Letters from Readers, October 1980



N.B. – Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and MOIOR SPORT does not necessarily associate itself with them – Ed

Licensing A Motor Car — 1980


They told us that the local authorities were inefficient. So, They created, at vast public expense, the Welsh Whale, a paragon of efficiency to be. You, Sir, alone amongst the outspoken, later told us in a delightfully scathing editorial, that alas, the New Creation was 34 times less efficient, costwise, than the local authorities had been.

I live world-wide, currently in Japan, but maintain two cherished cars in London. Having occasion to contribute to the Road Fund Farce, I dispatched my application to the renowned Celtic Colossus which suffered acute instant dyspepsia, rejected my document package and caused it to be returned to Japan with a stereotype advising that vehicle licences are now issued by local authorities and that the “local” authority for London is Dundee (!). I concluded that your excellent editorial had not fallen on deaf ears.

Having sent the application to Dundee, I entered a mood of complacency: all would be well and my vehicle taxed. But no, I had overlooked the vagaries of a bungling bureaucracy. The package was again returned. I had used Form V10 as stipulated by the leaflet enclosed by the Monster, but Form V10 was extinct: I should use Form V10 Rev Feb:79 (enclose),, which was not enclosed. A £6 phone call to a friend in London enabled me to receive the new form and the application was made, for the third time, a month ago, since when nothing has been heard.

Three interesting points arise from my experience.

(1) Surely the computer experts in deepest Wales must have heard of Dundee and might, under the circumstances, have forwarded my application there instead of Japan?

(2) If, as advised, the Mammoth no longer issues licences, of what possible use can it now be to the public?

(3) While the Old Country is content to employ hordes of unproductive civil servants and to submit to the savage taxation (not least the motorist) necessary to maintain these zombies in their ivory towers, it can never hope to be other than the Sick Man. The economically successful countries long ago discovered that the road to national prosperity is via production, sales and service. It is also high time the remnants of the British Motor Industry learnt this lesson for I, amongst many, am a convert to Swedish and German machinery, which have unparalleled back-up facilities and dependable quality control.

Despairingly Yours, yet not totally lost.

Takasago-shi. Japan      JOHN RILEY


Allard Front Suspension


Apparently the point of Mr. Hume’s letter in your September issue is that when he “proposed the logical arrangement . . .” he was unaware that I had desiged this layout and several others in the 1930’s and had tried to persuade Allards to use it. Obviously he hadn’t done his homework, but by coming to the right conclusion he at least proved his competence. The “amazing” thing is that for 30 years he has regarded his design as original! Perhaps nobody told him that from 1935 to 1939 I supplied all the Allard front suspension units with single steering arm having steering joints in line with the axle pivots. If so, I hope it won’t come as too much of a shock to him now.

To be fair, one must realise that Dudley Hume and Colin Chapman were still at school when I was pioneering swing-axle suspension, so I had a very good start on them.

It was during the period 1946/54 when I was engaged in the textile engineering field that these young men entered the motor industry and by the time I returned they were regarded by their generation as pioneers. By then the swing-axle IFS was being copied by Buckler, Mallock and many others although, sadly, not always well. As Rudyard Kipling put it:

      The copied all they could follow, but they couldn’t follow my mind.

      And I left them sweating and stealing, a year-and-a-half behind!

The 100 m.p.h. plus LMB Popular effectively demonstrated the superiority of properly applied swing axles over contemporary designs, and the only limitations (at which Mr. Hume hints) were those imposed by the ignorance of the imitators.

There is little doubt that Colin’s early Club racing experience on an LMB-sprung Austin 7 influenced him to use the system on the Lotus 7 but, he like Allard, did not at the time appreciate the importance of steering synchronisation nor did he understand the relation between c/g and roll centre on swing axle design. Neither did I when I started, but I learned a lot over the years, mostly the hard way.

Guildford       LESLIE BALLAMY


Mille Miglia


I am in the process of writing a history of the great road race, the Mille Miglia. May I, through your magazine ask anyone with first hand knowledge of any of this series of races to get in touch with me at the above address.

All letters will be answered, and anybody who has a story to tell will finds fascinated listener or correspondent in me.

Lingfield, Surrey     JULIAN HUNT      [Letters will be forwarded — Ed.]


Citroen Rally Successes


Whilst I realise that the following information will be well past the relevant edition of MOTOR SPORT — due to the fact that my magazine is forwarded via surface mail — I feel, in the interest of accuracy, that I should draw your attention to the concluding paragraph of your road test of the Citroen CX 2400 GTi.

I quote page 820 June 1980;

“and if Citroen does not have Renault’s motor racing image they can at least point to victory in the 27,000 km. London-Sydney Marathon.”

Whilst I would be the first to agree that the Citroen driven by Lucia Biambi and Jean-Claude Ogier were the moral victors, they were eliminated in the last section by a head on collision with a Mini, the rally being won by Andrew Cowen and Colin Malkin in a Hillnan Hunter of all things, the year 1968.

Citroen did win the World Cup Rally of 1974 driven by a rally driver Ken Tulman with fellow Aussie Jim Reddish and Andre Welinski and could it be this event to which you refer?

For the history books — Ken Tulman was the winner of the first Redex Trial in Australia in 1953 also in a French vehicle — one of the first 203s in Australia and was also the surveyor of the Australian section of the 77 London to Sydney.

Many thanks for a great magazine.

Mayfield, Australia      DAVID B. WALLIS

[Which goes to show that one should read publicity material very carefully! —Ed.]


Cooper-JAP Eligibility

Mr. D. C. Andrews of Towcester is sad and cross that his Cooper-JAP is not eligible for historic races. He challenges anybody to justify its exclusion.

Well, OK, I accept the challenge. In the winter of 1965-66, the VSCC admitted front-engined cars up to the end of the 2 1/2-litre formula. I should know, as I was on pole position for the first race in 1966, which I failed to win due to driver incompetence and fright. The VSCC knew perfectly well that 2 1/2-litre rear-engined Coopers and Loti would be a great deal faster, but also knew that they would be a great deal duller. Some of us agree — and even if we don’t agree, one can hardly deny the Club the right to organise what racing it likes. The later organisers have followed the lead as regards single-seaters, but not (sadly) for sports cars.

I cannot conceive that this is news to Mr. Andrews, who lives almost within walking distance of Silverstone, and who bought his Cooper-JAP some unspecified time after 1970.

The current “replica” controversy has nothing whatever to do with Mr. Andrews’ case.

Yateley     R. C. BERGEL


Mr. Andrews has certainly become the victim of the strangulating rules which are preventing enthusiasts from actually enjoying themselves, but still enable commercial bodies to go racing.

Perhaps Mr. Andrews could succeed in getting his car or himself accepted if he considered the following solutions.

1) Rename the car JCB-Cooper.

2) Borrow Mr. Smith’s replica Moss (when found) to drive the authentic car.

3) Change his name to D. Stirling-Moss.

The fact has been overlooked that Cooper-JAPS are a “special case” of rear engined single-seaters. These cars are a special case because the engine is at the rear of the car solely to prevent the driver from being bathed in methanol and Castrol R, and being bombarded with aluminium debris issuing from its JAP engine. This is no joke as the Morgan driver will testify.

The Cooper-JAP does not derive any advantage over front-engined cars which do not use JAP engines.

Ilchester       H. J. CHIVRALL

On the Road


If you want to start an interminable correspondence, it has struck me that Campbeltown (which has no traffic lights) is as far from a traffic light as any town in Britain. The nearest ones I know are at Alexandra, something like 100 miles away.

Natal     IAN F. RENNIE