me !) to distraction, so much in love with it am I.

I am a very poor letter writer and were it not for the hour and a drink or two you would not even hear from me.  Please do not think that the criticisms are an indication of my personal preference, for in truth I am really on your side, the American cars having long-since lost any amount of that vital ingredient, fun

My plea, and long may it ring with a strength undimmed by the influence of America and weak disposition: live on, O mighty spirit,  for what you are, let not the weaknesses of man deter you from your worthy cause, giving pleasure to us poor mortals in these most fearful days.

Many thanks, good luck, good night.

I am, Yours etc.,

Allen George Dartt

Long Island, New York.

***

A Mk Vll in Denver

Sir,

Accolades to Uncle Tom McCahill and his criticism on the Mark VII Jaguar  —   page 476, Motor Sport,  (web version page 43),  October, 1952.

As much as I dislike McCahill, he really hit the nail on the head in summing up the many troubles on the Mark VII. I have owned one of these monsters and could hardly wait to unload it on some unwary individual who thought “Made in England” could have no faults.

I can honestly say 98 per cent. of all Jaguar Mark VII owners feel as I do—can’t wait to get rid of the car, are afraid to admit they had been fooled into thinking they were buying real quality, an engineering masterpiece instead of a mass of engineering nightmare  —  it won’t happen on another “Made in England.”

I firmly believe the Mark VII Jaguar has lost more business for British cars than any other single factor. I got weak and tried a new Mark VII with automatic gearshift and almost tore my finger off when I got it caught between shift lever and facia  —  no more !

I am, Yours, etc.,

G. Joseph

Denver

***

American advice to M.G. and Jaguar

Sir,

With immense pleasure I have just read your article “The Future of Grand Prix Racing,” and especially paragraph two, in particular the part which states British G.P. cars are only being accepted in races to make up the starting-line numbers.

I am more than glad to finally realise that there is at least one British magazine to admit British cars aren’t exactly setting the world on fire as several people might think.

If you were here in America you would also realise that my first paragraph not only refers to British G.P. cars, but to every single British sports car in racing, except perhaps the XKI20C or Frazer Nash  —  the M.G. series and the XK120 have both gone by the wayside and can’t hold a candle to Continental cars hot after the juicy sports-car business in the U.S.A.  I am sure some 50 million dollars in exports for Mercedes in 1952 was helped a little by their racing activity  —  a little, I say.

Further, the fact that the M.G. and the XK120 Jaguar won races here and abroad when first introduced has done more than anything else in the world to sell these marques on the American market, and that is why they are selling today, and is the greatest single factor; it has even helped every other British car.

But alas, they haven’t got the checkered flag in a hot top race in the last couple of years, and considering the snail’s pace at which the British industry is able to cope with competition and race-bred machines, I am afraid they will be wiped off the American market before they wake up and realise their little “dollar earners” aren’t exactly earning as fast as they should be, considering they were here first and should be entitled to the greatest share of business. Frankly, in proportion to the time British cars have been on the American scene they are quickly losing ground, in spite of increased sales; which isn’t a true indication of the situation.

I like British cars, but if the leaders, M.G. especially and Jaguar, don’t come out with a new winner, well, goodbye  —  let’s have a new, Aerodynamic M.G.  —  a winner !

Oh, yes, Jaguars had some trouble in the Mexican road race out of the many entries only one XK120 was able to finish  —  last in sports-car class and behind a lowly 1-1/2-litre Porsche and many slower American bathtubs  —  no excuses, “also-ran” doesn’t count, only winners.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Geo. Joseph Jr.

Colorado

***

Good show!

Sir.

I should like to commend to your readers the service offered in your advertisement columns by Packer of Bristol for re-silvering reflectors.

On Friday I sent off a headlamp reflector in the most intolerable condition. Pretty well all the silver was gone and the brass was so green with verdigris that I got my hands filthy handling it. I mentioned that I was going touring this week and asked if it could be sent literally by return. This morning, Monday, I received it back first post (cost of Is. 2d. return express postage included in the charge of 5s. 6d.) looking dazzlingly like new.

Here really is a service as good as or perhaps even better than pre-war as to quality, speed and cost.

I  am, Yours, etc.,

H. Howell Thomas

Bromley

***

Boost for Adler

Sir,

No comment on your storm of letters about British cars but may I offer an experience of mine which says a great deal for Continental cars?  Last September I travelled with two others in a 9-h.p. Adler saloon (1937) in Germany and Austria. In ten days we ambled 1,600 miles. Of this 1,600 miles about 100 were on the autobahns. The rest were over those shocking German cobbled roads and up and down obscure dirt roads in all sorts of obscure corners of the Austrian Alps, including a climb to the ski-ing centre Ob.-Gungl.

The car, with its front-wheel drive, steering-column gear-change and torsion-bar rear end, was remarkable. The terrain necessitated the buying of two new tyres so you can imagine what the rest of the car put up with.

We had our troubles, of course, but none, other than the tyres, needed outside assistance.  First, the brake shoes disintegrated on the front off-side wheel descending a 1 in 7 mountain slope. The others stopped us and with a little juggling and small loss of time the front brakes at least were made sufficient to stop us, as and when desired, for the rest of the journey. Then, in the Saar, coming home, a front wheel came off (f.w.d. remember), and after grinding 50 yards on three wheels and a shock-absorber we thought, all was lost. But no, only a slipped lock-washer, and having removed the shock-absorber and replaced the wheel all was well again except that the steering naturally drifted a little on steep cambers. The engine? A blocked jet was the most it had against us.

It used just under two pints of oil in the 1,600 miles, averaged 33 m.p.g. up hill and down dale, and it went up some hills at that!  My friend who owned the car was thinking of buying a new British car when he came home; I lightly suggested that an Adler would be rather unusual in this country and seemed worth the hundred or so pounds he paid for it. So why not keep it?  I am sure now that I would if it were mine. And I would not undertake the same journey in a similar 1953 British saloon car without a lot of thinking. And incidentally, he had the brakes fixed and shock-absorber replaced within about three days of returning to his camp. Just a little local German garage—cheap too. German car anyone?

 I am, Yours, etc.,

David H. Stead

Southampton

***

Dream cars

Sir,

Your correspondent, Mr. J. Wolstenholme, asks for readers’ opinions as to what constitutes the ideal “dream” sports car.  In my mind are two dream sports cars, neither of which I shall ever own, unless someone leaves me a large packet of money.

I should have to try both of them to find out which was my ideal.

They are both converted racing cars; one the 3.3-litre Bugatti still owned I believe by Rodney Clarke. (In America. alas  —   Ed.)  My first acquaintance with this car was seeing it raced at Brooklands by Lord Essenden (then the Hon. Brian Lewis). In its present form it is a poem of perfection. The other car is the recently converted 2.9-litre Monoposto P3 Alfa Romeo of the late Dick Shuttleworth.

Could any modern sports car compete with either of these cars for performance, roadholding and superb workmanship?  I doubt it very much.

Modern sports cars, softly sprung, many of them over-bodied, some of them even with soup plates on their wheels, look wrong and are wrong. See how they keel over going round a bend; it is painful to watch them. Even the great 8-litre Barnato-Hassan can go through an S-bend quicker and with less fuss than an XK120.

Next to the cars mentioned, give me an old Bentley, strong as a lion, steady as a rock, and a great joy to drive.

I am, Yours, etc.,

C.A.L. Meredith

Ludlow

***

The V12 Hispano-Suiza

Sir,

The recent Hispano-Suiza correspondence has as yet brought no mention of the 11-1/2-litre, V12 jobs, which must have had a R.A.C. rated h.p. of something approaching 90. I believe that three were built, and Count Trosse and Whitney Straight were one-time owners. I have a photograph of the latter’s example, a beautiful sedanca by Fernandy and Darrun and am enclosing for your perusal some interesting drawings which were made for me some years ago by two Colonial friends, Mr. A. E. Lloyd and Mr. R. G. Shepherd. The coupé was, I believe, an actual show model of around 1935, but the open models are conceived entirely by the artists concerned; and, imagined as mounted on the aforementioned 11-1/2-litre chassis, really make one’s mouth water.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Reginald Miles

Bournemouth

***

Psychology of R-R v. M.G. ownership

Sir,

A bouquet to Raymond L. Osborne; M.D., and to you, dear Editor, for having the letter published. (Indeed, I find the “letters section” the most interesting and entertaining part of Motor Sport.)

Mr. Osborne’s words of analytical criticism, in the Rolls-Royce versus Cadillac battle, are nothing short of brilliant when he writes: ” We live in a dreary post-war world conspicuous for its shoddy, tawdry tinsel and ersatz  —  the brave new world of plastics and cheap inferior substitutes, designed to bring to the common man the elegance of kings . . .”

Granted the Cadillac is the symbol of the vulgar rich (who show poor taste in driving such a freak car)  —  but I cannot agree with Osborne when he states that the R-R has elegance of line. Let him say, rather, it comes close to this. Or, it tries to have this.

If reader Osborne for a minute should be not dazzled by the sheer price of a car and would consider sheer classic beauty in simplicity of line, I would suggest he look closer (or have a look at. ..) the humble M.G. TD Midget. This car is quietly scooping the world market. Has Osborne ever noticed the type of people who own and drive M.G.s?  Faddists there are amongst them, yes. But the solid core of M.G. owners who care for their little Midgets with devotion, are also people of good taste in other respects (moderation of the cost of a car can also be a reflection of good taste). There is a saying, a person is judged by the company he keeps. I will go further. A person is also judged by the car he owns. (Because a car is the most expensive, Mr. Osborne, that is not a guarantee that it is the last word in, as you hope, elegance of line.)

I cannot help thinking, about here, how R-R  try so hard for classic beauty but instead fall short in creating but an austere shadow of what they strive for. To my mind, I believe the designers of the M.G. Midget could do a better job than the R-R. people for a lot less money (so far as that goes  —  so could I).

If the M.G. designers and stylists do such a splendid job on a car which sells for $2,100 here  —  what could they not do with a $15,000 price tag (I could easily dream the answer !).

I am, Yours, etc.,

Robert Harvey Killwyn, Los Angeles. (I agree, the-M.G. has its radiator where radiators should sit !  — Ed.)

***

What price the horizontally-opposed engine?

Sir,

I have read your interesting account of Javelin and Jupiter flat-four engines and appreciate that the Jowett engineers have arrived at a state of development which gives a reliable engine. But then pause to wonder at the trend of design after considering the more or less expensive aids used in arriving at an output about the same as that achieved during the last 25 years with in-line four-cylinder engines of orthodox and less “advanced” construction.

Setting aside those problems which are not peculiar to the horizontally-opposed engine such as strength and rigidity of the various components, cam form, combustion chamber design and the problem of fitting wet liners, one concludes that bearing failure and excessive variation of oil consumption were major problems.

The compact arrangement of the aluminium-alloy crankcase, and water jackets, together with the greater probability of circulating oil coming in contact with the piston, liner and crankcase surfaces, must result in the oil and crankshaft picking up a greater quantity of heat under similar operating conditions than in a more spacious in-line engine. The narrow large-diameter big-end bearings employed will add to this effect and we find an oil cooler is added: also the large volumes of oil arriving on the liner bores are scraped by high-pressure rings. This is the present arrangement, which works, but on occasions gives excessive oil consumption. The possible alternative and cheaper solution lies in a cast-iron crankcase and smaller diameter white-metal bearings with the appropriate smaller clearances, obviating the need for a hardened shaft.

Horizontally-opposed engine problems have been overcome in years gone by. For example, Douglas and B.M.W. flat-twin motorcycles have taken various records, including the world’s speed record on more than one occasion but rely on bearings insensitive to temperature in the range under consideration. The Volkswagen and the small flat-twin Citroën engine are lowly rated, yet the latter employs an oil cooler. However, it seems that the horizontally-opposed engine is not specially tricky if there is a reasonable heat barrier between the cylinders and crankcase. I have seen no impressions in the motoring press of the 2-litre Hotchkiss Gregoire flat-four exhibited at the last Motor Show, but if data is available it should be of topical interest.

All things considered, is the flat-four engine really the most useful solution for the forward-mounted engine in a motor car ?

I am, Yours, etc.,

R. Hargreaves

Reigate

***

Beyond Challenge

Sir,

I wish to congratulate and thank you for publishing the very fine article “Some Thoughts on Mercedes-Benz,” by D.S.J. in your April issue.

I considered the standard of impartiality, factual reporting and unbiased intelligent comment most praiseworthy following upon the recent Ferrari challenge hysteria indulged in by the popular motoring press which conveniently forgot that Ferrari had their chance in 1952 and in five International duels with Mercedes only beat them once.

Mercedes have been racing for 59 years and it is completely outside their traditions to take part in stunt challenges  —  it is likewise not in keeping with the rules of the International Board of Control.

D.S.J. puts the matter in a nutshell in his concluding remarks that “Daimler-Benz are not interested in beating challengers— they are more concerned with winning races.”

After the recent misrepresentation in the popular press of what Daimler-Benz actually said in withdrawing from the Sport in 1953, I have sent a copy of your April issue to Ober. Ing. Alfred Neubauer, to make quite sure this fine article comes to his notice.

On behalf of the Mercedes-Benz Club, I must also thank you for the splendid half-page photograph in the same issue of our Club Captain, Norman Powell, winning his race at Goodwood in the S.S.K. This car is the very first S.S.K. to be manufactured, and is reputed to have been a “works” team car, eventually coming to England in 1935 for Denis Conan-Doyle.

The alarming exodus of all that is best of high-performance vintage sports cars from this country to the U.S.A., has resulted in only three S.S.K. model Mercedes remaining in England, only one of which may have the “elephant” supercharger fitted  —  this we do not know for certain as the car concerned is one of a private collection.

My self-imposed mission in life appears to be the definition and identification of S.S. vis-a-vis  S.S.K.  Will D.S.J. and (“tell it not in gath”)  —  Mr. “Baladeur”  —  please note that the lone Mercedes in the 1930 Le Mans Race was an SS, not S.S.K.

I am, Yours, etc..

R.H Johnson, Hon. Secretary, Mercedes-Benz Club

Limpley Stoke

***

Idea

Sir,

Like many other followers of motor-racing, I am looking forward to Silverstone on May 9th, and subsequent meetings. Let us hope that during the 1953 season the organisers of the various large meetings will not, by a certain lack of organisation, deter many from ever coming again.

I intend these words in reference to the useful but often opaque portable grandstands. Cannot a space of, say, 10 feet behind the rope barriers be reserved solely for sitting and standing spectators, and portable grandstands be allowed only behind this area?  Those sitting or standing on the many and varied structures would lose nothing by being a few feet further back, and the enjoyment of many would be increased immeasurably by gaining, as far as possible, a relatively unimpeded view.

I am, Yours. etc.,

R. S. Breakey

Solihull