Matters Of Moment, November 1959



The London Motor Show

This year’s International Motor Exhibition at Earls Court will be the most interesting since the war and should draw record crowds of discerning visitors, who will sample the seating of all the exhibits they find unlocked preparatory to placing orders for the car of their choice, which they will thereafter enjoy driving at precisely 40 m.p.h. along the rolling English roads.

This time Britain is making a refreshingly determined bid to crush foreign competition, and firms specialising in foreign cars look like having a lean time from now on. If the Moskvitch and Volga come from a nation which is well ahead in the conquest of Outer Space, British cars stem from an island which now leads the World at Grand Prix motor racing, as the presence of an F.1 Cooper at Earls Court proudly proclaims.

We have some strong entries for the forthcoming sales stakes, such as Alex Issigonis (the B.M.C. babies), Harry Webster (Triumph Herald), Edward Turner (Daimler SP250) and others. Their designs, together with the powerful new Aston Martin DB4 G.T., the latest Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars with their 6¼-litre light-alloy V8 engines, the new o.h.v. four-speed small Fords, the fully-automatic “Easidrive” 1½-litre Hillman Minx, the Humber Super Snipe with its willing engine developed to provide more power, improved Jaguars (which is the nearest you can get to achieving the impossible), the enlarged 1,600-c.c. M.G. sports car, the fast and stylish Sunbeam Alpine, and new A.C. and Armstrong-Siddeley models which remained a secret until Earls Court opened, Britain is in a very strong position indeed, even if the trio of American “small” cars is significant and, in an engineering context, the Citran DS19 remains the car with the mostest. Given steel and willing workers, the British Motor Industry should set new output records in the coming year.

The R.A.C. Rally

The 8th R.A.C. International British Rally, which takes place between November 17th and 21st, starting from Blackpool, should be especially interesting. It reverts to the tough type of rally in which drivers and navigators have to keep going for four days and three nights without proper sleep, and although the R.A.C. is taking steps to ensure that its rally does not offend the non-sporting public, by restricting the overall average to 30 m.p.h., penalising drivers who average more than 40 m.p.h., operating decibel meters, and making the cars carry obvious rally numbers, some difficult terrain in the 1,900-mile route should make it quite difficult to keep up the required speed, especially at night or in fog. Many speed tests, at such familiar places as Charterhall, Aintree, Oulton Park, Prescott, Rest and be Thankful, Harleyford and Brands Hatch will be included, rather significantly merely to decide ties on the road-section, the rally finishing with 5-lap races over the Crystal Palace circuit in London on the Saturday afternoon.

The event counts towards the European Rally Championship, so should attract foreign entrants, who, with our own drivers, will face some tough motoring across the Pennines to Brough, in Scotland, where single-track roads will be negotiated in the N.W. Highlands, a circular 110-mile night regularity test, and another night spent on sinuous Welsh roads in Pembrokeshire.

Entries are limited to 150 and the list has closed. The R.A.C. has taken more than £3,900 in entry fees if a full entry has been obtained, so it will be expected to put on a first-class rally and no mistakes.

The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Another sporting fixture is the R.A.C. Brighton Run on November 1st, starting from Hyde Park. A record entry of 249 cars built between 1896 and 1904 inclusive has been obtained, and drivers range in age from 17 to one who has been driving for 60 years. The Editor of Motor Sport will drive a 1904 single-cylinder Brushmobile (No. 178) entered by the Montagu Motor Museum.

The Motorway Opens

Although we as a motoring journal have no political affiliations we are sorry to see Mr, Harold Watkinson promoted from the Ministry of Transport to the Defence Ministry as he has at least made a start on the job of providing the vast motoring public with some new and better roads. The London-Birmingham Motorway which Mr. Watkinson has seen completed on time will be opened to traffic on Monday, November 2nd. We hope that Mr. Watkinson’s successor, Mr. Ernest Marples, who was previously Postmaster-General will carry on with the good work and provide us with the roads which are so essential to the coutinued prosperity of this country.