MATTERS OF MOMENT, November 1960

British cars at the London Motor Show

Thirty makes of British cars face 37 foreign makes at Earls Court and it is patriotic to consider what defence our cars offer to competition in World markets. There is nothing revolutionary at the 1960 Show. The N.S.U.s are not Wankel-engined. The gas-turbine Rover has become a museum-piece. The Ferguson four-wheel-drive safety car remains a myth. Dunlop have not yet put Maxaret braking on production cars. So it is possible to look dispassionately at the cars offered by the British Motor Industry without fear that they will soon be out-dated by revolutionary space-age vehicles.

We should be proud that Enzo Ferrari has publicly proclaimed that motor racing would be in a sorry state without British bearings, disc brakes and tyres. If British Components are tops, what of British cars?

Our “Big Five” have turned their backs on miniature cars with lawnmower engines but B.M.C. has shown that you don’t need more than 850 c.c. to propel four grown-ups in reasonable comfort at impressive speeds on the level and that rubber suspension plus front-wheel drive makes even more impressive speeds possible round corners, and with immunity from insurance overloading

Admittedly Germany goes on turning out the World’s best small car on the basis of value, durability and driver enjoyment, but the Austin A40 is a staunch family wagon with a new approach, and in the next class B.M.C. offers a range of family cars with Austin, Morris, Riley, M.G. and Wolseley legacies that have many good features and the Farina styling of which doesn’t intrude when you are driving them …

Ford modernised the Anglia last year and it is a car the steering and gearbox of which even G.P. drivers praise, while the 80-bore short-stroke 105E engine has proved itself in Formula Junior racing, which, it is nice to see, the Ford Motor Company is pleased to publicise. Whether the unusual rear window was contrived by stylists, practical engineers or by a costing department anxious to delete costly wrap-round glass, you can debate in the Alpine bar !

Rootes have a happy knack of providing their smartly styled cars with a really practical approach to interior layout and detail arrangements. If you set store by i.r.s. Triumph offer you this on the “greaseproof” Herald.

No country in the World makes better luxury cars than we do, and these splendid links with the past can be seen on the Stands occupied by Rolls-Royce, Daimler, Rover, Alvis and Vanden Plas, whose products reveal modernity of engineering and surprisingly brisk performance beneath dignified coachwork and sumptuous appointments. No-one lists a finer twin-cam engineor offers better value-for-money than Jaguar of Coventry. Those with appearances to keep up but precarious bank-balances will find suitably impressive cars in the Austin A99, Wolseley 6/99, the smaller Rovers, and the biggest Fords and Vauxhalls.

After a summer when, if an overcoat wasn’t always necessary, few people ventured far without an umbrella, and noticing that doctors very often drive open or openable cars, a convertible seems just the job for England, and the British Industry contrives such bodies on Alvis, Bentley, Ford, Hillman, Morris, Rolls-Royce, Sunbeam, and Triumph shells.

But it is the sports and high-performance cars that you need hardly buy outside Britain, unless you have a Maserati or Ferrari income. In the rally-winning Austin Healey, the raceworthy Morgan Plus Four, the extremely fast Aston Martin DB4 and DB4GT, the stylish A.C. Ace, the Bristol Zagato G.T., the technically exciting Daimler V8-250, the well-proven Jaguar XKI50, the Lotus beginners’ Seven and all-plastics Elite, the M.G.-A that has reverted to push-rods, the Climax-powered Turner and T.V.R., and the competition-bred, Continental-looking Sunbeam Alpine we have fast, safe, controllable cars that can, and have, challenged the best that the Continent can field. Enthuse over the individuality and character of Continental cars, as we do, but consider seriously the purchase of a British car. This will save you being singled out for those deprecatory remarks heard in a “Buy British” campaign several decades ago -” My dear “— or “By gad, Sir “— “He’s come in a foreign car !” And now, please to excuse us, while we order— a Karmann Ghia?

The Brighton Run

The Veteran Car Run to Brighton will take place on Sunday, November 6th. The Editor of MOTOR SPORT expects to drive the Montagu Motor Museum’s 1903 5-h.p. Humber.

American Grand Prix

On Thursday, November 24th, Boeing 707s permitting, our associate newspaper Motoring News will be carrying the first fully illustrated report of the 2nd American G. P. at Riverside; California.