Letters From Readers, October 1958



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

My copy of Esso Road Map No. 1, London, shows certain alterations to the face of the countryside, such as London Airport, but the basic street system is at least 30 years out of date. I have confirmed this in several different locations.
I am, Yours, etc.,
S. Croydon. J. B. Roscoe

The controversy, begun by Mr. J. G. Harbord in your August issue, over the merits, or lack of same, of the “maps” sold by the National Benzole Co, is surely just one further example of a misconception of basic description.

These National Benzole publications are not, and should not be described as, maps. They are Road Plans, a different thing altogether, and as such rather better, and most certainly more easily read, than the average run of five-mile-to-the-inch Road Plans as currently published. They show clearly the road system between all cities, towns, and most villages, and this is what the vast majority of the motoring public of today requires. In fact, give the vast majority of the motoring public a true map and it is entirely incomprehensible to them.

A Road Plan shows you the road from A to Z. A map pictorially illustrates the country, if you can read it. The smallest practical form of real map is the Ordnance Survey 0.25-in, to the mile, but the Bartholomew’s 0.5 in, to the mile is to be preferred for serious motoring. For rallies, trials and bye-way work, only the 1-in, is adequate, while the walker will find that the 1 : 25,000 suits him best. Readers more mathematically inclined can work out for themselves how much it would cost to cover the area covered by a 1s. sheet of N.B. map with even a 0.25-in. Ordnance set of sheets. Does it not therefore appear that anyone who expects to get an adequate map coverage of one quarter of England for a shilling, is, to put it bluntly, living in a fool’s paradise?
I am, Yours, etc.,
Sidmouth. J. M. Shields.

I read with interest the letter published in your September issue sent in by W. J. Elles Hill regarding his episode with a driver who had run out of petrol. This is, in fact, the other half of the story. The motorist was offered a can for a nominal deposit but declined this, saying that he would not be returning that way to return it. He suggested that he had some petrol in milk bottles, and this was pointed out to him to be illegal—this ,would apply to any glass container for petrol. My attendant, rightly so, also declined to serve him with petrol in oil bottles. There are lots of factors involved at times with people running out of petrol. Sometimes they have not the money with them to buy more than a gallon, or even a half-gallon, and this could also apply to leaving a deposit on a can.

My staff are trained and, indeed, taught to deal with such emergencies, but if a motorist, because of his pride, will not state the facts or, alternatively, because he is too lazy to return the empty can (I wonder if the bottles were returned), because he was irate at running out of petrol late at night, anyway, takes it out on the poor petrol-pump attendant, who is, after all, only doing his job, which is to give service and assist the motorist wherever possible.
I am, Yours, etc.,
London, S.E.17. Oliver Cutts

In the Vintage section you mentioned that it had been rumoured that the cost of my Trojans was £10 per car. I should like to confirm this and add that this price, or less, is the present market price for Trojans in good order. Although they are quaint cars, they are not “vintage,” just old; and unless in good condition are not worth anything.
I am, Yours, etc.
London, S.W.7. John Howell.

You are a little harsh on American attempts to produce replicas of early cars. There are various aspects to consider in producing “new” old articles; why not a complete new old one rather than something, possibly more expensive, restored by rebuilding round the original crankcase and chassis members, or round just one of the original split-pins ? I should have thought that, properly introduced, these fair reproductions, illustrative of motoring history to present and future generations, could be of serious interest and entertainment. The odd deviations which startle you so much would surely distinguish between the “genuine veteran” and “fine reproduction” as well as making it legally illuminated.

In England ” antique ” and fine reproduction” furniture live together, and in Surrey we have Tudor and Stockbroker’s Tudor, probably no one being greatly deceived by either. What right have we to condemn the efforts of a young nation always striving to find something comfortingly old? Rather, let us satisfy their needs with some of our own products before all our genuine antiques are exported to that antique-starved land. Why are motor cars to receive more exalted or narrow-minded treatment than paintings, other works of art, boats, aeroplanes or other examples of craftsmanship and engineering ?

No one objects, and rightly so, to prints of famous pictures. Not everyone can, or even wants to, visit the Louvre to view the Mona Lisa. A replica of the ” Mayflower ” can sail the Atlantic; a technical school can make a replica of the Wright Biplane; replicas of “The Rocket” and the Bleriot Monoplane can be made, and so on, without adverse comment. Thus interesting developments are more easily shown to a wider circle of people. The same can apply to motor cars, but as these are more tractable units capable of being used by a wider range of people they can be made and sold in some quantity and will naturally attract the interest of people with manufacturing capacity to deploy.

Rather than taking a clenched fist attitude, which is somewhat selfish in view of the decreasing availability of ” veteran ” and, for that matter, vintage” cars, and so possibly denying people who might wish to experience this form of transport, I suggest that the Editor should imitate St. Paul in his attitude to these new aspects of motoring history and use the power of his journal to get things in the right perspective. There is a note of hope in your remark that the V.C.C. would never recognise these replicas as the real thing. Of course, they are not, but they are replicas and their existence is likely to increase interest in the originals.

Other aspects of replica status may now well arise. For instance, it is possible that the simpler type of vintage car, whether it be of originally humble performance like the Austin Seven or considerable performance like the 12/50 Alvis, might well be manufactured for the delight of our American cousins. Consider your dilemma, Sir, if the last 12/50 is defunct before you are too old and you are invited to drive a modern replica ! Imagine also the American momma’s delight at seeing a replica of the original Austin Seven in a Christmas gift catalogue. Just the thing for Junior and transportation to the supermarket !
I am, Yours, etc.,
R Hargreaves.
[Goody, goody—so long as originals and replicas do not get mixed, with the latter masquerading as the former.—En.]

We have noted the letter from Mr. R. N. Gunn (Director of Senol Ltd.) in your August issue, in which he disputes the statement that any clear, light-coloured fluid cannot contain molybdenum disulphide in quantities capable of depositing a lubrication film. He states that a colloidal suspension can be made in which the molybdenum disulphide is not visible to the naked eye but can be detected under a reasonably powerful microscope, and contains solid in sufficient quantity to provide full lubrication. Since Mr. Gunn refers to a ” colloidal ” suspension which at the Brune time is visible under a microscope, it must be concluded that his material must consist of particles having sizes between approximately 1 micron and 0.25 micron (the lowest detectable size with a powerful microscope and the best illumination). We have, therefore, made up suspensions of a molybdenum disulphide powder of these dimensions in a pale coloured mineral oil. We have observed that a concentration of 0.01 per cent, powder gives a black opaque oil, while a concentration of 0.001 per cent, shows a slight muddiness and can readily be detected by the naked eye, although a small volume might pass as being untreated, on casual examination.

Since the oils, under discussion, are used as additives to motor oils, it is apparent that, after the addition of the usual 10 per cent. of even this borderline” clear and pale” additive, the motor oil would have a molybdenum disulphide content of 0.0001 per cent. (i.e.. 1 in a million). This, moreover, is on a weight basis, the figure becoming 1 in 5 million on the more realistic volume basis.

We must admit, quite frankly, that when we were talking about an oil being clear, we were not thinking of such small quantities as these, which we should have had no hesitation as describing as “negligible” in view of our several years’ experience in the application of molybdenum disulphide to lubrication problems of all types all over the world.

We should, of course, have been delighted to have solved our difficulties of producing a stable material to pass oil filters and reduced the amount of expensive addition agent in our product by a method as simple as that indicated, which also would have enabled the consumer to appreciate the aesthetic enjoyments of giving his engine a drink of something clear and pale rather than opaque and black, but in common with the manufacturers of molybdenised lubricants all over the world, we have had to incorporate a very much higher proportion of solid with its attendant technical difficulties, with the result that the product is not only black, but very black.
I am, Yours, etc.,
G. J. C. Vineall, Technical Director, Rocol Ltd

An enjoyable meeting of the Bugatti Owners’ Club at Prescott recently, was marred for me, as I am sure it was for many other women, by the appalling state of the ladies’ conveniences. Crossing the orchard, one is aware’ some distance from the building, that all is not as it should be, and having finally gained entry after joining a queue, the worst suspicions are confirmed.

I counted three toilet rolls on the sodden floor of the entrance— and the revolting interior of a vacant cubicle filled me with such horror that I beat a hasty retreat with my small daughter into Cheltenham, thereby wasting a good deal of time when we could have been watching the events.

Reasonable facilities promote a normal standard of cleanliness which is no more than one expects to find in a public convenience, and the cost of alterations and improvements could surely well be met by setting aside a percentage of the gate entrance fee for this purpose ?
I am, Yours, etc.,
Lower Parkstone. Ray Ryley (Mrs.)
[The Editor was instructed by his proprietor to publish this letter but comments that this is one aspect of motor racing of which he has no experience.]

I am writing in support of the Armstrong-Siddeley, a make of car unjustly, I consider, neglected by enthusiasts for fine motors. Whereas many ” vintage ” cars are popular more because of the period in which they were made-I do not here include such undeniably fine pieces of workmanship as Rolls-Royce, Isotta-Fraschini or others of their class—rather than because of any outstanding virtues, the post-” vintage” car must be very good indeed to be spoken of in the same breath, and thus there are, indeed, few cars of the ‘thirties which stand on an equal footing—usually justly so—with their ” vintage ” compatriots. Among these few I would most certainly place the Armstrong-Siddeley, and I find it impossible to understand the scathing and often insulting remarks attached to those advertised. To the lover of true quality in cars, the quest for sheer speed anti” nippiness ” must necessarily be a mistake, and the sort of people who spend good money on making Fords and suchlike pieces of low-class ironmongery try to go fast are in a different world.

For anyone who appreciates a fine piece of machinery, the very best of ” vintage” and post-” vintage” designs always will appeal, because of their true and superb quality; and their engines, slow revving and low-powered in terms of maximum output, it is true, are far more useful power-plants, with their huge low-speed torque, high thermal efficiency, tremendous flexibility, immense durability and surprisingly good petrol consumptions, coupled to an unsurpassable degree of smoothness and silence, than any poor little side-valve Ford, just scraping 39 b.h.p. at revolutions which give it a maximum life of 10-15,000 miles (if you are lucky).

In the ‘thirties many manufacturers were tending towards this latter attitude, but others still clung to the fine” vintage “traditions. Among these may be numbered Lagonda, Daimler, Invicta and Arnistrong-Siddeley. If, as it seems, all-out performance is of no, or little, consequence to a man who appreciates a car of quality, why then neglect the Artnstrong-Siddeley ? These fine cars, particularly the o.h.v. Seventeen, Fourteen and 20/25, couple speed, silence, quality, durability and good looks. The Seventeen, developing its modest 60 b.h.p. at 3,000 r.p.rn., is amazingly flexible and really strong, yet smooth, at very low revs. Yet, even in saloon form, it couples a maximum of over 70 m,p.h. with acceleration to 50 m.p.h. in well under 20 sec. Moreover, its top-gear performance is phenomenal. The mention of gears brings up the question of the Wilson ” accelerating” preselective gearbox. For some reason, this type of box is little favoured by the self-styled knowledgeable— probably because the simple yet remarkable principle of the coupling of epicyclic gear-trains is beyond their comprehension! Nevertheless, these gearboxes are supremely efficient, giving split-second changing, and are extremely trouble-free, requiring only routine adjustments of the most elementary nature, and are well catered for by several specialist engineering firms in London. It is significant that they were used by Daimler (who still continue to fit them), Talbot, Sunbeam, A.C., Riley and Wolseley, amongst many others. The complaint of noise in neutral does not hold good when either the gearbox is well flushed out and refilled with the correct grade of oil or when the engine is ticking over properly. Up till 1936, Armstrong-Siddeley did not fit a clutch, but subsequently they used the Newton centrifugal clutch, an efficient and trouble-free (more so than a manual clutch) device, like Riley and Sunbeam. The 20/25 of 1937 is fitted with the remarkable Roper and Wreakes single dry flexible cork plate clutch interconnected with the gearbox to give complete isolation in neutral. The centrifugal clutch, however, is absolutely fool-proof and controllable to a degree unattainable with the conventional type.

In all, then, the qualities of Sir John Siddeley’s fine cars may be summed up as ease and delicacy of control, restrained, dignified yet elegant appearance in the best British tradition (good examples of this are the 12, 14 and 17-h.p. Sports Foursomes), superb quality of design, manufacture and execution (interior appointments being of almost Rolls-Royce quality) and good performance. In the case of the wonderful Siddeley Special, with its Hiduminium wet-liner engine, Daimler luxury is coupled with almost Lagonda Rapide performance in a very wide variety of specialised coachwork. In all models one finds silent back axles, really comfortable yet firm springing, the sturdiness and reliability of a torque-tube drive, often coupled to a floating gearbox, and roadholding of almost sports-car Character, with high-geared, light and accurate steering to match. The Axmstrong-Siddeley is a car for the Connoisseur of Quality— hut he does not need to be moneyed to enjoy the delight of owning one.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Blackpool. C. H. Haworth.
(This is a case of great minds thinking alike.” We also consider the Armstrong Siddeley unduly neglected and hope shortly to publish some history concerning it.—Ed.)

Hitler as Prophet
Whilst reading “Hitler’s Table Talk, 1941-44,” I came across something which I thought may be of interest to you and possibly warrant a little space in MOTOR SPORT.

Martin Bormann, originally compiled the notes—” To be of funda mental interest in the future.”

On June 22nd, 1942, Hitler is alleged to have said : ” . . . the Volkswagen—and I think our war experiences justify us in saying so—is the car of the future … After the war, when all the modifications dictated by war experience have been incorporated in it, the Volkswagen will become the car par excellence for the whole of Europe, particularly in view of the fact that it is air-cooled and so unaffected by any winter conditions. I should not be surprised to see the annual output reach anything from a million to a million and a half.”
I am. Yours, etc.,
Glasgow Raymond Godley

I can well appreciate Mr. Malcolm Woodward being a convert to i.r.s. and Mr. Gable seems to have found the answer to his problem with Michelin “X”.

Last year I acquired a new Wolseley 1500 but that car’s better attributes were marred by two serious shortcomings. After a couple of thousand miles excessive axle tramp developed, and at 5,700 miles the tyre wear convinced me that at around 9,000 miles it would be in need of a new set. The thought of purchasing new rubber at less than six-monthly intervals was not attractive and I decided to part company with the 1500 before the dealer could complain too much about the soles! In a then weak moment, tyre life being very much in mind, I purchased a VW, and what a fantastic car that has turned out to be. Having previously owned a 1947 1.5-litre Riley, which was a remarkable car in its day, a 1950 2.5-litre Riley (8 : 1 compression, Healey standard engine), also good, and a Morgan Plus Four, I was a little apprehensive about buying such a light, lowpowered car as the VW. However, I modified the motor and now have a 0-60 m.p.h. acceleration better than current saloons up to 2-litres and £1,500 (excluding sports hard-tops). This increase in power, together with Michelin “X” at the rear-end, checks over-steer to a point which ensures safe cornering at speeds which can honestly be described as remarkable. At 11,000 miles the tyres look like running for another 20,000 or so and the Michelin SDS on the front are barely marked.

For business use I am the reluctant driver of a company-owned Austin A95 Westminater. The vice of this vehicle when compared with the integrity of the VW is truly frightening—especially having regard to European Free Trade, not so very far off:

We undoubtedly have brilliant automobile engineer’s, vide Vanwall, Cooper, Lotus, Jaguar, and yet we seem quite unable to produce a cheap car having road holding properties commensurate with our twisty roads. On the contrary, those European countries having long straight highways seem to, abound with cars having good cornering characteristics! Paradoxical, isn’t it ?

Incidentally, like Mr. Woodward, I had an unfortunate experience with one of our main London distributors. On disposing of the 1500 I booked a demonstration an an M.G. Magnette but, having negotiated London’s West End traffic, arrived 13 minutes late, only to be told that the salesman had departed to keep a luncheon appointment, and no one else was available to demonstrate the vehicle! I can only assume that the gentleman concerned intended to dispose of my custom within a very few minutes. In the event it was put to me, with no regrets, that I should report back the following day!
I am, Yours, etc.,
Purley. K. J. Anderson.

I purchased a Vauxhall Victor Super in November, 1957. I might add that my choice of a Vauxhall was after much consideration and also, that during a course in the U.K. on my last tour at home. I spent a day at their plant at Luton, and must admit I was most impressed with all I saw, so you will appreciate how disappointed I ant now with my purchase.

In March 1958 at 3,700 miles, I discovered both my silencers had blown and also that my-engine was noisy. Both facts were reported to the local agents, Borneo Motets Ltd.. Seremban N.S.

The silencers were welded at the seams; not too successfully because they holed again within three weeks.

The noisy engine was put down to tappets and these were duly adjusted.

In June/July my silencers and engine noise was so bad I sent the car back to the agents again. The agents explained that I would have to wait a further 4/5 weeks for the exhaust system to arrive ex-U.K. (This means that I have now been waiting 10 weeks for an exhaust system ex-U.K.)

However, the agents sleeved both silencers and as such made a good job of it. At the moment both silencers are working successfully.

The noise from the engine was again put down to tappets. This I emphatically disagreed with because I suspected it was something much more serious, like the camshaft or cam followers. However, I returned my car to the agents, and they intended fitting new tappets. However. On closer investigation, they discovered the tappets were quite sound and, in fact, the gudgeon-pins on the pistons were badly worn: in addition to this my shell bearings were discovered to be in bad shape and one cylinder bore shows definite “oval” wear.

My mileage at the moment is 8,000 and, of course, the car is a mere ten months old. The agents, of course, are fitting new pistons and shell borings, and, of course, they are doing this under guarantee and I understand intend claiming from Vauxhalls.

I have no complaint against the agents, who have done all that ,s possible to help me.

In fact my complaint is against Vauxhall Motors and it stems mainly from disappointment in a car and a firm for whom I had the highest respect. I was never hesitant in expressing my delight with my purchase, and coupled with the fact that I had visited the factory I was in a way publicly acclaiming the vehicle and the firm.

But now I find myself sadly disillusioned. A car with a mere 8,000 miles’ running to be in the state that mine is, only leaves one with the thought that the fault lies with the manufacturer. The fact that the agent is fitting now pistons and bearings without cost, although my car is well out of the guarantee period, proves that he also suspects faulty manufacture.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Malaya. E. H. Walsh (Capt.).
[Our correspondent states that, on sending virtually the same letter to Vauxhall Motors of Luton, he received a reply, dated August 26th, saying that General Motors Corporation, Foreign Distributors Division, New York, accept full responsibility for sales, service and warranty of Vauxhall products in his territory and that doubtless they would be contacting Capt. Walsh through their distributors. Our correspondent adds that by September 12th they had not contacted him, but the point that puzzles him is why a fault he considers to be one of manufacture should be passed to the foreign distributors in New York. This may be the practical way of dealing with faults in cars sold overseas but, as this letter shows, it does not result in the customer regaining confidence in the product.—ED.]

The article on Major Lambton’s Rolls-Royce Phantom II interested me immensely.

I have a “Continental” Phantom II, 179 XJ, which was first registered 12/5/1930, GJ 11. Like Major Lambton’s car, the body was built by Barkers and is most unusual and very up to date even today.

Although not finished with real fish-scales, it certainly has a leaning towards the nautical, for the back is decked and it has port and starboard lights in the-door handles.

I have had the car since 1932. It first belonged to a foreign titled man and was taken in part exchange by Messrs. H. R. Owen Ltd of 17, Berkeley Street, London, W.1, who sold it to me.

I have touched 87 m.p.h. and had quite a bit in hand, so that 94 m.p.h. is quite a possibility given suitable circumstances. It is in wonderful condition and has not yet done 50,000 miles. As a ” Fondling,” it is a bit on the big side, yet it has always had and still gets lots of ” cosseting.”
I am, Yours, etc.,
A. Fillingham

I was pleased to see in your September issue letters from readers who thought, as I did, that Denis Jenkinson should be taken to task for the tone of his Monza race report.

It is a truism that actions speak louder than words : your correspondent may beat his U.P.P.I./Moss hobby-horse uphill and down dale for as long as he has a publisher, but as the years go by we continue to see for ourselves demonstration after demonstration of Moss’ courage, skill, fortitude, and sportsmanship.

Could it be the success, not of Stirling Moss, but of Stirling Moss Limited, which has upset Mr. Jenkinson ?
I am, Yours, etc.,
Gravesend. Peter Twiss

It is with growing irritation that, month by month, I have witnessed in your columns the development of Mr. Jenkinson’s “philosophy” of motor racing. The idea that some sort of higher good is achieved by death on the race track is repugnant. It is a characteristically Fascist doctrine paralleled before the war by the Nazi attitude to mountaineering.

Motor racing can never be safe but it is the responsibility of legislators of the Sport to prevent the risks being excessive, as they have recently threatened to become.

To impugn the courage of the men who provide “D. S. J.” with copy and MOTOR SPORT indirectly with a fair part of its income is beneath contempt.

Then there is this curious repetitive doctrine of Grand Prix drivers being on a ” pedestal.” This apparently entitles Mr. Jenkinson to say what risks they are obliged to run. In my view they have no such implied obligation, any more than the American drivers (whom he so lavishly praises) have any obligation to race at Nurburgring.

If Mr. Jenkinson wishes to go to Valhalla in his Porsche well and good, let him get on with it, but would he kindly leave off moralising about the brave men who have provided us with such excellent sport since the war.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Bicester J. W. MacLurd

It is Battle of Britain day as I write this, and how right you are in your editorial comments on the present run of British miniature cars. They are no more than slightly-improved versions of the cyclecars of the early ‘twenties.

The British industry has let the Germans and Italians run away with an enormous and growing market for really small cars in just the same way that they allowed the Volkswagen to “go back to Germany” when it might have been used for the benefit of our own industry.

No real effort has been made to learn, or to apply, the lessons of Continental two-stroke design as applied to miniature cars; we see bob-weights on cranks instead of disc-webs, chains, even open chains, for primary and secondary drives, and “cooling” (ye Gods!!) dependent upon the vehicle’s movement through the air to maintain heat-exchange.

Long ago we should have had at least one miniature of less than 500 c.c. in large-scale production, to bring in additional foreign currency from exports, and able to be sold here for less than £300 inclusive of the iniquitous purchase tax.

Rightly, you have repeatedly sounded the alarm with your comments on the Volkswagen, and your honest criticisms of the car provided for test by various members of the British industry. More power to your elbow. No-one will be better pleased than I if it ever, becomes possible to buy a really good British-made miniature that can take on the Continentals “at level weights” and show them the way home, instead of being beaten out of sight by them.
I am, Yours. etc.,
Horsham Peter Coleby

Lieutenant-Commander Gully refers this month to his difficulties in insuring an Alvis Speed Twenty. For the benefit of other Alvis owners who may have similar difficulties may I mention that among the many services which this Club renders to its members is the provision of insurance cover at very competitive rates and without numerous restrictive clauses. The Club’s broker will give full comprehensive cover on all Alvis cars made since 1932.
I am, Yours, etc.,
New Malden. K. R. Day