On the 20th of this month another London Motor Show will open—strikes permitting—at Earls Court. Once inside the Exhibition Hall it will probably seem worth attending, if only because the lights, the crowds, the bars and the cars, draw the motor-minded public like a magnet.
But this Motor Show is about as badly situated us could be tor those misguidedly arriving by car, because the official car parks are perpetually full, the Police seem to take a delight in prohibiting parking in the many wide side roads that radiate from Earls Court, and public car parks in the area are mostly of the temporary, congested and quick-profit type.
So this greatest of motor displays should be attended pedestrian-wise! What will it reveal? Steady development of existing models rather than revolutionary new cars seems likely to be the 1966 trend, with more power from smoother engines, the 5-bearing 4-cylinder and 7-bearing 6-cylinder power unit predominant, but with Ford of Dagenham following Taunus Ford in pushing the V4, and luxury cars from Crewe. Coventry and across the Atlantic favouring vee-eights. The influence of the World’s Motorways can be seen in these moves to render engines smoother and more durable at high speeds, yet the complex valve gears of our youth are being rendered unnecessary by forming the combustion chamber in the piston crown, development with which those great automobile engineers, Daimler-Benz, are intimately concerned. Such technicalities, however, will go largely unseen, or unappreciated, at the great static show that is Earls Court.
Indeed, remembering that, whatever may be the case five years from now, during the first eight months of Socialist rule the cost of living has risen by 4.4%, rates are up by 14%„ the Bank Rate is at 6%, rail fares are up by 8%, grocery prices by 6%, Income Tax is up by 6d. in the £, petrol tax up by the same amount, car, motorcycle, TV and radio licences cost more, cigarettes cost 6d. more for a packet of 20, a bottle of spirits 4s. more, postage stamps have increased in cost by 33.5%, and there is a 50% increase in the Excise duty of goods vehicles, the more immediate problem is how far we shall be able to motor next year, or whether we shall soon be able to afford a car at all….
It is perhaps significant that Fiat and Citroen are continuing their excellent 500D and 2 C.V. economy twins, with useful improvements.
But, putting aside politics while acknowledging that the British standard of living is vitally dependent on a virile motor industry, the rumoured new Rolls-Royce will steal the Show. Will it, for instance, put firmly in its place the fabulous Mercedes-Benz 600, which is faster round the Solitude circuit than a 230SL Mercedes-Benz sports car? Another very advanced automobile the Citroen Pallas, an acceptable engine now embodied in its technically-commendable specification. The challenge from Europe in all classes is a strong one and will indicate how British designers and manufacturers are meeting it. In the sports car field we are still unassailable.
In spite of the inconveniences of the London Motor Show it is a splendid social gathering, a place at which to recall the stirring motoring of the past, talk of your present car, and plan the future. MOTOR SPORT will be pleased to meet old friends and make new ones at Stand 4 on the Ground Floor, opposite the Lotus Stand.
DRIVING TUITION IN SCHOOLS
Because nearly all young people have a strong urge to drive a motor vehicle as soon as they are old enough and because a driving licence is often a passport to much personal pleasure and a good job, it is high time schools driving instruction as part of normal curriculum. Some already do so and the foresight of their headmasters and headmistresses is to be highly commended. However much one may selfishly regret the rate at which new drivers are corning on the roads, learn they will, and serious tuition at an early age is the best possible insurance for a reduction in future road accidents. Driving instruction on private ground is surely less hazardous than playing rugby, football or hockey!
MOTOR SPORT will be glad to hear from any modern-minded teachers who intend to adopt it in girls’ schools as well as in boys’ schools. As we go to press we learn for instance, that Blackwell Secondary Modern School, Harrow, intends to give instruction during the Autumn term in road safety and good driving to twelve senior pupils, both boys and girls, aged 15 to 16, and that similar courses are envisaged each term for the next two years. We wish all such schemes success and hope many more will be instituted.
ALFA ROMEO (GREAT BRITAIN) LTD. REPLY
[Although we closed the recent Alfa Romeo correspondence last month, we include this belated letter from the British concessionaires, for what it is worth. in order not to be accused of failing to present both viewpoints. – Ed]
To those readers of MOTOR SPORT who, through your columns, have complained of inconveniences suffered during the initial stages of the establishment of our network in this country, we offer our sincere apologies.
To those readers who have answered to express their satisfaction, we convey our thanks for their enthusiasm and unsolicited support.
To all Alfa owners who have purchased our cars Since we. recently first set up to import and service them in this challenging market, we direct our whole-hearted gratitude. Their custom has helped us to grow and to lay the way for the expansion of our network. Since May 1963, from a range of cars of which any manufacturer would be proud, thousands of discerning motorists in Great Britain have purchased their Alfas-and, judging by the amount of repeated business, the large majority of them must be reasonably satisfied.
No one knows better than we how much gruelling work was put into those first two years by our Dealers to make the Alfa Romeo exercise a success and we are honoured to be associated with them. But the time and exactitude that go into the setting up of service facilities have not always made it possible to increase them at the same fast rate at which the demand for our cars kept growing
It takes time to achieve any goal: more so when the goal is high. Ours is such we are getting closer to it daily, but no matter how much wealth of experience or development is put behind any venture, there will always he room for improvement : such is the way of progress.
In conclusion, dear Sir, we thank you for remaining impartial in publishing the controversial epistles concerning us. They have further strengthened our sixty-year-old desire to serve our customers, constantly better and confirmed our plans for the work that lies ahead.
G. Tassan – Alfa Romeo : GB Limited