LETTERS FROM READERS N.B.—Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them.—Ed.
THE WHITE RILEY
It seems that I must sally forth into print to uphold the honour of the car which I have owned for some time past, namely the ” White Riley.” I am doing so after seeing the report in VeteranEdwardian—Vintage (October issue) that the white M.P.H. of Mr. Rigg was announced as being the original ” White Riley ” at the V.S.C.C. Prescott meeting on August 27th. I protest; Mr. Rigg may have a white Riley but certainly not the ” White Riley.”
I purchased my vehicle from Mr. S. A. Burvilic (The Riley Man) in June 5959 and it was advertised by him in the July issue of MoTox Spola that year as the ” White Riley.” Being a previous owner of this car and with his knowledge of matters Riley I would not care to argue with him.
It was first registered for road use in 5950 by Messrs. Blake’s of Liverpool, who detuned it and fitted it with six Amals in place of the supercharger. All I have managed to elucidate from Blake’s is that, along with various modifications, they repainted it white again as it was blue when it came into their possession. This follows, because it is known that the ” White Riley ” was painted blue in the period when Mrs. Kay Petre owned the car after purchasing it from Raymond Mays. It was still blue, I believe, when driven by Percy Machtre in the Shelsley meeting of June 1939 when it made its fastest time ever on Shelsley of 41.85.
From photographs I have in my possession it can be seen that from the scuttle forward the car is still nearly as original in appearance. Unfortunately a rather bulbous tail has been fitted and also a pair of small doors. At present it is fairly tatty and has been laid up for a year whilst I have been trying to accumulate finance, enthusiasm and information to start rebuilding it.
For such a famous car and forerunner of the E.R.A. it is very strange how comparatively little data I have been able to collect on it, so whilst I am in print may I implore any of your knowledgable readers who can help me in any way, to get in touch with me. I would like to be able to obtain as complete a history as possible on the car. Events entered, owners, etc. Most valuable of all would be photographs, especially those which can give me some idea of the shape of the body from the scuttle back, as I would like to be able to bring the car back to its original appearance eventually, even if I cannot restore it to its original mechanical specification.
Enfield. F. J. ROLPH.
THE G.P. ORGANISERS’ TROPHY
I was delighted to read Denis Jenkinson’s words of praise for the Grand Prix Organisers’ Trophy which this Association is to present in future years.
I must, however, correct him over one minor point. In the abbreviated list of headings under which points are to be awarded, issued by members in the form of a Press handout following their Monza meeting, there was no mention of ” Press Service.” Whilst I could not agree more with everything ” Jenks ” has to say about Press arrangements, I feel that this particular aspect of Grand Prix organisation does not strictly come under the aegis of the Grand l’rix Drivers’ Association.
Could we not, perhaps, band together and make a similar award for the Press facilities ? London, S.W.3. PETER GARNIER
Hon. Secretary, G.P.D.A. [Fine, but I hope this isn’t the •start of more and more prizes in -a gigantic mutual admiration society—for the best-dressed timekeeper, the keenest race-going girl-friend, the mechanic with the most efficient copper-Clouter and so on, and on. As I see it, the idea behind the Organisers’ Trophy is to enable the drivers to express appreciation for good organisation helpful to themselves, which they cannot otherwise convey to race organisers. Good Press facilities should surely be part of such good organisation, being helpful to the drivers themselves, inasmuch as poor facilities can give rise to false reports detrimental to a driver’s reputation. Perhaps a new clause can be inserted in the existing rules. After all, a separate Press Service Cup might, in the eyes of some, be won by the organiser providing the biggest bar and most sumptuous chicken sandwiches.—En.]
” C. J. M.” of Nairobi is who I think he is, he is in really no position to write complainingly about ” misleading advertising in a typical American manner.’ As the driver of a German car in this year’s East African Safari, he can hardly have failed to have noticed the advertisement for Volkswagen (whose products got nowhere in the event) which appeared in the East African Standard the morning the results were announced. And as regards his statement that Ford were outclassed as usual, it is a fact that Ford have won the team prize three years insuccession; it is a fact that the Anglias have been first, second and third in their class during the past two years; and it is a fact that this year Ford also won the Price Performance Index (which means
best value for money “), not to mention the Ladies’ Cup.
I realise there is little chance of MOTOR SPORT printing this pro-British filth, but one never knows—the Editor might be on holiday.
Upminster. W. H. PATTEN. [The Editor never takes a holiday, but here is your letter. The advertisement referred to certainly suggests VW won this year’s Safari but was Wolfsburg responsible or is this the work of the Cooper Motor Corporation Ltd. whose name appears thereon ?— En.]
Surely Mr. Westover, in comparing the merits of owning a Bentley or a Dachshund, omitted the all important fact that the Bentley has by far the best exhaust note ?
Canterbury. R. J. RICKARDS.
Sack cloth and ashes cover me. How can I look my sprinting friends in the face again for the part I played in adding to the confusion at Brighton ? I had agreed to give the commentary on ” Bemsee’s ” two-wheeled section as it was obviously better to have someone who knew about the bikes. A fat lot I knew, to give out that Woods had made a new course record when Basil Keys has held it ever since 5959. The record in the programme had been credited to Charlie Rous—a previous holder—but the time quoted was, in fact, his 1960 time. Having missed Brighton last year I made the elementary mistake of trusting to memory.
In order to clear up the matter I have investigated just who has held the course record, taking as the basic measure the too-m.p.h. average for the kilometre. Confusion exists on this point amongst a number of the stars of motorcycle sprinting, especially as the National Sprint Association awards a Silver ” too “Star to its members who attain this magical figure, rather like ” Bemsee’s ” Brooklands Gold Star coming back again, except that this one is probably harder to acquire. To start with, the first Englishman on his native soil ever to beat the too-m.p.h. average for the s.s. kilometre was Roy Charlton, riding ” Rumblegutz ‘ at Brighton. In this matter only five men can lay their hands on their hearts and say ” I have.’ Of these, four hold the Star, Roy having retired before its inception. The table looks like this :
It is interesting to note that George Brown has never held the record in the too-m.p.h. category, yet in August he set a new world record for the standing-start kilometre in Bedfordshire at 108.73 m.p.h. Moreover he surpassed his Shelsley Walsh record a week later, twelve years established, a stupendous feat for a power-house that was never constructed for the tortuous climb at this famous Worcestershire hill. The Norton-J.A.P.s are the work of Francis Williams, the 65-year-old sprinter. Keys had the first model, Woods the second, and, having ” retired,” Francis built a third with the 994-c.c. unit tucked snugly into a ” Featherbed ” frame. This took him down the Madeira Drive this year in 23.52 Sec., which
I make about 95 per. He came fifth in the motorcycle class, one of Seven motorcyclists who exceeded the average of the winning car.
On the broader question of programme information, I do think that the class record time should be quoted always with the name and machine of the holder, plus speed and the date it was set up. To my mind the Midland Automobile Club programme for Shelsley Walsh is admirably prepared, especially as all the winners since 1905 are also listed.
Grinding my own personal axe, it would be nice if, at combined car/motorcycle meetings, the recognition of the course record holder in terms of award and acknowledgment in the programme was made irrespective of whether it applies to two wheels or four. It’s all the same sport, really!
Bromley. DENNIS BATES. Sir, After reading your excellent article on the Brighton Fiasco,
I was surprised on turning to the ” Letters from Readers ” pages that no one, apparently, had similar views. May I, therefore, say not only do I wholeheartedly Support your strong comments,.
I think you have only just penetrated the surface of the whole matter Of poor organisation.
People crossing Madeira Drive could have Caused a serious accident involving not only themselves hut the drivers of the cars. A Commentator, in some a his more sober moments, on more than one occasion warned people that the meeting might have to be abandoned because of these few thoughtless people. I realise that the organisation of such a meeting must be quite a headache to someone, and marshals may not be easily found, but why was the one, and only, marshal who was halfway along the Drive standing on the sea side of the road when he could, I feel, have done far more good on the land side from where the people were coming ? In theory, of course, it was impossible for the public to descend to road level because of barriers. The adjacent beach was out of bounds and yet from 8.30 a.m. about a dozen people in bathing costumes were allowed to remain on the beach all day. This no doubt caused people to think, ” If they can watch from that side why shouldn’t ?”
Lastly, the rather distasteful subject of public lavatories. In his opening letter the Mayor welcomed everyone to Brighton. May I respectfully suggest His Worship has a good look at the town he is inviting people to ? I think everyone will agree these were in a deplorable state. Some were not open until to a.m. and one or two not opened all day. The Dragster will be there again next year no doubt; I hope I can pluck up the courage to go and watch it.
Pinner. J. D. FLEET.
A PROTOTYPE AUSTIN HEALEY
As a regular reader of Mort.* -Srokt and the continuing correspondence on the ” fors ” and ” againsts ” British and Continental cars, I feel prompted to write to you on the subject, not expressing an opinion but merely recounting My experiences.
Four years ago I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of purchasing an Austin Healey works prototype. Basically the car is a KN.’ complete with engine, chassis, wheels, transmission, brakes, etc. and welded on to this is a Morris Minor 5000-type body to which is added an elongated bonnet. The car has now completed 75,000 miles, and has had the following work done to it :
At 35,000 miles : New clutch and new brake linings, new stlencer. new battery.
One set of remould tyres, one set a racing tyres which wore out very quickly, and the car has now done approximately 5,000 on a new set ol Michelin ” X ” and there are no signs of wear so far.
(3) One set of windscreen wiper blades.
(4) Two water pumps.
(5) At.70,000 mites: New brake linings and clutch linings, one set of exhaust valves and one inlet valve, one set of new piston rings.
(6) Both speedo. and rev.-counter have been stripped and ‘rebuilt for 305. each.
The car has never been raced or rallied, but on every day of its life it exceeds So m.p.h. on its journey into town. In town petrol consumption is 24 m.p.g. and on a run 31 m.p.g. The engine is fully modified (is reputed a spare Le Mans engine), and a high back-axle ratio gives approximately 30 m.p.h. at 1,000 r.p.m. in overdrive top. I have never had the car flat out, but have exceeded Ito m.p.h. with four adults up. The engine is very flexible, and is quite happy crawling along at 15 m.p.h. in overdrive top— a mere 500 r.p.m. The suspension is hard, but road-holding excellent, with very little roll. I use the car for my work, which necessitates short stop-and-start journeys of approximately 2-3 miles. I realise the car is a special one, but all its components are standard B.M.C. stuff, and I Cannot speak too highly of the reliability of the car.
I have many friends with British cars, and there is only one who has a complaint. This particular Car is a Mini-Minor, and has needed two gearboxeS in 10,000 miles, but I would mention that its owner drives to work over a 10-mile ” course ” in an average time of 14 minutes, with a best time ever of 13 min. 30 sec.
Nottingham. * *. * (1)
CLOCKWORK OR ELECTRIC?
With reference to your own remarks beneath ” Good for Smiths,” I endorse what you say.
I have a Smiths clockwork clock in my 1926 Rolls-Royce Twenty Which I wind up once a week (the outer rim turns, no knobs to grope for under the dash) and it keeps perfect time and has done for the past 35 years. What more could one want ?
A friend of mine locally had three Smiths electric clocks its succession in his Morris-Oxford and when the last one packed up after a few weeks he gave up trying!
It should not he necessary to have to purchase a R.-R. to get a decent clock and I have not intended to infer that, but surely if one spends. ,C5oo plus on a car it should be possible to have a clock, electric or clockwork, which keeps good time.
Perhaps a little more competition in electric car clocks would help.
Boxford. M. JONES. * * *
A NEW PICK-UP
On looking with interest at the new effort from Fords, surely a more fitting title than ” The Consul Capri ” could be found. May I suggest The Consul ” Pick Up “—tilt extra.
Kettering. 13. J. Wit.soN. • * *
THE FUTURE OF THE BRITISH G.P.
What a selfish and childish outcry from the south, in a certain section of the motoring Press, over the decision of the R.A.C. to allocate the British G.P. to the B.A.R.C. and Aintree.
I thought we had got through one season without the usual moan from ” down there,” and as for the gentleman who is resigning from the R.A.C. and 13.A.R.C. because of the R.A.C. decision—well!
Stop squealing, you southerners—you have had the best of everything for far too long.
The B.A.R.C. run their meetings exceptionally well and have obviously found that Silverstone is way behind Aintree, regarding facilities and amenities for a G.P.
Our ” opener ” at Oulton Park was taken to Silverstone but I don’t recall anyone ” writing to The Times ” or making petulant gestures.
I shall certainly renew my membership of the B.A.R.C. and Aintree, and Mrs. Topham can certainly have my thirty bob ” stand and paddock.”
Who knows, we may yet get back the British Empire Trophy, too! That will give them something to twitter about.
Bradford. G., LITTON.
A DISSATISFIED VW OWNER
I have read MOTOR SPORT for some time and followed the endless succession of letters regarding VWs with great interest. This interest is not unnatural, I feel, for I am the dissatisfied owner of a 1958 de luxe model. These letters used to provide stimulus to a sense of smugness, brought about by trouble-free motoring in the midst of the many complaints by the owners of British cars, hut after suddenly and without any warning whatever, being faced with total failure of the transmission (replaced at 3 cost of £91 and a delay of to days), after only 37,500 miles, these same letters have lost much of their amusement.
You have a correspondent who has had his Karmann-Ghia engine rebuilt free of charge, and another who had his transmission replaced, but after the fruitless succession of correspondence between myself and VW, Germany and Great Britain, I am beginning to wonder if my car was manufactured by another Company.
I wrote to VW, Germany, merely asking why I should experience this calamity in a car which is doted upon and driven within the terms indicated by VW advertising, and whether 37,500 miles is the normal life of a VW transmission. After a delay which ran into weeks, I had four replies, two letters from VW, Germany, and two from VW, Great Britain, I..td., apparently through a clerical mix-up. The theme of these replies is that VW could not be held responsible and would not reimburse me (which I had not asked). Subsequent correspondence has failed to unearth the reason for my trouble, only to bring further evasiveness, and the usual answer that VW cannot be held responsible (rather like the parrot in the recent VW adverts, I feel).
VW tell me that without examining the ruined transmission they would be unable to give me a reason for failure, but if these people who now possess this unfortunate souvenir are not in a position to examine this, then who is ? An engineer at my local agent stated that a shim could have broken up and entered the gears, but this opinion was not in his Company’s report which I requested and received. I am still the owner of this car, lighter by £91, and using a transmission which does not (even after 6,000 miles) feel as good as its predecessor.
I have no explanation to offer my friends who all too frequently inquire, with tongue in cheek, after the car’s health, but I have advice to offer your correspondents who write on the theme” I have just blown a bulb in my VW; have I bought a dud ? “— when your car is going well, bear in mind that you, too, may have a calamity awaiting you just around the corner, so keep your fingers crossed, press on and hope that the people who made your car will want to know.
Birmingham. C. MOORE. * * *
Seven weeks ago I bought a Morris Minivan and I am, in general, extremely pleased with it. The performance, roadholding, comfort and economy make a remarkable combination of desirable qualities.
There are some glaring deficiencies in these Minis, however, which must be cleared up if we are going to be competitive in the Common Market. In my case, the chrome had begun to pit with rust within a week of delivery, and the radiator grille has had to be resprayed as the undercoat was showing through. There really is no excuse for this sort of thing.
Now that Renault, Vauxhall and Triumph have drastically reduced routine maintenance, why does a Mini have ten points needing lubrication every 1,000 miles ? And why, oh why, do th, handbrake cables have to be lubricated so often and in so crude a way ? According to the handbook I must slacken off the handbrake cables (one to each rear wheel), grease them where they pass through the guides under the chassis, and readjust them, every t,000 mites! To readjust each cable, the appropriate back wheel must be jacked up, the handbrake lever set on its fifth notch, and the cable adjuster (which is between the ‘front Seats and cannot be reached easily with a normal spanner) turned until the back wheel Can just be moved by hand. This excrutiating item of routine maintenance is a shocking reflection on the incompetence of the B.M.C. designees. Why Can’t the cable guides be fitted with grease nipples ?
The typical 1962 American car will have chassis lubrication at 35,000-mile intervals, 4,000-mile engine oil changes and two years for the coolant. Why are our major manufacturers so far behi nd ? A.1.1, if I may be forgiven so much criticism, may I ask why the
so-desirable new Mini-Cooper has no rev.-counter, even as an optional extra ?
Chepstow. S. H. W. Nova:.
WHAT NOW, MISS SMITH?
In last month’s issue Miss Gillian Smith pointed out that in the Volkswagen advertisement in the September issue Fords outnumbered Volkswagens by it to 9. I would like to correct those figures. A closer look would reveal that there are is VWs and to Fords.
Miss Smith also failed to point out that the to Fords consisted of eight different models, ranging from about 1949 to 1961, whereas there were two Volkswagen models only.
One up for Ford ? Surely two up for Volkswagen ?
Ballymena. J. D. SURGENOR. Sir, In reply to Miss Gillian Smith’s letter I would respectfully point out that in the advert. concerned Volkswagens outnumber the Fords by it to to. The breakdown is as follows: Volkswagen ii Pre-B.M.C. .. 1 Vauxhall
Ford .. to Routes .. .. 6 Ileaky .. B.M.C.. . 9 Standard . 4 Unknown
Making a total of 48 vehicles.
I am not waving the flag for Volkswagen as I am quite contented with my Daimler, but if one is going to criticise let us first get our facts right.
Streatham. Joit-N E. BARNARD. * * *
WE DIG IT
For a man who digs motor cars you really are a square from wayback. If you wish to be with it and generally clued-up on the 1961 beatnik language I think I can be of some assistance. Laurence Pomeroy, in his description of the Cooper-Austin, uses the verb ” to be sent.” This has been in use ever since “
jiving” came over with the American Forces during World War II. If One were greatly impressed with anything from the performance of a car to the performance of a jazz group or symphony orchestra one could say : ” It sends you” or ” / was sent.”
This gave rise to the recently more popular word, “gone.’ If you were ” sent ” then it follows that sooner or later you were also “gone,” and sometimes the subject under discussion could also be described as “gone ” or, if it were especially good, “real” or “really gone.”
The story goes of the American beatnik (who used this language to the extreme and knew no other) on holiday in London for the first time. He had been told by a fellow beatnik in New York just back from a similar trip, that on no account must he miss the wonderful taste of a famous old English delicacy, the ” meat pie ” ; to be found only on a vintage and horse-drawn (when mobile) pie stall in the Old Kent road.
Arriving at about 2 a.m. and asking for one of the said meat pies he was sadly told by the little cockney stall proprietor : ” They’re all gorn mate! ” To which he joyously replied : ” Great! Gimme two!! ” Beckenham. BRIAN H. WALES. (Curious! Laurence Pomeroy doesn’t speak like this !—En.1