Following my letter published in the February issue advocating that our manufacturers should follow the Continental lead in car design, I feel I cannot let Mr. Hutchison get away with his accusations against the latter marques (under the title “The Strachan Stir-up” in your June issue) without some attempt to defend them. Mr. -Hutchison first says “. . . . most writers have selected the outstanding Continentals for their comparisons –LP the Lancia, B.M.W. and Fiat—all of which are more expensive than the average English family bamuche.’ “
It is not correct to compare these cars with “the average English family ‘ harouche’ ; they rank with our best sports cars of the same price class—Jaguar, Riley, MG., Triumph, etc. The Continentals quoted offer more up-to-date design and comfort, and are at least equal in body-room, acceleration, maximum speed, and petrol consumption. Mr. Hutchison must not forget that in the case of the Italians the very cars he mentions do form the average family ” barouche.”
The writer goes on to say” . . . there is a mighty lot of cheap rubbish produced from the Continental factories as well—to wit, the Opel, Hanomag, D.K.VV., and small Mercedes models. These do not compare at all favourably with the British Austin, Morris, VVoLseley, Ford, etc., either in perforniartee, finish, reliability, or quality of workmanship and design.”
I shall deal with these cars in the order of my knowledge of them.
I have never seen a Hanomag and know nothing of the marque. The Opel, I am given to understand, represents an American financial victory over international currency difficulties, rather than an achievement of engineering design. All who know the small Mercedes models, however, will agree that they are finned for the finish, reliability, and quality of workmanship and design which Mr. Hutchison says they do not possess. I am able to state a positive case for the D.K.’VV., owing to the fact that I own one
of these cars at the moment. Let us compare it with my previous mount which, I believe, is the most advanced British 10-h .p. on the market. The D.K.W. has a disadvantage-8 m.p.h. less maximum speed, and less acceleration over 45 m.p.h. ; but it climbs the same hills in the same gears, at the same speeds : it has similar acceleration to 45 m.p.h., similar rigidity of chassis, and steering control and comfort over rough roads, and similar luggage-space ; it has more passenger-room ; it will corner at much higher speeds with greater passenger comfort, and does ten more m.p.g. ; the engine capacity is 700 c.c. against the British 1,200 c.c. In addition, I save tax and insurance, while it. is an established fact that this type of engine has a
repair-free life of about double that of a four-stroke. I should like to make it clear that I have
no accusations, stated or implied, against British ears, because the things they do provide—ease of maintenance, accessibility, etc., as well as the silk blinds, doorpulls, ash-trays, cubby-holes, and whatnots, mentioned by Mr. Hutchison—are perfect. The writer gees on to Say that John Citizen prefers these refinements to constructional ()IMF, such as independent suspension and front-wheel drive. Is that really the ease, or is it a con
venient excuse for our manufacturers to retain existing models ? When I think of the vast numbers of Fiat 500s and Citroen Twelves on our roads to-day in the cheap car class, and the increasing number of Lancia Aprilias, B.M.W.s, etc., among our dearer, semi-sports cars, I teel the latter to be the case.
The whole question—American, Vintage, British, Continental—must be settled upon a commercial basis. It is generally agreed that modern Americans, while having many good points, are unsuited for our roads, both in size and rateable horsepower. Vintage ears as such do not come into the question at all, but the suggestion that vintage-type vehicles should still be built must be actively combated. Such vehicles, like fake antique furniture and mock Tudor houses, writhe in the shame of their spurious qualities.
If this country intends to build ears for home constunption, it must also have an export .market in order to spread costs sufficiently to achieve a reasonable sellingprice. To regain this lost market, our ears, sports and family alike, must advance in power, speed, acro-dynamics, eontrollal ility, comfort, economy, and ease of operation ; this market we held once, when the cars which are preserved SO carefully to-day by the Vintage enthusiast -were not vintage at all, but new and in advance of everything the Continent could offer to compete with us.
I should greatly appreciate information Oil the tuning of water-cooled V-twin .1.A.P. engines, with particular reference to eon’ pression-ratios, blowers, and eventual b.h.p. to be expected.
I am, Yours etc..
GRAHAM C. DIX.