Vintage Postbag, November 1952

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76

Sir,

With so many excellent vintage vehicles conveying their owners uneventfully and regularly to work, I feel that my 1924 8.9 Mathis cloverleaf is a very good example of this cult. I consider that unless a vintage car performs its functions with as little trouble as the average modern tinware, and this gives it quite a margin of error, then they are not worth bothering about. The Mathis which I have used daily for two years, it was unregistered from 1931 to 1951, has had only one major operation, and this was caused by some lady whose name remains for ever on the original log book in my possession. Her fault was an inability to engage the third gear and I like to think of her ruining the gears on a preseleetor by crashing them—I am sure she could. So I had a new third gear made, but that is the only overhaul I have carried out on the car.

My policy towards the Mathis has always been to ignore any signs of reluctance on its part and give it only the normal necessities such as petrol, oil and water. I have hinted that if it does not behave normally I will scrap it—it has reacted with commendable dependability. Last month I drove it to the South of France and the only thing that stopped me from driving into Spain was the Spaniards. They wanted visas which we had not bothered to get. We returned to Dunkirk via Paris as uneventfully as we had come—not even a puncture. We had another stoppage at Dover, where the English Customs made a more exhaustive examination of the whole car than I have ever done. They found nothing except three weeks’ accumulation of empty bottles and clothing. My passenger, who had taken the precaution of buying a return ticket before we started, was trying to change this into francs long before we returned. I feel that a trip of this kind, though no great feat in terms of crossing the Atlantic on a raft, must be regarded as a triumph for Monsieur Mathis—who was he, anyway?

I am, Yours, etc., M. A. A. Wauchope. Tunbridge Wells.

[The argument in favour of the modern car is that it travels habitually very much faster than the vintage vehicle, but the fact remains that the latter does serve very staunchly for far longer periods, generally without attention, especially if, as Mr. Wauchope observes, the mechanism is left strictly alone.—Ed.]

 

Sir,

May I mention a Dialto open four-seater I owned some 20 years ago. Mine was a late 1927 model and had large low-pressure tyres. The steering was very high-geared and appallingly heavy, and I feel maybe Mr. Lampitt might find the same.

My car had skew-geared o.h.c. and I thought all these cars were of this type. Also it had tubular con.-rods and one of these broke for no known reason at quite low revs. The engine was almost cut in half and the great Mr. R. L. West did miracles in repairing it. Spares were already almost unobtainable but Mr. Cyril Durlacher had supplied a few to Messrs. Rawlence, the O.M. agents.

Maximum speed was over 75 m.p.h. but the car always seemed undergeared and “first,” particularly, was of the prevailing Italian type. So were the roadholding, rather harsh suspension, and large, excellent Perrot brakes. I kept the car about a year but mistrusted those con.-rods and exchanged it for my 30/98.

I am, Yours, etc., R.A. Beaver. London, W.1.

 

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