Letters from Readers, October 1952



N.B.—Opinions expressed are those of our correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them—Ed.

American Critic on the Mk.VII Jaguar


Uncle Tom McCahill, motoring correspondent of Mechanic Illustrated, writes of his local American record of almost 101 m.p.h. in his Mk.VII Jaguar saloon (mentioned in Motor Sport as an Editor’s note in connection with a letter by an American) as follows:—

“The trunk space was bigger than the one in the car I then owned, the seats and all appointments were far superior to anything that has emerged from Detroit for many years . . . The Jaguar handles like a sports car and will out-corner and out-manoeuvre any full-sized American Car ever made, bar none. It holds the road like a miser holding onto his last buck. The steering qualities are magnificent and the adjustable steering wheel and two-way adjustable seats make it easier to stay with, and less tiring, for hours at a stretch, than any car we have. It also rides better than any Detroit product I have tested. This car . . . with an engine actually as small as a Plymouth’s, didn’t have the getaway punch some of these boys admire.” (He recommended dual exhausts and high-lift camshafts).—”Next we put on the dual exhausts–and this did it!  Why the factory made the old Mk.IV Jaguar with dual exhausts and then installed the XK120 race engine in the Mk. VII, only to choke it up with a single muffler and small pipe, will always be a mystery to me. Now I was creaming the Chrysler V8s in drag-races and on the measured mile I was clocking close to 112 m.p.h. actual. No stock Chrysler or Cadillac ever built could stay with me.”

After giving an account of the record breaking and of the features of Mk. VII design well-known in England, he goes on to say, “The Jaguar is no stop-and-go car by any standards and is at its worst in creeping traffic, when it requires gear changing to tax the patience of Job.

“After I tested the XK 120 Editor Bill Parker got a very stinging letter from the Jaguar factory in England because I had complained that despite its many virtues the car was put together like a Chinese laundryman’s version of a Western sandwich. I won’t repeat that crack about the Mk. VII. This one is assembled like a cowboy version of a Chinese chop suey. To be more specific :— In the first 3,000 miles the starting carburetter switch went haywire. The speedometer froze, I broke three speedometer cables. The car lost all its anti-freeze several times because the head bolts weren’t tight and the seat crank broke when it sheared its silly aluminum rivets. The tachometer (needless to say, the rev.-counter —P.H..) ran dry and sounded like a cricket with hiccoughs until it was greased. The fan belt, stretched to a point where it no longer turned the generator or water pump. Loose fitting gas-fill caps caused bad fumes in the cabin. The grease retainers on the front wheels leaked.

“The turn indicator went screwy and the windshield developed water trickles right down the centre column, although the sliding roof – a great feature – remained tight as a drum even in torrential rain. The gaskets on the foot vents came off and, as if this wasn’t enough, the rubber foot pads on the brake and clutch pedals wouldn’t stay on. All . .. didn’t cost me a cent for new parts. And after these growing pains the car has given me less trouble to maintain than a sundial.

“All in all, this is a quality car from one end to the other. Dollar for dollar I think the Mk. VII is the best automotive buy in the world today . . .”

I am, Yours etc.,

Truro. P. M. Hosken.

[It is nice to know that even Uncle Tom McCahill has praise for the excellent Mk. VII Jaguar. We know those “very stinging letters from the Jaguar Company,” who seem unable to accept fair criticism, although they should realise that if a motoring writer witholds criticism when this is warranted, his words of praise, however glowing, will mean very little to intelligent readers. In this, Uncle Tom and Motor Sport see eye-to-eye! – Ed.]


Oversize Cars


In answer to your correspondent A. E. Hardman, I can confirm that Voisin did make a 12-cylinder-in-line car in 1938 as I have the drawings and particulars before me now. The engine was virtually two standard 3-litre six-cylinder engines close coupled end to end, but in spite of this the car was not large, about 10 ft. 3 in. wheelbase, nor was the bonnet long, about 5 ft., as the engine extended back nearly as far as the instrument board and being sleeve-valve could be accommodated in a very narrow box which did not interfere with the seating comfort any more than a gearbox hump would do. The in-line arrangement had at least two advantages for it brought the centre of gravity well back, in fact in the centre of the car, and very much longer big-end and main bearings could be fitted than would be possible in a “V” twelve engine. The body was a most artistic streamlined saloon exceptionally low with enclosed rear wheels. The engine was a 12-cylinder-in-line sleeve valve 76 by 110 of 6-litres capacity giving 180-h.p. at 4,000 r.p.m. with a speed of 200 k.p.h. in exceptional comfort and silence, as I can well believe having owned two of the six-cylinder versions, at different times, and these were far and away the most silent and sweetest running cars I have ever owned.

It was claimed, according to La Vie Automobile to be La Voiture de tourisme la plas vite du monde.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Yeovil. Angus C. M. Maitland


B.M.W. Register


The inclusion of the B.M.W. Register amongst the “Directory of Clubs,” published in your August issue has been of great assistance in gaining new members.

To date, the total is now 36, made up as follows :—

Type 34. 1; type 48. 4; type 45, 8; type 55. 6; type 319. 2; type 326. 1; type 327, 2 ; type 328, 4; type 329. 1; not stated. 7—total 36.

As soon as full details of the cars have been received from the owners, a list will he circulated, together with such useful information as has been collected.

It is suggested that a meeting might be held in October, at which to draw up the objects of the Register in greater detail, to elect officers and to ascertain what steps should be taken to arouse wider interest.

Your continued assistance will be greatly appreciated.

I am, Yours, etc.,

London, S.W.14. R. J. Hewitt.


Defending the Honour of R.R.


I have never written to a motoring journal before, but as a motorist who started when two-letter registrations (AT 56) were a novelty, and as an owner of Rolls-Royce cars for the past seven years, I am amazed at the stupidy of the New Zealander in “Point of View,” August issue.

Obviously he has had no experience of Rolls-Royce cars and is not exactly worried about a statement being true or otherwise. I say that 1,250,000 miles in 17 years in one vehicle (230 miles every day?) is impossible.

If this man has so little praise for Britain and her products he should not be in New Zealand.

He can take it from me, that he cannot produce any car over 14 h.p, that will give the trouble-free service and cheapness of overall running costs to compare with a Rolls-Royce.

Where can he find a number of American cars of between 1923 and 1929 that are giving the same good service that the Rolls-Royce of those years are still giving? Ask him if he knows of a Cadillac equal to one of my Rolls?  She has done 400,000 miles and has just had the engine out of the frame for the first time, and has just been rebored 20 thou. A 1923 model, she was used by Mr. Churchill in Hull that year. I bought her in 1947, and including her first overhaul in 1950 she has cost less than £20 a year for maintenance. She now has a truck body. My 1925 “Twenty” saloon has run 15,000 miles since overhaul and has needed only one set of plugs and fresh oil every 2,000 miles since. I certainly have to admit that a 1937-39 Yank might leave my 1925 Rolls, but it would never leave a 25/30 Rolls, and I have yet to find an American car with a braking system as good as even a Morris, or a lighting set as good as Lucas.

New Zealander should take a lesson in metallurgies. Rolls-Royce have never yet had to resort to tortured tinware in an attempt to hide “what’s underneath” or even disguise the front in the last decade. What a pity this man cannot, like a Rolls-Royce, “be seen but not heard.”

I am, Yours, etc., Hull. G.D. Empson