Much has been said in readers’ letters about the comparison of British and foreign cars, so may I add another small voice to the chorus.
In the two and a half years between learning to drive and owning a car I found that hiring cars was very convenient. Funnily enough I didn’t ever hire the same make twice, and in this way I was fresh to every car and without prejudice. They appealed to me strictly on their merits and being unfamiliar with them I didn’t ask for any dashing performance but rather assessed them for ease of operation, lack of fuss, and pleasurable motoring.
A Ford Prefect (not the newest one) was a willing work-horse but had no character and suffered from having three speeds only. A Standard Ten I considered noisy and compared with other makes I have since driven it was sluggish. This may, of course. have been due to the fact that it was a hire car. A Hillman Minx was a very desirable car except for the spongy steering. An A35 tended to jump about when lightly loaded, but with four people within I admit it was transformed. The 50 m.p.g. this car returned over 900 miles of hard driving impressed me. A Morris Minor I again thought noisy although the steering and road-holding were of a high order. The last car I hired was a VW. Whereas the others were at most one year old this one was three and a half years old and had 35,000 miles on the clock.
Of these six cars there was one that was as good on steering, and others that were better with respect to interior trim, luggage room, visibility rearwards and fuel consumption than the VW. But for me most of the pleasure in motoring comes from light controls, a tireless engine, an unbeatable gearbox and a feeling that the car is alive and enjoying the journey as much as the driver. This feeling of being ” alive ” is probably due to noticeable oversteer—but if this is so, give me controllable oversteer every time. I am talking, of course, about the VW. I will agree with its critics that it cannot carry four people’s holiday equipment and that the noise level in the rear seats appears to be high, but, all things considered, not forgetting that there is no water to worry about or that the suspension makes light of even the bumpiest roads, the car that I found most enjoyable to drive was the VW. One day I shall own one.
However, I am not a “mad keen” VW enthusiast as some of your readers seem to be, because I cannot overlook its faults. On the other hand I do value the opinions expressed in MOTOR SPORT; credit should be given where it is due, even if a lot of it goes overseas. I long for the day when a British car deservedly gets as much attention in your columns as the VW.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Maidstone. DENNIS H. AUSTEN.