RUMBLINGS, October 1950
That ” Real ” Motor Car
Ian Niekols tutu an interesting article in the last issue of the B.A./?.C. Gazelle, in which he defined the ” real ” motor car. ” ” Nickols confessed that his idea of a ” real ” motor car is based on ” speed for money,” coupled with controllability that enables safe high-average speeds to be set up. He “
makes it absolutely clear that he finds his ” real “cars in the ranks of present-day produittions. ” Any mention of real ‘ motor cars that disparages the moderns collectively, or entirely ‘ includes them out ‘,” writes Nickols, ” is immediately suspect in our mind as the product. of a class-conseious, blinker-shrouded fanatisin.”
Now that is a point well made, if it really need.s making. Many years ago the Vintage S.C.C., that. very powerful, very well rim and very well supported body catering for those whose tastes lie in the older ears, declared, through its ” Bulletin ” Editor. Cecil Chilton, that in the matter of sheer performance the vintage car could no longer claim to vanquish, or necessarily equal, the modern car. Forrest Lycett’s National Belgian records established recently by his 1930 8-litre Bentley rather give the lie to this but in general it remains correct. The ” real ” motor car must be a current production, if, by ” real motor car,” we mean something we erm drive hither and thither like a sealed-down Grand Prix racing car. The modern Alfa-Romeo, Aston-Martin, Ferrari and such like vehicles qualify perhaps ? Indeed, Mr. Nickols need not have been quite so anxious to ” include out ” ears which have ” character,” are of ” good solid English workmanship ” and so on. Those folk, and they increase in numbers daily, who turn to tlte vintage car for their pleasure, either becaltse they cannot obtain or cannot afford anything else, certainly write letters to the papers praising certain aspects of these ears. letters which Mr. Niekols refers to as ” riding their weary hobby horses to a complete standstill.” I wonder I If these, usually not so weary, hobby horses arc economical, do not wear out front tyres every 7.000 miles, are accessible for maintenance chores and give pleasure becattse they are well made, why shouldn’t their owners say so ? The owner of a. 3-litre Bentley
or a ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall can (,lain n all these at without suggesting that his car will beat. a sports Ferrari front London to Cambridge.
Mr. Nickols is very eager to ensure that motoring critics ” have a wide personal experience of marry different types ” they usually have–E0.1 and that they ” review any particular car in the light of what it is expected to do and how well it. does this ” without considering whether vhat the car is expected to do is of any interest to them personally. This, suggests that Mr. Niekols is even a little afraid of vintage competition. Ile feels that ” character ” in ears can be overdone and remarks that ” the tact that one is piloting an ex Grand Prix winner seems to be of only academic interest if a number of quantity-produced modern cars regularly cover the same distance in the Same time “–to which we cannot resist adding that they would have to be quite good quantity-produced ears 1.o keep up with the 19(18 G.P. Bala, or Deal’s G.P. Sunbeam.
In many ways we think Dud, to judge IL .car by ” what. it is expected to do and how well it does this ” plays into the hands of 1:he vintage cars, which perform the tasks they were designed to perform singularly well, whereas many moderns are disappointing in respect of steering, road-hr riding, (omfort, and performanceespecially if prevailing market values are taken into eonsideration !
However, ” real ” motor ears arc the subject at issue and here we agree a ” TI) ” M.G. has it against an M-type, and that the Ferraris that took the pants off their rivals in the Silverstone Production Car Race are streets ahead of a 1903 Gordon Bennett Napier. Joking apart, surely the real fact is that. vintage cars in general have certain usceol qualities not evident. in current productions but that they are not. ” real ” motor ears judged solely in terms of 1950 performance and ” diceability.” If. however. Solite of these vintage ” desirables ” are deemed essential, then c” real motor car ” can be found only from the past. Perhaps it is more logical to say that each age had its ” real ” cars–from 1908 Data, thninglt ” blower-4,1. ” Bel It ley. ” 2.9 ” Maserati and ” 3.3 Bugatti, to the present-day AlfaRomeos, Aston-Marlin, Cisitalias and Ferraris. Can we shake hands on that, Mr. Niekols ? Incidentally, a contemporary has two writers who have gone
out. of their way to defend vintage cars. rIolur Bolster believes that you can go round corners tt.s fast. or faster with the correct application of ” cart-spring ” suspension than you can with i.f.s. (which is true providing you confine your fast cornering to ” billiarddable” .roads and circuits. Recent experience of the two Lester-M.G.s, one with ” cart-spring ” the other with i.f.s., leaves me in no doubt of this-En] and another writer in the same magazine courageously suggests that in matters of roadholding, gear-changing, comfort and reliability we. have gained practically nothing in the last quarter-century. De bases his assumptions, which we should never have been brave enough to do (I) on the No. 1 M.G. of 1924. Perhaps it was this latter act of vintage-heroism that prompted Mr. Nickols to write Ids article . . .
Production car racing, or stock-car racing as they call it in the States, is an excellent sales promoter. Al. present we hold a high place in this sphere of activity, with the biggest challenge to our Aston Martins and Jaguars coming from France (Talbots at Le Mans) and Italy (Ferraris at
Silverstone. But let us not overlook the private-enterprise try-out of the American Cadillacs at Le Mans this year. We know front Sydney Allard’s performa MX’S at Le Mans and 13righton that the 5.4-litre Cadillac V8 engine with its delicate valve gear is a very potent power unit. This effectiveness of the latest Cadillac engine, allied to the thoroughness with whieh Briggs Cunningham went about Ids Le Mans visit., lends strength to the suggestion that it; isn’t outside the bounds of possibility for Cadillac to win the 1951 Le Mans race outright. Then how shall we defend our ” super -sports ” theories against the challenge of so-called ” floating tin-wear ” ?
It transpires that the aerodynamic Le Mans Cadillac experienced in practice crash when Phil Walters was driving it Burt smashed the streamlined nose and destroyed the cooling duets to the brakes. Promptly a telephone call was put through to Bob Blake in Virginia, lie tieing the man responsible for the bodywork. lie was by then on holiday in England, but. was located and flown in a charter aircraft to Le Mans, SO that professional repairs could be put in hand. They dom ‘t. hang about these AIM:TIC/MS, do they ? As you. know now, American engines were used in the cars that finished third, fourth, tenth and eleventh. We look forward to seeing the Cadillaes again at Le Mans next year but must not underrate the seriousness of their challenge.
As a fitting conclusion to a very full racing season we have the Bristol M.C. and L.C.C. National Meeting at Castle Coombe
circuit on October 7th and the last 500-cc. on meeting at Brands I latch on October
14th to look forward to. The Bristol races are for sports and racing cars, over the new
circuit which replaces Lulsgate. It is a near approach to a true road circuit, incorporating four bends and some fast. comers and has already been lapped by a sports car at 76 m.p.h. It is situated 10 miles front Bath, 19 miles from Bristol, off the 13 4039 Chippenham–A(4011 TUNIVille road, reached along A 4 from London. On October 7th there will Ire five races, for all manner of racing cars from Formula III to Formula Libre, and two sports-car raves, all over 10 laps. Racing starts at. 1.30 p.m. and admission costs 5s. (inclusive of tax) to all parts, children under 16 paying half-price, and vehicle parking costing 3:1 for a coach, 55. for a car, 2s. On). for a motor-cycle. and Is. for a bicycle. Coaches run front Bristol and Bath, ‘buses from Bath and Chipping Sodlitiry.
Anyt hing the 13ristol M.C. anal L.C.C. tackles usually goes with a a swing, so don’t miss this ; £25 goes to the winner of each racing car event, there being a total of over £275 prise mitney. Not surprisingly, a month before the event entries had been reeeived from Dennis Poore, Stirling Moss, Ken NVItarton, ” Curly ” Dryden, Sydney Allard, Peter Collins, G. K. Richardson and many other celebrities. Scrutineering starts at 8 a.m. and you eall watch praetising front 9.30 onwards. Entries have closed. • •
From What one can hear, cars of over 500-c.e. may race at 13rands Hatch next year, and we believe the Mid-Kent M.C. has several big fixtures of this sort in mind.