Letters From Readers, October 1957

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

Indianapolis

Sir,

While I may agree with Denis Jenkinson’s view that it was unmannerly of the European drivers (and constructors?) to dismiss the 500 miles of Monza so roughly, I am amazed that he, like so many British and continental motor-racing journalists, has taken the serious view of this promotion which he has.

I believe with him that a serious racing enthusiast should take the opportunity to witness a “big-car” track race; and have made my required trip to Indianapolis. But really, once is enough. While one may hopefully search out the “great deal of originality in construction” which your correspondent seemed to find, the inescapable truth is that American race-car design is static; the peculiar conditions of Indianapolis, the race and the track both, have developed an antiquated freak, albeit to a very high pitch.

As an American who holds to the peculiar notion that in addition to being good clean fun, motor-racing should help to improve the breed, I reject Indianapolis and its associated manifestations. The sympathy expressed by the European motoring press for these hapless types whose cars have little in the way of brakes or transmissions, and which won’t steer to the right appears somewhat more than curious to me.

Mr. Jenkinson notes that chassis will be stronger next year, now that the boys know what Monza’s all about . . . Which makes it the more of a pity that they weren’t required to drive one heat of the three in a clockwise direction, and on the road course.

This might have:

1. Equalised things so that Comm. Ferrari, the Orsis and others might have entertained some hope that they were not entering a contest completely rigged against them, and

2. Brought about a major revolution in American racing-car design, long overdue.

I am, Yours, etc., Kenneth Meyer. New York

*

The Worth of the Renault

Sir,

So Mr. Taylor wants to start a controversy about Renaults. Well, here goes!

I also own a secondhand 750 — a 1954 model. I bought it in July 1956, since when I have clocked up 11,000 miles. (This includes a 3,000-mile tour of France with four up and piles of luggage.) Except for a new windscreen wiper motor — the gears of the old one were stripped when an errant Dartmoor pony chewed up the wiper arm — this car has given perfect service.

The brakes are excellent — even with “hands off.” The engine starts instantly even in the coldest weather. And roadholding is outstanding; few small cars — or large ones for that matter — can go round tight corners with such a firm grip on the road.

As for Mr. Taylor’s condemnation of the i.r.s. assembly — I am truly amazed. For a start, if such a state of affairs was apparent on all 750s, this marque would hardly be so popular with millions of hard-driving Frenchmen. Nor would it have proved so successful in rugged events like the Mille Miglia, where it has outclassed many more powerful cars.

One more point I cannot let go unchallenged. Mr. Taylor says that most Renault owners admit that their cars are “awful.” I just couldn’t disagree more! Not only have I met very enthusiastic Renault owners — I have also had some very flattering remarks passed on this car by many pro-British types.

Snags? Of course there are. She’s definitely noisy at high speed. Synchromesh could be better. The indicator arms rattle like clappers and the inside trim is hardly luxurious. But for roadholding, petrol economy (45-50 m.p.g.) and sheer “slogability,” she’s first-class. My next car will most certainly be another Renault. Hooray for such an “awful” car!

I am, Yours, etc., M. B. Wyatt. Newnham Hill.

 

Sir,

I was extremely interested to read the letter from Mr. Taylor in which he refers to the 750 Renault. It would be interesting to know at what mileage the rear-axle pivot wear developed, and also what type of road surface was usually involved. I own a 1955 750 which now has 11,000 miles on the clock, and, upon inspection, I can detect no wear at all in the swing-axle pivots. Regarding the universals, surely it is sound engineering policy to enclose these in a dust-free oil-bath, although I admit accessibility suffers.

I am rather surprised that Mr. Taylor seems to have no good points for the Renault, as in some respects it is an outstanding little car. Considering its engine size, the acceleration is amazing, and this, coupled with the light and accurate steering, make it such a fascinating car to drive. It is certainly not perfect, especially as regards engine and transmission noise, but, then again, what mass-produced cheap small car is? I think it would be improved by the addition of an extra gear ratio, and also by omitting underseal under the wings, since this soon peels off in patches. The omission of an engine oil filter is also rather surprising, although, again, I suppose the initial cost enters into it.

I am, Yours, etc., D. R. Phillips. Alvaston.

*

Railton Enthusiasts

Sir,

May I be allowed to reply to the letter from Mr. Hyde-East concerning the Railton Owners’ Club? Without wishing in any way to take sides in their dispute with the Vintage Sports-Car Club, I must say that the Railton Owners seem to be very odd people. I myself am the owner of one of the Hudson-Engine Specials, about which they are so cutting in their remarks. Far from not wishing us to join the Club, the Secretary of the Railton Club took a friendly interest in my Skinner Special and asked me to join, but the Committee took me in as an Associate Member. After many months I heard no more about the Club, saw no signs of any competition activity whatever, and resigned. My other reason for doing so was that I found that the Hudson gearbox was very pleasant for touring but did not stand up to hard driving in competitions — which it was not, I believe, designed for. Some months after my resignation I started receiving correspondence.

I think the remarks with regard to Hudson Specials are rather uncalled for because, if one considers the record of the Hudson Owner Specials as compared with the record of the much greater number of members who own Railton cars since the war (with the one most honourable exception of Mr. Raven with his open Railton), competition work has been undertaken by the Hudson Specials to a much greater extent than by Railton owners. 

My own Skinner Special has done a mere six events — three hillclimbs and three Bugatti Rallies. The Triangle Skinner Special and the Spikins Hudson Special have undoubtedly done a good deal more competition work than my car has. My car was built as a tourer and not a competition car anyway.

If one goes back to the days before the war, the Spikins Hudson was successful in winning one of the R.A.C. Rallies and I believe that Strang’s Special tourer was the fastest Hudson-engine car in terms of Brooklands lap-speed, while one very seldom saw the Railton competing then — as now.

I do not in any way wish to run down the Railton car. I think it is a very bad principle to run down other people’s cars anyway, but it seems to me that the fault lies with the people who own them in that they talk about what they could do to the competition if they entered but they rarely set out to prove it.

As far as the Vintage Sports-Car Club is concerned, I must say that they used to take a pretty poor view of Invictas and made a number of adverse remarks, but they only amused us so we entered our cars for open events like Shelsley, Silverstone, Prescott, Rest-and-Be-Thankful, Brunton, Firle and other track and hill-climb events and worked our passage the hard way, when the Vintage Club made honourable amends.

So, Mr. East, we can only suggest that the Railton owners forget their grievance, turn up at the starting line in the same quantities and have a good go and enjoy themselves. A piece of advice which I am sure Mr. Reid Railton would endorse!

I am, Yours, etc., Donald Monro. Covent Garden.

[With reference to this correspondence Mr. Hyde-East asks us to emphasise that he headed his original letter “A Small Band of Enthusiasts. — Ed.]