Readers' car survey

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In the accompanying table we have grouped together the seven cars in the 1,000 c.c. class which we surveyed in detail and the four cars in the 1½-litre class. The percentages for the mechanical components are those of the owners who have experienced no trouble whatsoever in that particular component, while under the “Service” heading the percentage covers those who are satisfied with service facilities and in the “Would you buy again?” heading the percentage represents those who said they would buy the car again under similar circumstances. The highest percentage in each category is printed in bold type.

From this it will be seen that in the 1,000 c.c. class, Volkswagen comes highest in five of the twelve categories and second in a further five while the Fiat 600 comes top in four and second in six, leaving these two cars well clear of the rest, although it is something of a surprise to see that the B.M.C. Minis come highest in two categories, considering the scorn which was showered on them by owners.

In the 1½-litre section the Vauxhall Victor comes highest in five categories and joint highest in another one, well clear of the Hillman Minx and Riley 1.5 which are highest in three categories. That reliability is not the main factor in the choice of a car is a significant fact, for although the Victor is apparently the best of this section for reliability only 72% would buy it again against the 75.4% who would buy the Minx. Undoubtedly the styling of the original Victor was against it and the vastly increased sales of the new model which is very similar mechanically seems to prove the point.

Clearly there is a very long way to go before an acceptable state of reliability is reached in all models as even those which come out top in a number of categories have components which fall well below acceptable limits of reliability. For instance, the VW instruments gave more trouble than any other make in the class and the clutch is the second worst, while the lowest percentage of all is recorded for the Triumph Herald bodywork followed pretty closely by the Riley 1.5 bodywork with only 15% and 21.2% of satisfied customers. It seems unlikely that the perfect car will ever be built, at least, not at a price that can be afforded by the average man, whilst talk of cars that require no servicing or five year guarantees seems to be premature in the extreme, for if they come at the present state of the art a lot of manufacturers are going to lose a lot of money.

Petrol and Oil

The petrol and oil table covers all the replies received from readers and, covering as it does over 12,000 readers can be considered to be conclusive. It should be pointed out that the tables indicate preferences not actual purchases as, of course, due to various factors people cannot always purchase the product they prefer. In petrol preferences Shell and Esso are almost equal, while 14½% do not mind what petrol they buy. National Benzole, B.P., Jet and Cleveland are on an equal footing although it could hardly be claimed that Jet sells 7.55% of all petrol in the U.K. It is obvious, however, that motorists are fed up with the high price of fuel and are willing to support any company which cuts its prices and with recently announced additions to its chain of filling stations Jet should improve its position rapidly.

Castrol oil sells nearly as much as all the others put together, just failing to reach the 50% mark. That this is done in the face of the “tied” petrol station is a remarkable testimony to the quality of this oil. B.P. and Shell come next, way ahead of any other make, but it is rather surprising to see that 6.55% arc indifferent to the make of oil they use. Although you may not have any preference for a particular make of oil it is far safer to pick one brand and stick to it.

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