The toughest of the European rallies, the Liege-Sofia-Liege, that 4,000-mile marathon de la route, in which only 18 cars out of the 100 starters reached the finish, was won by a big Mercedes-Benz 220SE, driven by Eugen Bohringer and Eger.
This surely confirms our opinion that the modern Mercedes-Benz is the Best Car in the World ? The car which won this gruelling contest was no slim sports car but a luxury car, bulky in comparison with many of its rivals.
The first half-dozen placings in this year’s Liege-Sofia-Liege Rally make sound sense. It was won very convincingly by the Best Car in the World. Second place was taken by a Citroen DS19, a car Motor Sport has often described as the Most Advanced Car in the World. Third place went to a Volvo, which is one of the World’s most conscientiously-constructed cars. Another Citroen DS19 was fourth, a Sports Austin-Healey 3000 fifth, and a 3-litre Rover, with such an improbable rally component as power steering, was sixth, a fine debut for these more powerful new Rovers from the Birmingham factory. This second-highest placing by a British car in Europe’s most gruelling rally is a fine breakthrough for the Rover Company’s desire to kill the impression that it manufactures only sedate oldmen’s cars.
The actual finishers – 18 out of 100, let us repeat, were :—
Austin-Healey 3000 2
all the remaining 82 cars retired
In fact, Rover and Volvo had the highest proportion of finishers to starters.
This rally, over appalling roads, tested suspension and brakes as well as engines and transmissions, and some terrible things happened. Even the winning Mercedes-Benz’s brakes were a warm red hue after the crossing of the Moistrocca Pass, yet this big all-independently sprung petrol-injection motor car was alone of its kind with the three sports Austin-Healeys and a compact Porsche in being unpenalised. A big “works” Ford broke its front suspension, another “works” Ford ran its big-ends, and although the third big Ford, a Zodiac, finished, it needed new front suspension en route.
One Morris 1100 holed a piston, the other discarded its fly wheel, these little new-corners having been hurriedly prepared. A Porsche ran out of brakes, a VW broke its crankshaft when almost home. One of the Austin-Healey 3000s had the rear spring shackles shear off, much the same trouble eliminating another, which shows how much punishment a rigid-axle car suffers in this testing rally! Even the strong Saab retired, with suspension failure. All the Vauxhall VX 4/90s retired.
It is hoped that many useful technical lessons will be taken to heart when the dirt and dust of the Liege are cleaned off the stricken entries. The Ford Anglias (one, however, with a 1.5-litre engine and therefore not a catalogue model) got through and deserve congratulations, especially as the smaller one won its class, the only under-1-litre car to finish, albeit in the G.T. category. The other class winners were Citroen and the remarkable Rover amongst the touring cars, Mercedes-Benz of the G.T. cars, and Citroen of the sports cars, Citroen winning the Manufacturers Cup, Coupe des Dames and Inter-Nations Cup.
But, by and large, the cars that were proved suitable for the tough terrain many motorists encounter in the outbacks of the Empire or on farms and country tracks at home were Mercedes-Benz, the Best Car in the World; Citroen on its hydro-pneumatic suspension, the Most Advanced Car in the World; and Volvo, one the World’s most conscientiously made cars. Altogether, a very logical result…
Dragsters at Brighton
Last year the Allard Dragster fizzled out. This year it was beaten by normal racing cars. But dragsters might still be a crowd-puller if some American “sling-shots” could he attracted to the age-old Madeira Drive. Allard has shown that with disc front brakes and parachutes a dragster can stop safely at the end of this historic kilometre. Couldn’t American “sling-shots” be allowed to run in 1963, if equipped for the occasion with brakes the equal of Allard’s? The thought of seeing them leave the start standing on their back wheels, with rubber-smoke pouring from their “slicks,” should turn into dividends for the Brighton sponsors.
The Drivers’ World Championship
In some quarters this is thought to distract drivers from the main task of winning individual G.P. races. Certain it is that a new Champion year by year becomes rather pointless—and we say this with absolutely no disrespect for Graham Hill, who is heading for the 1962 honour as we write.
For us, Fangio remains the greatest post-war racing driver, for he won the World Championship five times. In boxing a champion remains champion until he is knocked out. Would it be practical to introduce a scoring-system into motor racing that would have the same effect and thus put paid to an annual Championship? For instance, the new World Champion might be required to win more races and take more lap records than the 1962 holder or, if it could be ensured that circuits be stabilised, win his races at an aggregate higher average speed than the reigning Champion, or something of that kind. Any comments ?