Matters of Moment, November 1953

The Motor Show

The Thirty-eighth International Motor Exhibition of the S.M.M.T. is now in progress at Earls Court. It is one of the most stimulating Motor Exhibitions which London has had since the war.

New models predominate – Ford’s new economy car, the two-door Austin A30, the new Standard Eight and Zephyr Zodiac, the 2 c.v. Citroën and Sunbeam Alpine both making their London debut, the A.C. Tojeiro, the Alvis TC21-100, Bristol’s fast Type 404 coupé, the Riley Pathfinder, TF M.G. Midget, 3-litre Lagonda, Daimler’s re-entry into the open sports-car field, the Lanchester Dauphin, the Jowett Jupiter R4, the Aston Martin DB2-4, the Morris Minor Travellers’ Car, additional Rovers, all new cars of outstanding technical interest.

Prices are tumbling in many instances. Buyers pass the turnstiles fingering their cheque books, for this year new cars are readily available in a Buyers’ Market. These two factors are bringing enormous crowds to the fine Earls Court Exhibition Hall.

If any outstanding trends are evident they are the high-performance factor on the one hand and the return of small economy cars on the other. The magic maximum of 100 m.p.h. is now claimed impartially by manufacturers of family saloons, palatial large cars and medium-sized open and closed sports models. Such high speed, in itself, may not seem an appropriate accomplishment for cars which will be used on our disgracefully congested and tortuous highways. But it must be remembered that cars able to reach and exceed the “century” will be lightly stressed at more sober cruising speeds and that such speeds today usually go hand-in-hand with vivid acceleration, where once the opposite was usually the case. Modern brakes, too, both for their durability and their power, deserve the highest praise – if the splendid behaviour of the Girlings we have stamped on so frequently over the past 2½ years are any criterion! And British Mintex brake linings have built up a fine reputation on successful competition cars.

Many of you will enter Earls Court in a buying mood; except, perhaps, the vintage-car cultists, who may be expected to continue to place their faith in what has gone before, thereby preserving the balance of their bank accounts and perhaps deriving broader smiles than before from some of the “new looks” which will confront them.

The biggest stimulus which could be given to the British motor industry at the present time would be abolition of purchase tax on new cars and reduction in the crippling tax of 2s. 6d. on every gallon of petrol the motorist burns. This is probably too much to hope for, even in the optimism of this scintillating Motor Show, although the Government introducing such changes would surely be assured of every motorist’s vote! Perhaps, however, we had better take solace from the fact that the Motoring Correspondent of the News Chronicle considers that the big petrol companies are about to start a price-cutting war and that unless the price of petrol is reduced the export drive will suffer repercussions from retardation of home sales.

Other mortals will be eager to see, admire and if possible purchase the splendid vehicles on display, from 375-c.c. baby car to lordly eight-seater limousine. Motor Sport feels encouraged by the multitude of true sports and high-performance cars now offered by the British industry, as witness the A.C. Tojeiro, the Allards, the two-carburetter Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire, the DB2-4 Aston Martin, the TC21-100 Alvis, the Bentley Continental, the Bristol 404, the Daimler Conquest Roadster, the Frazer-Nash range, the Austin-Healey 100, the Humber Super Snipe, the XK Jaguars, the Jowett Jupiters, the 3-litre Lagonda, the 2-1/2-litre Lea-Francis, the new TF M.G. Midget, the Morgan Plus Four, the Riley Pathfinder, and the Sunbeam Alpine, etc.

The presence of these cars, the racing-car exhibits, and appearance of successful competition cars, combine to render your visit to Earls Court “an essential journey.” The Motor Show remains open until October 31st.

New Rules

The R.A.C. Competitions Committee, in an honest attempt to smooth the path of competition promoters, has revised considerably its rules which apply to motor sport. For example, from January 1st next no permit fee will be payable for closed events, nor will competition licences be required in such events, but each recognised club, to secure insurance cover, will be required to register itself with the R.A.C. for an annual fee of £7 7s.

Other changes concern cancellation of the rule calling for submission of draft regulations of closed events to the R.A.C. (although the R.A.C. requires to be informed that such events are taking place), additional information about permit-events, both before and after the competition, must be furnished to the R.A.C., applications for registration to be made by recognised clubs by November 30th, applications for national fixtures in the National Calendar to he made in future by October 30th preceding, and for closed invitation and restricted fixtures in the National Calendar by November 30th preceding, and permits for national rallies to be granted for vehicles complying to a common basis of eligibility.

Steps have been taken to avoid changes and deletions in the National Calendar in future and the annual Conference of the Clubs will not be held this year, March, 1954, being deemed a more suitable occasion.

The new rules should be carefully studied by all motor-club competition personnel; copies are sent by the R.A.C. to recognised clubs or may be obtained on application to the Competition Department, R.A.C., Pull Mall, London, S.W.1. The R.A.C. Motor Sport News Bulletin in its current issue contains full details of the new rules and this publication, in a new form, will in future be circulated to interested parties at more frequent intervals than was formerly the case.

The Competitions Department called a meeting at which Lord Howe, Dean Delamont and H. Orr-Ewing explained these changes to the motor Press. Certainly Col. F. Stanley Barnes and his hard-working colleagues seem to have steered a straight course through very difficult and turbulent seas, and we commend the clubs to digest the new regulations carefully before shooting the pianist – that is, if they feel like shooting. It is fervently to be hoped, for the continued good of motor sport in this country, that the new tunes will be applauded by the majority.


The Moss Mishap

Condolences go out to Stirling Moss, who is invalided as a result of inverting his Cooper 1,100 at Castle Combo on October 3rd. Stirling’s fortune has not been of the best for some time now, but it will be interesting to see what 1954 has in store for this talented young driver. Earlier this season he overturned a Type C Jaguar during practice at Silverstone and as Moss is well acquainted with both this car and the Cooper 1,100 in which he suffered his present misfortune, it is possible that the very full programme he permits himself, with genuine Grand Prix cars always just out of reach, has had an adverse effect on his driving skill.

Let us, therefore, wish for Moss a calmer time next season amongst faster cars. Mike Hawthorn has shown the world that being young, comparatively inexperienced, and born an Englishman, does not necessarily prevent a driver from reaching the front rank in Grand Prix racing. We hope that in 1954 Moss will join Hawthorn in carrying on this splendid crusade at the Continental road circuits.

Everyone wishes Stirling a speedy recovery, not the least those who have themselves borne the brunt of a motor accident. We feel certain that Connaught Engineering bear him no malice for having caused to appear in print the suggestion that they sold to one of their clients a Formula II car weighing 3 tons! But we are rather surprised that his accident has caused Mr. Moss, Snr., to state that “free for all” races [a]re dangerous – the point being not whether or not this is true at certain circuits, but that the race in which Stirling Moss met disaster was for Formula II cars and it was he who put a small air-cooled V-twin chain-drive machine against the genuine Formula II machinery.


The Brighton Run

There is nothing more sporting than the Veteran Car Run to Brighton (from Hyde Park, London, where the cars assemble by the Serpentine before 8 a.m.). Nothing is better suited to dispelling Motor Show inhibitions, curing headaches promoted by studying the new competition legislation, making one both appreciative of and scornful about one’s own car at one and the same time, and making old folk nostalgic, kid-brothers have hysteria, as the V.C.C. members’ annual onslaught on the Brighton Road.

Set your alarum clocks, load your cameras—and for St. Christopher’s sake GIVE THE VETERANS PLENTY OF ROOM.


IV Carrera Pan-Americana Mexico

Another great Pan-Americana Mexico road-race will be contested from November 19th to 23rd, over the Tuxtla-Gortiérrez-Chiapas-Ciudad Juarez route. This year Race Director – General Enrique Martin Moreno is taking stringent steps to ensure that cars in the stock-car class of the Mexican race really are catalogue machines. Last year there were furious protests that the Bob Estes’ Lincolns which came home 1, 2, 3 in that section of the race were non-standard in respect of having restricted heat riser-passages, matched ports and manifolds, etc. (passed as stock, however, because Lincoln said these were to be included in a forthcoming “maximum duty” kit), that no stock Chrysler could reach the 130 m.p.h. achieved between Chichuahun and Juarez by Tony Betterhausen’s, and that a shabby 1947 Mercury purchased off a used-car lot shouldn’t have been able to average only about one mile per hour slower over the 2,000-mile, five-day course than Taruffi’s 2.5-litre sports Ferrari!

All this emphasises once again the near-impossibility of organising a genuine stock-car contest and explains why modifications from standard are permitted in most present-day European sports-car races and why some sports-car races, such as Le Mans, include “prototypes,” outwardly to enable designers to experiment but in reality bringing in cars like those exotic near-racing-car coupés which were seen this year on the Sarthé circuit. Incidentally, the droll aspect of last year’s Pan-Americana Mexico complaints was that the Ferraris in the Speed section, which won the race outright, were far more standard (indeed, probably entirely “stock”) than the Lincolns, Chryslers, Mercurys and other American saloons claiming to be so!

This year stricter supervision, less leniency over repairs in controls, and insistence on a minimum of a 5,000-unit annual production of the model of the make declared stock, should weed out some of the hopped-up sedans at all events.

Throughout America this four-year-old, extremely arduous road race has enormous publicity value, apart front carrying prize monies adding up to nearly £20,000. That is why we would like a British car to win. It seems that Ferrari, Alfa-Romeo, Lancia, Porsche and Gordini will field teams, and that works Aston Martin and Jaguar teams are likely. In the stock classes we shall probably find three Lincolns, three Chryslers and a special Italian-bodied Packard 200 driven by Jean Treboux amongst the serious contestants. Jacqueline Evans is to drive one of the many Porsche coupés, Kling is likely to drive for Alfa-Romeo, Bonetto and Maglioli for Lancia, Jean Behra for Gordini. Guy Vincent, New York Jaguar dealer, has entered a Mk. VII Jaguar. If the works Jaguar Type Cs run Moss may be unable to start on account of his Castle Combe injuries.

This race decides the 1953 Sports-Car Championship of the World, in which Jaguar has a one-point lead over Ferrari. An interesting race, and an importance one!