A question I am frequently asked these days is “What do you think of the Hydrolastic Minis?” I have not yet driven one, but Ken Revis, B.M.C.’s popular press officer, lent me a Riley Elf Mk. II for a few days. It had the latest Moulton/Issigonis suspension, which has not altered the little vehicle’s splendid road-clinging qualities at all but has given the Elf a remarkably pitch-free but sometimes choppy ride.
This is a delightfully cheeky little car, its 998-c.c. engine ensuring useful acceleration. The interior stowage, both of persons and their possessions, is notable, the open facia shelf of the Mini being decked in with light and darker veneer panels containing a couple of lidded cubby-holes. The very useful “Issigonis door-wells” are as on a Mini.
In the catalogue the Elf is described as the “World’s Most Luxurious Small Car” but I should have thought this phrase would be reserved for the Vanden Plas Princess 1100, unless the B.M.C. considers anything over one-litre as not a small car. Especially as there is considerable noise in the Elf from the Dunlop C41 tyres, its gear-change is not particularly nice and cries out for a lever closer to the driver, as on the 1100, paradoxically called a remote gear-lever (3rd gear tended to jump out, too, on the test car), the Radiomobile radio suffered bad interference from the wipers, etc., and the doors have sliding windows and awkward interior handles, although the aforesaid veneers and the excellent leather/leathercloth upholstery and trim justifies the luxury label. A spot check showed 42.6 m.p.g. and an infinitesimal drop in oil-level after 350 miles. Overall, however, the Riley Elf is smart, vivacious, and a jolly good ladies car or second-car, at £597. – W. B.
Ford GT steering wheels
In a report on the latest Ford Cortina in the April issue we inadvertently ascribed the woodrim steering wheel now fitted to these cars to the wrong manufacturer. The wheel illustrated and referred to in the article was made by Formula Steering Wheels of 15, Belvedere Buildings, Webber Street, S.E.1. The Ford Motor Co. is now fitting these wheels as standard to the Cortina GT. The Formula steering wheel has a tempered duralumin one-piece spoke pattern, a steel ring riveted to the spoke ends fully enclosing the wood rim, which is radially laminated for strength, carefully profiled and finger-notched to fit the hand. Formula steering wheels are supplied with lightweight black or aluminium centre bosses to fit various cars. The Ford-type wheel, which also fits most B.M.C. models, Triumph Herald, Vitesse, Spitfire, 2000, TR4, etc., has a diameter of 15 in. and costs £7 10s. Wheels ol 16 in. diameter are also available forr a wide range of British and Continental cars; the prices range from £6 19s. 6d. to £10 17s. 6d.
Brooklands reunion, June 26th
As mentioned last month, this year’s Brooklands Re-union, organised by W. Boddy and D. Gahagan, is to be held on the last Saturday in June and is open to anyone who had any association with Brooklands Track between the years 1907 and 1940, provided they state their credentials in writing beforehand, so that admission tickets and a time-table can be sent to them. This is the car re-union; the motorcyclists had their gathering last month. The venue will be “The Hand & Spear” hotel, near Weybridge Station, where the racing fraternity used to spend their drinking time after Brooklands’ meetings, but if admission can be secured to the Track, which Vickers Armstrongs Ltd. kindly pernitted last year, another announcement will be made or applicants notified via the time-table.
Auto-Models Ltd. inform us that they can supply models Nos. 18 and 19 in the Rio series, respectively of a 1906 Bianchi coupé de ville and a 1932 Alfa Romeo saloon with full engine details. The prices are 37s. 6d. each, postage 2s. extra. Collectors who like extremely well-finished models to a large scale should go for Spot-On models. The latest is No. 287, a Hillman Minx de luxe saloon, in an attractive show-case box. – W. B.
The latest Lesneys
As we close for press details are to hand of the latest Lesney miniatures, of interest to American car followers. They are a Dodge breakdown truck with crane, 3 in. long, to 85 : 1 scale, No. 13 in the “New Matchbox” series, priced at 2s., and a Chevrolet Impala taxi, also 3 in. long but to a scale of 72 : 1, No. 20 in the same series, selling at the same price. Excellent replicas, but why must the scale always be different? – W. B.
Veteran and Vintage fixtures
May 22nd: National Standard Register Rally. Starting 2 p.m., at Stoke Bruerne, near Towcester, and includes a visit to the “WaterwaysMuseum,” a Concours d’Elegance at 3.30 p.m., and finishes approximately 5 p.m. There is a Road Run the following day starting at 9 a.m. at the Market Square, Towcester. Details from J. R. Davy, Standard-Triumph Sales Ltd., Fletchamstead, Coventry.
June 6th: Preston to Morecambe Carnival Run. In conjunction with the Morecambe and Heysham Carnival. Starting approximately 10 a.m. from Preston, arriving Morecambe via the coast road between 2 and 2.30 p.m. Details and entry forms from Mrs. S. M. Phillips, 107, Chatsworth Road, Morecambe.
June 27th: 1965 Castle Run. Sponsored by The Blackburn Times and Clitheroe Advertiser and Times, the 50-mile run passes through Lancashire’s countryside. Details from Promotions Department, The Blackburn Times, Northgate, Blackburn.