N.B. — Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them. — Ed.
A Successor to Ards?
How intriguing to join you, if I may, in your “Rumblings” (August issue), ramblings or pipe-dreams, call them what you will.
There is no doubt that Goodwood leaves much to be desired as a Tourist Trophy Circuit, even if almost all the customers pay to watch the race. Equally, almost all your readers could think of at least one, either locally or further afield which public roads would admirably provide, but for an adverse public opinion.
I should like to advance the claims of such a one in the Winchester district, part of which you referred to in your article, namely A30 from Stockbridge as far as a sharp right-hander (not unlike Thillois) along B3420, a well surfaced extremely fast Roman road fringed by beech, high forest, joining A34, which swoops down Three Maid’s Hill, nearly ruler straight all the way, westwards at the Harestock crossroads by a link road which would have to be constructed to avoid a residential road, narrow and uneven. At the side of the new track the ideal site for pits and grandstands, thence to connect, two miles N.W. of the town of Winchester, with A272, with its swerving bends, undulating until it plunges into Stockbridge, where, at an acute angle past some houses, A30 climbs steeply to the right.
This is a really testing driver’s circuit, 17 miles in length. In an Austin-Healey 100-Six amidst Sunday evening traffic which imposed some restraint, I covered it in almost exactly 17 minutes, a 60 m.p.h. average. Your guess is probably better than mine, but I should say that the faster modern sports racing car could attain a two-mile-a-minute average using all the road, a lap time of 8½ minutes, less than that of the Nurburgring, being 14 miles round and testing in a way which precludes sustained high speeds.
This magnificent course would require a field of about 50 cars to maintain spectator interest. It is well provided with escape roads, including one which would take the driver and his car straight over the bridge across the railway, up the broad main street of Stockbridge, flanked by innumerable public houses, reminder of the village’s former association with that inferior sport of the turf or kings.
So it only remains to divert the traffic, remove a few keep left signs, after having constructed pits and link road, and we’re away to a good start. Oh, well . . . See you at Goodwood next September, I suppose (and for evermore?)
I am, Yours, etc., L. S. Ellis. Shawford.
What About “De-Tuning” Kit?
One reads much today of tuning kits all with the same idea of getting more power from the engine. To the great mass of users this is unrealistic as more and more cars are being used almost entirely in convoy traffic conditions for at least 90 per cent. of their running.
The mass-produced car being a compromise between the two requirements of flexibility and ease of driving on the one hand and that of high performance on the other, it would seem that there is a need for “de-tuning” kits for those who do not like rowing their cars along with the gear lever in town and suburban traffic conditions.
I visualise, for example in the case of the Morris Minor and Austin A35, boring the block out some 2 or 3 mm., fitting pistons with reduced compression height to bring the c.r. to about 6 to 1, and the fitting of a very small carburetter of say 20-mm. bore.
If manufacturers would cease slavishly following one another they might even design a car specially for such needs, a vehicle weight about 15 cwt. with 1,400-c.c. (4 by 350-c.c. cylinders) engine, valves in head of course with B M C.-type combustion chambers, a low compression-ratio and small carburetter. The engine would have a moderate maximum power output, say 30 b.h.p., and be lightly built and untunable.
The normal town-running top gear would be about 625 r.p.m. per 10 m.p.h., with a geared-up highest gear at say 500 r.p.m. per 10 m.p.h for when the car was out of its normal environment. I believe such a car would satisfy more users than the buzz-boxes being made by most firms, and would be pleasanter and easier to drive in today’s traffic conditions.
Incidentally, the Volkswagen conception is rather like the above, yet no manufacturer has had the courage to take a leaf out of its book in spite of its success.
Concluding, the pre-war Fiat 1,100 had a very low c.r. (6.1 to 1) engine yet gave good petrol consumption, a very flexible performance on its quite high top gear and, in my view (I have had three), was a better car than the post-war B.M.C. and Standard buzz-boxes.
I am, Yours, etc., F. W. Champion. London, N.21.
Replies to “Hard to Please”
Poor Mr. Atkinson (August Motor Sport) is an unhappy motorist and, as the caption says, hard to please. I think his main trouble is that he doesn’t really know what he wants in a car. Certainly anyone who finds himself switching between a moderately-priced family saloon, a low-priced (in Germany) utility car and a sports car, must have a very confused outlook. Now let us consider his letter in detail.
His criticism of the VW is quite unjustified. If he wants Rolls-Royce type silence let him buy such a car, remember that in its own country the VW is a utility vehicle and anyway a bit of experimenting with glass wool can bring about a notable improvement. It is not ugly, its shape is functional and sensible. It is not uncomfortable for the type and size of car; I have driven long journeys in a VW with no undue fatigue. It is certainly not under-powered, it produces exactly the power intended by the designer. Does Mr. Atkinson know that top is in fact an overdrive and that the car should be handled accordingly. As for “vicious oversteering,” I would say that “gross overcontrolling by the driver” would be nearer the mark.
Now for the Herald. He certainly seems to have had an unhappy time with this car. I have had a saloon Herald since July 9th and have also covered nearly 2,000 miles. My car has never leaked and its first ten days seemed to he spent in a continuous cloudburst. With the single carburetter engine, my performance figures are better than his. I have had no trouble with the gearbox or lever other than a split rubber boot. My doors don’t need to be slammed. I have had squeaks in the suspension, but believe there is a cure. If I couldn’t keep straight at 60 m.p.h. I should either check my tyre pressures or go back to a good driving school. In short, your report of the Herald has been confirmed by my own experience. I find it a very well designed car with excellent handling qualities and the ability to achieve very respectable averages without a high maximum speed and in perfect safety.
No, Sir, before Mr. Atkinson makes sweeping condemnations of motor cars, I suggest he examines firstly, his own driving methods and secondly his attitude to cars in general.
I am, Yours, etc., G. R. S. McKay. Bedford.
I endorse the remarks made by Duncan Roach Atkinson in the current issue, oddly captioned “Hard to Please.”
My sister has just left my house after yet another despairing visit in her Herald: the fifth car and the third new car she has owned. Never before have there been so many valid complaints.
Mr. Atkinson’s item 6: “The greaseless suspension squeaked.” This seems a gross understatement compared with the aviary my sister has acquired, providing greaseless nesting conditions for over 1,000 birds. Item 9: “The doors dropped and were consequently difficult to close.” This also is true, although my sister states that she had to have a door repaired to prevent it dropping right off. Other troubles include: The front driver’s seat sags as though the car had done 40,000 in lieu of 2,500 miles. The stuffing is dropping out of the head lining. The choke when gently pulled came right off. Numerous other thorns are pricking, but what really gives cause for concern is a peculiar note which the exhaust is using to herald some other tricks that appear to be in store.
I too had a VW for trial after selling my Morris 1000 last March, and again agree in toto with Mr. Atkinson, although owing to family needs my final choice was a low-line Ford Consul.
I am, Yours, etc., Hubert R. Thomas. Bromley.
I thought the heading placed by you over the letter from Mr. Atkinson of Swansea in your August issue rather unfair. I don’t think I should describe anyone finding all the faults he did on the new Trimnph Herald as “hard to please,” rather I think he should be invited to help compile your future road test reports!
The faults he lists are the sort of things which drive any reasonably minded owner to near distraction. When he finds one thing after another going wrong he very soon forgets things like wonderful petrol consumption, Italian lines and all the rest of the propaganda with which he has been inundated. All he thinks of is that he had paid a lot of money for a lot of junk.
I had a similar experience to your correspondent when in April this year I took delivery of a model which at that time was “The most advanced small car of today,” namely the new Austin A40. I kept it two months during which time I found it leaked badly, a new silencer had to be fitted, two replacement gearboxes were fitted, the doors could not be stopped from rattling, the heater controls were not connected. As if this was not enough I found that after two polishings of the paintwork the undercoat started to show through, this being evident under the peak above the rear window and along one wing. It appeared to be caused by rough metal below the paintwork, the paint wearing off the high spots when polished. I also found the road noise unbearable in spite of underseal and the only time the speedometer needle was steady was when the car was stationary!
The general quality was very poor and after losing £100 on ridding myself of a big disappointment I am now in possession of a Ford Prefect. I know it has still got a side-valve engine and three-speed gearbox but at least the quality of the bodywork is way ahead of anything in it’s price range and I do feel when I drive it that I am in something neat and substantial.
I am, Yours, etc., William H. Abbott. Badminton.
I feel I cannot let Mr. Duncan Roach Atkinson’s tirade against the Triumph Herald go unanswered.
I should imagine that any person of moderate intelligence would understand that a new and revolutionary product must have certain minor teething troubles. Surely the sensible course is to return it to the manufacturer or his agent and give an opportunity to put matters right, rather than to start bleating about it. Had Mr. Atkinson adopted this simple course he would have found that most of his complaints had already been noted and corrective modifications already been arranged for by the makers through their dealers.
I also own a Herald coupe and at 3,000 miles I am delighted with this wonderful little car. It is streets ahead of anything anywhere near its price and is fully worthy of all the praise it has received from Motor Sport and others.
I will now answer your disgruntled correspondent’s complaints in order.
1. My car has never leaked even when standing out in a cloudburst. 2. Though I have not yet driven the car flat, the maximum speeds so far recorded are as follows: second gear 32 m.p.h., third gear 63 m.p.h., top 74 m.p.h. 3. Slight vibration of gear lever is evident, but not obtrusive. 4. It has never jumped out of reverse. 5. The windows did, I believe, tend to jump out of their runners on a few early cars, but mine was modified by the dealer on maker’s instructions before I took delivery. 6. The suspension does not squeak. 7. I have travelled quite a number of miles with two passengers in rear seat without anything fouling the prop. shaft. 8. Any near side list is compensated by the driver. 9. My doors have not dropped and are easy to close. 10. The independent rear suspension does of course give the Herald infinitely better roadholding than its counterparts. It prevents rear end bounce and tramp and gives a “large car feel.” The steering characteristic is approximately neutral; it is both accurate and positive and does not wander at any speed. The suspension has never bottomed even with four up, and the wheels have never rubbed underneath the wings.
I would now refer to Mr. Biske’s complaints about the side lights. If he will examine them, he will notice that they have prismatic glasses, the upper surface projecting forward some ¾ in. from the body. When the bonnet is raised, this upper surface, passing through some 90 deg. faces forward, and the diffused light therefrom is fully visible at standing height for a half-mile and no doubt far greater distances.
In conclusion I would wish the Triumph Motor Co. the success they undoubtedly deserve with their magnificent departure from orthodoxy, and add that I have no connection with them, or any other concern which might be interested in vilifying their products.
I am, Yours, etc., J. D. Cartledge-Ellis. Petts Wood.
How Does The Volvo Rate?
Having followed the progress of the Volvo with considerable interest through numerous rallies, Silverstone, and four different road-tests, I am wondering if you can persuade any of your readers, who have been running one of these apparently desirable cars to tell us his experiences. It is often very difficult to obtain this type of appraisal and it would, I feel, be of great interest to many other potential buyers — especially with so many rumours of wonderful new domestic models — without that import duty!
I am, Yours, etc., W. B. Horner. Barnes.
[Our road-test impressions appeared in the February, 1959, issue — Ed.].
Another Ford V8 Fan
Like Mr. V. Outen in your last issue, I also have a soft spot for the Ford V8. In 1955 a friend and I found ourselves in San Francisco with little money and no transport. We saw the Ford standing on a steep slope in San Francisco’s Chinatown. After searching around for a while we finally traced the owner, and for 20 dollars plus an old wrist watch the car became ours. That car took us for 8,000 miles around America. Never were we let down, and the engine was never noisy. Not even in hundred-degree heat did the performance drop.
When we finally arrived in New York we had to leave the car on a dump, no scrap dealer would have it, and we could not even give it away. Nevertheless, we could have turned around and headed for California knowing that we were very sure of reaching there, as far as the car was concerned.
I enclose a photo of the Ford taken in Hollywood. As you can see, my companion was a little ashamed of standing too close to it!
I am, Yours, etc., Richard Lindy. Old Tupton.
Cycle Racing on the Roads
While reading the Motor Sport of September I could not help noticing with some indignation your remark concerning racing on the roads of this country, where you stated: “except by cycling clubs?”
As you may know, cycling tracks in this country are extremely few and far between, this means that we enthusiastic followers of a rapidly increasing sport are left no alternative but to race on the roads. Of course some aerodromes have been maintained in order that motor racing enthusiasts may follow their chosen sport. On one occasion last year, a successful cycle racing meeting was held on the Mallory Park circuit, but as far as I know this has not been repeated.
Cycle racing on the roads usually takes two forms, i.e., massed-start road racing and time trialing. Massed-start road races are now rigidly controlled by the police, without whose permission they may not be held. The number of accidents caused by cyclists in these events in which other road-users are injured are negligible. Take for example this year’s highly successful Tour of Britain, sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board.
Time trials are held in the early mornings (usually starting about 6 a.m.), from my motoring experience I can assure you that they cause little or no inconvenience to other road-users, this is mainly due to the riders starting at one-minute intervals.
I hope this letter will help to show you that until such time as other facilities are available for our sport, e.g., circuits on aerodromes, we have no alternative but to race on the roads. Of course the speeds travelled by racing cyclists rarely exceed 45 m.p.h., when this is compared with the 100 m.p.h. plus of some speed-crazy motorists, I think there can be little objection raised against our racing on the roads.
I am, Yours, etc., Alan J. Baker, Member of the British Cycling Federation. Wickhambrook.
[We did not criticise cycle racing on the road, we merely stated that it is allowed, which Mr. Baker confirms. So shall we “live and (one hopes) let live?” — Ed.]
Where Are the Cooper School Team Drivers?
Owing to a letter that appeared in the August issue of Motor Sport, I wrote to the Cooper Racing Training Division and asked for their application form. I pointed out that I was over 25 (which I consider to be the maximum age at which a man should start training for the greatest sport in the world), and that they may consider me too old. They send me an application form, and some duplicated papers.
Now this may have been an automatic process, on the basis of “one letter in, one set of papers out,” without having read my letter, so I filled in the application form, putting the date of birth in red, my age in red, and where it said “enclosing the sum of £5 5s. 0d.” I crossed this out, and wrote: ” as I am 38 I will not send you the lolly unless you consider me a suitable applicant,” (or words to that effect).
They sent me a letter, not a duplicated thing, but a letter addressed to me personally, saying that I was suitable, send the lolly. As I had pointed out four times, I am 38!
The Cooper Co. may be able to excuse their lack of drivers by saying that they have not had a suitable person yet. They may answer Mr. Macefield’s letter by saying that he was not really suitable, but that they were willing to let him go on trying, at his own expense, although I do not think this is a nice way of doing things. They may say they are not merely out for money, but are really trying to do the sport some good. They may have dozens of excuses that, on the face of it, are fair enough to meet the case. But I wonder what excuse they will have for accepting a man of 38 as a suitable applicant, providing he sends the lolly?
If he is presumed to be a Fangio-in-embryo, he is still too old to train. If he has had enough experience to justify training, he should not need it. And if, on the basis of an application (and they have to take his word for all he tells them), they consider him, at 38, to be so good as not to take his age into the count against him, then they should not be in the race game, but in fortune telling!
I am, Yours, etc., H. Hapston. Harlow.
[This is another point of view, but what we should like to see, to augment the letter from Mr. Ian Burgess published last month, is a balance sheet to date and a list of those successful trainees who will be seen at the wheel of Cooper Junior Formula cars “as soon as suitable races are organised for this class of car.” Will they include Arthur Mallock, for example? — Ed.]
In Defence of the Dyna
I, too, was a little ruffled by the unkind things your Continental Correspondent said about the roadholding of the Dyna Panhard in your November 1958 edition. Remembering, however, that “we do not argue with our Continental Correspondent,” and having anyway the greatest respect for his views and his driving skill, I have held my peace. But reading the letter from ” F.R.C.S.” of Portsmouth, has prompted me to back him up.
I will concede that the handling characteristics of the Dyna have to be wooed with a certain amount of perseverance if they are to be fully enjoyed, but this, after all, is true of all women.
Having once got accustomed to the initial roll on the tyres (not the suspension — tyres are Xs at only 18 or 19 p.s.i.) when going into a fast corner, and having learnt not to throttle back on feeling this, cornering became almost as much fun as it was in my 1935 Mk. II Aston Martin. I do not believe the back end will ever break away and if the front goes — well, at least you go straight on! If you are a little more skilful than I am you can even survive this by nicely balancing power and slip angle to regain control.
Do you think you could persuade “D.S.J.”to try again?
I am, Yours, etc., J. H. E. Weber. Sutton Coldfield.
[It is not so much a question of “D.S.J.” trying again as persuading Citroen Cars to let us have a Dyna Panhard for full road-test. — Ed.]
Cars in Books
I wonder if it has occurred to many of your readers, as it has to me, that the current school of young novelists belonging to the “Lucky Jim” group — John Braine, Kingsley Amis, John Wain, etc., all are uniformly car-conscious. Whenever a car is mentioned in their novels it is almost invariably the case that the model is named and, frequently, the type.
Perhaps the best example of this is the episode in Braine’s “Room at the Top,” in which the ambitious Joe Lampton notes (with green envy) an Aston Martin draws up outside a cafe where he is having a cup of tea. To Lampton it is a symbol of all he wants — an expensive but non-flashy, hand crafted object, a “rich man’s plaything.” But Braine describes it so accurately and lovingly that there is no doubt of the author’s interest. Incidentally, from the cycle mudguards and other features Braine notes, it is a pre-war Aston; there must be a number of good examples available in Britain but in the film a Lagonda was substituted. Does any reader know why?
While the Irish author W. J. White is not as cynical as Amis and his followers, his attitude to life is still very much that of a Lucky Jim. In his excellent “The Hard Man” cars have a way of cropping up in the plot, always described in satisfying detail. A Citroen and a Mercedes-Benz play quite important roles; in both cases they are used as symbols of affluence, but here again White’s descriptions of them mark him out as an enthusiast. As the driver of a 1929 Riley Nine I was particularly taken by White’s account of a trip in an “ancient” Riley at night, in the rain, and with a defective windscreen wiper. I know exactly what he is talking about.
Enthusiasts in New Zealand probably seize on these “Cars in Books” crumbs more avidly than do their counterparts in England, for the sight of something really interesting on our roads is a rarity. Some nice specimens turn out to the Vintage Car rallies in the centres where these clubs operate but most of these are not in constant use. The last time I saw a thoroughbred parked in Auckland’s main street (it was a 1930 Invicta) there was a crowd four deep around it. Of the worthwhile pre-war machinery still in daily use perhaps Rileys are most commonly seen; odd Bentleys, Sunbeams, Alvis, M.G.s. etc., are still in use for regular transport but it is a red-letter day when one of these is spotted. As for pre-war Aston Martins, I have never seen one.
I am, Yours, etc., D. G. Dubbelt. Auckland, New Zealand.
Praise for the Twin-Cam M.G.
I refer to the letter in your August issue, regarding a “Twin-Cam in Ireland,” and as a reader of Motor Sport for the last twenty-four years, I cannot possibly let Mr. Clune’s letter go unchallenged.
Mr. Clune and I have only one thing in common — our first car was an M.G. and ever since we have always owned one. The similarity however ends here. Mr. Clune, before rushing into print, should, I suggest, first learn how to drive his car properly. When he mentions that the plugs oil up every 300 miles, perhaps he is unlucky that the plugs happen to come from a bad batch of production. All suffering from the same fault, or does he mean they get wet? He states also that the engine is rough. I do not agree. It is a bit on the noisy side. but not by comparison with the M.G. TD Model. Is there any chance he would not know when it is running on three cylinders or less?
With reference to the numerous other defects he mentions I am at a loss to understand this, because my experience over the years has been that I receive every consideration and help from M.G. Agents, the Assemblers, and the Nuffield Organisation. The Service Departments certainly take an interest in the cars they service.
I recently had the opportunity to borrow a Twin-Cam, and it gave me no trouble whatever. In my opinion, it is a very nice little car. To consider average speeds of 60 m.p.h. on Irish roads confirms this. He should remember that nothing man or machine made is perfect, irrespective of the price we pay. I am an M.G. owner of many years standing, and I have found each successive model satisfactory in its own way, and certainly good value for the money. In fact I like a Twin-Cam so much that I make Mr. Clune the following offer. I will exchange an Aston Martin DB II for his M.G. How about it Mr. Clune? If he takes me up, I can guarantee that he will not be embarrassed by the starter cable of the Aston Martin pulling out.
However much letters like Mr. Clune’s annoy me, I will always get enjoyment and much pleasure from reading your excellent Journal.
I am, Yours, etc., John J. Flynn. Dublin.
I notice in my copy of your excellent journal some pointed comments regarding the new Farina designs perpetrated under various headings by the B.M.C. One of your correspondents goes as far as to say that if one wants an Italian car one should buy Fiat or Ferrari.
Might I suggest that this gentleman arms himself with a large bottle of Marsala or Spumante and goes to have a good look at the Fiat 1800, 2100 or the Alfa 2000. I will guarantee him the whole bottle at a gulp. A series of the aforementioned Fiats were placed on a train here with a mixed bag of B.M.C. Farina types and I swear that there was less difference between the 2100 standard and the A.55 than between the Oxford and the A55. The difference between the Alfa and the Wolseley is also unsignificant. Once upon a time we used to say that all American cars looked alike, what on earth are they going to say to us!
People here are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Triumph Heralds and the new Martin 850 range and we hope that these cars will be able to hold their own against the continental opposition. The prices are right and the cars look right, lets hope there is a potential Coronation Safari class winner in one of them. Don’t the Martins look a little bit like a small Fiat? They seem to in the pictures.
It is unfortunate that in Mombasa the Nuffield and Fiat agents are in the same building with obvious running into each other, I feel that with 1800, Oxford, Mini-Minor and 600 in adjoining windows the public has a fair chance of going cross-eyed.
I am, Yours, etc., W. D. Clemesha. Mombasa.
The “Low Down” on Banking
In his report of the German Grand Prix race at Avus, your Continental Correspondent made some remarks which impel me to pen, if not a defence of banked tracks for racing, then at least an explanation of some of the odd and misunderstood effects which they involve. I am no racing driver, but I do sometimes have to test-drive cars around bankings at speeds quite high enough to demand concentration on the job in hand.
Early banked tracks such as Brooklands were saucer-like in shape, so that cars going at widely varied speeds could all find a natural “line” which gave them the right angle of bank. Montlhery, a bit younger than Brooklands, has a similar characteristic except that even the inner edge is banked for (speaking from not very recent memory) about 50 m.p.h. instead of being flat. Tracks of this kind are fine for many sorts of car testing, such as keeping going steadily at various speeds while you measure fuel consumption or the temperature of various bits of mechanism, but not for racing between evenly-matched cars. If the right “line” for every car competing in a race is around the steepest part of the banking (i.e., the top edge) the useful part of the track is, in effect, too narrow for cars to overtake one another, and fringed by either a safety fence or a nasty drop over the edge with absolutely no spare room for sorting out a skid.
For racing, if a track is banked to permit high-speed cornering within a limited amount of space, it is better to have banking of a much more constant slope — in the case of Monza track, 39 deg. for the main width of the track. That way, a driver gets about the same amount of help from the banking whether he is high up or low down on the evenly graded slope, so there is width available for one car to overtake another, and a driver can follow a “line” low enough to give him some skid-correcting elbow room without imposing a handicap on himself. Such banking will have only one “hands off” speed, which racing drivers will exceed by a margin depending upon their skill and the quality of their car, but it is not fair for your Continental Correspondent to criticise the Avus North Curve because “a car does not find a natural line round the banking as at Monza or Montlhery” — his statement about Monza is, anyway, only true of fairly slow cars using the lower half of the banking.
Driving fast around a long, steeply-banked corner is at first a most disconcerting experience. The whole world seems suddenly to have got twisted, the track ahead of you curling apparently always upwards and to one side with no horizon that means anything visible. For a while, “the seat of your pants,” by which you are supposed to judge cornering, refuses to deliver intelligent messages to your brain, but merely complains of the extra “g” load it is asked to support. After a while, however, you begin to feel a bit more at home, and find that going faster than the “hands-off” speed is not really very different to cornering at around “the ton” on an unbanked corner of larger radius: really going to the limit when there is not much room to spare if you overstep that limit is something I am happy to leave to the racing drivers, but cornering technique is not really altered drastically by banking. What is apt to be altered is the behaviour of a car.
On banking you get this “g” loading, which on Monza’s 39 deg. banking represents 28 per cent. more load on the springs and tyres at the “hands-off” speed of 112 m.p.h., as much as 83 per cent. extra if you use a tyre-to-concrete coefficient of friction of 0.5 to get round at 155 m.p.h. Going beyond the “hands-off” speed, you also get the usual cornering weight transfer from inside to outside wheels (when a touring or sports car on test starts spreading bits of tyre tread around the place, it is always an outside tyre which fails first), but it is the extra load on all four springs and tyres which can really change a car’s behaviour — a change exactly similar to that which occurs as you “pull out” from a fast dive through a Salisbury Plain switchback, in case anyone says that track effects are utterly unlike what occurs on the road.
It was Uhlenhaut of Daimler Benz, as experienced a racing engineer as any in the game, who remarked to me after the Behra tragedy: “It’s funny, you know, but Porsches are the only cars which have ever gone over the top at Avus” — and Uhlenhaut is a very good friend of the folk at the “other” Stuttgart car factory.
At first glance, this seems very strange. If you want to suppress the oversteer of a tail-heavy car with swing-axle i.r.s., any clued-up Renault or VW owner will tell you to lower the rear suspension so that the wheels lean inwards — and that is just the effect which “g” on a banked corner will produce. At second glance though, one realises that whilst this may make for stability so long as the car does not skid, the tyres carrying the heavier load are still liable to lose adhesion first (that’s why ultra-light cars do better than heavy ones on a trials hill) — and the sudden transition from understeer to rear-end breakaway is not funny, which may be one reason why the Porsche factory entries for races held during the last few months have not had swing-axle i.r.s.(?)
Reverting to the original reason for this letter, however, I must repeat that for racing purposes a banked track should have a virtually constant slope over much of its width, if cars are not to corner in processional order. An interesting refinement of banking design (by trial and error, not by theory) can be found, of all the unexpected places, at Motor City Speedway, Detroit, U.S.A., where a wide oval track only 1-mile long has banking which is just a wee bit steeper outside the turns than at their inner edge, enough extra banking to let the man lapping on an inside line and his rival on the outside line clock equal lap times, the outer man going fractionally faster but covering extra yards in every lap.
I am, Yours, etc., Joseph Lowrey, Technical Editor, The Motor. London, E.C.
[We are delighted to publish something of Joe Lowrey’s again, because he virtually served his journalistic apprenticeship by writing for Motor Sport during the War. — Ed.]