Letters from Readers, May 1969

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

How Long Do Lotus Eland Last?

Sir,

In reply to Mr. J. Holmes’ letter, I would just like to point out that the Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine is quite capable of exceeding 60,000 miles without any undue trouble, but unfortunately other troubles will occur with the car itself in quite a short space of time, mainly electric window failure, constant water leaks, wheel bearing failure (6,000 miles), rear doughnut failure, silencer failure.

My present car, an S4 S/E Elan, has covered a nominal mileage and up to date I have experienced the following problems:

(1) Electric windows have fouled five times.
(2) Halfshafts have broken.
(3) Silencer replaced twice.
(4) Handbrake is “useless”.
(5) Headlamp system is not reliable.
(6) Constant water leak, even after undersealing car.
(7) Wind noise is very excessive.
(8) Doors vibrate.
(9) Constant rattles from all four corners of the car.
(10) Brakes lock up and pull to the left during wet road conditions.

Apart from the above problems, Lotus service agents are quite good, but they do not carry many parts in stock. This is probably due to Lotus, who can never supply the parts anyway!

My advice to you, Mr. Holmes, is buy an Elan because overall you just cannot find another car quite like it, but be prepared for annoying problems, and particularly non-existent service!

I would also like to take the opportunity of thanking Motor Sport for such an excellent magazine.

Kingswood. A. G. I. J. Cosgrove.

———

Sir,

I am wondering if the quotation that Lotus Elans “don’t do 40,000 miles without a rebuild” is just a well-timed joke for April 1st.

This is not at all my experience; my 1964 Elan was purchased 18 months ago with 39,000 miles on the clock; it has now 59,000 and the following have been necessary :—

Five new tyres.
Two front Shock-absorbers.
One set brake pads.
One new silencer.
One set of points.
Two top steering ball-joints.
One fan belt.
One water pump.

The water pump job was just one of those things which can happen to any car; the steering ball-joints were renewed due to penetration of grit through the rubber bellows. The remainder are items which I think you will agree are common renewals on any vehicle which is fairly used in all weathers and properly maintained. Most people would have carried on with the old shock-absorbers but the handling was becoming rather less than 100% Elan. During the water-pump job the head was removed and the bores found to have no noticeable wear, nor the valve-gear. Bottom end is still nearly perfect, holding normal oil pressure. The car has been raced at Silverstone once and pounded about in various corners of England, the Alps and down to Salerno on the autostrada at up to 1.6 Castle.

It shows no sign of falling to bits and I fully expect to keep it. Final note—it had not been rebuilt before I bought it!

Reading. V. S. Doswell.

* * *

Oh Dear!

Sir,

Through your correspondence columns I would like to apologise, if I may, to any of your readers who had difficulty getting into Silverstone on the occasion of the recent International Trophy meeting, March 30th.

Those of us who are older than we would wish will remember that, in the early days of Silverstone, it was necessary to start early to avoid the traffic congestion. Thanks to the pulling power of Motor Sport and other journals in which we now advertise, we had a big crowd on March 30th and there were some delays.

Towcester. P. C. T. Clark
Chairman, Silverstone Circuits Ltd.

[Which could be why, at Brooklands, before they ever saw a race there, they built a bridge over and a car tunnel under the course, not to mention garages and covered shelters in the Paddock, etc., etc. We were delayed longer on the new Silverstone Bridge than if we had driven across the track, but have no complaints, because if you are impatient to leave you cannot be much of a motor racing enthusiast. You can, of course, watch the British G.P. on TV.—Ed.]

* * *

British Products in Singapore

Sir,

I should like to put Mr. Springett’s letter in perspective, having no axe to grind whatsoever. He talks of old, decrepit British buses being replaced in Singapore by fast, comfortable, reliable Japanese ones. The Singapore Traction Company did indeed buy a large number of rear-engined Isuzas, which were much in evidence in 1965. However, the drivers could not hear the engines and over-revved them badly. Replacements are net available, and the crankshafts have to be returned to Japan for rebuilding. Consequently, S.T.C. are now (1968) back to running their ever-reliable fleet of pre-select Guys.

Also, surely even Mr. Springett has noticed that in Kuala Lumpur there is hardly a bus on the road other than semi-automatic Tigers and Tiger Cubs.

I feel that while his comments about M.G. spares are no doubt based on bitter fact, had he been running a Leyland bus the story would have been far different.

Exeter. R. S. Bristowe.

* * *

Beating the Petrol Tax

Sir,

Extrapolating your line of thought about model replicas and road-going miniatures in the other direction, there is a growing area of development in high-performance pedal-cars. Many would dismiss pedal-cars as purely “kids’ play”, but at the competitive level there is the National Pedal-Car 24-Hours Race held annually at Bristol to coincide with Bristol Universities’ Rag Week, and similar shorter races around the country. The competition at these races is very fierce and the winner of this year’s Bristol race won at an average speed in excess of 10 m.p.h., although limited to a 1:1 drive, reciprocating (as opposed to rotating) pedal motion, and 20 in. driving wheels. Sophistication shows itself in variable stroke mechanisms, and independent suspension systems.

Suitably equipped with a bell and lights these pedal-cars also make excellent road transport for those without the balance for a bicycle.

Hardly Motor Sport material, but a common interest in high performance machinery (?) prompts me to write this letter.

Southampton. Patrick Fossett.

* * *

The First Power Top?

Sir,

I feel we really must take you to task over your statement that the Aston Martin Volante is the first European production car to have a power hood fitted as standard.

The 1954-6 Daimler Conquest coupé was probably the first and it was electro-hydraulically operated, too, though not having seen the mechanics of the Aston hood I cannot say what similarities, if any, exist.

Stretton. Ian Venables.
For The Daimler and Lanchester O.C.

[See explanation last month.—Ed.]

* * *

Motor Racing in South Africa

Sir,

I was born in London and educated there. I served my country from 1938 to 1946 in the Royal Armoured Corps. I emigrated to South Africa in 1947, the best thing I ever did, except to serve my country. I have spent many years in motor sport in South Africa as a competitor, official and administrator.

I am prompted to write this letter to you, sir, after reading a letter entitled “Motor Racing and the Colour Bar Question’? signed by “R. E. Wright”.

Who is this person who presumes to inflict his opinions on motoring enthusiasts? What is his standing in the matter? We in South Africa have observed these busybodies at all levels, including heads of State, U.N. hierarchy, etc. When will all these people learn to mind their own damned business and get busy sorting out their own problems. We South Africans don’t poke our noses into other people’s business, so may I suggest that “R. E. Wright”, whoever he is, learns to do the same thing. Surely he will have noted what happened to the illustrious M.C.C. when they were pressured into combining politics with international cricket. And what happened to them when they took a “next best” alternative to the S.A. Tour?

Please can we leave politics out of motor sport, all sport, for politics corrupt as shown by their influence on international sport from the Olympics downwards. Let’s return to sanity, Mr. (or Mrs.?) R. E. Wright, and respect another man’s desire to lead his life as he wishes, provided he doesn’t poke his nose into your domestic affairs.

Johannesburg. Peter Theobald.

———

Sir,

Letters appearing in your magazine by Mr. Wright and Mr. Lawrence force one reluctantly to take pen in hand and reply. We in South Africa have the right to admit to our country any person of our own choice. No ruling body of any sport or any other activity has the right to dictate to us whom we must or must not invite. When the time comes that a gentleman of colour reaches the position of competing in an event counting towards a World Championship, and that event is being held here in South Africa, and he is refused leave to compete, then I will grant that the controlling body will have the right to withdraw World Championship status from such an event. I personally would be very surprised if such permission were withheld.

Further, I resent Mr. Wright’s reference to “Afrikaaners”. We in this country are “South Africans” and should be addressed as such when English is used. After all courtesy costs nothing. I also appeal to you to keep your magazine, which has given me so much enjoyment over the past ten years, clear of the thorny problem of racial prejudice. Or, at very least, seek the assurance, before printing contentious matter, that the author of such matter is unconnected with organised bodies such as the anti-apartheid and black power movements, otherwise your magazine will merely be used as a tool.

In any event I consider that Messrs. Wright and Company would be better off concerning themselves with events much nearer home, such as Czechoslovakia, or, if further afield, the supply of weapons to Nigeria for the slaughter of Biafrans.

Durban. M. A. Bechard.

———

Sir,

I could not resist a snigger of amused contempt at R. E. Wright’s letter in your February issue regarding motor racing and the colour bar question.

This question has not yet arisen in motor sport in South Africa, nor is it likely to, unless deliberately promoted and provoked by the malice of politically motivated persons of R. E. Wright’s ilk. But let me say this: If the question does arise it will be decided in the traditional South African manner. And let R. E. Wright and other people of his political persuasion mark this, and mark it well: South Africans would bring no pressure whatsoever to bear on our Government, with whose policies in these matters we are all very largely in agreement.

Who would be the sufferers if this unhappy position were to arise? Certainly not South Africans, or in only a small way, denied the dubious plea-sure of watching the usual Ford procession in any kind of racing you care to name. (Remember Henry Ford’s great slogan: “Watch the Fords go by?”) No, sir, the greatest sufferers would be British exports and accordingly the British people. Week after week, month after month, we have British Trade Missions coming here. And welcome they are, and very necessary their task, as witness Britain’s declining share of the wealthy South African market, both in cars and general merchandise. These Trade Missions know full well the value of South African money, one of the hardest currencies in the world. They see a peaceful and tremendously prosperous country, and they want a bigger slice of the cake. South Africans, by and large a tolerant and generous people, would be quite happy to grant it them, but when political nosey-parkers start shooting off their big mouths, South Africans might very well show an even greater tendency to switch their buying tendency from a Cortina to Toyota Corona, or a Datsun, or a Renault, or a Fiat, or a Volkswagen. And could you blame them?

Johannesburg. B. E. Clarke.

[This correspondence is now closed.—Ed.]

* * *

Fanless

Sir,

The correspondence on radiator fans has been of interest to me because I have now motored some 80,000 miles in cars without fan blades.

I first removed the fan blades from my Anglia van, and since then have treated my Cortina 1200, and now my Cortina CT in the same way. The nearest any of these three cars have come to boiling up was climbing the Wrynose Pass in early summer with five up after a fast run from Yorkshire. My Cortina GT had four blades on when I used it in Africa.

All three cars have had an accurate temperature gauge and I would consider this an essential instrument if one is to motor without a fan.

Midlothian. J. Ford.

* * *

Police Viewpoint

Sir,

April’s edition benefits the Anti-Police Brigade with your correspondent quoting the minor indiscretion of one of my Lancashire colleagues. The editions of January and February went to our supporters. Your own comment suggest that you are anti-Police on the points raised.

Can’t we call a halt to these bickerings? We seem to be getting nowhere. If this mistake of one policeman is to be borne by his entire force (and myself by inference) then the rule must be extended. Any policeman on today’s roads and in contact with the motoring public could fill a book with his experiences of the public’s indiscretions. And so the argument seems endless.

You express regret at the rift between the Police and the motorist yet seem quite happy to open it wider. Perhaps one day we will have a Traffic Police independent of the Criminal Force; when that day dawns the motorist won’t know what’s hit him! I know which force I shall join.

Stop rocking the boat, Boddy; this can go on for ever. I enjoy your magazine and am willing to tolerate your attitude. Surely we are all at one in our love of the horseless carriage, let’s try concentrating on the vehicle and forgetting its driver.

Surry. P.C.

[Name and address supplied.—Ed.]

* * *

Cut Motor Taxes

Sir,

The other day, as I walked through the over-heated, claustrophobic corridors of the “Ideal Home Exhibition”, I came upon the A.A. Stand. A vague interest showed on my face and immediately I was pounced upon by an Irish-speaking, Yankee-orientated, high-powered salesman-type disguised as “Your friendly A.A. Patrol-Man”.

“Are you a member, sir?”

“‘Well, no . . .”

“Well . . .” and then followed all the usual whys and wherefores of how I should join the A.A.

When I asked if I could have a pamphlet he said: “Why not join now?” When I showed reluctance he pointed out that it was the kind thing to do because he and the girls would get a commission from the “sale”. I grabbed a pamphlet and got away quick!

A similar charade took place at the R.A.C. Stand where the salesman again tried to relieve me of four guineas of my hard-earned money in exchange for a service which I would probably have rare cause to call upon.

Meanwhile, I still pay £25 per annum for the privilege of using our police-infested, over-restricted, antique road system. I pay a crippling 6s. 4d. a gallon for petrol and purchase tax on my car which increases rapidly.

Concerning these matters, the A.A. does nothing which is evident, and the R.A.C. merely dole out rear screen stickers in a pathetic attempt to draw somebody’s attention to our plight.

The sooner the motoring organisations get together and fight effectively for the motorist and give us some of the legal aid mentioned in their pamphlets against the swindling powers that be, the sooner they will find motorists taking an active interest in their organisations.

Until then, I shall stay four guineas richer, and so, I am sure; will many others.

West Wickham. Alan Castle.

* * *

Jaguar Mascots

Sir,

Mr. Walker’s letter (April issue) regarding absence of leaping Jaguar emblem on XJ6 model.

I think you will find that the figure has been omitted, not for the purpose of cost saving, but in keeping with stringent American safety regulations. In observing these standards the change from the projecting “flick” switches to the non-projecting tumbler switches, etc., will be noted.

I agree that the omission of the emblem will be something of a prestige blow and it may be of interest to readers that the company I am employed by have produced flying Lady emblems, for Rolls-Royce, in polyurethane so as to retain the prestige symbol on export models and yet obviate the rigid metal figure which could prove to be an impaling instrument in accidents involving pedestrians, etc.

Best regards and congratulations on quality magazine.

Blackburn. D. Entwistle.

[How safe can you get!?—Ed.]

* * *

Race Circuit Shortcomings

Sir,

In an age when cars are advancing rapidly in design and performance, and general interest in motoring sport is rising, why is it that the standard of entry, exit and spectator amenities at race tracks has remained static.

have been to Snetterton several times and on a recent Sunday visited Silverstone for the Daily Express Trophy meeting. If the latter circuit is supposed to be one of the best in the country I should imagine foreign visitors are not particularly impressed, especially when British constructors and teams are among the leaders in World racing, if not the leaders. Although the Daily Express and R.A.C. had comprehensively signposted the approach roads, the way from Silverstone village into the Brawn Car Park was more appropriate for the use of cattle. Could not some type of hard road surface be laid down. Once on the circuit we found, due to the morning rain, that the way to the special trackside enclosures was an expanse of mud (oh, those poor dollies with their smart shoes and slacks, I thought). The slopes of the supposed special enclosures were almost as bad—surely concrete pathways could be built.

With reference to the toilet facilities, I think my friend summed it up quite well: “I have seen better holes in the ground.” [And at Thruxton.—Ed.]

I would have thought that some improvements could be made when entrance for each person is quite expensive (in this case 17s. 6d.). Why can’t we have a race track which we can be really proud of. Possibly the track organisations have many explanations and if so I would like to hear about them.

Thetford. Pete Thorpe.

* * *

Good for Ireland

Sir,

I was very pleased to see Mr. A. P. Brown’s letter drawing attention to Ulster’s splendid roads, which have the added attraction of having no blanket 70 m.p.h. speed limit imposed on them.

I was in Northern Ireland in June and July, 1968, and I was delighted by the progress made since my first visit in May, 1962.

So far 38 miles of the M1 Motorway have been opened from Belfast to Dungannon and this is to be extended another four miles to bypass Dungannon. Four miles of the Belfast Northern Approach road known as the M2 have also been completed, so that 42 miles of Motorway have been completed in a land of 1½ million people.

A great deal has also been done to improve the general road network and in several places derelict railways have been converted into roads such as the line south of Markethill, which now forms part of the main road between Newry and Armagh.

In Northern Ireland road expenditure works out at about three times as much per head of the population as in the rest of the United Kingdom and until the recent absurd increases in motor taxation it must have been one of the few places in the world where most of the motor taxation was used for its rightful purpose of providing the road system that both industry and the individual so badly need.

Harrogate, Yorks. A. I. Watkinson.

[Regrettably, since this letter was received, a 60 m.p.h. speed limit has been imposed on the roads of Eire.—Ed.]