Letters from Readers, September 1949
Those B. & B. Continentals
I feel, as the owner of the only Lancia “Ardea” in this country, I cannot allow Mr. A. E. Frost’s letter to go unchallenged.
The accommodation is certainly far roomier than the normal 8-h.p. British car, and a fairer comparison than the obsolete R.A.C. rating would be on cubic capacity, the “Ardea” being only 903 c.c. I would certainly like to find another car of the same capacity to give the “Ardea” a run, for this is very rarely passed, either on acceleration, hill-climbing or maximum. It would take an exceptional car to put up such an average speed as 482 miles in ten hours’ running time, which the “Ardea” has accomplished, from Basle to Dunkirk, including the very poor surfaced roads from Laon to Dunkirk
Constant use of the gear-lever is unnecessary, though the top gear ratio is 4.875 to 1, and here is one engine of under 1,000 c.c. that will pull a top gear of under 5 to 1. Poor accommodation, poor performance, noisy engine, expensive overhauls and shortage of spares definitely do not appeal to the enthusiast, but he does appreciate a car that will do what he expects of it without running bearings, overheating and petty breakdowns. Suspension and roadholding are factors generally acknowledged to be superior on Continental cars, and even the latest versions of home-built cars are not yet up to pre-war versions of Continental products.
With the Lancia, the worst of pave, badly pot-holed roads and level crossings, can be ridden with scarcely a tremor at 60 m.p.h., in fact, the faster these are taken, the smoother the ride.
British cars have to be driven at 20 to 25 m.p.h. at the most, otherwise the car feels as if it will break up under one.
I have sufficient confidence in the “Ardea” to have entered it for both the B.A.R.C. meeting at Goodwood on August 13th and the Production Car race at Silverstone the following week, when possibly Mr. Frost will be able to see if a Standard Eight or Morris Minor will outclass it.
I am, Yours, etc.,
V. W. Derrington.
Under normal circumstances I would be quite willing to overlook the erroneous impression given in your write-up of the B.O.C. sports car races about my practice. As I’ve had no small trouble getting insured and convincing the organisers of the event of my ability to handle a car — this as a result of the loss of my right hand — it becomes a matter of importance to explain that my use of the escape road on Stowe Corner during the practice was by no means inadvertent. By arrangement with my mechanic, I cruised into the escape road to pick him up and take him to another vantage point for photographic work. As it turned out he had decided to walk around the course unassisted, so I took a leisurely trip on the wrong side of the “straw” entirely by earlier arrangement!
I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the B.O.C. for an excellently organised event and especially Major Dixon-Spain for permitting himself to be persuaded to allow a one-handed driver to prove that a fast car can be handled reasonably efficiently — though perhaps in an unorthodox fashion — by a person suffering from such so-called disabilities.
I am, Yours, etc.,
George H. Smith
[We are glad to publish this letter and would remind Mr. Smith that many drivers with two hands have used escape roads while practising for a race without being classed as dangerous or incompetent. — Ed.]
One for the Y.S.C.C.
It would appear that “Whatever you want, we (the Y.S.C.C.) have it.” In reply to Miss Betty Haig’s article in the April issue and further to Tommy Wise’s letter in the May issue, I would point out that the Y.S.C.C. Annual Ladies Trial is a popular and well-supported event.
If the suggestion for a Hill-Climb at Catterick Camp can be followed up, the Y.S.C.C. should score another “First in the North.”
To those who consider Breakheart the best trials hill in the country, I would submit the claims of Devil’s Elbow. What other hill can offer the combination of a hairpin bend, with freak gradient, adverse camber, mud, sand, rocks and tree stumps, all inside forty yards? What other hill can claim to have been included in four trials before it was climbed clean?
I am, Yours, etc.,
A. M. R. Mallock. (Capt.)
West Africa (Capt.)
Your footnote to Joseph Bayley’s letter in the May issue of Motor Sport will, I trust, exonerate me from his charge of misleading your readers. I certainly do not claim that Britain is currently supreme in international motor-cycle racing, and I think my references to the mounting foreign opposition since 1935 made this evident.
As Dr. Bayley rather grudgingly admits, however, “if supremacy is claimed by the total number of victories gained over a period of many years we are certainly on top,” and it was this point I desired to emphasise, particularly to readers all too accustomed to foreign victories in car G.P.s. ” . . . but,” Dr. Bayley continues, “in racing, as in war, it is the last battle that counts,” and this, I contend, took place in 1948, the last full racing season, rather than in 1939. Certainly the banning of blowers since then has meant that no machines comparable in power output or speed to the 1939 B.M.W.s and Gileras have so far appeared, but this can hardly justify Dr. Bayley’s airy waving aside of recent British successes in international races held under the accepted F.I.C.M. rules as being “without merit.”
in 1948 there were four classic European events in which British “works” bikes met foreign: the Swiss G.P., won by a Norton; the I.O.M. ” T.T.”, won by a Norton after a stupendous display by Tenni on his Guzzi before he met trouble; the Dutch G.P., again won by a Norton; and the G.P. of Europe, in which a Guzzi “Gambalunga” beat a Norton home. Without doubt the Italian machines are very light and fast, and have only to find the stamina possessed by ours to really stir things up, but it is from race results alone that one can judge and, if we except the “T.T.” as being too “one-sided,” Britain still won two events to Italy’s one. Not supremacy, true, but not too bad for “Pool-developed monstrosities.” If the Guzzi, Gilera and A.J.S. “multis” are all au point this year, the fur should fly with a vengeance.
With regard to the smaller classes, if Dr. Bayley will re-read my article, he will see that I confess to our having “had it” in the 250-c.c. class, likewise that the 350-c.c. class has long been a British benefit. Even so, when D.K.W.s were in the field in 1938 and 1939, British machines won eight Junior events to Germany’s four.
With reference to Mr. A. D. Robinson’s letter, I must plead guilty to neglecting Serafini’s 100.03-m.p.h. lap in the 1939 Ulster G.P., in my anxiety to record Walter Rusk’s feat with the A.J.S. vee-four. Writing on this subject in Motor Cycling in 1940, Count Lurani said that “Serafini found the new four-cylinder A.J.S. very fast and very powerful indeed, and expressed the opinion that when the roadholding is as good as the engine, the A.J.S. will be a dangerous opponent for any other supercharged multi.” Of Walter Rusk himself, Lurani wrote: “Serafini had no words good enough to describe the unbelievable daring and superhuman courage of this rider. All he could say was that O. Tenni, who is the most hair-raising rider in Italy, is a ‘mere tourist’ in comparison to Rusk. On no circuit has Serafini seen things done as Rusk was doing them on the Ulster course . . .”
Alas, neither Rusk nor Tenni are with us now, while the A.J.S. “four,” after a last fling in winning the 1946 G.P. des Frontieres, is now extinct. Its successor, the unblown 500-c.c. twin, is carrying on the good work.
I am, Yours, etc.,
[This correspondence is now closed. — Ed.]
I was very interested in the views expressed in the June issue of Motor Sport in “Matters of the Moment.”
I recently wrote to the Sunday Express pointing out that if the National Press is considering backing large-scale motor sporting events then a change in outlook is required in the method of reporting such events.
In the past it has been only too evident that unless an accident or other so-called excitement occurred at a racing meeting the popular dailies and Sunday papers hardly considered the event worth reporting. In any case the report was in most cases scrappy and sometimes inaccurate.
The general public who flock in large numbers to motor racing do not all go in the hope of witnessing an accident, but their enjoyment of these events would be immeasurably increased if accurate, intelligent and ungarbled reports and information concerning motor sport generally were presented prominently in the National Press.
I am, Yours, etc.,
D. E. Castley.
[We couldn’t agree more. In particular, daily Press motoring correspondents should be careful not to soil their copy books! — Ed.]
I fail to see why enthusiasts have a horror of the “dirt track atmosphere” (Mr. Blythe, April). The speedways of this country are run efficiently and fairly with regard to competitor and public alike.
As someone who has been professionally interested in motor racing since 1936, I feel strongly that a lot less snobbery and a lot more practical economics will get motor racing further than the continual decrying of speedways and midget cars. The word snobbery will no doubt annoy a lot of readers, but what else is it when “dyed-in-the-wool” enthusiasts of motor racing are against all other forms of racing even being anti-motor-cyclists?
I can also imagine the heartburn which has been caused by Mr. Tony Vandervell’s entry entry of a “Thin Wall Special.” Personally I would not give a tinker’s cuss if all the component manufacturers entered racing cars under the queerest of names as long as I could see money flowing into the Sport. Lack of financial stability has been the major drawback to racing in this country and has resulted in the loss of first-rate men to the Sport. Such men as “Lofty” England, Walter Hassan, Zillwood Milledge, Alec Francis and others who have gone into industry because there they have found financial stability.
I see nothing wrong in the sponsoring of racing cars and their equipes by component manufacturers as in the U.S.A., which allows the right men, if so inclined, to continue in racing till age makes them retire. The day of “The right crowd and no crowding” must end if our Sport is to prosper. I did not notice the Germans getting worried, or the English for that matter, when hundreds of thousands flocked in Nurburg and the meeting spectacularly staged. I have seen a writer in a motoring weekly suggest “that perhaps at the next meeting (and please let us have another meeting) the general public need not be invited to attend.” This typical attitude of “I am all right Jack, how are you?” will not foster the popularity our Sport needs. If the crowd gets too big make more facilities, do not shut them out or you will kill their enthusiasm stone dead.
May I end with the hope that enthusiasts will keep a more open mind on the commercialising of our Sport.
I am, Yours, etc.,
R. H. Kettle.
[Bring out the sackcloth and ashes! We have never been enthusiastic over car speedway-racing; motor-cycle speedway wasn’t mentioned. We have poked no fun at the Thinwall although other cars of this make with Mr. Vandervell’s bearings still consider themselves Ferraris. “Wilky” Wilkinson is now back in the racing game, incidentally. If components manufacturers wish racing to advertise their cars let them build new racing cars by all means, not re-name classic designs. The B.R.M. will be an excellent example of the right approach when it appears. The Goodwood authorities are already preparing for bigger, and everyone hopes, better-behaved crowds. — Ed.]
Matters of History
The June “Sideslips” by your inimitable contributor “Baladeur ” have prompted me to write you this letter.
Puch was originally a motor-cycle, which incidentally won the European Grand Prix in 1906. The Austrian Nikodem, who in later years drove the Austrian car Laurin and Klement, rode the winner. Puch cars competed in the Alpine trials of 1912, ’13 and ’14, but although finishing, never managed to obtain clean sheets and, of course, no Alpine cups.
Mentioning Laurin and Klement, there used to be a phonetical joke about this make: it was called lausig and clend. Translated it stands for lousy and miserable. Yet Count Kolowrat won an Alpine cup, driving this much-slandered car. About 1926 Laurin and Klement merged into Praga and in the meantime this factory has disappeared too.
Their first manager and designer was Paul Daimler, Gottlieb Daimler’s eldest son from 1902-05. Then he returned to Mercédès, where, in 1907, he became a technical director till 1928.
His successor in Vienna was Porsche, who stayed with Austro-Daimler from 1906-23, afterwards joining up with Mercédès-Benz. There he remained for six years, and after a short spell with Steyr, he set up his own designer’s office. But what happened to the famous Paul Daimler? He designed the Horch Four and later their eight-cylinder car, retiring in 1928. It is a well-known fact that the 16-cylinder Auto-Union Porsche car used to be built in the Horch factory. Therefore it seems to me that Paul Daimler and Porsche have more or less relieved each other as designers with Austro-Daimler, Mercédès (Mercédès-Benz) and Horch (Auto-Union).
Did you know that this Austrian driver designed aero-engines during 1914-18? These engines were manufactured in the Austrian “Industriewerke” Warchalowski, Eisler and Co., and known as “Hiero” motors. I am not writing anything else about him, because I do not want to trepass on the promised sideslips about Steyr!
I am, Yours, etc.,
J. C. Kortuals Altes
I have read and re-read that very good book “Motor Racing” edited by the Rt. Hon. the Earl Howe and every time one of the illustrations shocked me and made me think and doubt. This is the photograph, below which it says as follows: The first supercharged Grand Prix car — the 1923 racing F.I.A.T., a 2-litre-engined car of the type which first raced with a supercharged engine.”
It seems to me that the bonnet of the car depicted is too short to cover the eight-cylinder supercharged engine. And investigations were made. Result: exactly that photograph depicted Evasio Lampiano driver, and Morganti mechanic, on the four-cylinder 1 1/2-litre non-supercharged No. 21 F.I.A.T., which finished third in the Grand Premio d’Italia Veturette run at Monza on September 3rd, 1922, the inaugural day of the now resurrected track. Three 1 1/2-litre four-cylinder F.I.A.T.s were in the first three places of that race in the hands of Pietro Bordino, Enrico Giaccone and Evasio Lampiano. Incidentally, Lampiano was killed on June 14th, 1928, at the foot of the Gex hill training with a F.I.A.T. for the Faucille race. The same fatal end was reserved to Giaccone, killed on August 27th, 1928, when practising for the first European Grand Prix, also at the wheel of a F.I.A.T.
The same non-supercharged 1,500-c.c. F.I.A.T. was victorious again, on September 10th, 1922, in the Italian Grand Prix also run on the then new Monza course, and again Pietro Bordino, the finest road-racing driver according to Segrave, was the winner.
In 1923 a supercharger was added to this four-cylinder engine. And this supercharged 1 1/2-litre four-cylinder F.I.A.T. was seen that year in England, when two of these cars were driven by Salamano and Campbell in the Brooklands 200-Mile Race of the J.C.C.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Antonio Fernandez Nava
[We publish this letter from a Spanish enthusiast for the benefit of those readers who have the book referred to in their libraries. We believe the photograph is incorrect and that it does depict the rare 1-litre 1922 racing F.I.A.T. — Ed.]
A Vintage Veering!
1. I am still old-fashioned enough to believe that there are, broadly speaking, four types of car: the racing car, the super sports car, the sports car and the touring car. These should be related, the sports car and the tourer very closely as in the case of the Sunbeam, Bentley, Vauxhall and Alvis, to mention but a few.
2. The purpose of a touring car is to transport a specified number of passengers in: —
(a) Safety; (b) comfort; (c) speed. I believe this to be the correct order. The ingredients of each seem to be: —
(a) 1. Good roadholding and steering.
2. Good visibility.
8. Good acceleration.
4. Good brakes.
(b) 1. Good roadholding.
2. Well-designed seats.
3. Firm suspension.
(c) 1. Good power/weight ratio.
2. Well-chosen gear ratios.
3. Good craftsmanship.
3. An inspection of road tests covering some 25 years shows that, measured by performance figures, the modern car does not show up too well. For example, a 1948 sports car with a slightly larger engine than its 1932 ancestor has inferior acceleration figures and a maximum speed higher by 1 m.p.h. Another “fast tourer” of 1948 shows up poorly against the same model of 1934, while a popular 1,500-c.c. car, described in one journal as the best 1 1/2-litre this firm had made, has inferior acceleration figures in every range. In each case the answer may be found in the addition of a few cwt. of “plated tin.”
4. Now I realise that figures do not tell the whole story, and I have read glowing reports of the wonderful suspension (soft but not spongy!) of the moderns, though I have not had the advantage of driving one of them, but I have done the next best thing, and that is to observe them on the road, in particular on a sharpish left-hand bend I know well: one which needs taking close in to avoid “Castor and Pollux.” I have noticed that cars with the old-type wings, and especially those with good left side visibility are usually kept well in and show no signs of heeling, while the moderns with front wheels buried under a mass of ironmongery fight shy of the curb and take a list, at the same time hitting the two bumps and slipping outwards. I can usually gain 10 yards in 50 round this corner, though my car is a very ordinary open two-seater of 15 summers with no pretensions to even the “fast tourer” class. Over cobble roads the modern car seems to have an advantage in its front suspension, but I am at a loss to know why the horror of a heavy back axle bouncing up and down is still tolerated when de Dion showed what he thought of unsprung weight nearly 50 years ago. It is not so evident in the harder-sprung cars of vintage type.
5. My conclusions from published figures, observation and a few journeys as passenger, is that very little real progress in design is evident to-day, while lack of workmanship is all too obvious. A friend asked me to look at the engine of his new car, but on lifting the bonnet I was hard put to sort out a minute engine from a mass of bent wires (called throttle links), air cleaner, battery and struts, the latter to prevent the bonnet decapitating the unwary. In disgust I dug out a road test of an Aston-Martin with a photograph of a simple and accessible engine.
6. Visibility — or the lack thereof — is a positive menace in some new cars: although I am 6 feet 3 inches in height, I felt oblivious of what was going on just in front, and what a short driver can see I shudder to think. This, together with the roadholding, means that the modern car fails to fulfil the first requirement, i.e., safety.
7. To my mind the cars which most nearly combine the requirements I set out in paragraph 3 are:
Under 1 1/2-litres = Lancia “Aprilia.”
Under 3-litres = Hotchkiss.
Under 4 1/2-litres = Lagonda.
Under 8-litres = Rolls-Royce.
These are all touring cars, sports and super sports being so much a matter of taste. I prefer the heavy long-stroke engine of the Mercédès type, while another fancies the lighter high-revving Alfa, but the two cannot be compared.
8. The less said about modern steering the better, except when it becomes a menace to safety through poor visibility.
9. In the Autocar Road Test of a 1932 Lea-Francis of 1991-c.c., this car is given the ability to average 45 m.p.h. for journeys of 200 miles. I doubt if any modern English car of moderate price (the “Leaf” cost £425) could do better.
The Jaguar “record” of 132 m.p.h. finds me still unmoved. The standard Leyland [stripped? — Ed.] was able to lap Brooklands at over 100 m.p.h. 25 years ago, and the Bentley and Mercédès touched very high speeds several times a lap for 24 hours at Le Mans, while the 3-litre Talbot was very fast in the “Double Twelve.” These cars achieved speed with a normal four-seater body suitable for owner-driver attention. The Jaguar has, undoubtedly, a fine performance, but I wonder if it will do 80 per cent. of its new performance in 1969, as many Bentleys and Mercédès do after 20 years of use.
I am, Yours, etc.,
W. J. White
A B.B.C. Matter
Did you hear the radio programme entitled “Listeners Answer Back,” in which a young motor-cycle enthusiast asked the question — Why don’t we get more outside broadcasts of road races from Blandford, Cadwell Park and Haddenham?
The official answer was very encouraging, and to the effect that up to now nobody had written to the B.B.C. requesting such broadcasts, and they could only assume that people weren’t interested. It certainly seemed that if they received some letters and postcards from clubs and enthusiasts these commentaries would be arranged.
Perhaps you could persuade your readers to drop a line to “B.B.C. London,” and request some programmes of this nature, and they could press for some motor-car events also while they are about it, although frankly I haven’t yet heard a car man do a commentary like Graham Walker, but I am sure that there is such a man in the car world.
By the way, is any way known of keeping brass radiators gleaming without every day blue-belling? My Salmson is starlight garaged and suffers very badly from dulling of the brass work. Is it considered to be “the thing” to clear lacquer the darn things?
I am, Yours, etc.,
Peter L. Maples
Press Sec., Cricklewood & D. M.C. & L.C.C.
[Our correspondent will be interested to know that we have been in direct communication with the B.B.C. and that their Outside Broadcasts Department is fully alive to the need for better and more frequent motor-racing commentaries. Max Robertson is a promising new commentator in this field. Can any V.C.C. member answer the very justifiable queries re brass radiators? — Ed.]
A Club for Baghdad?
We have received the following letter from Major-General G. N. Gilmore:
“A small body of enthusiasts in Baghdad are endeavouring, against very severe handicaps, to inaugurate a sporting motor club.
“After much discussion it was decided that the only practicable form of motor sport is that of small car racing. The cars would have to be built here, and the chief feature of their design, would of necessity have to be economy. We anticipate that they should commence by taking the form of some of the earlier types of 500-c.c. machines.
“It has been suggested that a specification should be laid down based on a 500-c.c. formula, and that three or four machines should be built to the same specifications. These machines would remain the property of the club, and members would be able to drive them in events, by some mutually agreeable system of allocation.
“We feel that if we can once take the lead and get something along the above lines under way, then enthusiasm will commence to grow, and with the expansion of the club, we could turn our attentions to more ambitious fields.
“It is possible that some of the more ardent 500-c,.c. builders may permit us to profit from their experiences, and send us some hints and tips. Any assistance that you or your readers can give us in any form, will be most welcome.”
If anyone can assist this club to get under way will they please communicate with Maj.-Gen. Gilmore, c/o John Birch and Co. (Iraq), Ltd., King Faisal Avenue, Baghdad.
The Racing Car of Today . . .?
As a most faithful and interested reader of “Baladeur” I trust I may be permitted to correct him upon a statement made in the May issue, in “Sideslips,” concerning the application to production cars of the lessons learned upon the speedway [i.e., circuit. — Ed.]. The statement was made that in the early and mid-twenties, of all the cars which had won Grand Prix and similar important events, none but Mercédès produced a standard model which bore much resemblance to their racing cars.
Among the makers listed as being guilty in this respect was the American-made Duesenberg, a car probably little known abroad. The Grand Prix at Le Mans in 1921 was won by a Duesie expertly driven by Jimmy Murphy at 78 m.p.h. for the 300 miles on the rough course, after a lap record of 83.2 m.p.h. About the same time the Duesenberg passenger car, Model A, was appearing on the American market. There were many similar features of the three-litre race car and the passenger car of 4.3-litres. Both were straight-eights, with single-overhead camshafts and removable cylinder heads. Tubular connecting-rods and three main bearings were found in each. Each had torque-tube drive and tubular front axles, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes.
The Model A continued in production until about 1927 when the larger and more luxurious two-camshaft, “J” series was announced. Meanwhile, the speedway cars in America had been cut to two litres and were then single-seaters. Duesenberg won at Indianapolis in 1924 and 1925, and again in 1927. Although the race cars were now using double-overhead camshafts, there remained much similarity between the “500” winners and the Model A passenger car. At the front end could be found an absolute duplication in the steering arms, and the ends of the axle tube supporting the knuckles were stock parts machined a trifle smaller. Clutch and transmission were similar, and in the former stock parts were used, machined smaller. In the rear ends the layout was very similar; both cars used tubular axle shafts with integral hubs. The differential mounting on ball bearings was identical. The racing ring gear carrier was made from a stock part.
The oiling systems of the two cars were practically the same; the oil pumps being identical. Radiator cores were identical except for size, and water pumps were the same on both passenger and race car. Steering gears were similar, both of cam-and-lever type from the same maker, with the race car naturally having a few modifications. Hydraulic braking systems of the same general pattern continued to be used on both ; three-point engine mounting was used on each car and the method of installation was practically identical. Universal joints were the same, both race and passenger cars having two joints mounted ahead of the yoke at the forward end of the torque tube.
imilarities can be found, but I think my point is clear — the stock Model A Duesenberg closely followed in design and construction the successful race car of the same name. As far back as 1923 a stock Duesenberg ran 3,155 miles on the rough brick Indianapolis track at 62.63 m.p.h. All fuel and relief drivers were taken on from a supply car alongside; the only car stops were for tyre changes, and even then the engine continued to run.
May I add that Motor Sport is excellent — no publication over here can approach it.
I am, Yours, etc.,
The “Over-Rated” H.R.G.
Whilst I should be the last person to deny Mr. Butts, or anyone else, the right to his own opinion, his remarks about the H.R.G. are harsh almost to the point of bigotry, and I feel I must, in defence of a very fine little motor, disagree with him on many of the points he brings out in his letter.
The passing of the years has, as so often happens, added considerably to the performance of the six-cylinder o.h.c. M.G.s. The L-type, which incidentally was outside the 1,100-c.c. class anyway, was never an 80-m.p.h. car, or anything like it, and would probably have justified the title sporting rather than sports. I have no figures for the unblown K-type, but I doubt if it was faster than the later and larger D-type which did. its 80 m.p.h. at the expense of a 25-m.p.g. thirst. This car was last priced, in 1937, at £330, in contrast to the H.R.G. 1939 price of £289 for the 1,100-c.c. model.
The six-cylinder o.h.c. M.G.s were not, I fear, completely lovable motors. Their temperament, noise, prodigious thirst and oil-soaked dynamos were scarcely compensated for by the performance available. The makers seem to agree with me here, because the type ceased early in 1937, shortly after the introduction of the T-type. Remember, too, that the 1939 9-h.p. H.R.G., on a Motor road test, did almost 80 m.p.h., had better acceleration than the N-type Magnette and withal gave better than 35 m.p.g.
Mr. Butts is sure that M.G. steering and roadholding is just as good as H.R.G. Frankly, I am not! I own neither make of car, but I am a regular spectator at Prescott and one can learn a lot about steering and roadholding on the esses. The H.R.G.s are not only immeasurably faster and steadier through here than the M.G.s ; they are, I consider, safer and more stable than any sports car I have seen climb the hill yet. The times though, particularly Mr. Newton’s record, speak for themselves. After all, it is very largely on its handling qualities that we must judge a sports car. A Buick can produce some very impressive performance figures, but that does not make it a sports car. The “TC” M.G. Midget is perhaps the best of the line, with most of the virtues and few of the vices of the earlier cars, and at the price is extremely good value. One does not expect grilled trout for the same price as boiled cod, although weight for weight the latter is better value. Both are excellent in their own way but in no wise comparable. The M.G. is built to a price, the H.R.G. to a quality, and whilst it is gross exaggeration to describe M.G. performance as equal to that of the H.R.G., as a study of Motor Sport road tests will prove, it is on the score of quality that H.R.G. gains so immeasurably. It is a hand-made machine, built by craftsmen for the limited body of knowledgeable who can appreciate it. Beautiful workmanship is scarce in these dismal times, and becoming more so, in all walks of life. After an all-too-rare glimpse of an H.R.G. on the road or in a car park, I am inclined to think that one of these lovely machines would be worth the money just to sit and look at.
I am, Yours, etc.,
John B. Owen.
As Mr. Clapp has said, they are different classes or types. Too many M.G.s have their performances spoiled by carrying radio sets about with them.
I am, Yours, etc.,
A. T. Lewis.
American Comments on Le Mans and M.G. versus H.R.G.
Just a short note from the States to let you know that your excellent coverage and beautifully put together article on the Le Mans race was greatly appreciated by enthusiasts here. Since few of us had an opportunity to make the trip, your reportage provided about the only stick to be leaned on in the way of information — blow by blow, so to speak. I was fortunate enough to make the pilgrimage to Le Mans, and although my accounts provided some of my friends with an eye-witness report, to date your article in the July issue has been the only comprehensive description of the running available in print. Again — congratulations on a particularly well-constructed account.
In retrospect, as I review a particularly long and sleepless twenty-four hours, I cannot help but think that the high point of the entire affair was Lawrie’s performance with the Aston-Martin. Other cars went better, other drivers turned in more spectacular performances, but no one managed to give as fine an imitation of week-end motoring in the Cotswolds as Lawrie. One might have thought he was en route to Brighton, for a leisurely spot of bathing and tea. I would be particularly interested to know what internal changes were found in the Aston-Martin when examined post-race. I certainly doubt if even the tyres showed wear.
I was particularly interested in the M.G. v. H.R.G. controversy, particularly Mr. Butt’s statements and the rebuttal published in July. In addition to my Type 43 Bugatti, I have also a 1948 “TC” M.G. fitted with a Marshall-Nordec blower. I also have a close friend who is the very proud possessor of a 1 1/2-litre H.R.G. “Aerodynamic.” Both cars are kept carefully tuned, and for the purposes of testing we both used the same Shell premium grade (about 79 octane) pump fuel. The results of this comparison follow: —
With the M.G. screen folded and all standard equipment aboard, acceleration tests against a stopwatch were as below. The speedometer was previously tested and found to be progressively fast to a maximum of 10 per cent. at 90 m.p.h. (as per speedometer).
M.G. “TC,” 1,250-c.c. Supercharged
0-30 m.p.h. … 5 sec.
0-40 m.p.h. … 8.3 sec.
0-50 m.p.h. … 12 sec.
0-60 m.p.h. … 18.5 sec.
0-70 m.p.h. … 29 sec.
0-80 m.p.h. … 37.8 sec.
H.R.G. “Aerodynamic,” 1,496-c.c. (non supercharged)
0-30 m.p.h. … 5.3 sec.
0-40 m.p.h. … 8.4 sec.
0.50 m.p.h. … 12.1 sec.
0-60 m.p.h. … 18.1 sec.
0.70 m.p.h. … 29.6 sec.
0-80 m.p.h. … 39 sec.
I think that these figures, when analysed, give some rather interesting information. First, it is apparent from the H.R.G. figures that the value of the aerodynamic coachwork increases steadily as the speed increases, and secondly, that the “TC” M.G., when fitted with the blower, is just about the H.R.G.’s equal. Using even higher octane fuel (about 84 octane) I was able to make the M.G. go to 80 m.p.h. through the gears in 37 seconds flat, which I think you will agree is pretty good even for a blower. In the roadholding and cornering department, both of us agree that the H.R.G. is in an entirely different class with any “TC” M.G. you can find, and in workmanship and finish the H.R.G. is also in another class. This is not to slight the “TC,” since I firmly believe that it is one a the best values for the money purchasable today — but the difference in price between it and the 1 1/2-litre H.R.G. is fully justified also.
I rather think that Mr. Gott, in his letter in the July issue, strikes the nail completely on the head when he states that a comparison between the two cars cannot hope to show for the unblown M.G. The two cars are in totally different classes, and as Mr. Gott says, you can wear out two or three “TC” M.G.s attempting to follow an H.R.G. around. By way of comment, I wonder what performance figures on a fairly highly-blown H.R.G. would show?
Also by way of comment, M.G. owners in England might be interested to know that my blown car, running on 84 octane fuel, with widscreen up, bumpers front and rear, a Notek pass light, and 40 lb. of luggage in the dickey, not to mention a 130-1b. passenger, actually succeeded in running 89.5 m.p.h. through a measured mile on one of New York State’s wonderful express parkways. This was accomplished late at night, when the atmosphere was dewy and policemen more or less out of the picture, and there was absolutely no breeze of any kind. I was more or less startled myself, but the figures are unimpeachable. The speedometer reading was 97 m.p.h. and r.p.m. in the neighbourhood of 5,200. Everything stayed together, and a fairly close check the next day revealed that things were still as the maker left them internally. I do not recommend this sort of thing, however, unless it is on a fairly good road, because my “TC” is obviously not at its best in the suspension department at this speed. My friend’s H.R.G., however, is very definitely in its best form at about 80-85 m.p.h., and it is at these speeds that a good comparison may be made between the roadholding capabilities of each.
Please excuse this rather long-winded epistle, since it started off in all sincerity as a note, and like Topsy, “just grew.” If you could, by chance, forward the information I have included about my M.G.-H.R.G. experiences to Mr. Gott at St. Albans, I would be delighted to hear from him about this subject.
I am, Yours, etc.,
New York, U.S.A.
Alfa-Romeos and Light Alloy
With regard to the photograph of an Alfa-Romeo chassis, page 277, July issue, may I point out that all the 1,500-c.c. and 1,750-c.c. cars that passed through the workshops when I was with Mr. Stiles were fitted with pressed-steel dashes, not cast-alloy as stated.
On certain cars to be fitted with English-built bodies, we cut 2 1/2 in. out of the dash and welded up again, in order to lower the bonnet line.
I am, Yours, etc.,
May I offer you a big “thank you ” for giving us Motor Sport? — what an oasis the first of the month is?
Nearing despair, as so many of us must, at the horrible mess the world is in, there is real consolation in even seeing a car that “has something” — there must yet be hope for mankind when he can still produce some of the cars we see in a world in which even our standards have become shoddy. False gods notwithstanding, I make no apologies for feeling that cars are the breath of life — my regret being that even in my middle thirties I am very much out of breath! So our thanks again to all of you who so obviously “just love cars,” and for helping us to feel that we really know the Gerards, the Walkers and the Frys, that we have really seen the pit-work at Le Mans and the preparations at Bourne, and that we too have hurled ourselves at Shelsley in a “3.3” or a “special.”
I am, Yours, etc.,