Matters of moment, May 1966

Peugeot’s and Ford’s Safari Supremacy

Free from the bickering over results which contaminates European rallies, the East African Safari has a fine reputation for being a truly tough, car-proving competition, success in which is of immense value to manufacturers. Tough it indeed is, but the 1966 Safari was the greatest car breaker yet, only nine cars finishing the waterlogged, mud-morass, 3,000-mile course through Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

It consequently becomes important to buyers of motor cars required for arduous service, especially in terrain like that prevailing in Nairobi, to know what these nine cars which came through the Safari ordeal so competently were—they consisted of a Ford Cortina GT, a Ford Cortina, a Ford Lotus-Cortina, a Volkswagen, a Mercedes-Benz 220SE; a Volvo, two Datsuns and a fuel-injection Peugeot 404. The Peugeot was the outright winner, losing 55 fewer marks than the Ford Cortina GT which finished second, thus amply endorsing the praise it has been Motor Sport’s custom to bestow on these two makes of car from time to time. Only one team came through intact. Ford Cortinas (two GTs and a normal Cortina) taking the highly coveted Manufacturers’ Team Prize. A contemporary concluded its report of this testing rally with the comment . “Any car manufacturer can be confident that if his product can stand the hard driving and merciless pounding it receives for 3,000 miles in four days over these pitiful excuses for roads he has produced a car that will stand up to anything! ” Moreover, in the E. African Safari the competing cars are very like those you can buy and there is little or no help from highly-organised support vehicles.

So we salute Peugeot and Ford, whose sales will undoubtedly benefit from this convincing exhibition of durability by simple, well-contrived, well-made medium-size cars.

The 1966 Mobil Economy Run

The 1966 Mobil Economy Run (British version) survived some remarkable criticism in the Press by a Hants & Berks M.C. committee-man and was run with the expected efficiency by that Club. The class winners were HiIlman Imp (54.37 m.p.g.), Renault 1100 (47.83 m.p.g.), Wolsley 16/60 (38.0.4 m.p.g.) and Humber Hawk III (27.61 m.p.g..). The Formula award went to a Riley Elf. It is significant that the first three places in all five classes were taken by cars shod with those long-life, road-gripping, economical Michelin “X” tyres, except for the Pirelli Cinturato-shod Mini that was third in the small-car section. Of the finishers, 19 were on Michelins, 12 on Dunlops, three on Firestone, two on Pirelli, two on Goodyear, one on Continentals. Verb sap.—if you see what we mean.

V.S.C.C. Racing

Printing schedules prevent a report of the April 23rd V.S.C.C. Silverstone Meeting from appearing in this issue, to the Editor’s disgust. But we can tell von that a record entry of 188 was received, the most popular cars being Riley (21), Frazer Nash (15), Bentley and Alvis (14 each), Austin (13), Lagonda(12), Bugatti (11), Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin (10 each) and E.R.A. (8). This was gleaned from the excellent advance Press information, which sets an example to other clubs—the V.S.C.C. even forecasts the winners.. . .

The Budget

As this issue appears the Budget hangs over us, like an icy wind from the East, such as put paid to the B.A.R.C. “200” at Oulton Park and the M.G.C.C. Race Meeting at Silverstone. Will it give the people courage to build a once and virile Britain once again, or will it point in the direction of this country becoming an insignificant off-shore island ? Certainly it cannot afford to increase transport taxation, if we are to go about our business efficiently and enjoy our hard-earned leisure, in combating increasing commercial and sporting competition from Europe and Japan. We confess to heightening depression when we pick our way across a car park in the heart of the Greatest City in the World so mud-bound that gum-boots are needed to approach your car, get held stationary in queues of traffic at High Wycombe on the short London-Oxford journey, waste time in bunched traffic delayed at Sunningdale’s notorious level-crossing on the main artery from London to the West, etc., etc. Will Mr. Wilson’s Budget lift the gloom ? Or will car owners suffer even more financial torment ? Not long to wait before we shall see! In any case, the 70-limit restricting sales of exportable cars, is on for another couple of months–when the only possible excuse for imposing it is during the bad weather period. In any case, Barbara Castle’s excuse that there hasn’t been time to assess the experiment shows that a bad miscalculation was made when introducing it…