Letters

Opinions expressed are those of correspondents and not necessarily those of Motor Sport

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Police Discrimination

Sir,

Matters of Moment (March, 1991) asks what happens to drunken pedestrians who cause accidents and whether they are breathalised.

While driving her VW one day, my daughter unavoidably hit a very drunk pedestrian who ran head on into her. Fortunately he was not killed, but he did suffer severe injuries by being pitched forward and striking the upper edge of the windscreen surround. A perfect "V" was punched into the roof which showered my daughter with glass fragments.

The subsequent police attendance seemed bent on finding the motorist to be at fault so my daughter was "routinely" breathalised, with negative results while still having pieces of glass removed from her face. The car was trailered away, at my daughter's expense, and impounded of account of the "potential" fatality. The police took no action whatsoever against the drunk. He was thus able to injure my daughter, damage her property, frighten her witless, cause her considerable expense and mayhem with impunity. Indeed, the police said that they were concerned about the adverse PR of prosecuting an injured man. The potentially "easy" target, in other words the motorist, was beyond their grasp and wholly innocent. We subsequently sued the drunk without hesitation in the County Court for negligence, obtaining clear judgement and the damages required. There was never any question of a defence.

This is clear proof that the police are primarily intent on prosecuting the motorist while shying away from the task of possibly wasting time on petty offences by pedestrians. The mere fact that one of these pedestrians came close to severely injuring an innocent motorist did not appear to concern them!

PJ Doyle,

Oxon.

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Ignoratio Elenchi

Sir,

We are hearing a great deal about raising existing statutory speed limits, with particular reference to the urban 30 mph restriction and the motorway limit of 70 mph. Your March editorial has focussed attention on the matter once again. Even as a long standing reader and supporter of Motor Sport and an enthusiastic driver of many sports and high performance cars, I cannot subscribe to your views. The 30 mph limit is imposed for the protection of the pedestrian, including children and the elderly who do not react and move so quickly as they did in earlier years.

Improvements in tyres and brakes really have little significance; the laws of physics dictate that the decelerative distance increases directly with the square of velocity. Quite simply, double your speed and you need at least four times the original stopping distance! In general, it is not practicable to achieve a mean deceleration in excess of about 1.1g under perfect conditions and this has been the case for many years.

At motorway speeds we have the same basic problems but they are compounded by an overall lack of awareness and "herd mentality" which seems to affect a large proportion of drivers. "Bunching" is not caused by the speed limit being too low, it is caused by an unpleasant aggression which takes over when drivers see themselves thwarted by a smaller or older car. These people will be "tailgating" at whatever speed is legalised for the so-called "fast lane".

The car has developed way ahead of the average driver. We all know that the Driving Test is totally inadequate and an 18 year old no longer does an apprenticeship on a series of slow and elderly cars. His first car is likely to be capable of at least 80 mph, and it is not long before he is able to rush down the highway at speeds in excess of "a ton". It is no good relying on modern motor vehicle technology, although today's cars are very forgiving, and blaming "killer roads" for our problems. Drivers must be educated more thoroughly and made to realise that intelligence, technical competence and skill are required to make a good motorist.

Speed for speed's sake is ludicrous, especially on today's crowded roads. Raising speed limits is not the answer as it will satisfy a small minority and encourage further inconsiderate and aggressive behaviour at the expense of the average, everyday family motorist.

Let us press for a much more thorough Driving Test and the possible introduction of graded licences so that high performance cars can be driven only by those sufficiently experienced and competent to control them.

Adrian K Smith,

Ipswich, Suffolk

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Reduce Speed Limits!

Sir,

With reference to your article concerning speed, I agree with your comments and suggested improvements for outdated speed limits. However, while idiots insist on travelling as close as possible to the vehicle in front, no matter what the speed, treat red and amber traffic lights with contempt, treat Stop signs as Give Way signs, treat Give Way signs as if they don't exist, overtake dangerously just because they have got to be in front, drive in poor light or bad weather conditions with no lights, fail to acknowledge that pedestrians are allowed to cross roads, believe they can see better in fog than they can in normal daylight, and use hand held radio telephones while travelling at 90 mph and 3 metres from the vehicle in front etc, etc, surely speed limits should be reduced.

T Wilson,

Berlin, Germany.

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Land Rover Tyres

Sir,

Whilst waiting in my local garage for an MOT a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to learn that Land Rover tyres were almost unobtainable. Apparently the word was that purchasing agents for the Armed Forces had been round all tyre-depots requisitioning them for the Gulf War, and consequently the farmers and contractors in the neighbourhood were very much having to make do and mend.

Peter Livesey,

Henley-on-Thames, Oxon.

Mr Livesey was reminded of a photograph Motor Sport published of a FWD Alvis with a spare wheel devoid of a tyre, in the difficult times of 1947! -- ED.

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Memory Trace

Sir,

I am at present researching a book on motoring prior to the Second World War, and would greatly appreciate the help of any readers of Motor Sport with stories to tell of life on the road in those days. Personal recollections on any aspect of motoring are of interest, from simply learning to drive, to touring in the not always reliable machines of the day. Memories and anecdotes of those heady days, be they sporting or otherwise, will be of great help, and all correspondence will be replied to.

If you can help bring the history of motoring alive, please contact: Paul Hurd, 47 Ambleside, Botley, Southampton, S03 2NT.

Paul Hurd,

Southampton, Hampshire.

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Expectations

Sir,

Like most enthusiasts for sports car racing I rely on Motor Sport and your estimable correspondent Michael Cotton for keeping abreast of the scene. His perceptive comments in Cotton On are also appreciated and prompt the thought that after nearly twenty-five years perhaps this year will see the Daytona 24 Hours overtake the Le Mans 24 Hours in term of machinery, teams, drivers and competition, if not of "atmosphere". We shall see in June.

Brian Joscelyne,

Essex.

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Jowett History

Sir,

I would like to take issue with WPK on minor point concerning Jowett history. On page 240 he states the 1192cc flat-four arriving in 1930, "saw the company up to and through the War years and was to be basis of its post-war production."

Firstly, the flat-four "10/4" was not actually marketed until the 1936 model year. Secondly, pre-war 4-cylinder Jowetts were never common. Living in the late Thirties in north Derbyshire, not a million miles from the works at Idle, Jowetts were quite commonplace, puttering placidly around the Peak District roads, but the characteristic purr of the four-cylinder model was a rare sound indeed. The early type, with the rather ugly sloping grille (as depicted on the Players Cigarette Card) was most uncommon — I only ever saw two. The staple diet remained the trusty twin. Thirdly, even after the War, the Bradford twin played a large part in keeping Jowett going. Indeed, the new Jowett on the stocks at the time of the firm's demise was another twin, rather than the more costly and complicated 4-cylinder. Fourthly, the pre-war side-valve 4-cylinder engine was quite radically different in most respects, other than layout, to the post-war Javelin and Jupiter. Forward Jowett historians, with facts and figures and technical details!

D Filsell,

Llangynidr, Powys.

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The J Genus

Sir,

May I comment on the recent references to the Allard J type and confirm that a limited range of twelve only were scheduled. These short wheelbase competition cars were intended to cover the limited demand from serious competitors, leaving the main production to concentrate on the touring models.

Of the twelve, nine were sold with standard bodies, and three running chassis were purchased by Leonard Potter, who fitted bodies to his own design. These were more luxurious than the somewhat spartan standard J and even incorporated a built-in radio set — a feature quite beyond Sydney's understanding.

These chassis were numbered 153, 273 and 275; the latter being the one superbly restored by Roger and Sylvia Hayes, and described in the September issue.

The first order was received from Goff Imhof who took delivery in 1946, the day before the Motor Industry cavalcade in which he represented the Company. The following day he left on a 2000 mile continental tour; a trouble-free run except for a leaking water pump which was changed in Basle. Together, with two of his pre-war fellow competitors, Appleton and Burgess, both awaiting delivery of their J types, he had arranged to form a team, the trio of white cars to be known as CANDIDI PROVOCATORES (White Challengers) after the fashion of Imhof's successful pre-war trials team of Singers. After running for one season Imhof decided to follow the current fashion, and had a NorDec supercharger fitted by North Downes in Caterham.

A final note: late in 1958, Sydney Allard agreed to build another chassis for Arthur Frost, an old friend from the youthful motor cycle days, and this, the thirteenth and last one was numbered 415. Happily, this one has been found and acquired, so preservation is assured thus bringing the total of known survivors, to four, with Appleton's car (110) in original condition now in Australia, and Imhof's somewhat modified (106) in Dorset.

While on the subject of Allard I am trying to complete the history of the prototype J, registration number KXC 170, chassis J888, and hope that some of your readers can fill in the gaps. Introduced at Prescott in July 1949, and vigorously campaigned by Sydney throughout the 1950 season the car was sold in March 1951 to Mr Annabelle. Trace was then lost until acquired by a Mr Owen in Cheadle in December 1956, and then another lapse until a report from a Mr Campbell in Liverpool in 1962. Subsequently the car was sold to America and all trace lost until 1975 when it came to the notice of Allard enthusiast R de Larrinaga, who bought the car back and is now having J888 completely restored.

Tom Lush,

Worcs.

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Ralph E Sanders & Sons Coachwork

Sir,

With reference to the photographs on page 254 of your March issue, I can say that the one on the top right is not of the suggested Lancia.

Edwardian Lancias had wheels with ten wooden spokes and not the twelve shown. The radiator appears to have a curved top with a wired edge whereas Lancia used a style similar to Rolls and a plain right angle at the edge. I have never seen a Lancia with a housing protecting the bottom of the gear lever/hand brake but this would not be difficult to fabricate. Unfortunately, it is not possible to decipher the engraving on the wheel centres, which would read LANCIA, nor to see if the distinguishing knurled knob in one of the steering wheel spokes is present. No, not a Lancia, but I can't make any other suggestions, my knowledge is not exhaustive enough.

I deal with enquiries about all Lancia models made prior to the Lambda (introduced in 1921) on behalf of the Lancia Motor Club and if I can help any of your readers with their cars, will be interested to do so. But no spares — they are in rather short supply!

Roland Grazebrook,

Limpley Stoke, Bath.

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Simple Cure

Sir,

Your reference to the late Mrs Beatrice Naylor brings back wartime memories of one of her inventions in the days when she was Miss Shilling and employed by the RAE. It consisted of a brass insert in the fuel pipe line of the "Merlin" engine to prevent fuel seeping back to the supply during aerobatics, etc. A small hole was drilled inside the nut, thus creating a tiny reservoir in which the fuel could build up and preventing a dangerous flat-spot during combat. The simplicity of this device was fascinating, and I remember the novelty and pleasure of working with a Mr Craig from Rolls-Royce who came out to our Spitfire Squadron in Northern Ireland in 1942 to introduce this modification. It was a nice change to rub shoulders with a white-coated civilian from the outside world after being surrounded by the boys in blue. Thank you for your magazine, which has given me so much pleasure over many years.

LH Forbes,

Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics.

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Motorsport and Recreation in National Parks

Sir,

You will know perhaps better than most just how much pressure is being placed on motor sport and recreation in this conservation and environment conscious period of time we find ourselves in. Members of the Land Access and Recreations Association (LARA) have identified the country's national parks as being particularly precious to motorised recreation in its many guises. Yet, because national parks are also very precious to preserve, motorised activity is seriously threatened by total exclusion from them. Consequently LARA wishes to do all it can to retain a legitimate slot for motorised leisure activity in the national parks, within the environmental pressures being applied as fast as possible.

Our plan is to document motor activity in these beautiful areas throughout the century, in a sincere attempt to illustrate that our sport has not been, and is not, damaging these especially precious areas of countryside in the way that some of our detractors would have others believe.

Going back to the first International Six Days Trials and early MCC events, territory which is now national park has been motor activity territory. Such activity has not destroyed the countryside in all those years, and will not do so in the future. We have to convince legislators that motor sport and recreation will remain legitimate in the parks for years to come.

Geoff Wilson, Chairman, LARA

Penrith, Cumbria.

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The North Lucas

Sir In 1941 my late employer purchased two Scammell trailer fire pumps. I attended the Scammell Works (I believe at Watford) to witness the pumps on test, and whilst there I noticed a car with a most unusual shaped body work standing derelict at the rear of a roofed enclosure that appeared to be filled mainly with junk. I thought that the car was probably the North Lucas, but no one could confirm its origin. When, however, I asked if the vehicle was fitted with a radial engine I was told that this was so. It would therefore seem possible that the car was the North Lucas. Perhaps some ex-Scammell employee of the period can give further information.

N Croft,

Essex

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Sir,

The late OD North was a regular visitor to Chagford on the edge of Dartmoor as a guest at our hotel.

He always stated that the North Lucas Special was written off in an accident on the road from Moreton-Hampstead to Princetown, somewhere near the Warren House Inn.

Like Sir Alec Issigonis after him he was an innovative engineer; as designer for Scammell's he is best remembered for the huge Express Dairy tankers. His design did away with springs relying on the huge tyres for suspension. The gearbox was designed by him in a single weekend and his great joy was that it was still in use after WW2 in British Army tanks — transmitting 6 or 7 times as much power as it was designed to carry!

The two-speed rear axle was also his design. Scammell did not patent it. As a result it ended up patented in USA. Perhaps someone on Dartmoor may know more about the North Lucas special.

HB Robinson,

Glastonbury, Somerset.

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Sir,

Allow me to fill in a few gaps on the North Lucas Radial featured in your March issue, as I knew the car well and travelled in it many times, Ralph Lucas being a close relation.

You will understand that I was quite young in 1922, but nevertheless a keen student of the motor car. I recall that it was light and airy inside thanks to the translucent roof but rather cramped in width at the back. The suspension was superb, due to Oliver North's belief in the importance of minimal unsprung weight, achieved in this case by the use of independent suspension all round, the omission of FWB and the use of inboard brakes at the rear.

The main fault with the NLR was in the steering, a tendency to wander, which we would now identify as oversteer, a national consequence of IRS and excess rear-end weight.

You ask why OHV was not employed in such an advanced car. I believe the cylinders were of JAP manufacture, 350cc with short stroke, which would have been readily available in SV form at that time. As to the origin of the 5-cylinder radial engine, this was an Oliver North Design, influenced by WW1 aero-practice, but like the rest of the car, more of an institution than a production model planned to make money.

During the mid-1920's all the important UK manufacturers examined the NLR most carefully, but none were foolhardy enough to take it up as an economic proposition.

Ralph used the NLR as his only car from 1922-1928 covering 65,000 miles, his wife Mary, not enjoying the notoriety associated with it, resorted to a 10/23 Talbot when travelling independently of her husband. When Ralph finally tired of the car after six years, it was returned to Scammell at Watford where Oliver North was chief designer. I might add, a much respected chief designer, Cambridge educated B,Sc, contributing enormously to Scammell's successes from 1922 until his retirement in the early 1950s.

When I joined Scammell in 1968, rather late in my working life, I naturally enquired to the fate of the NLR, to learn to my surprise that it survived the war, only to be scrapped in the subsequent reorganisation. However, I understand the drawings were last at Beaulieu, where they may still reside.

Ralph had great difficulty in finding a car to his liking after 1928, which was not surprising when you realise that he started with the Valveless, moving on to Edwardian's which were generally good, and then the NLR. I remember him in 1930 unhappy with a 12hp Fiat, supplementing it with a supercharged Triumph 7, followed by a small SS Coupe, more of which were satisfactory. I last remember him in 1936, however, with a Lincoln Zepper which seemed to suit his needs reasonably well.

Edward Riddle,

Shaftesbury, Dorset.

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Chiribiri

Sir,

I was most interested to read of the Chiribiri in the February issue. Somewhere in the past I recall coming across that name — but was never quite sure, until now, that it referred to a make of Italian motorcar.

What I do remember most clearly, from even more distant times, was that when my late uncle returned from Italy after the War World 2, he often used to sit at the piano and play and sing an Italian tune which I still remember clearly. It commenced "Chiribiri bin que bella". Even though I never knew what the song was about I didn't ask, but could he have been singing about a motor car? In our home, in about 1945-47, this song was as popular as "Come back to Sorrento".

DRT Wadsworth,

Twickenham, Middx.

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Fedden's follow-up

Sir,

I enjoyed your look at the CAR (Cosmos) in the April issue, but although as you say, nothing more was heard of it, it was not the last radial-engined car to emanate from Roy Fedden's drawing board.

His rear-engined Fedden 1.Ex of January 1947 was not only powered by a three-cylinder radial engine, but was also sleeve-valved, like his aero engines. It differed from the CAR in not only being rear-engined, but in having its crankshaft vertical.

Michael Worthington-Williams,

Newcastle Emlyn, Dyfed

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Rooster Tale

Sir,

I am excited to read of your correspondent Mr Ernest Trotter's discovery of a chassis part buried close to the Brooklands banking.

I am pleased to shed light on his find; I strongly suspect it to be part of the front apron of my late grandfathers 1931 "Rooster Special", a car with much Brooklands history (albeit as spectator transport). The vehicle was not buried after crashing as Mr Trotter suspects, but was hidden in a dug-out close to the banking after the 1933 Whitsun meeting due to a misunderstanding between grandfather and an on-course bookmaker.

Circumstances did not allow for the car to be collected with any assurance of privacy, hence our property has remained at the course until this day.

The "Rooster Special" was bequeathed to me during the 1990's, since which time I have been painstakingly "restoring" the car assisted by components sourced mainly from local car-boot sales. I even have a (replica) VSCC "Eligibility Pink Slip" so if Mr Trotter cares to kindly restore the part he has found to its rightful owner he will have the pleasure of seeing this historic and rare Brooklands Racing Car back on the track (or even the auction circuit).

Richard McCann,

Olney, Bucks.

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Hussein's Toothbrush

Sir,

I suppose there are people who would challenge my contention that the Optimum Car must be a Frazer Nash like my 1930 Meadows-engined Vitesse. It not only provided all the enjoyment of a Nash on the road (especially the empty ones in France) but carried everything my wife and I needed for a two week Raid in the Alps plus suits and glad rags for a week working at the Salon de l'Aeronautique in Paris the week before.

John Teague,

Somerton, Somerset.