Readers' Letters, May 1984, May 1984

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Keeping cool

Your March article on the new VW Golf 2 and its ventilation system prompts this letter.

The now universal use of complicated plumbing for air ventilation in cars is, for Australian conditions at least, an unwelcome development. In the good old days (pre Cortina Mark 1?) cars came with a man-sized lever in the middle of the dash which, when pulled, let in a flood of air into the area below the dash. That or an equivalent system could do a marvellous job dealing with hot Australian weather.

These days we are obliged to drive around in the equivalent of the greenhouse ventilated with a breathless bicycle pump. This probably explains the popularity of air-conditioning in Australian cars today whose basic designs are predominantly of European or Japanese origin. In this aspect of car design at least progress has been retrograde and, no doubt, we now pay more for under-dash spaghetti, and the resulting inefficiency, compared with the more primitive but far more effective systems of the past. .

Queensland Dr DAVID ROYSTON

Just hot air

I was most interested in reading the comments on the ventilation system in the test of the Golf 2 in the March issue. I agree wholeheartedly with your comment that it is essential to have fresh air coming in at face level to maintain alertness, and venture to suggest that the makers’ excuse for not providing some is so much hot air coupled with poor design.

I have recently purchased a Vauxhall Nova, which I selected after driving many of the current super minis, and which has the ideal of fresh air and also heated air from the fascia vents, the ones at the extremities of the dash providing heated air to demist the side glass within the EEC Regulation quoted.

Perhaps the manufacturers brought to task by you on this point would care to comment on their inability to provide the ideal when General Motors achieve the “impossible” on a £4,500 car. .

Clwyd IAN B. MASTERS

Dubious accolade

Are we, I wonder, to believe our eyes when we read of a “Car of the Year” having been chosen in January or February of the year in question? In sport, the “Man of the Match” is named after, rather than before, the game.

If “Car of the Year 1984” is not a recurring mis-print for 1983, it most be pretty tough on manufacturers who introduce new models during the remaining 11/12 or so of the year, who are disqualified from the accolade, of dubious value though it probably is.

All strength to MOTOR SPORT in the next 60 years.

London NW3 NICOLAS P. JOHNSON

Westfield 7 and 11

It seems strange that Chris Smith should be “at pains to distance himself from the kit-car’ image”. Not only is he taking full advantage of the standard kit car procedure of utilising a donor vehicle and thus escaping construction and use regulations as well as tax, but he is producing replicas of two of the all-time great kit cars.

Perhaps you would do well to interview the shameless Jem Marsh of Marcos who is proud to produce a thoroughbred vehicle from the scrapyards and parts bins of Britain! .

Painswick, Gloucs RICHARD FALCONER

Unfair slur on TR

Mr Haynes’ assertion that TR7s are unreliable based on his own personal experience is shameful. A poor example of any marque can be found regardless of cost or nationality.

If Mr Haynes had been prepared to spend as much time and money on the Triumph as the Lancia perhaps it would not have given him such a poor track record. It would seem from his letter that the TR7 was more the victim of neglect than the Beta.

Exhausts do not rust through in four months. Deteriorating brakes are the result of poor maintenance not faulty design, and surely for the diff to seize an oil leak must have been obvious? Didn’t Mr Haynes see the poor state of mechanical repair of the car when he bought it?

As for the fact the car needed two further head gaskets changed after an engine rebuild suggests that the repairs were not carried out in the first place.

It seems a pity that Mr Haynes has had to resort to snide comments about the TR7 to cover up his own shortcomings in buying a rogue car.

My own TR7 (1979 coupe) has covered 53,000 miles, and since I bought the car seven months ago has run faultlessly. The only reason I would change the car would be to buy a TR8!.

Hedge End, Hants MARK BISHOP

Memory Lane

Sir

The profile of Chris Amon in the March issue brought back many wonderful memories. When I was running a company called Formula 1 Enterprises in New York in the late 1960s I had the pleasure of knowing Chris. He helped us with evaluations of some of the products we were importing, and we did our best to obtain sponsorship for his Can-Am efforts with Ferrari in 1969 and the March 707 in 1970.

One of the most memorable drives was in the 700-horsepower March at the end of 1979 Can-Am season. Chris asked me if I would be coming out to Riverside for the race, and I said I would – if he let me drive his car after the race. Driving the car was one thing but riding in it with Chris at the wheel was quite another. It was a joy to watch him work at a time when he, Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt were the world’s three fastest road racing drivers. My impressions of the March were published, appropriately enough, in the March 1971 issue of Motor Trend.

I appreciated A.H.’s reference to Fangio in the Amon story, because I was struck by the extraordinary physical resemblance between Chris and the young Fangio, this is admirably illustrated by the photo of Fangio in Günther Molter’s fine book on the Argentine driver.

Those of us lucky to know Chris well are overjoyed that he is happy in New Zealand today, are regretful of being deprived of his frequent company, and are comfortable in our sure knowledge that he is one of the most talented men ever to drive a racing car – as the Ferrari team manager said of him in those days, “Una Bomba”.
London W1 K. E. LUDVIGSEN

Bill Bengry
Sir,

Your article on the great Bill Bengry gave me much enjoyment and reminded me of the one event Bill and I did together, the 1964, and last, real Liège. What a truly ridiculous / splendid rally that was, even to hard-bitten rally men. To nitpick a bit, our Rapier was actually one of the Alan Frazer cars, not a works car, and I was sort of loaned out to Bill by the works for that one event. The idea was to help Bill get his Gold Cup and I was very pleased for him when it was duly obtained as we understandably didn’t exactly have the resources of Bohringer and Aaltonen behind us. I remember banking a cheque for the spoils afterwards – £20!

Rallying has changed a bit since then.
Great Cox IAN HALL

DVLC in disarray

During the last week in December 1983 I returned the licence disc for my Bristol to DVLC, requesting a refund of the two months unexpired tax. At the time of writing (20/2/84), almost eight weeks later, I am still waiting for a cheque.

Is that a record and does anyone know what is going on down in Swansea?

Perhaps when I apply to re-tax the car they will be quite happy to allow me a similar delay in which to pay the required duty!

Bentley L. J. STOUT

Tougher Tests

In your February issue there was a letter from Mr Trennery containing a lot of very good points regarding motoring and road safety. However, I would like to comment as to his suggestion that far stiffer MoT tests are required.

Current statistics clearly indicate that, after taking into account the ratio of vehicle age groups, the highest proportion of accidents involve newer vehicles (generally less than four years old). That in the main accidents occur due to errors of judgement or through carelessness, particularly when overtaking. Mechanical failure accounts for a very small number of accidents.

Stiffer MoT tests will in general affect the less well-off who cannot afford new cars, and by definition this group use their vehicles less anyway, and if only by there absence contribute to fewer accidents.

Certainly there should be strictly enforced laws relating to tyre conditions (which affects newer as well as older vehicles). I also firmly believe that we should make it obligatory for all new vehicles to have bright “daylight running” lights (dipped headlights for existing vehicles). I am sure this would reduce the most common statement after an accident — “I didn’t see anything coming”.

Brecon D. R. PERRYMAN

Motorway Driving

There is a tremendous amount of good sense in the two letters written by your correspondents Messrs. Jones and Trenerry (February Readers’ Letters) although I find it difficult to agree entirely with Mr Trenerry’s statement that the general standard of driving in this country is good and courteous. It isn’t. He may be talking about HGV drivers and I would then agree but the majority of private cars would appear to be guided by lunatics, hermetically sealed in their tin boxes lulled into a stupor by their “in-car entertainment”.

It seems as if there is some social stigma to driving in the nearside lane as witness the cretin who, joining the motorway, sets his indicators going and drives straight across to the offside lane oblivious to all other traffic.

They are the people who cause accidents but are seldom involved in them.

On a three lane carriageway, can’t the idiots who hog the centre lane realise that they are occupying two thirds of the road? They effectively cut down the capacity of such a road to that of a pre-war by-pass. And how many times have we seen the two outer lanes at a standstill while the nearside lane is empty for miles! One also sees this, of course, in cities where they have bus lanes for rush hour periods. Outside the specified hours, one would think they were reserved for lepers only.

One cannot help but wonder if there are any LAWS governing motorway driving (not counting speed limits) for one very seldom sees offenders pulled up for bad or dangerous driving which I would have thought caused more accidents than sheer speed. Let’s face it, if everybody kept to the LEFT except when overtaking, there would be enough room to go at over 100 mph without any danger at all. As your correspondents say: More education and lane discipline needed and the latter should be enforced. You don’t need any radar for that!

Newbury R. O. WILSON-KITCHEN

Please allow me to reply to K. A. Hall’s letter, as it may mislead some of your readers for he has mis-interpreted my letter (“More Education Needed”, February issue). Nowhere in my letter did I refer to motorways, only to single and two and three lane roads.

The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1967 (amended up to March 1983) gives these speed limits (mph) for roads not otherwise restricted: HGVs quoted are “normal” eg nothing special under the Act and PSVs, those with more than eight passenger seats.

Single lane 2 & 3 lanes Motorways

Cars 60 70 70

HGVs 40 40 60

PSVs 50 50 70

Consequently my remarks in my letter concerning PSVs and HGVs on roads were correct. The point of my letter being that a higher speed differential should be allowed by law between cars and all else. This in my view would contribute to safety. My letter also said I preferred no speed limits or very high ones.

Mr Hall may be interested to know that HGVs earn me my living. I can assure him that modern ones are well capable of 85-90 mph as are modern coaches according to their operators. If they were not, they would be unable to compete in overseas trade. To test the validity of my remarks, Mr Hall need only study tachograph charts. These by law are calibrated for time and distance (thus speed). He would certainly be surprised by some speeds achieved and recorded.

Dovercourt M. W. TRENERRY

Poetic licence

T. A. S. O. Mathieson’s tale about Jack Bartlett selling Rolls-Royce a GP Bugatti is undoubtedly wrong, no doubt due to poetic licence by Bartlett who had sold a Rolls Royce engineer, S. S. Tressilian such a car, YM 3412, now Hamish Moffat’s. The story of how the crank for the car was indeed rerollered in the Derby Experimental shop in about 1935, for technical interest and a nominal fiver, was writted up by Tressilian in Bugantics in 1962!

We do have some fascinating prewar Derby correspondence when Hives thought about buying a Bugatti to compare with his Phantom Sports car, and after some tests in Paris decided it was not to be compared! And while writing may I agree that Bugatti’s single exhaust valve has indeed a larger nominal area than his two inlets, as Mr Archdale points out.

London W2 HUGH CONWAY

Somerset Automobile Club

I was very interested to read your interesting notes on the Somerset Automobile Club which you have obviously gleaned from the notes I sent you early this year.

There are, however, a few errors which I feel must be rectified. My name is Rowland-Hosbons and not Hosbone and Graves-Knyfton is spelt thus, and not Greaves. I must also point out that I am not, and never have been, the Chairman of the Club. This position is held by Mr Mike Bracey, who drives among other things a Jaguar and a Morgan. The President is Major Max Dunscombe, and the Hon. Secretary is Mrs Esme Salter, widow of C. B. Salter, who was Competitions Secretary of the Bristol Motor Cycle and Light Car Club, and one of the pioneers of Motor Racing at Castle Combe.

Another lady member is Miss Dorothy Earp, a relative of Clifford Earp who raced Napiers before the 1914-18 War.

Uphill JOHN ROWLAND-HOSBONS

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