Dolomite Sprint : Leyland Reply

Sir,

Naturally we were extremely sorry to read of the troubles with your photographer's Triumph Dolomite Sprint, and in particular your comments on our London Service Centre at Western Avenue. Coincidentally with the publication of the article we were already carrying out a major re-organisation at Western Avenue and a copy of the article was in fact sent to every one of the employees there so that they were aware of the comments.

Before making any detailed comments on the car itself we would make one or two general points. First, as you state in the original article, the car was one of the very early Sprints and many improvements have since been made. Secondly, judging from the article it would appear that the major problems on the car have only happened since the car was involved in an accident, prior to which it had completed nearly 20,000 miles of relatively troublefree motoring. Thirdly, it is important that your own experiences be taken in context with the total comment which has appeared about the car in the Press.

As you say the car has been widely hailed by both Motor Sport and other publications as being one of the best 2-litre saloons in the world. Despite your own experiences you still commented at the end that : "Mechanically the Sprint has been very good; the engine has been first-class when it has been running properly, with no mechanical breakages experienced."

Judging by the letters you received, the general reaction of the public also seemed on the whole to be reasonably favourable, albeit tinged in some cases with reservations about problems they have experienced. Almost throughout, they commented highly favourably on both the car's performance and good fuel economy, and the overall impression seems to be that despite the problems encountered they still had many good things to say about the car.

To put things in perspective, we are certainly not trying to suggest that everyone was totally delighted with the car and had experienced no real trouble, but overall it does seem to suggest that your experiences with the car have been quite exceptional, perhaps due to the aforesaid accident as already mentioned. Most people appear to have taken the view that the Sprint is essentially a high-class sporting saloon, but like other highly-tuned sporting vehicles it requires a similar level of attention.

Turning to more specific points, you asked for our comments on five areas which you consider to have been problems on some models, these being clutch, hydraulics, wheel corrosion, water leaks and water loss through gaskets, and carburetter mountings. On some early models, bonding failure occurred on the rubber mounting plates for the carburetters, but this has since been modified. Likewise we have changed the specification of the lacquer used to protect the road wheels as there were instances of corrosion or discolouration with the earlier lacquer. Instances of water leaks to the footwells appear to have been due to a temporary sealing problem, and we believe that this has now also been cured.

Investigations into the clutch hydraulics and head gasket areas have not yet proved so conclusive, although in the case of the clutch hydraulics a new type of hose is currently being investigated. As one of your correspondents, Mr. Gardner, points out the use of water in any engine presents a "gasket problem", and in the case of the Sprint the problem has been progressively overcome since the car's first introduction.

However, we are continually looking for ways of increasing gasket efficiency and testing new types of gasket, which is just part of the overall programme to improve the whole of the Leyland Cars range, not just the Sprint. We receive feedback from many sources, including the new complaint card which every owner now receives under Supercover, and this is helping us to spotlight any potential problems at a much earlier stage. All this information is constantly being analysed by complaint code and the results arc being passed to Engineering so that they can investigate and make whatever modifications they feel necessary.

In conclusion therefore we would reiterate our concern at what we consider to be the exceptional problems you have encountered with your Sprint, and we have passed on your comments and those of your readers to our engineers, so that they can help make what we and many others consider to be a great car into an even better one.

ROGER ARMSDEN Leyland Cars, Press Officer Cowley Service & Parts