Matters of Moment, November 1949
It is particularly satisfactory that sports car, as distinct from those high-performance cars which of recent times have been able substitutes for the young bloods’ noisy, draughty means of conveyance of an earlier era, is again coming into its own on the British market. The “XK120” 3 1/2-litre Jaguar, the J-type Allard, the “Silverstone” Healey, the E.R.A.-Javelin, the “Le Mans Replica” Frazer-Nash and the Connaught join such makes as Aston-Martin, H.R.G., M.G., Riley., Singer, Morgan, Alvis and Lea-Francis as cars able to meet the requirements of the sporting motorist, while at the same time offering sound, very rapid, and essentially safe transport for the holiday-maker or the business executive.
Not only are such out-and-out sports cars in great demand in America and other lands over the seas, but they are of essentially the sort to appeal to the greatest enthusiasts of all, the young men and women of Britain.
Consequently, competition for supremacy and continued existence will be keen amongst these makes, and their sponsors will undoubtedly use every means of publicising the performance capabilities and technical high spots of their products, by offering them for exhaustive road-test to the staffs of the technical journals, and by entering them for races, trials, rallies and officially-observed high-speed runs. Not only the winners, but all who do well in the T.T., in the Daily Express / B.R.D.C. Production Car Race, at Le Mans and at Spa next year, and in the strenuous Monte Carlo Rally and arduous Alpine Rally will be well on the way to success in the field of hard competition overseas and in the distinctly-limited home market.
The Tourist Trophy Revival
This revival of interest in sports-type high-performance cars has coincided with the R.A.C.’s intention to revive the famous Tourist Trophy Race in 1950. This classic and essentially British race was first held in 1905, but is chiefly remembered by the present generation as the sports-car race held at Ulster in 1928 and every year subsequently until Hitler intervened.
It was confined to production cars, modified in detail only to encourage development, and the winning marques from 1928 to 1938 were: M.G. (three times), Riley (three times), Alfa-Romeo, Lea-Francis, Mercédès-Benz, Darracq and Delage.
It is early yet for the R.A.C. to say much about its plans, but the T.T. will be held on September 16th in Ireland, at the new Dundrod circuit. That the Tourist Trophy is to be revived is tremendously stimulating and the race is certain to receive very material support from British manufacturers.
A Job for the S.M.M. & T.
Strength is lent to the remarks in the foregoing paragraphs by the fact that during 1949 the manufacturers of the following British cars have advertised competition successes or successful record attacks: Allard, Aston-Martin, Austin, Bentley, Bristol, Citroen, Connaught, Ford, Frazer-Nash, Healey, Hillman, H.R.G., Jaguar, Jowett, Morris, M.G., Riley and Sunbeam-Talbot. In addition, amongst the imposing number of accessory, component and equipment makers who have taken quarter, half or full-page advertisements in the technical Press to record the part their products played in such competitive success are: Abbey Panels, Ace, Alumilite, Alford & Alder, Burgess, Burman, Borg & Beck, Chapman’s Seats, Champion, Coventry Radiators, Chekko, Castrol, Dunlop, Esso, Essolube, E.N.V., Ferodo, Girling, K.L.G., Lodge, Lucas, Lockheed, Metalastic, Mobiloil, Notek, Notwen, Plexeal, Redex, Regent, Richard Berry, Rubery Owen, Shell, Servais, Shorrock, Smith-Clayton Forge, Solex, S.U., Salter, Triplex, Tecalemit, Vignol, Vandervell, Vokes, Wellworthy, Wilmot-Breeden, Zenith, etc.
There is no doubt whatsoever that success in competition is deemed very worthwhile publicity by the motor industry. Years ago the S.M.M. & T. banned certain competition events to its members. This had the effect of ensuring that successes which might be publicised were both well-merited and accurate. Furthermore, the S.M.M. & T. wisely insisted that if advertisements relating to competition success were prepared for press shortly after results had been announced, the words “Subject to Official Confirmation” must appear in the advertisement. It seems that some further supervision of this form of advertising is now due. The majority of the firms concerned prepare clear, honest “copy,” from which the nature of the successes they claim for their product is at once evident to the lay-reader. But there are some black sheep who seem unable to resist special treatment of the advertisement layout, One of the advertisements is reproduced herewith.
Un-English? – This advertisement applies to Mrs. Knowledgeable’s Swindle-Six, which finished 108th in this year’s Monte Christo Rally, being second in the 1 1/2 to 2-litre saloon-car class, but the first car in this class driven by a lady.
[N.B. – The advertisement reproduced was prepared for a firm who entered two saloon cars for the famous and exhausting Monte Christo Rally. This classic event, as you know, is divided into many categories, including three for saloon cars. In the “saloon cars, 1,500 to 2,000-c.c. class” there was a special prize, as in the other saloon-car classes, for the highest placed lady driver. Besides the two 1,940-c.c. Swindle-Sixes, one of which was driven by that experienced driver, Mrs. Knowledgeable, there were in this class a 1,502-c.c. Loud-Acclaim driven by the racing ace Lou Hairon and a 1,999.9-c.c. Loud-Acclaim handled by Mme. Bim Cherubim. As one might have expected, Hairon had no difficulty in winning the class. Mme. Cherubim was holding second place manfully, when a bad skid on an ice-patch sent her backwards down a ravine. One Swindle-Six had retired on the first day with, it was announced, a blown gasket, which caused some confusion when Press representatives pointed out that these cars have a non-detachable cylinder head. Mrs. Knowledgeable, admittedly driving brilliantly, pressed on in the other Swindle, which, however, was suffering various difficulties. Eventually she finished 108th in general classification (Hairon being 56th) and second in the 1,500-c.c. to 2,000-c.c. saloon-car class.]
As we have said, most of those who justifiably proclaim competition successes do so in a manner that is not likely to lead to confusion. But there is a tendency to use large numerals to proclaim 1st, 2nd or 3rd placings and smaller type to explain that such placings apply only to one particular class of the event being publicised.
We draw attention to this matter for the good of those firms who benefit from competition victories. If such results are publicised unfairly so that casual or short-sighted readers (and, judging by the damage to our car’s paintwork after a spell in a public car-park the average motorist is short-sighted), obtain incorrect impressions of how such successes were shared, the great value that can accrue from advertising of this sort is in danger of being diminished.
Motor Sport does not want to see advertisement layout standardised by the S.M.M. & T. any more than it wants road-tests to be standardised by this august body. But if the black sheep amongst advertisers of competition successes increase, we think the S.M.M. & T. should take steps to kill them — and we feel sure Mr. F. I. Connolly, its President, will agree.