Letters from Readers, November 1977

Type Approval

Your gloomy views on the building of specials are, I believe, justified only if the builder is starting from scratch, that is constructing an entirely new chassis, suspension, steering lay-out and the like. When the regulations* to which you refer were in draft the Historic Vehicles Committee did not give their minds to specials as such. We were however worried about another aspect.

The regulations, which are likely to be amended as mentioned below. provide that subject to certain exceptions, every motor vehicle which is manufactured on or after 1st October 1977 shall contain certain type approved pans. The definition of “manufactured” as it originally stood was: “A motor vehicle is to be regarded as being manufactured on or after (the relevant date) if it is assembled on or after that date, even if it includes one or more parts which were manufactured before that date”.

Our Committee thought that the word “assembled” might pick up cars which were merely being re-assembled. We therefore made representations to the Department and for the word “assembled” was substituted the phrase “first assembled”.

I do not consider that the modification of an existing vehicle amounts to a “first assembly”. Nor need a somewhat more thorough exercise provided the identity of the original, basis vehicle is not lost. It is a matter of degree and that is up to the builder, sorry, modifier. “Once an Austin Seven, always an Austin Seven”.

If you insist on “first assembling” your vehicle, then it is proposed that a further Year’s grace be given to vehicles constructed or assembled on or after 1st October 1978 and first used on or after 1st April 1979.


Chairman, Historic Vehicle Clubs Joint Committee

‘The Motor Vehicles (Type Approved) (Great Britain) Regulations 1976.

Whose Helmet?

Chris Mann and Patrick Lindsay are not the only drivers making pit-stops out of sight of the race officials to exchange helmets. From the caption to your colour-spread of the Dutch Grand Prix, it seems that Regazzoni started the race in the No. 12 Ferrari, but wearing Reutemann’s helmet. Later on, Reutemann took over both car and helmet to dispute third place with Nilsson. Or perhaps there were two No. 12 Ferraris? Was Regga trying to help Niki? If so, who was the invisible figure in the Ensign? El Cid ?

The answer is, of course, that, following on the, Grosse Preis von Deutschland, D.S.J. is having an unofficial deliberate mistake competition to see if anyone is paying attention.

I do hope this explains the retrospective fitment of dynamometers to Talbots ? (p. 1241. If not, could Anthony Blight explain to at why these dynamometers needed a starter motor ?

Many thanks for your consistently well-written and interesting magazine, which has given years of good reading.

Naworth Castle, Cumbria GERARD M.-F. HILL

[Oops! A sad case of brain-fade, it was Reutemann in the Ferrari, of course. The “dynamometer” was repeated accurately from the letter quoted—Ed.

Workshop Manual English


While consulting the BLMC Workshop Manual for the Triumph Vitesse and GT 6, I was surprised to find that I was advised at one point to “put a choc under the rear wheel”. I have heard of cars being held together by faith alone, but this must surely be the first instance of the use of Black Magic.

Godalming C. B. CARTER

Freedom and the Motorist


As Motor Sport is a champion of the cause of Justice in Motoring Matters may I through your correspondence columns bring to the attention of fellow motorists an iniquitous little sub-section of the Law, relating to Parking Meters.

My own experience was as follows—I parked my car in Finsbury Circus, London EC4 and incurred a ticket for Excess Charge (£2), and Penalty (£6). Fair enough, that is the cost of delay. I duly received the notice which I sent back with a cheque for the amounts due. No copies were kept.

Some months later I received a summons for “Failure to supply Statement of Ownership”. For this heinous crime, I received a further fine of £23: Photocopy attached, payment in seven days or else! Apparently, the Road Traffic Act 1972 section 168 states it is an offence to fail to supply Statement of Ownership!

So, a few minutes excess parking cost me £31, which is severe enough. But if, like me, most citizens would assume that mere payment of the Parking Fine was sufficient to discharge their liability, beware, the Police State is Here; we are now forced by Law to sign and complete irrelevent parts of a trivial form, and if we forget, or are disinclined to complete it, or if we fail to pay the subsequent fine we may after a Distress Warrant has been issued, be committed to Prison for Contempt of Court.


[This is a disgusting piece of anti-motorist, anti-law-abiding-citizen (for over-parking and promptly paying the heavy fine cannot surely be classed as law-breaking?( legislation. More than ever do we, motorists and non-drivers alike, need to fight for freedom.-Ed.]

The Ashley Cleave Morris


Mr. J. S. Bacon, in his letter published in the September issue, mentioned that he has lost sight of the much-modified Morris 8 campaigned for some 37 years by Ashley Cleave. To bring the record up to date, perhaps I may be allowed to reassure him that the motor car in question is still very much alive.

When I bought it from Ash Cleave in March 1974, I had intended to retire it from active competition and to use it simply as a summer “fun” car. However, its character and history (well documented in your article in the December 1973 issue of Motor Sport) prevailed upon me to return it to the hills. I have used it in hill-climbs and sprints during the past three seasons.

My work prevents me from entering as frequently or as widely as Ash Cleave used to, so I have confined my activities (and hence the car’s public appearances) mainly to Preset:in and Shelsley Walsh. This year has allowed me only two climbs at Prescott and one at Shelsley Walsh; however, the Morris has also served as my sole means of transport for most of the summer, so it is very far from being in retirement.

As you know, the 918 QC. s.v, engine was replaced by a 10/4 series M o.h.v. unit during the war. This engine now displaces 1,249 c.c. and wears a Laystall-Lucas aluminium cylinder head. Regarding the car’s competitiveness, it may be of interest to note that the Morris is seldom beaten in its class by motor ears driven to the venue on road-going rubber!

Wittering FO R. W. MATHEW, B.Sc., RAF

Causes of Decline


Mr. Grossmark (September Letters) complained that the camshaft in his Range-Rover should have lasted longer than about 20,000 miles.However, he states that the vehicle has covered only 24,500 in five years. This implies an extremely low average annual mileage, indicating either long periods of non-use or a lot of short-journey use. Either case is likely to speed engine corrosion and hence premature wear. The lubricating oil and car manufacturers point out that oil changes (and other servicing) should be carried out at mileage or time intervals, whichever occurs sooner. In view of the low mileage, lank of sufficiently frequent servicing is a possible cause of Mr. Grossmark’s unfortunate experience. If this is the case, he can look forward to piston ring or bearing failure as well!

Stirling Dr. J. R. PIGGOTT

Trials Tyres


Your preamble to the Goodyear article in August’s Motor Sport took me bath to 1959/60 when I competed in Sporting Trials. With the banning by the RAC of “knobblies” after the war, practically everyone used the Goodyear All Weather diamond treaded tyre – not for the diamonds but because the serrated buttress (tread edge), when run at 1 or 2 lb/sq. in. with the tyre bolted to the rim, gave the best grip available.

Goodyear discontinued the All Weather (in our 500 (8 size) around that time and I was able to find substitute tyres from Bellamy’s of South Croydon who scrubbed the tread off brand new Uniroyals to retread them with the Goodyear All Weather pattern.


Two BL Cars


Whilst recently working A Canada, I had the mixed blessing of using two British Leyland products, the first a silver grey XJS ’76, which had 12,000 trouble-free miles, and the second a ’76 TR7 with 5,000 miles—both l.h.d

The Jaguar was magnificent and I can but agree with your reported trip to Germany in such a car. On a brief 2,000-mile trip over five days, which varied from long stretches of 100, m.p.h. cruising, to 10 m.p.h. crawls through a blizzard, it averaged 16 m.p.g. and used 2 pints of oil, and delivered its occupants fresh and eager to start the next day. It always started at the first turn of the key, and the owner had found this throughout the winter, which in that part of Canada is “normally” below—well below—freezing. Everywhere a crowd-puller and a fine example of “British is best”!

Alas, the TR7 was horrid, right down to the nasty “stick on” speed stripes, that appear essential to sell the car in the North American continent. It was into its second gearbox rebuild and still produced a second gear whine that made my MG NA sound quiet! The steering was absurdly heavy at low speed despite numerous replaced parts, and the interior trim apparently had never been designed to “fit”. The use of chicken wire for the front screen vents was the ultimate in modern design! Thank goodness the engine ran well, and gave something to enjoy. Let’s hope that the excellence of Jaguars will filter down … and what did ever happen to that mid-engined project they decided wasn’t marketable!

May Motor Sport continue to flourish.

D. ANDREW BROWN Newcastle-upon-Tyne

The Only Way to Travel


Epic high speed drives on public roads are a boast of the past.

So who remains for the enthusiast?

One answer is to give ageing machinery an endurance and reliability test. There is a certain fascination in the prospect of mechanical failure in remote parts without spares.

My recent contribution to this form of entertainment was 2,144 miles from London to Lake Como (Italy), and back in a Bentley R-Type Continental Sports Saloon C series built 1954. The car was in regular use prior to the trip, not the subject of a rebuild, but well cared for and with 132,870 miles on the clock. Every known form of insurance, get-you-home service etc. went with me just in case, plus hoses, fan-belt, points and bulbs; neither Rolls-Royce nor the AA any longer provide a ready-made Continental” pack.

Total consumption was 126 gallons of petrol at 17 m.p.g.; 3 1/2 pints of engine oil; 1/2 pint in the gearbox; 1 pint of water in the radiator; two battery top-ups, and the odd pound per square inch in the tyres. Leakage through the edge of the windscreen in a deluge and an unexplained increase in tick-over revs on the Simplon Pass were the extent of toy “problems”.

Rather disappointing in a funny sort of way. Next time I had better take something more modern and get my money’s worth!

London, W5 E. R. DEXTER

Farewell Dear Beetle


I should like through the columns of your magazine to pay tribute to one of the most reliable and underestimated of motor cars The VW, Beetle.

I own a 1967, 1200 c.c. model which has covered 72,000 miles to date with no major mechanical failures. It starts first time and is rust free.

I was saddened by the recent announcement that production is to be halted of this fine motor car. Though it may be said the Beetle’s shape and refinements are primitive by modern standards, it has a character all of its own, and this together with its reliability and superb finish explains why 15,000,000 have been sold world wide over the past 30 years.

So it is with deep regret that we say farewell to the Beetle. It remains unmatched by any other car manufacturer.


Rare Rover


Can anybody throw any light on the above, which according to the log book is a Rover 4-seater sports 14 h.p. Contact with another owner, an indication of its rarity or any further information in respect of the exact specification or original production would be appreciated.

Chaddesley Corbett, Worcs. N. I. CAMERON

(Can anybody in the Rover Owners’ Club help? -Ed.)

A Student’s Lot


Having been an avid reader of your superb magazine since the age of 12, I feel that the time is ripe for the grievances of the oppressed student driver to be aired in your columns.

Now, we all know the problems that the young driver experiences, but in the case of the young student these problems are at best financially crippling and at worst just a plain bad joke.

I myself own a 1967 Morris Oxford (1622 cc) which is a present insured with Endsleigh for the reasonable premium of £54 for six months. However, this is partly offset by the fact that a “bonus” discount of 20% is only obtainable after 2 years continuous insurance, rising to 40% (presumed maximum) after 3 years if aged 25 plus.

One therefore naturally seeks out alternative quotes from major concerns which one expects to be more than Endsleigh, but with the guarantee of no claims bonus after one year.

However, life is not, unfortunately, that easy. When one announces that one is both only 22 years old and a student to boot, then things take a decided swing to financial ruin. This afternoon I have done some telephoning Pot quotes and received the following interesting spread of quotes:

(i) Commercial Union declined to offer a quote because of my age and occupation.

(ii) Sun Alliance: £158.

(iii) Guardian Royal Exchange: £298.

(iv) Pearl Assurance: £206.

(v) Norwich Union: £178.

(vi) Eagle Star: £140.

So there you have it. A spread of £158 between the lowest and highest for fully comprehensive insurance.

Now, I ask you, is the world sane when one is quoted nigh £300 for a Morris Oxford?

The next problem one finds is (hots telephone quote is not directly equivalent to a “money down” quote and so the “game” goes on. I could, of course, insure third party, but if one’s vehicle is in good condition this approach seems not so much of an advantage when one sees the number of “stock car” drivers on today’s roads.

So it’s back to Endsleigh (indeed, thank the Lord for Endsleigh, who are at least realistic) and my advice to you people thinking of becoming a student is don’t if you want a car.

There are those who will doubtless find these amounts trivial, but one has to bear in mind the income of the average student is not much over £1,000 (we don’t all get full grants, you know!). May I conclude by thanking you for your indulgence and by congratulating you on producing the finest motoring magazine that can be purchased.


Motor Insurance Clarification

Reading the July “Letters” column I was reminded of the old saying about “not seeing the wood for the trees”. Your three correspondents on motor insurance all seemed to be surprised at the need for shopping around to get the boo quote possible. I suppose that having worked in insurance for some years, I have got so used to this competitive situation, that I am surprised when laymen think this is unusual.

I suppose that the word “insurance” still to some extent conjures up pictures of little old men covered in dust, scratching away at leather bound ledgers with their quill pens. The reality could not really be more different. At present, there are over 25o insurance companies authorised to offer insurance in this country, a large percentage of which offer motor insurance to the general public. Each company keeps its own claims statistics which are the base on which their rating structure is built, and each company will get slightly different experience from its competitors.

Because of the amounts of money involved (last year body damage claims payments topped £300 million on their own), each company wants a slice of the cake, as much for the investment they can earn on the premiums as anything else, for the days of making a profit on the actual motor insurance have long gone with each rate increase having to be justified to the appropriate Government body on the basis of rising claims payments.

However, that is the limit of Government intervention (at present), and thus you have a situation where motor insurance is probably one of the last areas where free enterprise rules supreme, with companies attempting to gear their rates to that section of the motor market that they think is most likely to give them a chance of breaking even. Competition is the name of the game, with special rates for various occupations and types of car and it is impossible for one individual member of the public to himself arrange the has deal possible, without either a slice of luck or professional advice. The younger the insured or the more powerful the car, then the greater the apparent discrepancy in the premium.

A 15% difference between two companies where the premium is about £20 is almost not worth bothering about, but for the 21 -year-old with an MGB needing Comprehensive in Central London, a 5% saving on a quote of £500 is £75! So the answer is sagas yourself a good Broker, and let has do the earbashing over the phone, as he is the man whose livelihood depends on him satisfying the vast bulk of his customers. Furthermore, he’s probably about the only professional man whose advice you can seek, and whether you accept his quote or not, you won’t end up with a bill for his services. In short, he’s free!

I should perhaps add, I have no connection with any insurance broking concern, but earn my crust from one of the country’s larger insurance companies.

Brighton ALLAN JONES B.A. (Hons.); ACH

Foreign Quality?


Twelve months ago, I would never have dreamt of writing this letter to you but now I feel I must. Perhaps the letter should be under the heading “DON’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENED TO THE FOREIGN CARS LATELY”.

August 1st 1976 I took delivery of a new Volvo estate vehicle, soon to find out that I had only to take the vehicle back twice within weeks of the delivery with a nasty petrol leak in the tailgate. It should have been found the first time but it wasn’t. Anyway they finally managed to put it right for me. As you can imagine the smell lingered on for weeks.

Happy motoring was not to be my tune, the vehicle developed steering faults, brake judder and a nasty vibration at between 45 and 50 m.p.h. The local tyre dealer was fed up with putting the wheels on track and weight mechanism for me. The brake judder vanished when new pads and discs were fitted to the front end and the steering fault vanished too for a while. The vibration – no it is still there. Even though the garage put two new front tyres on for me giving me a 30% bill for used tread amounting to over £20. The tyres made not a ha’p’orth of difference, the vibration still being there at the speeds mentioned. Quite honestly with the family in the car the vibration is very bad. Now the dealer is to try changing soft bushes on the front suspension for hard ones. I honestly don’t think they know what they are doing.

So please, no more knocking of the British Car Makers, it does happen to the other side too sass it that the owners are as shy w speak out like I am doing in this case?

Whitchurch G. CHASE

The Law and the Motorist


I really must take exception to your ex-policeman Raymond Pickering’s letter (M.S. August ’77). Its mixture of false suggestion and downright untruths exemplifies the usual police-apologist attitude. It is quite untrue to state that the police cannot decide which Statutes to enforce (which is what I presume Mr. Pickering means when he states that the police are unable to decide what they want to do). There are literally thousands of Statutes in force which the police, as part of their everyday duties, actively and passively decide not to enforce; many are meaningless or (today) stupid, many are important or significant. Yet there is curiously only one useless and stupid set of Statutory provisions which the police gleefully enforce with often no sensible reason for so doing, namely the speeding provisions in the Road Traffic Acts. The reason for this is simple, in that the procedure is as straight-forward and well tested that they can get quick, sure convictions virtually every time. Such prosecutions are thus merely a vehicle not (as some think) for increasing a policeman’s conviction record as such, but for getting that policeman’s conviction record up to a “respectable” level. This is because they know that whatever is said in Court, the intellectual capacity of the traffic magistrates is often so moronic that those magistrates are incapable of telling guilt from innocence in the face of even the weakest police claims, suppositions and opinions; they just convict. Indeed I once had a case in South Wales in which an obviously none too conscientious chief-superintendent wrote a letter to the motorist in response to the motorist’s protestations (and proof) of innocence stating virtually that he didn’t care what the story was, because he knew that whatever it was, the bench would convict. They did. All over England in my experience, the story from say fellow members of the .r is the same. A barrister in a motoring case has to enter a magistrates court with a cavalier attitude to the bench. He will do his best; the motorist in question might be legally or morally quite innocent, yet the bench will usually convict. They may not even bother looking at the facts: the police say convict, the Clerk says convict, so they convict.

It is for this reason that Mr. Pickering is quite wrong in what he says. The police have merely discovered a simple and fool-proof method of securing convictions which they know will work almost every time. This is not sofas the myriads of lesser known Statutes which the police choose not to enforce. They are thus irresponsibly enforcing Statutory provisions in cases in which such enforcement can only do harm to the broader spectrum of law and order-keeping by telling thousands of ordinary citizens that they are criminals.

In view of this it is important to understand that Mr. Pickering’s attitude, whilst being understandable, if one can ignore all the relevant facts and effects, is totally unjustified.



I have read your article in the March ’77 Motor Sport about the Mazda Co. and its cars. I have a 1973 RX2 Coupe which I bought new in April 1975, 2 years old yet without a previous owner. This was to replace my first RX2 Coupe which I wrecked in a snow storm.

I like the little beaut as much I would hate to part with it.

However, I would like to tell you General Motors recently announced they were dropping the Wankel engine development because, and I quote “it will not meet federal emission standards”.

About a couple of weeks after this pearl was dropped came another gem.

Quote G.M., “we have a catalytic converter which will far exceed any emission standard”. So who is conning who? The RX5 Cosmo is available here in Ontario at a cost of $7,200 plus 7% sales tax.

However I believe it is not selling well; my local Mazda agent has a 1976 Cosmo in his showroom.

And for about the same price you can buy an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme “Brougham” with everything included.

My opinion is, Mazda can do it and G.M. can’t. Remember that aluminium V8 fiasco? ‘Nuff said.

Hamilton, Ontario DEREK CRANMER

A Register for Minor 1000 Convertibles


As a Morris 1000 Convertible owner and enthusiast, I am considering starting a register for this model from 1956 to 1971. I am very keen to see as many of these cars rated as possibly can be.

Cobham, Surrey C. J. G. DURRANT

(Letters will be forwarded. -Ed.)

Hop in


We write in connection with “‘TAILPIECE” at the end of the readers’ letters in the September edition of Motor Sport.

It was rather nice to see the photograph of our Opel Manta Berlinetta demonstrator car, registration number HOP 1 N. May we point out that we did not send you the photograph, which incidentally, was taken outside our garage here in Birmingham.

For the record, this number was issued to us by the Birmingham Licensing Authorities in 1975, and naturally, we have kept the number ever since. Being Main Opel Dealers in Birmingham, this registration number really does help sell motor cars.

In June of this year, we entered the car at the Cherished Numbers Rally at Dodington Park, Nr. Bristol, and were awarded a first prize for the best in its particular class, for which we received a silver salver.

May we say in closing, the number causes a great deal of interest wherever it goes.

Birmingham M. E. CREGEEN

Sales Manager, St. Andrews Garages Ltd.