Petrol Problems III

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Sir

Your editorial ‘Petrol Problems’, in the August issue, implies that the volatility of petrol may have changed. Certainly, the incidence of car fires, following accidents or otherwise, would seem to be on the increase as instanced in the local newspapers. Surely we, the consumers, have a right to know about any changes potentially affecting our safety? Considering the misinformation that we’ve been fed during the great ‘unleaded propaganda war’ (eg: retarding the ignition timing by up to 6 degrees won’t reduce performance or economy; 4 star leaded is a safe substitute for 2 star in low compression side-valve engines, etc) can we trust the oil companies and the government to tell us the truth?

A sign of the times, of course, is that WPK’s Pirelli Classic mount had been converted to run on unleaded. But those of us fortunate enough to own and use several older vehicles are hardly likely to be able to afford expensive cylinder head modifications to each and every one. My wife and I consider ourselves to be average, impecunious enthusiasts. We don’t have a modern car, but yet, over the years, we’ve somehow managed to amass five post-war cars and a couple of motorbikes, all of which we intend to keep and use. Imagine the cost of fitting hardened valves and seats to that fleet.

Incidentally, WPK suggested that Triumph TR4s were always noisy. I don’t know which ‘contemporary road test’ he refers to, nor whether the works cars were much worse in this respect than the standard production model, but the truly noisy TR was, without doubt, the early 2, fitted with the short silencer. Indeed, it has been said that the coming of the final apocalypse may well be presaged by a din not unlike the sound of a long-door TR2 chasing a BSA Gold Star up a long hill, past a heavily laden Commer two-stroke diesel!

David M. Landers

Morpeth, Northumberland.

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