Matters of Moment, May 1964

Ford’s Great Safari Rally Victory

Three thousand one hundred and eighty-eight miles of terrible roads, mud, swamps, dust, torrential rain. . . . Only 21 finishers out of 94 starters. No-one can deny that the E. African Safari is tough, or underrate the merit of the cars and crews that get through.

In the 12th rally in this tough series Ford proved conclusively that their go-anywhere-and-keep-on-going reputation dating back to model-T days is maintained in today’s Consul Cortina. Not only did Hughes and Young win outright in a Ford Cortina GT but the Cortina GT team took the coveted Manufacturers’ Team Prize. Even the redoubtable Saab conducted by Carlsson met its match against Ford’s roomy, inexpensive family saloon.

We are glad to report this great victory by a car which has been sensibly improved since Motor Sport criticised its original too-small engine and too-soggy suspension. The 1,500-c.c. Cortina, particularly in GT form, is a damn good all-round saloon car.

There will be those who seek to decry its success, saying rally cars are tremendously specialised. But, remember, they have to comply with restrictive regulations, at eagle-eyed scrutineering, which was at first suspicious even of Ford’s extra leaves in the back springs, a catalogue Colonial modification. Tape-bound springs were not permitted. . . . And the cars are closer-to-catalogue in the Safari than in many European rallies.

So we proclaim this as a great and well-deserved victory. It cannot fail to sell Ford cars and should convince Africans that a 1½-litre engine can do everything they are likely to require of it.

Our sometimes unpopular praise of the Mercedes-Benz, too, seems justified, for the Ladies’ Prize (fourth overall) was won by a 220SEb. The only makes to complete this testing, hyperstrenuous rally were Ford (four Cortina GT, two Zodiac Mk. 3), Saab (three Type 96), Mercedes-Benz (two 220SEb), Peugeot (six 404), Volkswagen (one 1200), Lincoln-Mercury (two Comets), and a Cedric. Of these, Saab, VW, Ford Cortina GT, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz and Lincoln-Mercury won their respective classes.

Top Safari showing has been made four times by VW, on three occasions by Ford and Mercedes-Benz, once by Saab, once by a Peugeot. The Team Prize (unawarded one year) has gone live times to VW, four times to Ford, once to Simca, once to Peugeot. All are tough cars. The 1964 showing by the Ford Cortina GTs is magnificent, even if Dr. Joseph Bayley is anxious to remind us that American Ford owns Dagenham lock, stock and barrel, so that the Cortina “is about as British as a bottle of vodka.” In winning this Safari Ford were aided by Cibié lamps, Burman steering, Ferodo friction material, Triplex laminated windscreens, Pollards ball and roller bearings, Girling brakes, Dunlop tyres, Total petrol and Castrol oil—which doesn’t sound exactly all-American to us. (Report on page 372.)

10th British Mobil Economy Run

Highest economy figure in this impeccably-organised and interesting contest was recorded by free-lance journalist Joe Lowrey, who can be said to have served his apprenticeship with Motor Sport. He achieved a remarkable 60.67 m.p.g. in a Wolseley Hornet. Second in this 1,000-c.c. class, but 3.66 m.p.g. inferior, was Tothill’s Mini Minor, Stokes being third, with 53.95 m.p.g. from a Mini-Cooper. The 1,001-1,400-c.c. class was won by Davies’ Morris Minor (51.93 m.p.g.), with Hill (M.G. 110050.97 m.p.g.) second, and Readings (Morris 110050.3 m.p.g.) third. Winner of the 1,401-2,000-c.c. category, Mackie’s Ford Cortina, did 43.6 m.p.g., beating Keys’ Wolseley 16/60 by 0.9 m.p.g. and Bladon’s Humber Sceptre o/d. by 3.1 m.p.g. Of the big cars, Oggelsby’s Vauxhall Cresta was first (30.3 m.p.g.), Robins’ Ford Zephyr 6 Mk. III second (28.57 m.p.g.), Gilbert’s Rover 3-litre third (26.52 m.p.g.). These splendid figures included a difficult no-coasting 1,100-mile route with standard cars, inclusive of lapping Oulton Park at 50 m.p.h. and averaging this speed on a Motorway. Only retirement for mechanical reasons was Kyd’s Triumph Herald 12/50 with bearing failure.

C. A. Ltd. have said that all makes of petrol are virtually the same. What then? Well, oil and tyres would affect fuel economy, so let us note that all the competitors used Mobiloil Special oil and that three of the class winners, Lowrey, Davies and Oggelsby, were on Michelin “X,” Mackie on Goodyear tyres; of the runners-up, four chose Michelin “X,” three Dunlop, one Pirelli.

These results were obtained with tyre pressures as specified by the manufacturers of the respective cars. Over 60 m.p.g. from a Wolseley Hornet is very nice going, especially as normally even the smallest-engined economy cars do not reach this figure. Let us hope, however, that ordinary drivers will not be induced to drive more slowly than they do now, in pursuit of pennies saved on petrol. . . .

Already, plans for the 1965 Mobil Economy Run are in hand.