It used to be the Guild at Goodwood. Now the Guild of Motoring Writers holds its annual Motor Show Test Day, primarily to give foreign journalists an opportunity to try the latest British cars, at Silverstone. This year’s was the 21st such occasion. It is significant that the Industry presented some 122 cars for test-driving round the circuit, and Dunlop had sent their tyre crew. Of these, I managed to get into seven, before wine with lunch ruled out any more of it.
I played myself in at the wheel of a taut Rover 2000, tried a new Triumph 2.5 PI but didn’t like its gear change, and found that on such brief acquaintance a l.h.d. Jaguar XJ6 Automatic felt very big, very soft, and very vague in its power steering, which presumably endorses my opinion that two laps here are as nothing to a good run on the road for correctly assessing car. But its proneness to lean over on fast corners was emphasised by an odd sound, as of rubbing, from the region of the n/s rear wheel arch. A vividly-hued Vauxhall Viva GT wouldn’t take third gear all round the course, but the Bond Equipe GT, driven for the very first time, would, at the expense of seeing 7,000 r.p.m. on the tachometer before every corner; this didn’t trouble it, the racing seat was good, and it felt pleasantly taut to drive, but there was much wind buffeting round the body. An Automatic Austin Mini, driven because its test-number had been taken at random, was outclassed, in these circumstances, but the Rover 3500 with which I wound up handled very nicely, being devoid of sogginess, and produced the expected flow of smooth, unobtrusive power from its V8 engine.
Where to lunch was a problem, because British Leyland, Ford, Rootes and other were generously laying it on. It was solved for us because the only firm invitation had come from Vauxhall Motors Ltd., who looked after us very nicely in their big, heated marquee.—W. B.