Letters from Readers, May 1959

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

 

Coventry-Climax  — “H.M” replies to “D.S.J.”

Sir,

My attention has been drawn to the article in your February number by Denis Jenkinson entitled “The Trend of Racing-Car Design.” I am only concerned with one portion of this article, and rarely have I come across so many errors and such ill-informed comment. Furthermore, he either hasn’t bothered to check the names of the two people concerned, or the page reading of Motor Sport  is at fault. My concern, of course, is the part of the article dealing with the Coventry-Climax engines.

Jenkinson says that the 1,500-c.c. Formula 2 engine was “contrived from pieces of the ill-fated 2,500-c.c. V8 Godiva engine built by the same firm. That engine was a complete failure for various reasons . . .”

The truth of the matter is that up to the time that development work was suspended on these engines it had been quite successful. Naturally, there had been some minor changes in the development period, among them the change-over from hairpin to helical springs for the valves. The reason for this was that, to retain the desired use of piston-type tappets, the curvature in the arms of the hairpin springs was rather severe and sensitive to tool marks left during the forming of the wire. Also the arms were short because of the available space in which to use the springs, and, as a result, the stresses were higher than they would have been had there been space in which to accommodate longer arms.

Far from being a failure, this engine, without very much development, produced 264 b.h.p. This was 30 more brake horse-power than B.R.M.s were using last year after approximately five years of development. Moreover, the powers were true ones and were sustained on the brake, as indeed are all the powers quoted by Coventry-Climax. The FPF engine was not built to any definite price limit.

The only reason the design of this V8 engine was suspended was that the need for it receded. In other words, the main customers for whom it was projected, H.W.M. and Connaught, curtailed their interest in this particular field of racing. At that time, also, Cooper and Lotus were much more interested in a 1-1/2-litre. Hence the reason for the design of the not unsuccessful FPF range of four-cylinders.

Jenkinson goes on to say that there is nothing outstanding about the layout of this 1-1/2-litre engine having gear-driven overhead camshafts, single sparking plugs to each cylinder and using double-choke carburetters. Dealing with them in order, does he infer that because Ferrari uses a chain drive that it is better (most other people, including Vanwall and B.R.M., use a gear train). The need for twin ignition depends on the efficiency of the point chosen for a single sparking plug and also the efficiency of the combustion chamber. No further comment is called for, other than to say that originally the heads were designed for twin ignition, which proved unnecessary.

The enlargement of this engine up to its 1,908 c.c. capacity was undertaken entirely by Coventry-Climax, and neither John Cooper nor Rob Walker had anything to do with it other than to collect the tested engines from the works. Not one of these engines has ever been fitted with a 1/4-in. aluminium plate on top of the cylinder block. This was an expedient used on the early versions of the 2,204-c.c. engine which came along much later.

Criticism, if well founded, is welcomed by anyone, but the critic must have his facts correct and the ability to reason. In this instance my friend Jenkinson appears to have neither, but as the engine was not designed on the other side of the English Channel his ill-informed outbursts are fully understood!

I am, Yours, etc.,

Harry Mundy

Weybridge

D. S. J. comments:  Of course, Mr. Mundy, I know both you and Mr. Hassan personally, but Motor Sport  never seems to bother with proof-reading.

Surely to change from hairpin springs to coil springs for reasons of inadequate space, as you say, indicates bad initial design or lack of appreciation of the manufacture of hairpin springs.

Maybe the Godiva V8 did give 264 b.h.p. but, please Mr. Mundy, don’t forget the fuel it was using, and why quote B.R.M. for last year when they were running on Avgas. If you want to bandy b.h.p. about, remember that the Daimler-Benz W 196 engine was giving 296 b.h.p. at the end of 1955 —  that was my idea of a racing engine. If the Godiva gave 264 b.h.p. when you stopped development, isn’t it true that it had a poor power curve and only good outputs at the top end, due, I believe, to the S.U. fuel-injection system not being too good ? I am sure that had the Godiva had suitable power characteristics for a G.P. engine then Connaught would have continued to be interested, and was not time a factor which cooled them off.

I was not suggesting that chains were any better than gears for driving camshafts. I was suggesting that the FPF engine was very orthodox and conservative in its design. However, I accept your remarks about dual ignition.

All the 2.2-litre engines I have ever seen have had the 1/4-in. plate “bodge” between the head and block, so I don’t know what you mean by “the early versions”  —  how many 2.2-litres did you make ? My apologies for suggesting that the 1,980-c.c. engine was” bodged” in this manner; that was an error on my part.

I am not decrying the efforts of Coventry-Climax or any other British engine manufacturer, especially those that can win G.P. races, but I just think the Italians and Germans are still ahead on engine design.–  D. S. J.

***

British quality

Sir,

Mr. Boneham’s reply to my letter makes me feel that I did not state my view very clearly. I did not intend the correspondence to be of a British versus foreign nature, but of a modern versus vintage one. I said:

(a) That modern cars suffered from economies which were sometimes carried to extremes;

(b) That modern cars tended to lag behind design progress probably due to economy aspect  —  e.g., pushrods and i.r.s;

(c) That I had found a 190 Mercedes to be a very good car with many virtues and some faults, and that I had not been able to find a British car with that specification at the price.

Now I would have agreed with Mr. Boneham that the patriotic thing to do would have been to get a 3.4 Jaguar, also a very good car, had the car both been in the same price bracket or even near it. But the Mercedes can be driven away here at £800 while the Jaguar is around £1,200, and this is too big a difference. Apart from that I am happier with two litres and four cylinders to feed and maintain, because I always do my own repairs.

I think there is a great danger in sticking one’s head in the sand and shouting “British is Best”  —  a very difficult trick!  —  because this not only exposes a sensitive part of the anatomy, but does our country a disservice too. We must view car design and production techniques in the same way as medical science, on an international basis, and learn where we can from others and improve upon this where we are able. In fact while our labour costs are so much higher than the Continental ones (the industrial semi-skilled worker in West Germany gets a “corner” rate of about 3s. 10d. an hour, and his cost of living is roughly equal to our own) our only hope of competing abroad lies in attaining some techical superiority in our cars. Otherwise what have we to offer ? I feel sure that the odd £10 saved by overeconomising in specification and finish would be better ostentatiously ploughed back into the product, because people will always pay a few more pounds for something which looks first class.

One of the responsibilities of the production engineer, in liaison with the designer, is to make technical advances possible without increase in, or even while lowering, cost. The unfortunate thing is that in accomplishing that aim, “shoddiness” is often needlessly introduced into the product, which should not be tolerated by the sales departments concerned. This happens in several countries including our own, and if we made a concerted drive upon this aspect we would gain an advantage which might cancel out our labour cost disadvantage. For example a door trim which keeps out draught and dust and is not vulnerable to being kicked to pieces in six months need cost no more than the usual effort, a firm seat mounting no more than a loose whippy one, a proper throttle control no more than a fraying cable, etc.

But we must do something. If we accept Mr. Boneham’s contention then nobody would have an export market and there would be no trade.

So in conclusion let me say that I think most of the cheaper modern cars have become shoddy in minor detail but are basically very good cars, and any country that leads the way out of that rut by improving its product, using ingenuity and not increasing cost will establish itself as the leading car exporter. Since we have the ability and resources to do this why the devil don’t we?

Mr. Boneham’s information re valve guides is gratifying, provided that valve stems are similarly treated. My own experience has been that one needs to sample at least fifty valves and guides before selecting a set of eight which will produce clearances within the permitted margins of tolerance. Which was hard lines for the chap who just bought a set of eight taken at random from the agents’ stores shelf.

I  am, Yours, etc.,

D.C. Gershon

B. F. P.O.

***

In defence of the 4.3-litre Alvis 

Sir,

I should like to express my appreciation of the excellent history of the 4.4-litre Lagonda in the April issue, but I fear I shall have to take up the cudgels with Mr. Michael on behalf of the Alvis cars, Mr. Michael states  “… these figures remained better (1933 to 1940) than any current British production sports saloon,” and “The only other British car which comes near is the 4.3-litre Alvis, introduced in 1937.” Comparative figures as tested are as follows :

Alvis 4.3:

Weight:  37-1/4 cwt. 

Brakes (from 30 m.p.h):  35 ft.

Acceleration (seconds): 

0 – 30:  4.2

0 – 50:  9.5

0 – 60:  13.1                             

0 – 70:  18.0                            

Top speed max (m.p.h.):  100

Top speed mean (m.p.h.):  96.52

 

Alvis Speed 25 (3-1/2-litre):

Weight:  36 cwt. 

Brakes (from 30 m.p.h):  34 ft. 

Acceleration (seconds): 

0 – 30:  4.7

0 – 50:  11.1

0 – 60:  15.0

0 – 70:  21.9

Top speed max (m.p.h.):  94.7

Top speed mean (m.p.h.):  92.8

 

Lagonda LG6:

Weight:  39-1/2 cwt.

Brakes (from 30 m.p.h):  32 ft. 

Acceleration (seconds): 

0 – 30:  5.2 

0 – 50:  11.3

0 – 60:  16.0

0 – 70:  21.5

Top speed max (m.p.h.):  94.7

Top speed mean (m.p.h.):  91.4

You will note that I have with purpose shown the Lagonda in third position  —  the Bentley 4-1/4-litre being an also-ran.

 

In the open models the difference is considerably more marked, i.e., 4.3 Van den Plas short chassis Alvis v. LG.45 Rapide:

Open Models–

Alvis 4.3-litre S.C:

Weight:  34-3/4 cwt * 

Brakes (from 30 m.p.h):  35 ft.

Acceleration (seconds): 

0 – 30:  3.6 

0 – 50:  7.6

0 – 60:  11.3

0 – 70:  15.1

Top speed max (m.p.h.):  105

Top speed mean (m.p.h.):  Not given, but several laps at over 100 m.p.h.

*  Model tested carried full Rally Equipment, including, radio, heater, ambulance case, etc.

 

LG.45

Weight:  31-3/4 cwt 

Brakes (from 30 m.p.h):  35 ft. 

Acceleration (seconds): 

0 – 30:  4.7 

0 – 50:  10.3

0 – 60:  12.8

0 – 70:  18.4

Top speed max (m.p.h.):  103.6

Top speed mean (m.p.h.):  100.6

I cannot in view of lack of Lagonda experience take up with Mr. Michael  “that in standard of luxury and riding comfort the Alvis saloon was not in the same class as the Lagonda or Bentley, but I will state emphatically that the driving position is better in the Alvis (either saloon or tourer) and the Alvis is a much better road performer than either Lagonda or Bentley. I hope you will be able to find space to include what is really intended to be an appreciation of a fine car rather than a depreciation of another one  —  but Alvis has never received the acclamation due to them, and no firm in the world, I am sure, can better their pre-war spares and service.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Stanley Pollard

Blackburn

***

In defence of the 4-1/4-litre Bentley

Sir,

May I join the countless other enthusiasts in adding my appreciation of the excellent article by L. S. Michael, O.B.E., on the 4-1/2-litre six-cylinder Lagondas.

However, I cannot agree with the statement that the saloon 4-1/4-litre Bentley had substantially inferior acceleration to the equivalent 4-1/2-litre Lagonda saloons. In the road-test of The Motor (April 2Ist, 1936), performance figures for the Park Ward four-door saloon were: maximum speed 96 m.p.h., acceleration 0-50 m.p.h. in 10.6 sec., 0-60 in 14.8 sec., and 0-70 in 20.5 sec. The Autocar, testing the same machine on May 8th, 1936, gave the maximum as 94.74 m.p.h., 0-50 in 10.3 sec., 0-60 in 15.5 sec., and 0-70 in 21.1 sec.  All these figures compare very favourably with the best acceleration times of any 4-1/2 Lagonda saloon 1934-39, as given in Mr. Michael’s very comprehensive tabulated data.

It must, however, be borne in mind that the Lagonda saloons were between two and four hundredweight heavier than the standard Park Ward Bentley saloons between 1936 and 1939.

Comparing the later 1938 and 1939 independently-sprung Lagondas with the 4-1/4-litre Bentley, I would entirely agree with Mr. Michael’s opinion that the Lagonda is the far more comfortable motor, though I do not think the same can be said for the earlier Lagonda springing.

Altogether a most absorbing article, and now will someone (Mr. C. W. P. Hampton?) please give us performance figures for the Type 57 Bugatti full four-seater saloon, and V12 Hispano-Suiza, as I fancy both of these machines could give the Lagonda and Bentley more than a run for their money, and the model SJ Duesenberg was no sluggard!

I am, Yours, etc.,

 Johnnie Green

London W.1.

***

Modern Oxford Verse

Sir,

When you employed Mr. Pinin Farina

To give us designs, refreshing and cleaner,

I thought it a move that was worthy of praise.

(I’ve since changed my mind, with the passing of days.)

When the Wolseley appeared in this “new look ” range,

And the A55, they made a nice change,

But now that the “Oxford ” has turned up  —  Oh lor!!

Can you please tell us, Sirs, will  there be any more ?

Oh!  B.M.C,  B.M.C. —  What have you done ?

Why must your car bodies all look as one?

Where is the character, where is the line

That marked them as being of British design?

How can you tell, when out on the road,

The difference between a Frog and a Toad?

I’m afraid this design I’m beginning to hate,

The likeness ‘tween models is getting too great.

If one wants an Italian vehicle  —  so be it

But why not, then, buy a Ferrari or Fiat?

So please, B.M.C., see what you can do

To introduce lines that are British and new.

I am, Yours, etc.,

W. J. Hirons

St. Mary Cray

***

Starchy Diet”  (Sung to the time of  “Deep in the Heart of Texas”)

The styles we see,

From B.M.C. . . . .  (clap hands four times)

This year spell out Farina ! 

Where’er you go,

The Motor Show,

Presents  “A New Farina” !

Austin that was,

The farmer’s bus,

This year it is Farina !

Though Morris cars,

Are fit for stars,

Grocers drown in Farina !

Our own G.P.,

Liked his Wolseley . . . .  (four toots on windtones),

Now he’s prescribed,

Farina !

The sun has set,

On the Magnette,

Its fins proclaim Farina !

And now I fear,

The hour is near . . . .  (burst four tubeless tyres)

When Riley goes,

Farina!

The end result,

Of all this cult,

Will show who is,

The winner.

The Minx’s curves, Will have no swerves,

If  Rootes avoids,

Farina.

The Sun will beam,

On Standard’s team,

Ford’s can’t afford, (whisper)

Farina.

I am, Yours, etc.,

G. Lobbenberg,

Shrewsbury

(These two verses on this subject are a selection front a heavy postbag filled with the efforts of budding poet-laureates who feel dismayed at the amount of Farina now on the assembly lines of old England.-Ed.)

***

Noises off

Sir,

I should be pleased if I might use your columns for a small complaint against the many excellent motor films which the various oil companies produce for showing at Club film shows during the winter.

My complaint is that the sound tracks do not correspond with the movements of the cars on the circuit, and should be pleased if an attempt could he made to improve the films in this way. Could you please publish this letter or take the matter up.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Richard Jameson (17 years old)

Sale

***

The extermination of the sports car

Sir,

It is with grave concern that I speculate within the next few year’s there will be no more sports cars manufactured and hence the sports car, in England, will slowly become extinct.

This conclusion was formed when I considered buying an Austin-Healey Sprite. On inquiry at several large showrooms, I was informed that they were not selling in England due to the excessively high insurance premiums. This, I have since discovered, applies to all sports cars.

The premium for the Sprite is £40, whilst this figure would only cover for third party insurance on the 100-Six. These figures are quoted but it is exceedingly difficult to find an insurance company that will cover for sports cars. Most of the companies are not interested in them at all  —  and the remainder charge fantastic premiums in an attempt to dissuade one from insuring the sports car through their company.

A similar occurrence took place after the last war, when insurance of motorcycles was almost impossible due to the great liability. Dealers were almost put out of business as very few motorcycles could be sold.

The dealers decided to form their own insurance company, and named it “The Dealers’ Union”  The premiums were low and the sale of motorcycles again soared.

Could not a similar step be taken by the sports car manufacturers or dealers, and so save the sports car from inevitable extermination?

I am, Yours, etc.,

P.C. Jennings

Brookmans.Park

***

P.V.T.

Sir,

About twenty-five years ago, certain motoring enthusiasts not in agreement with the then current trends in “motor” design formed the V.S.C.C. This body, and others, cater for vehicles constructed up to 1930. I am sure that many people besides myself feel that the trend which may have started circa 1930, has since 1945 gone from bad to worse, culminating in the latest B.M.C. abortions.

In the light of these, many pre-war cars are beautiful. I feel it would he proper if a Neo-Vintage Sports Car Club, covering the period 1930-39 or even 1930-50, could be established. This would have similar aims and activities to the V.S.C.C. and would  —  despite the Ministry of Transport  —  attempt to maintain vehicles of this period in a roadworthy condition for the joy of the owners, and the education of the lay-public.

I am, Yours etc.,

George E. J. Gray

Earley

(The V.S.C.C. caters for certain 1931-39 cars under the heading of Post-Vintage-Thoroughbreds.  —  Ed.)

***

The price of petrol 

Sir,

I wonder how many readers know why the price of petrol in this country is so high. The fantastic tax is not the only factor governing it. It is mainly due to the fact that this price has been fixed on the World Market so that the American’ petrol companies can pay their workers ridiculously high wages.

If British firms, such as the British Petroleum Co., could “release” themselves from this agreement, the price of British petrol would be a good deal lower.

I am, Yours, etc.,

A.L. Whitten

Cheltenham

***

Fluid flywheel with poppet valves

Sir,

One of my sons has just shown me your December issue; saying you would he interested to know whether anyone ever bought an Armstrong Siddeley with the Daimler transmission. When I bought an Armstrong Twenty I had a fluid flywheel put on it: Actually, it was because I could have one that I decided on an Armstrong. I was hesitating between that and a Daimler, which at that time had a sleeve-valve engine. It was a very good car, and I had it for just over twenty years.

I am, Yours, etc.,

C.H. Rogers

Biddenham

***

Rolls-Royce mythology

Sir,

I was interested to read the letter headed “The Ticking of the Clock.” During the first World War I was with a magneto firm making copies of Bosch mags under A.I.D. inspection  —  four- and six-cylinder. We supplied one to Rolls-Royce with a view to post-war trade. It came back with a complaint that the distributor gears made more noise than the engine! This in 1917.

I am, Yours, etc.,

D. B. Gloyns

Hayes

***

Females and fascias

Sir,

Your comments on Mr. Fastnedge’s campaign for Smiths Accessories is amusing.  But surely the pick of the batch is the current advertisement for the Series V Morris Oxford?  One assumes that the young lady has just spilled a drink in her lap (perhaps through being driven over a field ?) and is striving either to keep her temper or to divert her mind to higher things.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Maurice Kennedy

Rathgar

***

Duesenberg data wanted

Sir,

The writer is engaged in historical research, compiling a list of all Duesenbergs ever made and appeals to your readers for some missing and very essential information on those imported into England..

To the best of our knowledge, the only complete Duesenberg extant in England is a right-hand-drive town car or Sedanca de Ville with body by Barker, plus a Duesenberg engine installed in a Bentley owned by the eminent collector and author, Mr. Brian Morgan, which engine originally came from a Murphy-bodied boat-tail speedster, originally owned by a Mr. J. Factor of New York City and imported as a used car by an unknown party. This reputedly was owned by a Mr. George Duller, and is, perhaps, the Duesenberg exhibited at the 1946 Oulton Park Meet. Its body was reputedly scrapped in 1947.

Identification and whereabouts of the Duesenbergs imported for the 1929 Olympia Show is much needed. There were three complete cars, one of which was a Barker-bodied one, another a Murphy-bodied convertible sedan (saloon) and a closed car of unknown body maker and type, plus one complete chassis and engine. Any further data, descriptions, engine identification numbers and history and fate of these cars would be sincerely appreciated by the writer.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Raymond A. Wolff

Wauwatosa, Wis.

(Letters will be forwarded.  —  Ed.)

***

Comments on valve gear

Sir,

I would like to comment on the absorbing article entitled “The Actuation of Inclined Overhead Valves Without Resort to Overhead Camshafts,” published in the March issue of Motor Sport.  The author describes the expensive B.M.W. / Bristol valve gear as simple, a point of view I find astonishing as it most one of the most complicated systems in production today. The reciprocating valve parts on this engine, particularly on the exhaust side, must be nearly twice the weight of comparable parts on, say, the Sunbeam/Peugeot layout, and almost three times the weight of comparable parts on a twln overhead camshaft engine of similar proportions. It is also apparent that only the excellent workmanship of the engineers concerned prevents it being very noisy.

These comments promote the conjecture that, except perhaps in exceptional circumstances, push-rods have no place at all in modern passenger-car engine design, a point of view which appears to be upheld by Mr. W. M. Heynes (Chief Engineer of Jaguar Cars Ltd.), who, in a paper presented by him on April 14th, 1953, about the Jaguar engine, remarks : “In the end it was decided that the simplest system, the twin overhead camshaft, with cams operating directly on the tappets, had many virtues over any other system … some of the more obvious advantages … are as follows: 

“The low reciprocating weight of the valve parts permits the valve spring strength to be approximately half of that required tor a full-length push-rod and rocker operation. This means that one of the chief causes of valve-seat wear and valve breakage is eliminated, as is also the very high tappet loads which are obtained with a block situated camshaft.

“Comparing the moving parts in an o.h.c. and push-rod engine, the fitted load for the valve spring, on the former is 102 lb. designed for 6,000 r.p.m., and for the push-rod engine on a similar basis 217 lb. would be required; the total weight for each are 7.8 and 18.4 oz.. respectively.

“A second point is the absence of wearing surfaces between the tappet and the valve. As there are no sliding or moving surfaces during the operation of the valves there is no possibility of wear, except that caused by the small amount of movement when the valve rotates, which only seems to polish the surface of the mating part. This alone made the adoption of the twin overhead carnshaft system worth while, as it made it possible to eliminate any servicing adjustment, which is the most annoying feature of most push-rod-operated engines.

“With the elimination of the rocker all side thrust on the valve disappears, consequently the valve stem and guide wear, which is a bugbear with rocker-operated valves, is non-existent, and it is believed that this side thrust may also be one of the main causes of valve sticking, as this trouble is unheard of in this type of engine.

“A still further point is the protection the inverted tappet gives against excessive oil consumption through the guides, which it may be judged by the remedies employed by most push-rod engines is a common complaint.

“Initial adjustment of the valve clearances does call for rather more skill than the use of the normal screw adjuster; but once carried out it is a precision job and the clearances stay put: The whole operation can be carried out with the head on the bench.

“The above quotation so nearly conveys my own opinions that it would appear superfluous to add anything further.

I hope that sufficient interest has been aroused by your article to encourage the inclusion of others, of a similar technical nature, in future issues of your excellent magazine.

I am, Yours, etc.,

H.K. Burnett

Ashby de la Zouch

***

The performance of the Berkeley

Sir,

After Mr. E. R. Batten’s devastating letter about the performance of his Berkeley, I feel that a letter from a (so far) satisfied owner would not be amiss. Having been but 5,000 miles in mine, I am hardly in a position to make a thorough assessment; however, my impressions so far are as follows:

I do not like…

(1) The entire electrical system with the exception of the ignition circuit—the lights are inadequate, there are no fuses and the quality is poor.

(2) The difficult spares situation.

(3) The lack of constant velocity universal joints in the front-wheel drive shafts.

(4) The intractability at low speed due to lack of torque and a very difficult clutch.

(5) The high noise level.

I do like…

(1) The excellent finish.

(2) The ideal gear ratios.

(3) The first-class brakes.

(4) The road-holding.

(5) The economy.

(6) The glass-fibre body.

(7) The ease of parking (the back can be lifted with the greatest of ease).

My troubles so far have been difficult starting when new, burnt-out wiring system due to there being no fuses (needless to say I have now fitted a fuse) and ignition trouble rectified by the Excelsior Motor Co. free of charge.

I find the performance quite adequate and I get 50 m.p.g. with a fair amount of town driving. For Mr. Batten’s benefit I have checked and found no detectable king-pin wear and the brake drums to be still round.

Whilst not trying to excuse the overheating trouble which Mr. Batten experienced, I am certainly able to explain it. It is entirely due to the exhaust system, the weird design of which is due to the makers’ intention to fit a heater: as I intend touring the Continent later this year I am considering having a three-branch system fitted.

One cannot help comparing the Berkeley with the Sprite  —  the Berkeley is prettier, equally fast, more economical, £80 cheaper, better finished, but suffers in respect of service and, in my experience, reliability.

I note that Mr. Batton has now acquired a TR2 and I cannot help feeling that he was trying to extract TR2 performance from his Berkeley.

I am, Yours, etc.,

N. Grazebrook

Blakedown

***

Sir,

I feel that E. R. Batten’s letter concerning the Berkeley sports car cannot pass without further comment.

Seizure on a two-stroke of this kind, dependent on the forward movement of the vehicle for cooling, is not uncommon. However, it can be eliminated by adopting a well-known two-stroke running-in procedure. This is to drive the car hard up to the point of seizing, strip off the cylinders and ease down the high spots on the pistons with a very smooth file. If this is done properly there will be no further trouble. The seizure he experienced on the Maloza pass probably did this by brute force and that is why he “romped up Fern pass in second gear.” So far as the trouble with the axle pivot breaking away is concerned, I should remind him that a similar thing occurred on no less a car than the Lotus Elite.

The Berkeley is the only car in quantity production with a three-cylinder, air-cooled two-stroke engine in the world. This, coupled to a stressed plastic body structure and fully independent suspension, represents an advanced design. If we are to move forward in the vein so well advocated by Motor Sport, then we must be prepared to tolerate teething troubles of this kind, particularly on early production models of such a novel car as this one.

I am, Yours, etc.,

C. Paul Davies

Swansea

***

That cab

The American taxicab shown on page 176 of March Motor Sport  is a 1932 Kalamazoo Michigan-built Checker Cab, made by the Checker Cab Mfg. Co.

The firm, still in business in a substantial way, produces built-for-the-purpose taxicabs at the rate of 8,000  to 10,000 yearly.

The unit shown, an M-type I believe, was extremely rugged, having a massive chassis and rubber-insulated spring shackle blocks. Engine was, and still is, a Continental.

In the ‘twenties the Checker organisation also had an operating company which owned the cabs built by the manufacturing division. But this arrangement is now a thing of the past and its cabs may be bought by any operator.

The M-type closely resembles another American taxicab, the Paramount, built by a pipe organ manufacturer, the M. P. Moller Co., Hagerstown, Md. The resemblance is reasonable as both manufacturers used bodies from the same outside source, the Shamrock Body Co., Milwaukee, at that time. Cabs were a sideline with Moller at the time as the firm is best known for its high-grade line of pipe organs. Moller also produced a few expensive passenger cars trade-named Dagmer and Moller, in the mid-‘twenties

I am, Yours. etc..

Rolland L. Jerry, Editor, Motor Truck & Coach

Toronto

***

French models

Sir,

Readers of your feature “Miniature News” who may be travelling in France this year mav find it rewarding to seek out the beautiful  “Norev” model cars.

These are of heavy plastic, and the detailing is perfect. There are two series, each to a common scale  —  a point some British makers might note.

The most fascinating are perhaps the smaller series, to the odd of 1/86 full size. The models are of French prototypes only —  or were, last year  —   and even at their tiny scale have windows “glazed” by a block of “Perspex” inside the car.

As to an example of the minute proportions, the model of the Renault 4 CV is about 1-3/4 in, long, and of the glorious DS 19 about 2-1/8 in. The models are sold in the “Monoprix” shops and are packed in neat “packing-case ” boxes which carry copious details of the prototypes. I have not seen these models in British shops, but they would no doubt sell like hot cakes if they were imported.

I am, Yours. etc.,

A.G. Keiffer

Leeds