I was interested to read your article “Fiats in Mayfair” in the July issue.
However, I was rather disturbed by the author’s implication that the way to use it was to “row it along with the gear lever–up to 40 in third gear.”
My information is that the Fiat is a sturdy little engine, but that the rods do die of r.p.m. with unpleasant results. This is substantiated by the official Fiat 500 handbook, which states that the maximum permissible speeds in the four gears are 12, 20, 30 and 55 m.p.h.
At a later date (i.e. some time after 1937) the rods were redesigned, and these maximum engine speeds do not apply to, say, the 500C.
I feel that this letter might be published, as otherwise owners may be inclined to take the techniques of an article appearing in what is usually a well-informed magazine too much to heart, and a positive plurality of perforated crankcases may result.
I am, Yours, etc., S. Hassell. Bristol.
Your contributor ” W.B.,” in the July number of Motor Sport, gave Fiat enthusiasts a very interesting description of the work being done in the heart of London by Messrs. Lea and Caswell and staff of Mayfair Garages, Ltd., rejuvenating the ever-popular “Topolino,” and offering so many to choose from.
He made a statement, however, in the course of his excellent description of a trial trip which must have caused at least a few mathematical eyebrows to be momentarily raised when he said that the “olio” gauge sat at a reassuring 25 kg./sq. cm.
When I first acquired an example of this splendid little motor-car, I must admit that I, too, supposed that the oil-gauge was calibrated in this way until I was suddenly “shaken rigid” by the realisation that such a pressure works out at around 300 lb./sq. in.!
Fiat (England), Ltd., however, in response to a query—worded in the most guarded of terms—readily put me out of my misery by informing me that the gauge was calibrated in metres of water-gauge, and that the pressure represented by the figure “25” on the dial was, therefore, the pressure to be found at the bottom of a 25-metre head of plain water, i.e., something like 25 lb./sq. in.
I am, Yours, etc., Ralph S. Evans. Rainhill.
I wonder if any of your readers have seen a 12/60 Alvis saloon in the Lewisham area being driven by a traffic policeman? It is a delight to any lover of this famous marque to see the gleaming coachwork and the spotlessly clean engine with its twin carbs., which I persuaded the driver to show me. The whole car is a credit to its owner and is well worth seeing.
I am, Yours, etc., K. L. J. Ellison-Smith. Wrotham.
I fail to comprehend why your readers have to be continually subjected to letters and articles concerning that undistinguished car the Morgan Plus Four.
I am, Yours, etc., J. C. Erskine Hill. London. S.W.7.
In Defence of the Firefly
I enjoyed reading Mr. R. C. Symondson’s contribution to the series “Cars I Have Owned,” but was indeed surprised that he found the Alvis Firefly so disappointing, as my experience of this model has been quite the reverse.
I bought my Firefly early in 1938 when she was five years old and had done about 50,000 miles and parted with her very reluctantly after ensuring her a good home with a friend of mine, after I had used her hard for thirteen years and had put another 100,000 or more miles on the odometer.
During this time we went abroad together on more than one occasion, traversing pave and the Route des Alpes and maintaining a cruising speed of 60/65 m.p.h. over Routes Internationales.
When she was 16 years old, camping gear was added to her habitual load of four and sometimes five passengers and, with full load she made light work of Hard Knott and Wrynose passes, whilst her 17th birthday saw her drawing a caravan which turned the scales at 25 cwts.
And yet I handed the car over when I sold it without having to draw attention to loose chassis rivets. As for the steering, I once ran into one of a number of low stone bollards surrounding a fountain whilst parking the car and bent the front axle quite appreciably. We were in Austria and had to continue our tour. Fortunately, the bent axle had no noticeable effect on the steering and I ran the car for six years in this condition before the renewal of king-pins called for an overhaul of the front end.
In fact I have come to look upon the old Firefly as indestructible. I still see her frequently, and in spite of her main duty nowadays as a daily hack she continues to give unfailing service with the minimum of attention and is always a ready starter even in the coldest weather.
Have I been particularly fortunate Mr. Symondson? I do not think so, for I know the owners (both motor engineers) of two other Fireflys with chassis numbers not far removed from the one I had, who are convinced, as I am, that the Alvis Firefly is still a very fine motor-car by past or present standards.
I am, Yours, etc., G. Makin. Oswaldtwistle.
Mr. R. C. Symondson, in his otherwise enjoyable article in July’s Motor Sport, must surely have shocked the many enthusiastic Firefly owners–with his grim account of trouble and failure in the first nine months of owning one.
I enclose a recent photograph of my Firefly tourer, now nineteen years old, and within its own rights I consider it to be one of the finest low horse-power cars ever made. The faults outlined by Mr. Symondson have never to my knowledge appeared. Indeed the rugged dependability of the car is due, to my mind, to the great strength of the car as a whole, superb workmanship and utter simplicity. An example of this can be shown in the fact that it was only recently after nineteen years and at least 200,000 miles that a rear-spring leaf broke. Neither rear springs had been off the car until then!
Despite the great weight of the car and only 11.9 h.p. by the obsolete R.A.C. rating, the car will still exceed 70 m.p.h.
Mr. Symondson was indeed exceptionally unlucky.
I am. Yours, etc., W. D. Kearns. Waterfoot.