Matters of Moment, October 1987




Last year saw the first road race on the British mainland in over eighty years of motor racing but it was interrupted by heavy rain. This year no such calamity befell Birmingham City’s Superprix, which was an excellent event, with a truly exciting battle for second place.

The race must have further promoted Formula 3000, for there was also very good television coverage, with helicopter views of the circuit and Nigel Mansell giving a driver’s commentary. So here is an innovation fully deserving of congratulations to ITV, and to all who were associated with the organisation of the Birmingham festival.

Another innovation of recent times has been refinement of car diesel engines. These now contribute to motoring economy while representing hardly any sacrifice in performance, and if petrol prices rise again as a result of the Gulf War more car buyers are likely to invest in c.i.-engined cars.

A Citroen CX diesel Turbo recently did 63.91 mpg on an 862-miles run, and the new British diesel-class records established at Millbrook test-centre by Citroen CX DTR Turbo and BX 19RD cars underline the efficiency of such engines.

Whereas up to the 1950s the international c.i.-class fs kilo record was held by Jackson’s Cummins Diesel Special with 117.71 mph at Bonneville, and the 24-hour record by Eyston and Denley’s 9-litre AEC with 97.05 mph at Montlhery in 1937, the production 2 1/2-litre Turbo Citroen saloon has raised these to 120.86 mph and 117.64 mph respectively. A BX 19RD diesel and the CX took other records from Peugeot, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz.

More innovations have been initiated recently by Ford, in the form of permanent Ferguson-system four-wheel drive, ABS braking on lower-priced models, WTC successes with the RS500 Cosworth, and the use of CTX infinitely-variable transmission for its small cars. This latter marks a return to two-pedal control in a sophisticated form, eighty years after the Model T.

And now Ford has bought Aston Martin Lagonda, just as General Motors has an interest in Lotus and Fiat owns Ferrari. In a way this is a repeat of history, because back in 1922 Henry Ford, wanting a foothold in the luxury car market, acquired Henry Leland’s Company which had been making the V8 Lincoln — Ford then turned this into a fast and high class 5.8-litre 4WB production.