Letters from readers, October 1966
N.B. – Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and Motor Sport does not neccessarily associate itself with them. – Ed.
Having been an avid reader of your incomparable journal since leaving school. I feel I must write to you. I applaud your policy of mentioning the names of keen, young drivers but I consider that one man who is vastly underrated and never seems to be praised is Bob Anderson. In an inferior machine he frequently puts up wonderful practice times ahead of many “star” drivers (Monaco and Brands are just two recent examples). His enthusiasm and determination shame those “stars ” who trail round, complaining of their cars and not earning their substantial retainers. To my mind, Anderson typifies the true calibre of a real racing driver and it is such as he who are the life-blood of our great sport.
Durban. BRYAN ALLEN.
[Great minds!—see page 820 last month.—ED.]
OIL FILTERS—ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
On the subject of oil filters raised by a reader in the current issue, I recently heard two filtration specialists discussing whether there was any point in having an oil filter on a car engine. The general gist of their conclusions were these: by far the most important filter is the one on the carburetter, the next most important is the fuel line filter and the least important is the oil filter. If the first two filters are efficient (which includes 100% effective sealing around their edges) the oil filter will do very little useful work after the first hundred miles or so following an oil change. During this initial period it is cleaning up the new oil, which although it may look clean is in fact frequently highly contaminated with potentially destructive particles. After this period the filter does little work because a conventional automobile engine (i.e. without gears in the sump) does not generate internally much in the way of destructive particles. It generates a lot of carbon, but carbon is in many ways a pretty good lubricant and there is no point in removing it from the oil. It is carbon which clogs the filter and necessitates frequent renewal, not dangerous particles. However, it is worth having a filter on the engine because if something serious does happen, say a bearing breaks up, it will act to minimise subsequent damage to the rest of the engine. Gears-in-sump type engines are a completely different matter. Here the oil quickly becomes seriously contaminated with metal particles from the gear engagement components and should be changed as often as possible if the engine is expected to last, and a good filter is also essential.
London, E.17. MICHAEL PAYNE.
ROAD-TESTING THE FERGUSON R5
Can you not possibly arrange for a test report on the Ferguson R5 prototype, which was recently featured in an article in the Daily Telegraph? The more publicity this remarkable car gets, the better, as I am sure you will agree. Our leading manufacturers seem to be combining to ignore and slight it—but then did not these same lethargic and unenterprising firms turn down the Volkswagen after the war? Why do they continue to underestimate the public? (Rovers, with their 2000, have not made that mistake.) Here in the Ferguson, surely, is the apotheosis of the safe, go-anywhere family car and if it could be produced for around £1,500 would surely sell all over the world. (I want one. I want one now.) To see an earlier Ferguson perform at the end of a TV road accident film the other night while a a large Ford, under identical conditions, flopped and thrashed around like a wounded bird, was confirmation enough—if confirmation were needed—that we are at the mercy of complacent and conservative men.
Helions Bumpstead. DAVID S. UNWIN
[After three weekly motor papers had been permitted to try the Ferguson R5 the maker’s publicity consultant blithely informed us that there would be considerable delay before the car came our way. We think the position is now resolved and that our impressions of this important contribution to safer driving will appear in the not too distant future.—ED.]
DRIVING SCHOOL CARS
I think I can say that in this job (Driving Instruction) they are subjected to an extremely hard life from the point of view of transmission and abusive treatment generally. It may be of interest to your readers if I list the cars that have been used here over the last four years and are still current models which people may be considering buying.
Having had two Ford Anglias, which both did over 70,000 miles of this work without any other than such replacements as Clutch, brake linings, exhaust, and water pumps, I must say that for my money they appear to be one of the most reliable cars on the market, and I am thinking of returning to them shortly. One must ignore suspension, which is hardly inspired.
The second car I have found to be very good is the B.M.C. Mini. I have had three of these. Two of them did over 60,000 miles of driving instruction, and were then tuned and used for rallies, autocross, and driving tests, for a further 10,000 miles before being sold. The fact that never once did these cars let me down, either at work or play, seems a good recommendation.
Another reliable car is the Triumph Herald. One of these did 80,000 miles of instruction, and any trouble I had with it came at the end when old age decreed that it must go.
My last car is the B.M.C. 1100, I am at present running two. The design, the space, engine performance, are entirely adequate, but the transmission and rear suspension are enough to make one cry with frustration. Both cars have had exactly the same troubles, universal joints, and lack of greasing points on the rear suspension, plus the fact that the original gearboxes both failed in quite a short time. Replacement boxes appear to be an improvement and this trouble has ceased.
As regards engines, in all the cars I have found that changing oil and filter every 5,000 miles seems to have paid off. I always use Duckhams 20/50, and find that oil consumption on cars having done over 80,000 never exceeds 500 miles to the pint even at this high mileage. However, one must realise that most of its life an instruction car does not exceed 30 m.p.h. for any great mileage. On the Minis used for competition I have found that the oil pressure never dropped below 50 lb./sq. in. at normal speeds.
Bournemouth. B. A. CULDRIDGE.
IN DEFENCE OF HARRY SCHELL
Remarks directed against the late Harry Schell in the article titled “Reflections on the Dutch Grand Prix” are an insult to the memory of this man. These remarks concern Schell’s drive in the 1956 Grand Prix at Reims which is now history but it is pertinent to remember that Schell took over Hawthorn’s Vanwall, then considerably behind the leading Lancia-Ferraris of Fangio, Collins and Castellotti. Schell brought Vanwall up to the leading trio, breaking the existing lap record whilst doing so, and proceeded to “have a go” at the three Lancia-Ferraris for a number of laps.
In this connection may I refer D.S.J. to his article “Britain and Grand Prix Racing,” Motor Sport, January, 1957, and quote from this, “I want to see British cars up there fighting, just as Schell fought with the Vanwall at Reims.” I am not prepared to dispute Harry Schell’s capabilities as a driver or whether he was outwitted by the Lancia-Ferraris but that he should be used as a comparison and criticised, ten years later, in a derogatory manner is extreme had taste and not to the standard of journalism I expect from Motor Sport.
Solihull. R. J. ANDERSON.
WHAT IS A DEFECTIVE SILENCER?
I have just been fined £2 at the local Magistrates’ Court for a defective silencer. I pleaded not guilty and took my truck to the court; although they did not inspect the said truck, the P.C. who issued the summons agreed with me that it was not making any excessive noise. They then tried to rap me on a no-tailpipe clause. I explained to the Bench that a tailpipe was fitted to a car to dispose of spent gases from under the car to the rear of the car, and as the silencer was not under the truck but three feet aft of the cab, it was not compulsory. Again this was agreed by all. The Bench then said the back of the silencer was missing, was it not? I replied “yes,” but before I could say anything else was fined £2 and licence endorsed. The Clerk of the Court corrected the Magistrate and told him it was not an endorsable offence. “Oh! £2 fine” (they must have orders to endorse anything). “If I have any complaints I should make an appeal.” More money!
If a silencer is not making any excessive noise, no excessive smoke, and the gases are disposed of legally, what is a defective silencer?
[Name and address supplied.—ED.]
CARS IN NORTH AMERICA
I would refute the letter from Mr. Avis, August 1966, most especially the last sentence. It would appear he was in too great a hurry to notice the actual number of British cars used in this country.
His comment about G.M.C. cars is very apt—they are notoriously bad at cold-weather starting. But does he think this company is the sole manufacturer of automobiles in North America? My 1960 Ford Zephyr has stood in 40°-below-zero weather, admittedly with an 80° content of anti-freeze, and proved totally reliable. An 5,000-mile trip through the U.S.A. with 130° temperatures in Death Valley produced no repercussions, apart from a split gas tank. This journey was undertaken in 19 days— similar mileage per day as the VW—an indication to British drivers on the ease of travelling over here, although most roads, especially the trans-Canada Highway, are not even up to M1 Standards. The secret is a far lower ratio of cars per mile, allowing the 70 m.p.h. stipulated speed limit to be maintained all day, if necessary.
I would inform Mr. Avis that the Vancouver Sun carried an article a few months ago wherein a Studebaker official blamed the final closure of his company (remember they moved from South Bend, Indiana, to Hamilton, Ontario) on the “Large numbers of British and other foreign cars now flooding this country.” As Britain is the only country mentioned, I presume she must have a share of this market.
Mini-skirts aside, Britain still has something to offer the world—the last two Canadian Winter Rallieshave been won by British-built and designed Fords—notably the Cortina and Anglia. The Shell 4000 Rally 1966 secured firm and second pikes for Lotus-Cortina.
British Columbia. J. E. NORRIS.
CLOSED OPEN CARS
I loved my series of convertibles (a Riley 9, a Morris 1000 and two Heralds) but the only passengers who liked the hood down were under 14. So I now have a Hillman imp with an Autocadia “Skyscanner” transparent roof. This gives all the light of a convertible with none of the draught, and is much lighter than a sliding roof, in which the opening is always too small. It is particularly pleasant after dark, or on grey. days. or when the rain is pattering down on it. A sliding shutter. gives privacy, or protection from sunstroke. The roof is beautifully fitted and seems the perfect answer to our climate: it amazes me that I have only seen one other. I have no connection with the makers, just a satisfied customer, with an “open closed car.”
Great Missenden. M. G. SLATTERY, Lt.-Cdr. R.N. (Ret.)
[This correspondence is now closed, as sliding roofs and open cars are likely to be for the next six months, in spite of the enjoyable letters we have received from open air (if not getaway!) girls who claim to enjoy andsurvive open-car motoring. —ED.]
Referring to Mrs. Barbara Castle’s proposal for compulsory seat-belts, I should like to refer to a motoring experience while on the M1 last year.
It was about 9 a.m. on Monday, 17th May, that I was driving my Triumph Roadster from London to Birmingham and had just passed the approach road to Northampton.
I was travelling at approximately 50 m.p.h. in the centre lane, the sun was shining and with the convertible roof down I was at peace with the world.
The engine suddenly developed trouble and after extensive examination the following was assumed. A circlip on the third cylinder piston had broken causing the piston to come free from the con-rod. On the next revolution the con.-rod went straight through the cylinder wall. The other three followed suit and the engine disintegrated.
As my petrol gauge was normally faulty I was in the habit of carrying a spare gallon can in the tool compartment. In the same second as the engine disintegrated it exploded, shattering the master-cylinder, steering column and Windscreen. I was on an embankment approximately 30 ft. higher than the road and the car veered on to the slow lane and hard shoulder.
At this point with the door open my ejection was considerably assisted as the car hit the 6 in. grass verge. I was propelled through the air and rolled down a steep grass bank and into a water-filled ditch, virtually unscathed.
The Car had sailed through the air and had landed on its nose about 100 ft. away and was now a blazing inferno.
My insurance company thought I had been reading too many Ian Fleming novels but eventually came to settlement.
Admittedly the accident was one in a million but nevertheless I was very glad I wasn’t strapped inside.
Chelmsford. TONY GARDINER.
Not only but also! “The Toronado.” The only car with four rear shock-absorbers!
As Peter Edwards states, the E-type has four. But, also, So does Renault with their R8 Gordini, and also the Fiat-Abarth OT1600.
London S.W.12. JOHN ELLIOTT.
With reference to your Oldsmobile Toronado road test, it is claimed [By General Motors—ED.] that this car is the only one to have four rear shock-absorbers.
I would like to point out that the V8-powered Ginetta G1O also has twin coil-spring/damper units on each of its rear independently sprung wheels.
Halesowen. MICHAEL A. BIGLAND.
[And, come to think of it, the 350 h.p. V12 Sunbeam had four shock-absorbers on its back axle around 192-1.—ED.]
May I, as a young enthusiast, congratulate you wholeheartedly on your September editorial.
Your vision of the future is so real it’s frightening—driving will cease to be a pleasure—but become a procession of steel boxes in line from A to B taking turns at the parking meters.
This is happening now and strong measures must be taken by motorists with any blood in their veins.
I suggest a “drive-to-rule,” observing all speed limits in towns, keeping the correct distance apart, which should lead to some interesting situations—especially at rush-hours.
Failing that, a “strike,” no cars to be used for one month except doctors, etc. Results—loss of revenue front meters, public transport shown up for the inadequate service it is and can you imagine the petrol companies’ reaction to a month’s loss of revenue?
These measures may appear senseless to some, but so is the lack of adequate communications in this country when they are so vital to our welfare.
Manchester. D. WILCOX
[If only they would!—ED.]
The picture of “the Fiat modern 600D “on page 802 (September) is as I am sure you must have realised a 1957 or 1958 model, long before the suffix “D” applied.
When you are normallyso accurate surely you could have found a more recent picture or had a caption to suit.
London N.W.3. T. M. GELL.
[Sorry—put it down to working against the clock.—ED.]
HIRING A FIAT 124 Sir,
I thought that your readers might be interested to learn of my experiences with a Fiat 124, rented through Hertz in Italy, two weeks ago, in the light of your review.
The car, on delivery, proved to be six weeks old, with 4,444 km. on the odometer, and in the 10 days I had it I covered 687 km., mainly in the area around Rome. I can fully endorse every enthusiastic comment on this car, which would happily cruise at an indicated 125 k.p.h. (77 m.p.h.) with four adults and two children, on the twin track road between Ostia and Rome. It gave a best one-way speed of about 155 k.p.h. which would correspond to just over a true 90 m.p.h., which for a bread and butter family saloon of 1,200 c.c. is good by any standards. I estimated fuel consumption to be around 28 m.p.g., but I drove the car very hard whilst in my possession, and the engine very obviously demanded super grade petrol.
Handling-wise, the car never gave one any moments” and my wife and children, who are rather prone to such things declared the back seat ride to be completely free from any tendency to induce car-sickness.
In the cut and thrust of Rome traffic, the car was more than adequate (and incidentally, having driven all over Europe, I have no hesitation in nominating the Roman driver as the most uninhibited, undisciplined, and awe-inspiring, in Europe). The car was equally at home on mountain passes, city streets, or Autostrade, and when one realises that this car sells in Italy for about £550 it is pretty shattering to compare what the home market offers in competition.
My wife has a new Austin 1100, and frankly says she prefers the Fiat 124, in every area of comparison. It is faster, quieter, more economical, smoother running, incomparably better finished, more sensibly designed, ergonomically, and if I had the free choice, tariffs excepted, I know which I would prefer. Fiat are to be congratulated on this one, and if this is their forecast as to the ideal European family car for the next decade then I think they are right on the ball.
Incidentally I must praise Hertz-Rent-A-Car in Italy for a first-class, competent service, with a spotless car, delivered with a full tank of petrol, fitted with radio, safety belts, complete set of maps, at the modest rental of 3,060 lire per day, with 40 lire per kilometre.
I, for one, would never have any hesitation in renting another car, and who knows, soon it may be a Ferrari or Maserati, but not I fear for 3,000 lire a day.
You can count me amongst your thousands of very loyal readers, long may you flourish and continue to carry the banner of independence.
Cockfosters. GERRY KANE.
May I comment on the letter from Mr. G. W. G. Avis in the August issue wherein he considers the joys of driving a ’58 Volkswagen from Toronto to Vancouver last winter. I wonder how Mr. Avis had his nose and ears glued back on, as surely they fell off from frost-bite. The heater/defroster system of a 1958 VW is so inadequate that it can be considered non-existent (yes, I owned a 1958 VW). While the heating system has been much improved recently, it is my opinion, formed both by observation and hearsay, that both types of 1966 VWs still have a heating/defrosting system quite inadequate for this country.
Last winter was an especially severe one all over the eastern half of North America. At my place of employment, Toronto International Airport, the chill factor (temperature and wind considered) dropped to as low as minus 60 deg. F. more than once. My 1965 Chevrolet started instantly, always, although quite unprotected outside.
In spite of the Editor’s small prejudices, Motor Sprt continues to delight each month—keep it up!
Ontario. W. M. HEATHER.
AUSTIN 1800 STEERING ARMS
My attention has been drawn to an article appearing in Motor Sport for September, 1966 entitled “What are Nerus up to?” (page 818) and particularly the eighth paragraph commencing “When an Austin 1800 etc., etc.”
The shorter steering arms referred to were subjected to examination and testing by our Engineering Division. As the result of our report Nerus Engineering have discontinued production of these items and, to the best of our knowledge, have replaced with standard components any which may have been fitted.
It is probable that the information upon which your correspondent’s article was based was acquired before this action was taken by Nerus and I would be grateful if an early correction. could be printed.
Longbridge. A. L. H. DAWSON, Executive Press Officer, The British Motor Corporation Ltd.
THE PRICE OF PETROL
At least twice in your September number you allow attention to be drawn to the various petrol companies’ catchpenny advertising campaigns. It has always struck me as wasteful to advertise petrol excessively, since actual consumption cannot increase (unless the lunatic fringe now buy and bum a few gallons in the hope of getting the other half of Seven Sisters Cliff) and once the various brands achieve a balance, the consumer pays.
Partly the public brought it on itself by a huge response to the Esso “Tiger” campaign. Did none of them notice they were paying a penny a gallon more for the same octane-rating and paying for the privilege of advertising the fact?
Usual response to this complaint is “Oh, how much difference does it make?” Suppose, charitably, it means an extra penny a gallon, then if you do 15,000 a year at 30 m.p.g. it costs you two pounds a year for a campaign which cannot benefit the economy in the slightest.
If the much-maligned Government upped road tax by that amount they would risk physical harm. For once, I would rather pay it to them than to the oil companies (or rather their advertising agencies). Motor Sport does a great deal to foster intelligent criticism of practices and measures harmful to the motorist’s interests, and I hope in the future to see you trying to prevent advertising doing to jungle-juice prices what it has already done to those of detergents, toothpaste, cigarettes, etc.
Or am I the only surviving motorist who owns his own wagon and cares a whit what he (as opposed to his employer) pays for the petrol he uses? Or worse still, if one brave company cut its prices, would the tiger-tuggers boycott it as demonstrably second-rate?
New Barnet. J. A. COOPER.
THE DURATION OF GRAND PRIX RACES
Apropos your notes concerning the duration of G.P. motor races in the September issue. A point of view which I heartily endorse.
Your remarks reminded me that the World’s Cycling Championships were held this year at the Nurburgring. Now, having checked the reports of both the German G.P. and the World Professional Road Race Championship, I find that the cyclists covered 12 laps of the circuit in 7 hr. 31 min. and that 15 laps were covered in the G.P. in 2 hr. 27 min. Mark you, there are no stops whatsoever for the cyclists, food being handed up on the move.
Surely it would not be too much to expect that these so-called “world class” drivers could cover more than just THREE LAPS MORE than a group of cyclists, especially when one remembers the mountainous nature of this circuit. Anyone who knows this circuit would probably gasp in disbelief that any cyclist could ride 174 MILES at 23 M.P.H. AVERAGE round this circuit. So come on you G.P. drivers how about a real GRAND PRIX, say of a nominal five hours’ duration?
There were no sideshows at the cycling championships, but a crowd of something like 100,000 turned up.
London N.22. R. C. BADGER. Jowett Car Club. Highgate Cycling Club.
As a persecuted sports car motorist for the last fifteen years I have endured successive governments attempting to price motorists off the roads, such as they are, with fuel tax and road fund tax ever on the increase up to present when we even have a Lady Minister who is determined to keep all cars in third gear. See the Triumph T.R. 4 A advert, cruises at 90 m.p.h. where? I suppose she has shares in Raleigh Industries.
However, having read of the proposed new deal for motorists envisaged by Insurance Companies with vastly increased no claims bonuses and consequent reductions on net premiums I thought that at long last things were looking up. Imagine then my thoughts when my company informed me that my gross premium was being increased from £41 to £151 4s. “Of course sir you realise that your no-claims discount will be increased from the present 40% to 60%” (big deal). Furthermore I can save approximately 30% if I promise not to use my car for any business reasons.
On checking with the company, incidentally it is a well-known tariff company, they informed me that all rates would be reduced for the best-risk drivers as shown by their survey, i.e. the family week-end motorist with a mundane saloon car, words fail me!
Incidentally if any Mini-Cooper S owners are interested their basic premium will be over £200. So much for the new deal.
Nottingham. F. A. DAIN.