John Gordon, widely-read columnist of the Sunday Express, wrote in his “Current Events” feature of September 2nd that 120 m.p.h. on the Mt may not be illegal but by any standard is extremely dangerous. This is a sweeping statement to print and a curiously old-fashioned view for a paper to take that claims to be a champion of progress. However, perhaps John Gordon’s views are not those of the Sunday Express itself—he has not been very friendly to Lord Montgomery of Alamein but that gentleman has twice been invited to write for the Sunday Express in its campaign against Britain joining the Common Market.
Who is Mr. Gordon to set himself up as a judge of the P.B.M. and make a statement contrary to views expressed in Law ? M1 is a modern high-speed motorway. On such roads, in good conditions, in the right sort of car, in the right lane, speeds higher than 120 m.p.h. can be as safe as Mr. Gordon’s Rolls Royce “Silver Cloud” can be said to be at lesser speeds in other places. To suggest otherwise is to insult technicians who have perfected such things as disc brakes and high-speed tyres and John Gordon’s dogmatic remark will not be taken kindly by the motor workers of Coventry, some of whom build the Jaguar E-type, which is essentially safe at 120 m.p.h. on the World’s motorways, given appropriate circumstances, and the manufacture of which brings large lumps of valuable export revenue to Britain.
If Mr. Gordon had said that speed is unsafe by his standard we would have had no grumble, knowing that he still lives in an age when learned members of the medical profession used to tell pioneer racing drivers that humans would be unable to breathe at speeds above 6o m.p.h. and prior to that other sages said that railways would poison the countryside and that flying was only for the birds. But to say categorically that by any standard anyone touching 120 m.p.h. on our finest motorway is driving dangerously is going too far and if he considers his words carefully Mr. Gordon will no doubt agree. That he was commenting on the action of a young man who, at this speed, passed another car in the wrong lane and foolishly stated that he had to pass the other car as he couldn’t stop, has no bearing on our contention that speeds of 120 m.p.h. and higher can be perfectly safe on M1 and other motorways. Indeed, that the driver in question did all these things and still did not have any sort of accident surely proves our point—M1 is essentially safe for very high speeds. Mr. Gordon, being cross that said youngster’s licence was not confiscated, published a snide remark aimed at all fast drivers, ignoring the fact that the Law has no objection to high speed, as such, at the right time, in the right place, under the right conditions. We would respectfully remind John Gordon, whom normally we read with avidity, to get on with his Rolls-Royce motoring and not interfere with other drivers, whose only claim to his famous journalistic attention is legal driving of modern cars at high speed on modern motorways. Our thanks in advance.—W. B.