matters of moment, November 1982

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MATTERS OF MOMENT

1111 SHOWTIME SOLILOQUY

Although less so than in Olympian and Earls Court times, the British Motor Show, which concluded recently in Birmingham, marks the near-close of another momentous motoring year. It has been a year that will long be remembered in general terms as well as in a motoring context.

Nineteen-eighty-two saw the successful conclusion of a bloody war to regain British possession of the Falklands Islands. Whatever your politics or personal views, this must go down as a remarkable example of a perfectly carried out military operation, which has put this little country very much “back on the map”, earning can increased and new-found respect, at a time when prestige was ebbing. Let as trust that a fresh impetus for British Trade will follow, so badly needed to reduce unemployment and Inflation. We have the cars to appeal to World-markets. For svelte travel and top-prestige, whichever is craved (and some crave both), the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit rules supreme, as its forebears have since 1907. Jaguar can claim their traditional value-for-money, and outstanding hushed high performance from their inimitable V12, and one of the finest six-cylinder twin-cam engines of all time. Rover, providing reliability can be built-in, have a range of extremely pleasing cars that are also useful load-carriers. We have desirable small sporting cars, such as the MG-Metro, the evergreen Morgans, and the Ford Fiesta XR2 and Escort XR3i (to be joined by the Sierra XR4). Aston Martin, Lagonda and Lotus challenge the World’s exotic motor cars. All should be set fair for the British Motor Industry. Nineteen-eighty-eve has not been lacking, either, in significant technical progress and interesting new models. Turbocharging is becoming almost as commonplace as those other once-rare and inspiring specification items, fuel-injection and breakerless-ignition, although it may just be that ordinary supercharging, as revived by Fiat and which we shall be able to sample here on the Lancia Trevi Volume X next year, may prove better, in the long term. Lancia, who pioneered independent front suspension, the space-type tubed chassis-frame, and the ball-gate gear lever on vintage models, pioneered the 5-speed gearbox and used i.r.s. on their pre-war Aprilia saloon, are now the first to produce a transverse-engined 4WD road car, say Lancia’s Press Office, their prototype Delta Turbo 404. At the Paris Salon there were Audi and Peugeot cars that actually talked to their drivers if anything was amiss, from a door unlatched to an unreleased handbrake. However enjoyable it may be to listen to the voice of Patricia Lipp in your Audi, we hope that this is merely a Showtime aberration, which can be classed with cars that come apart and rejoin, dance, or flip over, in the more lurid Motor Show displays. But we have a horrid feeling it may not

It has been the year when Food announced the new Sierra, excitingly styled as if to persuade even family-car folk and fleet-users to overlook the financial recession; perhaps Citroen can pride themselves for this, as Rover once borrowed Citroen’s easily renewable body-panels . . . Technical pundits have the joy, too, of. deciding who is right, Ford in retaining RWD for this Cortina-replacement, or Vauxhall in using FWD for the rival Cavalier. Of course, Mazda has it that the Sierra was there already, in the guise of their 626 and judging by the effectiveness of the Mazda 323 and the fact that only Mazda with the RX-7 has mastered the Wankel rotary-engine for a continuing production model, Ford should take note.

The scare of a World petrol-shortage has receded, and now the hassle on the fuel front has changed to eliminating lead from petrol. Various methods have also been used to reduce fuel consumption. We Were intrigued to read recently of the VW Polo Formel-E exceeding 50 m.p.g. throughout a full road-test done by a specialist journal. Never having got more than about 47 m.p.g. overall from economy babies such as our Fiat 126 and Reliant Kitten, we hope to investigate, because from a car with a top speed of over 90 m.p.h., this is better than our long-time cry for a genuine 60 m.p.h. / 60 m.p.g. small-car.

It has been a year in which the long-lived Morris name was announced as being dropped, when On Lorean ran into trouble, when in motor racing, the Fl Drivers’ World Championship rouse the very last round (see page 14811, and it will be the last in which we shall be legally permitted to enjoy motoring as a relaxation, instead of being reminded by compulsory belting-up that we are riding in machines more lethal than air-lines. It has been a year when the vintage and historic movement has continued to flourish in spite of unsolved problems relating to originality and how far rebuilds of ancient machinery should be permitted to go. A year in which some Motor Museums have closed and others opened. A year in which, in spite of ever-safer cars, whatever she belt-up protagonists think (and Mrs. Thatcher wasn’t among them) speed-limits have not been raised, but car-tax has. Yet trailer-caravans, those snail-like “mobile chicanes” that clutter up our roads and whose tow-car drivers can only are behind if, like a submarine captain, they have a periscope, go

If we are about to experience a winter as severe as the last one many people will be thankful that 4WD is being developed by several manufacturers, for saloon cars as well as for cross-country Jeeps, with the Audi Quattro leading a trend started effectively by makes like Subaru and Daihatsu, etc., after a long monopoly of this slippery-surface-defeating technique in farm-form by Land Rover and Range Rover. In the sphere of top high-performance car, the Bentley has made a notable breakthrough with the Mulsanne Turbo and Maserati and Ferrari have interesting advances to announce.

Although some of you may take your motoring pleasures in power-boats and others may be flying ultra-lights, land motoring remains the average man’s prime means of getting out and about in a personal possession, in comparative freedom, in spite of neglected roads, higher petrol prices, increased running costs, including the licence-fee, and restrictive legislation against us. Writing this before the Birmingham Motor Show opens k see pages 1472-1474 for a “Stop-Press” report) we s.sh you all well, during what is left of 1982 . .

II COMING SHORTLY

Two major motoring sporting events will take place this month. November 7th is “Brighton Sunday”, when veteran cars, all made prior to 1905, will take part, as they have done since 1927, in the Veteran Can Run, from Hyde Park in London to the famous Sussex seaside town. This is an occasion which delights experts and ordinary spectators alike. But we would once again remind those who rum out to watch of two things — (11 the old cars taking pan have brakes up to MoT test standard but not necessarily anything like as effective as those of modem cars, and their engines are apt to overheat on hills. SO please give all of them as wide a berth as you possibly can — cutting in to take photographs is very troublesome for the driver of a veteran — and (2/ Brighton gets very congested on this day, even traffic into it coming to a standstill for long periods. St; it is advisable to spectate from the numerous places on the route where it is easy to park, instead of following the veterans for the entire distance. The entry this year numbers 302. plus 51 reserves. There.are 62 De Dion Bunions and two more cars with this make of engine, a fine tribute to the lasting qualities of the vehicles of the Comte Albert de Dion and Mon. Georges Bouton, who are sponsoring the Run. will see 13 of this make in the entry fist, including, one of their own. Oldest car is an 1982 Benz. The Run has Royal support, as in former years. as HRH Prince Michael of Kent will be driving the BL Heritage 1899 Wolseley. Many of those taking p.t are regular Brighton Run supporters. like courageous John Bolster with the 1903 Panhard-Levassor he has taken through so many of them. Pilmore-Bedford with his 1901 Lanchester. Tom Lightfoot with his quick 1902 Mercedes and his wife on the 1902 Beaufort, BiE Lake this year with his Panhard, Brig. Maple with the BL Heritage Albion, Sears on the Clement Talbot. Pointer with his Wolseley, Lord Strathcarron in the coupe comfort of his little Georges-Richard, Peter Hampton on his “racing” Sixty Mercedes, With his brother John Panhard-mounted, Maurice Smith, DFC, driving a Humberette. Roger Collings with his Sixty Mercedes, his wife Judy at the helm of the Darracq, and other “regulars” too numerous to list. Lord Montagu will take the dependable NMM 1903 De Dion, other ears from the Beaulieu Museum being the 1901 Progress and the huge De Dietrich, the latter in the care of Count Labia. The AA has its well-known 1964 Renault landaulette. the RAC a 1904 Thomycroft, Daimler-Benz of Stuttgart has put in diverse entries consisting of its 1902 Benz and a vast 1904 Mercedes, Renault has its ewoentev,an has Vauxhall Motors, Whitney, Locomobile, Skene, Gardner-Serpollet, Stanley and Turner-Miesse steam cars and more than one electric car provide variety on a varied petrol-theme. Indeed, the drivers come not only from Britain, but from America. Austria. Belgium, Switzerland. Germany, Denmark, Spain. France, Italy, Ireland, Holland. Portugal, Sweden, Finland, and even from Australia. Originally the Run was a lighthearted way for enthusiasts to discover how their ancestors motored. It has since become a form of social-advancement, “Show-Biz” propaganda, so that it is now exceedingly difficult to secure a drive or even a ride. A great occasion, nevertheless. The cars start to leave Hyde Park from about 8 a.m and they should be arriving on the Madeira Drive, Brighton, around II a.m., having officially finished the course at thc Pylons, a few miles out. Enjoy it, but please keep out of

Then on November 21st-25th the RAC International Rally will be taking place round Britain, attended by great numbers of enthusiastic and mostly knowledgeable onlookers. There will bc spectator-stages, details of which will no doubt be published in Motoring News’ Rally Guide on November 17th. But some spectators will inevitably penetrate to stages where no special facilities are provided. Remember that it is imperative that for the future of this kind of motoring sport they obey marshals’ requests; keep well away from rally cars travelling fast, often at night, and that young children are kept under control. We lt,ipo for good weather for the Veteran Car Run but bad conditions may make the RAC Rally more exciting and competitive. Go well clad, with a torch. Follow it closely, supporting your favourites. But for St. Christopher’s sake, don’t get run over . . .

• BROOKLANDS

No sooner had the Brooklands Track Ltd. announced its link-up with Gallaher Ltd., for the intended salvation of part of the old Brooklands Motor Course, than we heard that just beyond the area this combination intends to sem and museumise. North West Surrey Minerals Extraction may remove minerals from the site. Will no-one leave Brooklands alone! Brooklands Track Ltd. instituted a Public Enquiry last month into this further set-back to its aims.

On the subject of presentation of British heirlooms. there has understandably been enormous excitement over the raising of the warship “Mary Rose”, which sank 47. Yee., eIl°’ The coo of this recovery project and subsequent restoration will be some £4,000,000. The restoration may take another 20 years, There will be some 700 skeletons of soldiers and seamen who perished in the wreck to dispose of. Ilow Brooklands Track’ would benefit front £4-million which represents more than a pound

extra in every unemployed’s pocket). Brooklands gave much pleasure within remembered times to a great number of people, can one warship, forgotten for nearly 500 years, claim that? It could be restored in less time. The very few fatalities that occurred at Brixtklands were resolved a long time ago, Brooklands, too, had had Royal patronage, from two recent British Kings. . These observations deserve to be made, we think, but to show there is no ill-feeling. wc draw your attention to the fact that Mercedes-Benz (UK) Ltd. is offering a G-series Mercedes-Benz as a prize in a competition to aid the Mary Rose Trust (entry for which costs £250 — apply, Aquis House, 2737, Station Road, Hayes, Middx.) and that the address of The Mary Rose Development Trust, is: Old Bond Stire. 48 Warblington Street, Portsmouth. P01 2ET. But don’t forget Brooklands.

Colerne, September 19th

THE VSCC held an interestIng event at Coleme airfield near Bath when they ran a standing-start kilometre speed trial with times recorded for the standing 1/4-mile and the kilometre and terminal speeds at the end of the measured kilometre. A first-class entry was received and some interesting facts and figures resulted. Fastest time of the day went to David Morris in his father’s 2-litre ERA RUB. with 14.30 seconds for the 1/4-mile, 25.32 seconds for the kilometre and a terminal speed of 133.3 m.p.h. Cameron Millar’s 8CTF Maserati and Geoffrey St. John’s Type 51 Bugatti improved on the terminal speed, both clocking 135.1 m.p.h. but they could not match the acceleration of the ERA. Lord Raglan’s Type 51 Bugatti almost equalled the ERA over the 1/4-mile but got left behind on the kilometre and on maximum speed. In the post-war class Anthony Blight’s road equipped (and driven to the meeting) 1950 Le Mans Talbot-Lago clocked 14.85 seconds for the 1/4-mile with a terminal speed of 119.8 m.p.h. Impressive in the sports car classes were Dick Smith and his son who both clocked over 100 m.p.h. with the family Meadows engined Frazer Nash. Outstanding was the performance of Gordon Russell with his single-seater 8-litre Bentley Special who did the I/4-mile in 14.90 seconds and a thundering terminal speed of 128.2 m.p.h.

In a motor cycle demonstration Colin Clifford recorded 13.05 seconds for the 1/4-mile. 25.39 seconds for the kilometre and a terminal speed of 114 m.p.h. on his 1928 Douglas 750 cc. flat-twin, while MOTOR SPORT’s D.S.J. did 14.92 seconds for the quarter and 106 m.p.h. terminal sPee’d on Clifford’s 1928 Douglas 600 c.c.

D.S.J.

OBITUARY

Claude Hill, CEng., FIMech.E, MSAE

CLAUDE HILL, a pioneering designer of four-wheel-drive passenger cars, has died. As a director and chief engineer of Harry Ferguson Research Ltd., Claude Hill was responsible for designing the Ferguson four-wheel-drive prototype vehicles and the four-wheel-drive system on the much acclaimed Jensen FF car. This car was the forerunner of the current generation of four-wheel-drive cars.

Claude Hill, who was 75, was born in Birminghani and educated at Kings Heath School and Sparkhill Institute. He served an apprenticeship with Renwick and Bertilli Ltd., and then joined Aston Martin Ltd., which he left in 1929 to join Morris Engines in Coventry, where he worked in the Production Drawing Office. After one year with Morris Engines he returned to Aston Martin as Chief Draughtsman. With the exception of a year at Vauxhall as chassis draughtsman, he remained at Aston Martin until 1949. He was successively Chief Designer, Technical Manager and Technical Director and Chief Engineer. In the late ‘forties he was responsible for the design of the Aston Martin “DBI” which, by substitution of the Lagonda engine, subsequently became the DB2.

Claude Hill left Aston Martin in 1949 to join Harry, Ferguson Research and was appointed to the board of that company in 1960. During the ‘sixties he was responsible for Ferguson’s pioneering research into production four-wheeldrive passenger cars, culminating in the announcement of the Jensen FF in 1967.

After his retirement in 1972, he continued to act as a consultant to Ferguson until his death on September 12th, 1982. — J. T. Braithwaite.

RAC Rally

WE have received more details of this year’s Lombard RAC Rally, which will be based in the City of York. The mute has been extentded further into Scotland and Wales than previously, adding an extra day to the four of last year. and will total 1,800 miles. The Minister of Sport will flag away the first car, Mikkola’s Quattro, from York Castle at 9 a.m. on Sunday, November 21st, which as usual will be the day that most of the spectator stages occur around stately homes and parks.

The finish is at York Racecourse at 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, November 25th.

CLUB NEWS

The Triumph 2000/2500/2.5 Register

THERE is now in existence a club specifically formed to cater for the owners of the Triumph 2000 range of vehicles — the “Triumph 2000 .1 2500 ‘ 2.5 Register”.

It was formed by a group of fellow enthusiasts in the High Wycombe area, and membership is approaching 400, both nationally and internationally— with members in USA, Europe, and Australia. A hi-monthly magazine — Ste Appeal — is provided in return for an annual subscription of £6.00 (00.00 overseas) plus a once-only joining fee of £2.50. Members receive full access to the Register’s new and used spares-operation, its library service, technical advice on all aspects of Triumph motoring and repairs, and tuning. Six copies of Six Appeal are sent to all members throughout the year. The Register meets annually for a whole weekend during the summer, as well as attending other car shows, where the Concours d’Elegancc is the main attraction. Local groups meet on a monthly basis throughout the country, and there is a full list of Register regalia — badges, clothing, etc. The-membership Sec. is N. R. Barber, 29, The Lawns, Peron, High Wycombe, Bucks.

Historic Commercial Vehicle Society

UNTIL recently, the Society was known as the HCV Club, so there will no doubt be a period of confusion here. Vehicles of this sort are to be seen more and more often at gatherings of various sorts, and the Society’s register extends to over 3,000 preserved lorries and ‘buses. Social activities are organised individually by the local areas, and information on these and the Society in general is available from M. J. Banfield, !denGrange. Cranbrook Road, Staplchurst, Kent.

Standard Motor Club

THIS nationwide club is for all Standard, “Avon” Standard, Standard Swallow and SS cars. There are currently 700 members, each of whom receives the magazine, The Standard, 10 times a year. In the latest issue there are details of a scheme by which owners of classic vehicles can make their cars available for film hire work, For details of membership, contact Mr. L. Fish, 1 York Gate, Southgate, London N14 6HS.

Classic Car Show

OVER 300 classic ..ars will be on diplay at the Brighton Metropolc Hotel during the three days of this show, which will be opened by Steve Oven. It runs from Friday to Sunday. November 5th. 6th and 7th. the last of these days coinciding. of course. with the London to Brighton Run, and the doors open at 10 a.m. each day, closing at 8 p ni. on Friday and 6 p.m 0,.er the weekend.

The Things they Say . . .

“SINCE 1921. Beaulieu Garage have met the demand for more exacting motoring. In the sixties, Louis Chiron, ex-Bugatu racing driver, acted as special consultant to Beaulieu Garage.” — from an advertisement in 3 weekly minoring iournal. Historians ignore! —

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