MATTERS OF MOMENT, November 1967

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MATTERS OF MOMENT

• PRESENTING OUR PETITION

The Morog SpoKr and Motoring News Petition against the 70-m.p.h. speed limit on Motorways has brought in a response of over 265,000 signatures. The intention now is to call a Press conference later this month so that the best possible publicity can be secured when this Petition is presented to the Minister of Transport. We hope on this occasion as many readers as possible will drive up to see the Petition presented. In the meantime a further announcement about the time and place will be made next month.

• THE PUFF OF BACCHUS

MoToR SPORT is dead against the citizens driving while drunk, or for that matter driving when incompetent. Anyone, without reservations, who is convicted, after a proper medical test, of being dangerously drunk in public while in charge of a motor vehicle, bicycle, scooter or a pair of shoes, should be imprisoned without option. That is not the same as saving we welcome Breathalyser rests. In fact, we object very strongly to then), for the following reasons : (a) They have made a Mockery of British justice, by Completely reversing the fundamentals of the Law. ‘Until Mrs. Castle introdoe4d Breathalysers, the citizen was innocent until proved guilty. Now, a driver, suspected for some reason of being bacchic, is required to prove his or her innoceitz:.!. Moreover, for the first time in history, even before being charged with any offence, because you are a motorist, you are required to-provide evidence which might prove guilt. Barbara Castle is, apparently, mightier than the Lord Chief

Justice. . . (b) It has cost between L300,000 and £350,000 of public money for Mrs. Castle to advertise her war against mobile bacchanalia. Yet, even now, not many people have any very clear idea about how the battle is mounted, nor is any ntention ;node in advertishig we have seen of the penolo, incurred if sober drivers refuse to blow into German-made plastic bags (cost to us, around 1,200,000) at the command of zealous constables. (Mown SPORT, you may note, did not carry this advertising.)

(c) It seems quite wrong that the option Of a blood/urine test is denied to those who do not wish to submit to the roadside puff. ‘I’his would safeguard those of us who are alarmed that these new chemical toys may not be accurate and that their crystals can be rendered hostile by acids other than those of alcohol. As it is, for complete peac.-… of mind, apart from never drinking, it seems advisable to lay-off vinegar with the fish-and-chips and to have all one’s teeth pulled out, if’ halitosis is suspected. Roadside Breathalyser tests might still be acceptable to the Sober busy motorist, willing to gamble on a means of quickly proving his innocence and being allowed to resume his journey. But it should not be inflicted compulsorily, although refusal to take it would naturally involve a visit to the police station for more scientific testing. As it is, so far as we can gather, you are liable to a fine of up to f.,100 if you refuse to present the constable with the puff of Bacchus.

(d) The tests are strongly biased against the motorist. Mrs. Castle’s slogan is : ” Now you really eon’s ask a driver to have another drink.” The advertising issued by H.M. Government carries the announcement : ” Conviction will cost a driver his licence for a year. It may also cost him a L;too. fine—or even prison.” No warning, you will note, to comics who go to the local on horseback or to drunken cyclists and pedestrians. It’s the private motorist they are out to catch. (e) Then there is the pernicious situation where persons capable of taking a reasonable amount of alcohol and remaining sober can still be convicted by the low standards of the Breathalyser, and who have no idea that they may be liable to lose their licences and probably their livelihoods, until after they are tested. No-one knows, so no-one will say, what quantity of drink will set the little crystals going (there is no mention Of this in the Government

advertising). And crystals are quite impartial, as are blood/urine tests. The old test-by-doctor was far More effective in establishing whether or not a person was incapable, because of excessive drinking, of safely driving a car, riding a bicycle or, like the proverbial chicken, crossing the road; and such drinking might vary from several stiff whiskies to a pint of bitter, depending on the individual, who now has no means of knowing if a cautiously small tipple can be enjoyed. I-lard chips On non-tipsy tipplers and on the publicans. . . .

Otherwise, we think Mrs. Castle is doing fine.

WORTH LOOKING AT . .

. .

Amongst a welter of Show-time advertising of new models we are glad to see that the very clever and long-lived series, ” Worth looking at . . .,” on behalf of Smiths Industries Ltd. is still going strong, and we offer congratulations to whoever is now responsible for it. Well, didn’t the bare-armed puss in the fur make you look at the new 3-litre Austin ? And didn’t the lass in the scanty frock cause your glance to fall on the new Rootes models on which she is sitting ? We are sure that you did not fail to look at the mini-skirted beauty with the 3.5-litre Rover, even if she appears to be more interested in aeroplanes than cars; while who wouldn’t wish to go motoring in a Triumph TR5 with that long-haired blonde in the striped dress ? This advertising copy is as popular as Smiths instruments and Radiomobile car radios. Let’s hope they keep it going. . . . If a London starting place can be found without antagonising the

police, the Commercial Vehicle Brighton Run will take place next year. As usual it will be sponsored by National Benzoic!.

A YEAR’S MOTORING IN so DAYS BY A FIAT 524 ” “

Any attempt set up ” records ” on public roads met with official disapproval in this country even in thepre-war and early post-war period when we used to drive rather fast from London to John 0′ Groats in Bentley and Bristol cars. So when 26 members of the Metropolitan Police M.C. set out to cover the equivalent of a normal-owner’s annual mileage in ten days with a Fiat 124 saloon, their instructions were not to break the car, themselves, or any laws, road rules or records.

Three routes were coveted, the aim being to average 41 m.p.h. inclusive of all stops for ten days and nights. It is amusing that one crew covered a 570 mile trip at an average speed of not far short of 70 m.p.h.; another crew contrived to average so m.p.h. for SOO Miles, at 321 m.p.g. The weather was severe and about 75% of the run was over Motorways and A-roads. The total speedometer mileage was 10,859. In that distance -a wiper motor burnt out, a dynamo had to be replaced and as a precaution the rear Pirelli Cinturatos were changed at 9„634 miles and the front brake pads at 11,851 miles, because of cracking. An exhaust shield was also changed, as a precaution, the car being serviced by Fiat mechanics.

There was an oil change at 6,000 milesbut otherwise only of-a pint of oil was used. The best petrol consumption is quoted as 32[ m.p.g., the overall figure toeing 27.9 m.p.g. but odometer error may not have been taken into account, as the (Jidda intended to check it proved unreliable. The best 24-hour run was 1,153 miles, which should make Joyce Wilkins think, although she watt to Rome -alone. Apparently after the run the 1„197 c.c. Fiat was in good condition except for some wear in the gearbox. It will be interesting to see if another manufacturer challenges this long, fast Fiat marathon. In the old days the R.A.C. would have been called in to observe it.—W. 13.

CARS IN FILMS

Reviewing that film of the nineteen-twenties, ” Thoroughly Modern Millie,” featuring Beatrice Lillie, in the Swzday Times, Ernestine Carter refers to the vintage American cars that appear therein, quotihg the producer as saying he obtained ” Hupmobiles, Studebakers, Maroons and Dorts, names I never heard of.” For Maroons read Marmons ?

A girl cautiously trying to crank a G.P. Bugatti figures in current advertising for Valdespino sherries.

THE “OH DEAR ! ” DEPARTMENT

Intending to say last month that the Cortina Lotus is now a Ford product, a slip or the pen caused us to say that they now make the twin-cam engines for these cars. Both Lotus and Ford have corrected us. The twin-;cam engine is still a Lotus product, and in fact, Lotus have installed E200,000 of machinery for this purpose. Ford supply the blocks, which go to Villiers of Wolverhampton for preparation. The heads are assembled on the engines by Lotus in Norwich, who supply the complete power units to Ford.—W. B.