Letters from Readers., May 1966

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

An appalling prospect.

I commend you for your stand against bureaucratic control of the motorist. As an American motor enthusiast I have watched, through the window of your editorial and correspondence pages, the government of your country steadily approach the “police state” which afflicts the motorist of this country.

Here in the U.S.A. motorists are regarded as the largest single criminal group in our very criminal population. Nearly every jurisdiction assigns the largest portion of its police force to the regulation of the activities of the motorist. Attendant motoring arrests and convictions represent the largest single group of criminals brought to justice. If this trend is allowed to continue in Great Britain, every sphere of the motorist’s activities will eventually be regulated until, like here, the failure to buckle the required seat belts or the leaving of an ignition key in an unattended vehicle is a punishable misdemeanour.

When the control of the individual motorist no longer provides sufficient attraction, the bureaucrats will direct their attention to the manufacturers. The mischief that the uninformed bureaucrat can cause in this area is unimaginable. In this nation’s capital the authorities require that the vehicle’s brake system lock all four wheels in a “panic stop” simulation! The authorities, using instruments to measure this brake locking tendency, require all vehicles, regardless of age or design, to comply with this requirement. A friend employs several hundred pounds of ballast in his Saab’s boot to pass this braking test as the car is fitted with a valve to prevent the rear wheels from locking. Recently the Shelby GT350 was declared unsafe, not because of any power-to-weight or handling consideration, but because the car was fitted with an anti-locking type valve in the brake system! A large rental firm was thereby forced to take their cars off the streets until they could be modified to be made “safe” under the terms of this absurd and unenlightened requirement. Presumably the Jensen FF would similarly be considered “unsafe”.

I hope that the British motorists, awakened by your thoughtful editorial, take effective steps to reverse this trend before it is too late.

Woodbridge, Va., U.S.A. Thom Skeer.

Why he bought a Lancia Fulvia.

Your enthusiastic review of the Fulvia coupe endorses my own choice of this car to replace my dear old Sunbeam Alpine. When the time came for this old friend to go my choice had been narrowed down to the Fiat 850 coupe (too little luggage space), the B.M.W. 1800 (too much), the Lotus Cortina (felt tinny and disconnected to the road when I drove it) and the Alfa Giulia Sprint GT (Motor Sport’s crashingly bad publicity). Then I saw Lancia’s rather plushy ad. in one of the glossies and had a look at one at my local dealers. It wasn’t love at first sight, but when my wife announced after a demonstration run that everything was made of stainless steel (a substance indistinguishable by her from tin), I knew I should be joining the Lancia M.C. within a few weeks.

At first sight the car is typically Lancia, a rather narrow saloon standing in a nose-down attitude, and inside there is a highly-varnished steering wheel and a great thick gear lever disappearing forwards. Perhaps the seats could be a trace more comfortable—I only subscribe to the lssigonis Theory of Built-in Discomfort for dull cars being driven nose-to-tail along dull roads—but the adjustment range is excellent. You may be right in saying that the Fulvia can out-corner Minis, etc., but the difference is that in my Mini I used to think how well it was sticking to the road round a particular corner, while in the I.ancia you don’t even notice any effort going round, so light, easy and true is the steering.

The inborn sense of safety engendered by the very solid feel of the car and the almost complete visibility through unsteamed windows is increased by the tremendous pull of the brakes at speed—slightly spongy in town, as you say. Added to this is the subtle feel of driving a top-quality product, and the even keener pleasure, for a G.P., of driving a better car than most consultants, most of whom, poor souls, have their sights set no higher than a Bentley.

After six months, I think it probably is the best small car available. The most serious fault is the poor windscreen wiper area, and I would personally like an adjustable steering column length. The only necessary extras I found were a radio and a fire extinguisher, this is not a car you bolt goodies on to. Incidentally, the equipment seems to vary, my car has another type of battery and Solex carbs. These propel me round the practice at 31 m.p.g. and on long runs at 36 m.p.g. Top speed is meaningless nowadays, but the maker’s estimate of 100 m.p.h. is no doubt correct. If I had wished to break the law about a week ago and drive down the M.1 at an indicated 95, I’m sure the car would have felt quite safe and within itself. If you see what I mean.

Usual disclaimers, although crates of Chianti may be delivered to my address.

Anstey. Cecil Gibson.

Low-geared steering

May I congratulate you on your admirable survey of the traction avant scene: the combination of Boddy. Pomeroy and clear diagrams made April’s Motor Sport better value than ever, and was just what I needed to alleviate post-Election gloom.

I found your table of steering characteristics particularly interesting. Can anyone explain to me, convincingly, just why it is that so many modern motor-cars have such abominably low-geared steering? Granted such factors as the complication of i.f.s. and the drag of modern wide-section tyres, I still cannot see any justification for taking more than three turns lock-to-lock on a car of up to 25 cwt. running weight.

Most of my own cars have been of pre-war construction; and in the present context I recollect with pleasure my 25-h.p. RollsRoyce, whose steering was geared at two turns lock-to-lock and which was one of the easiest cars to manoeuvre and park that I have ever driven. (This may have been helped by the high driving position and consequent good visibility, but let’s keep to the point!) On the open road this car steered like a motor-bike, by which I mean that I could lean into a bend, taking the steering-wheel with me so to speak, and the corner would go round the car . . . just like that! After the R.-R. I had a Talbot 65 which seemed low-geared at 2 1/2 turns and hadn’t quite the motor-bike feel and balance of the larger car; but it was still good and handled in a decent, one-piece fashion. My present mount is a 1938 Lanchester Eleven, and you can sneer as much as you like, for it is a car of many virtues. The steering on this one is geared at two turns of an indifferent lock (40 ft.), but control in normal driving is pleasantly light and precise. The car weighs about 25 cwt.

A few days ago I drove an Austin 1800 for the first time. Until then I had been waiting for Ernie to do his stuff and would have bought one like a shot. But why, oh why, have B.M.C. fitted such unspeakably foul steering? After driving the Lanchester, I thought the 1800 was geared at about 17 turns, never mind 4 1/2 ! I nearly dislocated both shoulders going round a perfectly routine T-junction! I suppose that one reason for this dismal and weep-making state of affairs is the necessity, especially on a f.w.d. car, of arranging steering that is not unbearably heavy at parking speeds. However, I am still not persuaded: with one good heave of the Lanchester’s wheel I can achieve a directional result that requires Lord-knows-what of twirling and twiddling on the Austin, with sprained wrists and tom shirt-backs as optional extras! Where’s the reduced effort there?

I returned to my Lanchester with relief, and gave my puny biceps a well-earned rest. Furthermore, I do not seem to be alone in my opinion: all the British motoring Press, yourself, Sir, included, criticised adversely the steering ratio of the 1800. And in case I should be thought to be anti-B.M.C., what about Vauxhalls and that rotten little twiddle-monger the Renault Dauphine? Especially the latter, with its hilarious combination of low gearing and return springs built into the rack. Anyone would think you were supposed not to want to go round corners. Admittedly, in the case of the Renault, you might need castors on the root if the steering was quicker but now I am the one who is wandering.

To sum up, I should dearly love to hear some really valid and watertight reasons for the current low-ratio mania. Perhaps M. Georges Roesch or Mr. Alec lssigonis could help me in my confusion. I am trying to keep an open mind on the subject, but it is a hard struggle.

Loughton. D.W. Schacht.

In defence of Vauxhall Motors.

Having read with interest Mr. Jaffe’s letter, I should like to come to Vauxhall’s defence as I am a very satisfied Vauxhall owner myself, and I had difficulty in accepting Mr. Jaffe’s statements. I say this because in the past I had occasion to write to Vauxhall Motors over a number of small points. I received a prompt reply, the items were attended to extremely quickly, and a short while after I received a letter from Public Relations asking if I was completely satisfied with the service received.

However, turning to Mr. Jaffe’s complaint, one should bear in mind that this variety of transmission is no longer fitted to Vauxhall cars. They now fit Powerglide transmission to all their cars on which automatic transmission is required. I mention this point because it reminds me of when I worked in a garage stores dept. The requests for spares for equipment that had been replaced by more modern designs are always a real headache to all stores personnel and I therefore do not think it necessary for manufacturers to pander to customers with outdated machinery. It is certainly not an economical proposition from the manufacturers’ point of view. Surely the man who buys the new car deserves the best service.

Frimley. Colin Shill.

It pays to advertise !

I have missed the boat! I was just about to offer the Ford Motor Company a statement—for an appropriate fee, of course— that my five-year-old Mini has a noisier engine than their new Ford, and now Mr. Rob Walker has beaten me to it. Come to think of it, we wouldn’t have to run the engines, the Mini creaks with the motor switched off.

But it’s more fun than a Ford (B.M.C. please note, this statement is copyrighted).

Esquimault, B.C., Canada. J. Michael Jones.

“Ford quietness”

I noted with some amusement the slightly hysterical letter from Mr. Ivor R. Martin which achieved a rather prominent position in your March issue. If you will be so kind as to give me a little, albeit less prominent, publication space, I would like both to defend the integrity of Mr. Walker and to place the “Ford quietness” matter in somewhat better perspective.

An expatriate Englishman, and part of the “brain drain,” I am now on my third Jaguar in five years, and proudly drive a Mark 10. On business trips I have had many occasions to drive American cars, and to compare them with my own. On the basis of such comparison, there is no doubt that Ford, and Rob Walker, are quite right. Not only is the Ford V8, and a number of more expensive American cars, a little more quiet than my Mark 10, they are also mechanically more reliable. Endless television commercials (oh for a touch of the B.B.C.) advertise such quietness in relation to the Mark 10, the Rolls, and a rather plush Citroen Pallas, in addition to newspaper advertising. In every case they are probably right, but what does this have to do with the price of Jaguars in Texas?

On reflection, it really has very little bearing. There is a number of things which Ford wisely does not mention. The difference between 300 h.p. from a 7-litre push-rod V8 and 265 h.p. from a sophisticated 3.8-litre twin-cam engine. The vast differences in road-holding and general handling, in brakes, the differences between leather and walnut and vynide and padded plastic. There are also the differences between $3,000 and $7,000, and between the boxy Detroit iron and an aesthetically beautiful car.

Let’s face it Sir, the American V8 sells in this country because it is what it is, which reflects adversely upon the ridiculous 70-m.p.h. speed limit which you have recently acquired; Ford’s comparative advertising undoubtedly helps their sales, against Chrysler and General Motors’ products in an equivalent price range. The discriminating motorist, in the U.S.A. or anywhere else, knows what he wants despite such advertising, and is prepared to pay a great deal more for it. He probably never even considered a Ford Galaxie in the first place, t’was beneath his dignity except when Hertz put him in the driver’s seat.

My thanks, Sir, for your excellent magazine.

Massachusetts, U.S.A. Robert J.W. Price.

Michelins on VWs

I certainly cannot improve on E.E. Gooch’s VW mileage of 72,300 on standard Michelins, although I do have an acquaintance whose VW has exceeded 108,000 on two sets of these impressive tyres.

I was dismayed to find that my new VW (on standard Michelins) slid its tail with monotonous regularity when cornered enthusiastically, whereas my previous VW (with Michelin “X”s at the rear) could be pushed round a corner quite reliably. Hence my determination (plus a £1 bet with a VW agent) that I could wear out a set of standard Michelins in 20,000 miles. I tried really hard, and got all sorts of nasty noises out of them, but I lost my bet. It took 24,000 to get them down to the “regulation” 1/10 in. of tread, and this without a single puncture in any of them!

Usual disclaimer.

Crawley. A.J. Chapman.

With reference to Mr. E. E. Gooch’s letter “Tyre Mileage Record” published in your April issue. I enclose a copy of my letter dated January 13th, 1966, addressed to Dennis Barley & Sons, Welwyn Garden City, from which you will note that I covered approximately 100,000 in my new VW 1200 on one set of “X” tyres in just under four years. I mentioned this figure to the Michelin Tyre Company, and their reply seemed to suggest that one can expect this mileage.

As a matter of interest, a second VW fitted with Michelin “X” tyres has covered 60,000 miles in 2 1/2 years, and from all appearances it would seem that they are capable of a further 59,000 miles.

Hatfield. H. Shirley.

Speedometer lore

I would like to draw your attention to your comment on “Speedometer and the Law,” of April issue, in which there is an error.

Every motor vehicle registered on or after October 1st, 1937, and every P.S.V. when used as an express carriage, except land tractors which comply with the conditions prescribed in Reg. 4A & T.4A, invalid carriages, works’ trucks, motor cycles neither made nor used for the carriage of driver or passenger, motor cycles with engine capacity not exceeding 100 c.c., vehicles not allowed by law to do more than 12 m.p.h. and vehicles incapable of exceeding 12 m.p.h. shall be fitted with an instrument so constructed and in such position as at all times readily to indicate to the driver within a margin of error of plus or minus 10%, if and when he is driving at a speed greater than allowed by law for the vehicle or greater than 30 m.p.h. if there is no speed limit for the vehicle.

Now there is the maximum speed limit of 70 m.p.h. on all vehicles it is debatable whether or not this 10% now applies to this higher figure. I know of no High Court decision on this matter.

Shipley. T.G. Stoker.

The Ford Corsair V4 GT road test.

When Ford introduced the new Corsair V4 GT, they were guilty of conferring the title GT to a vehicle unworthy of such a compliment. It was obvious that the car was intended to aim at that portion of the market occupied by the Triumph 2000 and the Rover 2000, with, of course, a big difference in price between either of them. Had the car been called, let us say, the Corsair 2000, then much of the criticism levelled at a good family touring car would not have been aired.

When the V4 was announced I was considering the respective merits (and prices) of the Rover and the Triumph, so naturally the V4 GT also became a contender. Price-wise, there is about £210 between the GT and the Triumph, and £380 with the Rover—and any salary earner will have to admit that either of these sums takes a lot of saving (yes, I do prefer to wait until I can pay cash for a new vehicle). Having examined the GT, I placed an order and took delivery last November. To date, the car has come up to expectations—it all depends on what one expects. I don’t expect £909’s worth of GT to equal thirteen hundred quid’s worth of Rover 2000—you get what you pay for, no more, no less.

There must be thousands of readers of Motor Sport in a similar position to myself—family dads around 50 who prefer to drive more soberly than in the days of our youth—not attempting to stand a car on its earhole in any shape or form—yet not being exactly sluggards when on the move. The “GT” fills the bill fairly well, in both the eyes of my family and myself. This now brings me to your article in this month’s Motor Sport on the car. The V4 engine, as you say, gives good mid-range acceleration, and is far more flexible than the 1500 straight four—one does not need to row it along with the gear lever. The box is very pleasant (it took a long while to run in) and the ratios are just right. I get no vibration from the gear lever, as you mention. The steering, agreed, is too low geared, but would not the word “firm” be more apt than “heavy” ?—heavy for parking—No, Sir! I don’t find it particularly inaccurate, the car doesn’t lurch about, and the road-holding reminds me very much of my late lamented Citroen 15! Possibly the SP41 tyres (fitted as extra) have something to do with this.

The facia ?—well, not too bad—it doesn’t matter a lot if the temperature and oil gauges are not properly calibrated—so long as the needles stay where they should. So far, indicated running oil pressure is around 60 lb./sq. in.

I still find the clutch very light, with long travel between full in and full out, but smooth. The brakes are, I agree, snatchy when lightly loaded. But I consider the ride to be very good. The “glove box” between the seats may not take a Rolleiflex, but accepts my 35 mm. and light meter! My engine does not suffer from running on, and needs nearly full choke from cold; the choke can be pushed right hack within a mile of a cold start. The fuel gauge is an awful liar, showing empty when at least two gallons remain. As most of my running to date has been in town, I don’t get more than 21 m.p.g. When better weather tempts me further afield, I shall be delighted to see the 28.6 m.p.g. you mention—after all, some of us have other hobbies as well as motoring, and late winter and early spring mean many hours work in greenhouse and garden.

This is the first time I have felt compelled to write to you in reply to an article or letter—I might add that as a reader of Motor Sport since before the war I have been sorely tempted to do so on many occasions—the Editor’s views on this and that provide much ground for heated argument in my local boozer with the “boys.”

In conclusion—let Ford Co. remove the GT badge, substitute “2000” (or 2-litre) and bring a much maligned vehicle into its correct perspective.

Wembley. John J. Walden.

Praise for the Rover P4

I, too, with P.L. Ullathorne, would like to shed more light on that wonderful “old” car, the P4 Rover. I think it is more than sad, it is criminal, that so many early P4 models are now only valued at the same level as contemporary Austins, Fords and Standards. Too sedate for “enthusiasts,” they have no demand, and many are now (years before their time) being stacked against worthless rust heaps for their last sad journey to the scrap press.

In May, 1964, my TR2 was replaced (for a song) by a 1951 Cyclop’s Spotlight 75. This well worn car gave me much pleasure and was totally reliable during my period of ownership. On paper 75 m.p.h. and just about 22 m.p.g. do not conjure up thoughts of a very desirable motor car but, when I remember that turbine-like engine with top gear pulling power to shame any similar modern car; . . . the hide upholstery and real wood furnishings (two glove lockers, too) . . . the alloy doors and boot, the 15-year-old cellulose merely in its prime, . . . and the entire mechanics in “Rover” condition … I could go on and on.

It was with mixed feelings when I replaced her with a Mk. 1 Sprite, and even now I know that she was worth even tenfold of the sum that she passed through my hands for. I am certain that I shall purchase another P4, probably a 90, because no saloon I know combines such character with such comfort. I say “I know,” because I must confine myself to realistically priced cars, of which the P4 series must reign supreme. If only “happily married” enthusiasts would buy a sound P4 (at a sensible price!—Ed.) instead of an exhaust booster to “sportily their tinware,” then perhaps this classic car will receive the respect it deserves.

Weston-super-Mare. Peter J. Brown.

Not a Bentley!

Why should the Bentley Drivers’ Club shudder when a Mk. VI “Bentley” was apparently destroyed by fire during the filming of “The Rat Catchers” for ITV ?

I am one member who thought this a most appropriate fate for a very trite and mediocre vehicle. It was, after all, merely a Rolls-Royce masquerading behind Bentley-style radiator and badges

Edinburgh. David E. Tulloch.

The reasoning behind Rovers.

P.L. Ullathorne’s letter in your April issue invites the reply that, good wine needs no bush. But his inference that with the end of the P4 range, Rover ceased to produce cars that were reliable, or value for money, calls for more comment.

The P4 was produced in 1950 as a family car of quality suitable for executives, and was marketed in the “upper-lower” or “medium” price range. It fulfilled this purpose admirably for nine years with the 60, 75, 80, 90, 95, 100, and 105 S. and R. models without any startling changes in basic design or styling.

Modern life being what it is, a decade brings about great changes in ideas and public taste—and what was “with it” in 1950 became very “square” in 1960—so the Rover 3-litre carried on the P4 tradition and the 2000 was produced for the benefit of the new class of younger executives that had arrived on the scene since the advent of the P4.

The 3-litre has all the solid reliability of the well tried P4, improved and brought up to date by advanced design. I suggest that your correspondent is a little premature in condemning the 2000 as unworthy to succeed his favourite marque. I seem to remember that similar remarks were passed in 1950/51 in comparing the P4 with that very excellent motor car, the short-lived Rover P3 of 1948/49.

The Rover company is remarkable for producing models that hold their popularity for long periods. In 1928 W.S. Sudbury, Chairman of a new Board of Directors, summed up the policy of the Rover Company as, “To produce a Sunbeam quality car at a Morris price”—and the result was the production of the famous 6-cylinder “Meteor” and 4-cylinder 10-h.p. models. The latter were intended as a side line, but proved such money spinners that a new factory had to be acquired at Tyseley, Birmingham, to accommodate them. Later, the whole factory left Coventry for Solihull, where the ideal set in 1928 has been maintained and is, apparently, in no danger of being forgotten in the future.

To those readers who have written to complain of the quality of the 2000 and have listed the faults they have suffered, I suggest that they subtract from their lists of troubles the items that are supplied by outside firms, and lay the blame for them on the individual manufacturers. I believe gearbox trouble and column knock on the early 2000s were admitted by the Rover Company, who advised their customers through the daily Press and arranged with their service agents to make “free of charge” corrections.

In the matter of decibels, the Rover 2000 has more to say for itself than its elder brothers, from which it differs by being brash, modern, and very much “with it” –and the extra noise is perhaps in keeping with all youngsters of today, who are nevertheless just as capable and efficient as their fathers.

It might be of interest to those of your readers who are able to do so to compare the 1946/47 “Gethin Rover” racing car (which Frank Lockhart is racing this season) with the current Rover 2000.

With this parting shot, I beg to sign myself,

Loxwood. H.S. Hannah.

British and proud of it.

I believe. in “knocking” the British motor industry when justified (I regret this is only too frequent), but I also believe in giving praise where praise is due. I am a very happy owner of a Rover 3-litre saloon; and am stationed in Western Germany, where, incidentally, I have only seen one other such car in the last year. When I came to Germany in February 1965, I wrote to Rovers and asked them about servicing and spares facilities here. I received a prompt reply which stated that they had opened a new factory in Frankfurt which stocked all spares and that a British sales representative of theirs living in Germany would contact me regarding servicing. Within a few days this representative found out my office telephone number and called me and said that if I had any problems at all I was to contact him and he would make all the necessary arrangements. This was followed by a very-comprehensive Workshop Manual sent free with the compliments of the Company.

My requirements during the past 14 months have been a set of radiator hoses, a new silencer, a new Rover motif for the front grille (forced out and stolen on the Dover/Ostend car ferry) and a new petrol pump. The latter arrived within three days of writing to Frankfurt. For a 5-year-old with 60,000 miles to its credit this list of replacements is very reasonable.

The car is much admired by German people of all ages and both sexes. Most will agree that it is better finished than the normal Mercedes. On the autobahn, where, contrary to the beliefs of many people in the United Kingdom, there is no speed limit, it will cruise all day in the nineties without noise or fuss, and will hold its own against all other normal saloons except the Ford Taunus 17M and 20M. The Mercedes, none of which is. fitted with overdrive, are revving hard above 85 m.p.h. My annual consumptions are 20 m.p.g. of B.P. Super and better than 5,000 m.p.g. of Castrolite. Michelin “X” tyres improve the roadholding, are completely quiet, and show very little wear after 17,000 miles.

Apart from being a very satisfied customer, I have no connection with the Rover Motor Company.

Finally, in my opinion, the only thing wrong with the British car in Germany is its price, and even this handicap could be overcome if only there existed a few keen, efficient salesmen. I am proud to drive around Germany displaying the name of Rover on my boot to most German cars, knowing the quality of the engineering and construction of one British Make is in nearly all cases superior.

Thank you for a most eagerly awaited monthly publication which is always up to date on motor sport and motor politics. But when you say you hope the 70 m.p.h. limit is not here to stay, are you not building Castles in the air!

Bad Oeynhausen, W. Germany. Major G.C.M. Newton.

Citroens—old and new

I have read with interest the letters in your magazine referring to the Citroen ID and DS models. I used to run a Light Fifteen model, 1953, until about one month ago, when disaster struck the gearbox.

I have been running a 1961 DS19 for about one month now, and maybe my reflections on this car may be of interest. I feel I must say that I was influenced to a large extent on various road test reports and some owners’ comments.

There can be no doubt that the car is perhaps in the “fab” class to some extent. The adjustable suspension, the good aerodynamic shape almost eliminating wind noise, ample room inside, and the leather upholstery (on Slough built cars).

These are in my opinion not easy cars to drive, the gear change is cumbersome, the steering heavy when parking, the car is long also, making for awkward parking.

I am nearly six feet tall but I still feel “Chad”-like when sitting behind the steering wheel, the interior mirror would be better located at the top of the screen, one would not then have the blind spot when looking to the nearside front wing.

Bodywork on many examples I have seen have all had rust rather badly, French built and English built. The performance is not had but would truly be at best when on Motorway driving.

When one takes a 90° corner at about 30 m.p.h. the car requires quite a bit of holding, one having to pull quite hard on the steering wheel. I think the Light Fifteen was more responsive and train-like on corners than the ID and gave me a greater feeling of safety.

With regards to spares and technical advice by letter or ‘phone, I have found the people at Slough very helpful indeed.

Finally, I would say the car is fine for being chauffeur-driven in. Also congratulations on your gimmick-free magazine.

Iver Heath. B. Mulberry.

Good for Smiths

I feel that I must write to you to endorse the fine things said by Mr. J. Rickman in your March issue about Smiths Industries.

About 12 months ago I was given a Smiths rev.-counter and quite recently it failed to operate, after being fitted in a new Mini. It was sent immediately to Smiths Industries at Cricklewood for testing. Apparently it had failed and almost within the week I had received from them one new replacement unit.

Such service is very rare as I did not have any proof of exact age of the meter and I think that you will agree that this service should be praised.

Bromley. I.K. Wyatt.

The Motorist in Society

Mr. Rolfe’s letter “Motorist in Society” in this month’s edition of Motor Sport is like a breath of fresh air—now let’s have some action from the motoring associations to get this glaringly unjust situation corrected.

It’s about time the magisterial position in this country came under a long, cool look—it was recently reported that the system is 600-700 years old and this I can well believe. It’s long due for overhaul.

The method of selection even has never been revealed, some secret juju known only to the highest inner circle being employed, surely in a state with professed pretensions (!) of world leadership in legal matters this is indefensible. Does it stipulate in Magna Carta that honest citizens must be tried before unqualified amateurs? I personally would be much happier up before persons with an extensive knowledge of the subject and of known and certified legal qualifications.

The Police Federation commenting on this position says (Daily Mail, 10.11.65) that “Many (magistrates) qualify only by their interest in local politics or by their social standing!”

This certainly reinforces a widely held opinion outside the Force and not many motorists will be found to quarrel with the police view on this occasion.

London, S.W.7. H.C. Majar.

That letter “Motorist in Society” in Motor Sport certainly says what’s needed saying for a long time, congratulations to Mr. Rolfe for writing it and your good-selves for publishing it. Furthermore, if our A.A. and R.A.C. were worth a cup of cold tea they would have got something done about this situation a long time ago.

Grundisburgh. R. Johnson.

Mr. Rolfe has unerringly hit the nail right on the head with his letter “Motorist in Society,” what a whited sepulchre our much vaunted law turns out to be when applied to honest citizens with no protection and when there’s money for the taking. To coin a phrase, “It’s not enough—it’s too bloody much—this manifestering justice.”

Chiddingfold. E. Cop.

Lotus are O.K. . . .

Messrs. Lotus Cars Ltd. have recently been subjected to some rough handling in your columns. I feel the following incident is so remarkable that it may well be of some interest to your readers.

My secondhand Elan, in the second year of its life and with some 20,000 on the clock, put a rod through the side, truthfully without apparent reason. I ‘phoned Lotus just to urge delivery of a new block to the garage handling the repair and was rewarded by the unconditional offer of a new block assembly, absolutely free of charge. I would like to add that their Service Managers, Mr. Shann, and Mr. Sewter have been quite extraordinarily courteous, efficient and just plain helpful in all my dealings with them. As for the Elan to drive . . . !

Usual disclaimer.

Alton. R.P.W. Gunn.

Several readers have criticised Lotus cars. I would like to point out some of the virtues of Lotus Elans not previously stated. My Elan was delivered in kit form, with no parts missing, and went together easily and quickly. It is completely reliable, the exhaust must be the quietest of all sports cars, and there is very little wind roar and no mechanical noise if the chain tensioner is adjusted regularly. Weber carburetters cannot fall out of tune, and give a consistent 30 m.p.g. There is no “mystique” in setting them up, the only adjustment necessary being the slow running.

Elans are very tractable, pulling away strongly from 10 m.p.h. in top gear without spitting, hunting or transmission snatch. A very strong point in the car’s favour is cheaper insurance—ten pounds less than an MG.-B. It does let a little water in, but who cares about a damp knee in a car with such outstanding braking, steering, acceleration and road-holding.

Finally, a word of encouragement to the budding roue, girls seem to be very impressed by the popping-up headlamps!

Bolton. Robin L. Booth

Volvo Enthusiasm.

May I join Mr. G.H. Arkell and express my enormous satisfaction with one of the excellent vehicles provided by the Volvo company? My 121 estate car was purchased new in January, 1965, and to date has done just over 20,000 miles, entirely without trouble. What a revelation after my previous over-£1,000 British 6-cylinder car, which in the two years I had it caused me to visit garages many times and broke down on each of three Continental holidays!

The Volvo is a delightful fully developed vehicle of robust and sound design and construction, obviously the product of careful workmanship and assembly and induces considerable pride of ownership. The engine runs like a high-grade clock, the steering, gearbox, road-holding, brakes and seats are all excellent, and the Bosch electrics are the best I have ever owned. The car is unfailingly reliable in daily use, a pleasure to drive, and most economical on petrol (over 30 m.p.g. regularly recorded). The Swedish Goodyear G8 tyres are wearing very well and will probably do at least 35,000 miles. I look forward confidently to several more years’ ownership of this truly excellent vehicle before having to change it. How many owners of British cars in the same class can honestly testify to such complete satisfaction?

I have no connection with these manufacturers and have never before owned a foreign car in 35 years’ experience.

Hutton. H.J. Green.

Traction Avant”

With reference to your article on “Traction Avant,” in which you state “you are very glad it has been quickly and completely resolved,” i.e., ” the M.o.T. slander on B.M.C.” We are, of course, fully aware of your views on the Ministry of Transport, but surely the Ministry would not have brought this matter up had there not been some justification, and, as an owner of a 1964 Morris Mini which has recently had to have the high-velocity joints renewed after only 8,000 miles of careful driving and equally careful and regular maintenance, I am deeply concerned about this matter, and feel that it has been glossed over too soon. I am afraid I am not content to let this problem rest until I have had a satisfactory explanation, which I am obviously not going to get from B.M.C. I have written on two occasions to the company, once to the Chairman, without satisfaction, my last letter, asking for some explanation as to the reason and cause of this trouble has been completely ignored.

I fail to see how the matter has been resolved, and to whose satisfaction, certainly not to the owners of these faulty vehicles. I cannot reconcile the fact that this component has had to be replaced in one car after only 8,000 miles, when my husband has an identical model, 1963, which has been driven over 30,000 miles and yet does not require this replacement. This part, obviously, does not become defective through wear, so what is the explanation, and why are B.M.C. reluctant to discuss the matter, or even have the common decency to acknowledge correspondence? Until I have had a satisfactory answer to my question, I cannot agree that the matter has been completely resolved.

Perhaps you could endeavour to help me in this matter.

Timperley. Joyce L. Halliday.
[We will gladly publish a reply from B.M.C., Hardy Spicer or any interested party—but what more is there to be said? To date this is the only letter we have received complaining of failure in a reasonable mileage of properly serviced B.M.C. front-drive universals.—Ed.]

The Ford Cortina GT

I read with interest your article on the Ian Walker Cortina GT, but was surprised to see the acceleration figures given for the production version fell far short of those quoted in your own road tests. In fact, the 0-60 m.p.h. time of 13.9 sec. is given, 12 pages later, as 12.1 sec.! Are these figures put out by Messrs. Ian Walker, to show their conversion in a better light, perhaps?

I have run a 1966 Cortina GT for 5,000 miles to date with only one major fault giving any inconvenience. It was found that if the car was left outside in wet weather for anything over two hours, almost total loss of braking occurred. Several hefty prods on the brake were required before things were restored to normal.

This was reported to Fords by my Main Dealer, who promptly sent an engineer to investigate. After testing brake pads, etc., it was discovered that the disc calipers, repositioned, I was told, to the front of the disc by Fords about October, 1965, were to blame. Apparently this modification was carried out to combat overheating problems met with in competition work. The car was therefore modified to original specification, the calipers being replaced at the rear of the disc. Since then no further trouble has been experienced. Have any other owners, I wonder, had trouble of this sort, and have Fords treated mine as an isolated case or as a designer’s danger?

Meanwhile the car continues to return 30 m.p.g., and with its excellent ventilation system (no leaky quarter-lights now!), provides comfortable, fast and reliable transport, and acceleration which will leave a V4 Corsair GT for dead, any day!

Bury St. Edmunds. Guy P. Lowley.

Speed Indicators—A correction

Oh! Mr. Boddy, I do hope your bank balance is going to be deep enough to pay the fines of all those happy fellows driving their 1938, 39, 40, 45 and 46 motor cars without speedometers, and whom are caught so doing!

Crosby. R.V. Evans.
[It could have been a printers’ error—in which case the printers pay the fines. But for 1947 read 1937, and to make sure, check the relevant section of the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations. You cannot be too careful !—Ed.]