Losing the turbine lead
I recall reading your editorial in the May 1975 issue of Motor Sport, where you summarized the Rover Company's activities with gas turbine automobiles. Amongst others you paid tribute to Frank Bell who was active in the design and development of the power plant. From the enclosed letter I sent to Noel Renny you can see that Frank passed away on August 25, 1976. We are reaching an era now where all of the early gas turbine pioneers are getting old, but as they pass away they should not be forgotten. It is sad that Britain took the early lead in the vehicular gas turbine field, but now leaves the development effort to Detroit. Having myself worked in the gas turbine field for 15 years I am afraid the turbine car is no closer to reality today
than it was 25 years ago when Frank Bell was a promoter.
I am an ardent reader of Motor Sport, and while it is 13 years since I left England for the USA, I assure you that none of the motoring magazines here compare with yours. Readers criticize your occasional biased (towards foreign cars .. no need to name them!) attitude, but I feel it is definitely in order because the British car Industry has become complacent. There will always be a market here for MGs, Triumphs and Jaguars and the lesser volume sports cars (Lotus, Jensen etc.) because of the enthusiastic owners. The very bad experience people had here with the Austin America gave BMC a bad name and hence the sales of Marinas were poor. It was after all inferior to many of the German and Japanese imports.
While there is no doubt that from the reliability and availability (of spares and service) the Detroit products meet the needs of this country. ... long journeys in extreme climates, they do lack flair! I am an English car enthusiast, having gone "through" two MGs (34J2 and 47TC), two Triumphs (TR3 and TR4) and two XKEs (63 and 66). The 66 E-Type coupe I still have, and with well over 100,000 miles it is still going strong ... and appreciating in value! This was the last pre-smog .model (3 SUs) with 265 h.p. and the covered headlights etc., and in my opinion the last of the good E-Types. The next car I get I hope will be an XJ6, which is very popular in this part of the country. We have this wretched 55 m.p.h. limit here, but fortunately there are still many back roads in the country where you can "Stick your foot in it" and drive sports cars the way they were meant to be driven.
San Diego, California COLIN McDONALD