What will happen next?

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

The crisis in the Middle East has begun with the equivalent of the ‘phoney war’ period of 1939, when German bombers droned over London but no bombs fell and we shed leaflets over Berlin. But pessimists have predicted that the Third World War will emanate in the Middle East. So we must hope and pray for a peaceful solution.

Wars, the Suez Crisis, even a tanker drivers’ strike, have resulted in petrol shortages. In WW2 petrol was severely rationed, although farmers and journalists were treated leniently; so leniently that the writer ended the war with a huge wad of unused coupons for his 12/50 Alvis, having been unable to afford all the allowable fuel. For most car owners, only brief outings were possible, if at all; one has to hope that there will be no return to this frustrating situation. Meanwhile, less traffic congestion caused by the record high petrol prices is apt to be tempered by cars driven abnormally slowly to conserve the precious fluid.

The Oil Companies have again been treating their customers shabbily. Almost from the start of the Gulf Crisis petrol prices rose, exceeding the previous £2 gallon, since when they have fluctuated by some 24p a month, with dishonest prices apparently being displayed at some pumps. Apart from which, confusion and anxiety continues, over some engines boiling on 4 star and others thought likely to suffer damage if run on 4 star instead of on the now unavailable 2 star. The former trouble was seemingly due to a change in fuel volatility, unsuited to hot weather, and never mind the customer! Further confusion exists through vehicle owners being encouraged to burn unleaded fuel — its cheaper anyway — only to be warned that the consequence may be damage to some engines, in which valves and valve seats were designed for leaded fuel.

This is droll. Because when Rodwell Banks delivered his learned paper on Tetraethyl Lead in Fuel before the R-Ae-S in 1934 he was careful to stress that if such an additive were used he would expect steps to be taken to reduce exhaust valve temperature and for valves and seats to be made of austenitic steels, and stellited. The exact opposite surely, of what drivers using unleaded fuel are now troubled about? The oil folk have certainly got their customers in a twist! Yet Air Commodore Banks, CB, OBE, whose ethyl-lead moved 1930’s octane ratings of 65 to 70 (or 76 for the 1930s aviation fuel) up to ratings of 90 to 92, knew what he was talking about. His research into anti-knock fuel enabled Rolls-Royce to get 1900hp from their Schneider Trophy engine that had previously peaked at 900hp, and we all know what that led to . . . .

At best, we must see the enormous build-up of American and other military hardwear in the Gulf as safeguarding the world’s supply of oil. It could spare us roads flocked (blocked?) by 2cv Citroëns and similar “thrifters”. (Nothing against the excellent 2cv as such — it gives 29 bhp from 603cc, whereas before WW2 many thrifty drivers put up over the years with an average of 13 1/2 bhp from the A7’s 747 1/2cc . . . . a sound, if low key, advance).

Should faraway sources of petrol dry up, a perhaps too idealistic solution for us might be to start producing benzole from British coal, blended with that North Sea oil we are told we are so very fortunate to have. Even Rodwell Banks knew that the more lead you add to petrol the less the anti-knock effect; whereas with benzole the result is just the opposite. Alas, seldom do ideals work out in practice. WB

You may also like

Related products