Vote for freedom

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Sir,

You may be interested in this copy of a letter written today to the Motor Accessories Manufacturers Association, whose prepaid card you urged me to use in the October issue of your excellent magazine.

I am, Yours, etc,

M Robertson, Southport.

The letter referred to reads as follows :—

“Sir,

“In my copy of my favourite monthly magazine, Motor Sport, I have today found the enclosed card, asking me to cast my vote for freedom.

“As you can see, I consider the interests of the motorist are best served by the garages retailing the oils offered by the company whose petrol they sell. I am a commercial traveller, and cover some 25,000 miles per annum on business and pleasure. I am also a keen rally navigator. At present I have an A30, but I have also had an old Prefect, an Alvis 12/50 and a ‘bullnose’ Morris. So I am not without experience of buying petrol and oil.

“Most of the garages I call at for refuelling are selling only the one brand of petrol, and nearly all of those are offering only oils made by that particular petrol company. But the selection is  most comprehensive. For example, at my favourite local garage (I have investigated this carefully) there are three grades of petrol available and made by the same company are four viscosities of the normal, top-grade engine oil, a fully detergent engine oil, two grades of commercial oil, four grades of gear oil, two grades of chassis grease, a special grease for wheel bearings, flushing oil, penetrating oil, etc. The top-grade engine oil and the gear oils can be had in cans. The same engine oil is offered from little racks, in bottles sealed (as milk bottles) by the oil company—thus the contents are guaranteed to be what it says on the bottle, as opposed to oils offered in screw-top bottles, which could contain anything. Now surely the above selection is sufficient ? I cannot really understand anyone wanting the wretched garagist to stock more.

“And surely the people best qualified to make and market oil are those with the widest experience—the petrol companies, with their international experience. I, as a lay motorist, don’t know a great deal about the problems of lubrication, and I am quite certain most of my fellow motorists know even less, so I prefer to leave it to someone who does know—and the someone with the widest experience. The major oil and petrol companies have knowledge of the behaviour and effect of oils operating under every condition in the world—from the heat of the Sahara and the humidity of the Far Eastern Jungles to the freezing conditions in the Arctic and Antarctic.

“Now, sir, having shown that the motorist is best served with one make of petrol and oil, let us be honest. I have followed the formation of your association in the Press, and I know that the prime movers are the makers of Castrol—indeed, you share the same address, I see. With the increasing popularity of the “tied” garage system it is obvious that Castrol is losing sales, and the formation of this association was to stop the rot. My garage friend tells me that Castrol offer the smallest margin of profit of any company selling oil, and suggests that if they want to stop the rot they should at least be competitive.

“No, sir, this is not a vote for freedom—you are asking me for a vote for Castrol.

“I have sent a copy of this letter to Motor Sport, and I think both of us will be interested to see your reply—if any.

Yours faithfully,

M Robertson