“Toughest circuit of them all!”
“and it was a lot tougher in the Middle Ages when its likely they jousted at Earls Court. But it’s still terribly demanding on the feet today!”
What sort of show would you call it Stirling?
“No revolutions. People have upped the power a bit, like Rootes—5-bearing crankshafts, more horses—but that’s inevitable. Not the sort of show to make you go round drooling. But interesting. “Now, those Citroens, they’re interesting. Are they the first people in volume production with iodine-vapour lamps as standard ? Anyhow, like several others, they’re putting a lot of emphasis on brakes and braking; a sort of weight compensating device, a way of limiting line pressure so that you can’t lock the rear wheels. Mercedes-Benz are doing much the same thing. “Those Renaults make a show! They’ve done well with the Gordini in competition. But whoa-up! The Fords! They’ll draw crowds. V4 engines for the 1700 cc Corsair, self-adjusting rear brakes. And the GT with 2000 cc. It should sizzle, I must try that—”
But you’re a Mini-man, Stirling. Where do you stand in the front rear engine argument?
“If I were Mr. VW or Mr. Mini, I could put equally strong and logical cases for either. All right, it’s true that rear engines are prone to sideing effects and they used to oversteer—but it didn’t and doesn’t worry me. If a designer is good enough, he gets round each problem. Anyhow, it’s all personal, a car is a personal thing—
“Look, that’s pretty! The new Triumph 1300. Well, what can you say? All hail to the Star of the Show, read all about it in these pages! But don’t let’s overlook the Triumph 2000 Estate. A lot of estates this year …The BMC Wolseley 1100, Riley Kestrel 1100: two naturals. I mean, when you’ve got a success on your hands, you’ve virtually got to ring the changes, and these are nice changes. Little luxury cars—”
What about the bigger stuff
“New Cresta. That’s an awful lot of Vauxhall for the money. 6-cylinders, all very smooth. And here are the new Mercs, what a colossal new range. It’s time we have something new from Rolls .. Whatever it is, it will be good. Rolls is good. What’s the news from Jaguar and Rover ? Let’s go and— “No, wait, here’s SAAB, another firm that’s done something about braking. Double braking split into diagonal halves. Lose half and you’ve still got one front and one rear left.”
People still don’t realise that the ability to go faster or stop faster are much the same thing—
“It’s more than that!—I’ll tell you, in the Alpine Rally, you stand a far better chance to beat the competition downhill than up! Uphill, it’s just power and either you’ve got it or you haven’t. But downhill—anyhow, enough said, the thing is that there’s no excuse nor to have good brakes. By which I mean having good brakes when you actually put them on, Whatever the speed, whatever the conditions, you want to be able to stop the tyre. Today’s tyres are marvellous. But then again, the brake and lining must give you the potential to stop it.”
That’s where advice from Ferodo can help—
“People are funny. They ought to say ‘I’ve tweaked the car, I’ve made it go faster, I must make it stop faster.’ But they don’t. They just don’t think of brakes and linings as part of performance conversion. But Ferodo do. They make special purpose linings for cars that have been ‘hotted up.’
In a word—what’s the biggest advance in cars?
“In a word, ‘functionality’. There’s hardly a car that doesn’t show you its function, its designed purpose, from the Mini to the Mark 10.”
And the future ?
“Still more functionality—particularly in ergonomic terms. We’re doing fine with the structure as a whole—engines sideways, upside down, sloping, and always for good reasons : now let’s get the rest-right!”