Letters from Readers, September 1957



N.B. – Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and Motor Sport does not necessarily associate itself with them. – Ed.

Origins of Roadholding


It is well known that the two men mainly responsible for founding the science of vehicle handling were Dr. W. F. Lanchester and Mr. Maurice Olley, particularly the latter. It will no doubt be noted with regret by some of your readers that neither of the above-mentioned gentlemen were Germans and that they were, in fact, both English born.

The Porsche fanatics will also do well to note: —

(a) Auto Union adopted a Horch rear suspension of the de Dion type in preference to swinging arm suspension for their 1938 3-litre car — this car being designed entirely without the assistance of Dr. Porsche.

(b) One of the projected 1939 1½-litre Auto Unions was to have a forward mounted engine.

(c) Since the war Ferry Porsche has departed from his father’s principles in that he has fitted and since stiffened up a front anti-roll bar and he has recently followed Mercedes-Benz practice by lowering the swing axle pivot. All these models have been incorporated to reduce the oversteering tendencies of the car. Who knows, we may yet live to see (alas not own) a still finer Porsche with a forward mounted engine.

I suggest that further comments on the above subject be based on technical facts in the traditions of Olley, Lanchester and M. D. Sensaud de Lavaud rather than upon prejudices.

I am, Yours, etc., K. Eames, B.Sc.(Eng.). Shepshed, Loughborough.

[It will also be noted that neither the early Lanchesters nor the General Motors automobiles of the Olley era were noted for outstanding roadholding. — Ed.]




Whilst not wishing to enter the controversy between certain foreign cars and English cars, I should like to bring to your notice the facts of what I consider to be first-class after-sales service by V.W. Motors, Ltd.

I purchased my V.W. new 14 months ago from a South Croydon agent. Last month, after 9,000 miles, I noticed a slight engine rumble and suspected bearing trouble. I took the car to V.W. Motors, Ltd. Service Depot at Plaistow. They examined it and confirmed my suspicion and asked if I could leave the car for three or four days.

On calling for the car on the fourth day, my car was waiting for me, washed and immaculate. I was informed that my engine was not yet finished, but they had fitted a spare engine for my use until my own was completed. They telephoned me ten days later, saying my engine was ready, and would I arrange to let them have the car for two hours to change over the engines. This was done last week: they had stripped my engine completely, replaced any parts showing wear, fitted new crankshaft, crankcase, bearings, etc. The charge? No charge whatsoever — not even a labour charge. All this was done without any heated correspondence, and the use of the spare engine given without any request from me. This service I consider is outstanding, particularly considering the car was officially well out of Guarantee.

Needless to say, I have no connection whatsoever with this firm.

I am, Yours, etc., P. N. H. Holder. Wallington.



I should like to put on record a service from one of your advertisers — Messrs. Tooting Tyre Service Ltd., S.W.17. I recently bought from them a pair of used 650 by 19 tyres. Although professionally fitted, after only 27 miles one of these blew out completely along the wired edge, being a complete write-off.

On writing them (more in sorrow than anger) they immediately wrote back, asking me to return it for their inspection, although they were bought without warranty. This was done, and by return I had their advice that another tyre had already been despatched to replace the faulty one.

We are quick to grumble — let us, by the same token, give praise where due.

Usual disclaimer — this was my first deal with them.

I am, Yours, etc., B. Raine. Bradford, Yorks.


Opinions from Australia


You do not have much comment from Australia, so I thought you might like some. It will be very terse, to fit on an air letter.

Firstly, I’d like to start off a reader controversy about the Renaults. I owned a 750 for a while and it was awful, and most other owners I strike seem to agree, if they have owned the things for a while. I know some of the offending bits are heavier now, but I have heard some indication that it has not made much difference. See what effect it has on your enthusiasm for I.R.S. when you find the bearings at the roots of the swing-halves have had it, and so have your universals nicely tucked away inside bell housings, and because of your universals your rear-wheel bearings will not stay good, and because of shocking machining of the half-shafts the seals on the rear wheel bearings cannot be made effective and you never have rear brakes. And the front end is about as good. I do not know whether at this time Renault were sending to this country cars that failed inspection for the home market, or something like that. I admit mine was bought secondhand, but most of the deterioration occurred while I owned it between indicated 9,000 and 22 or 23 thousand miles. From what I have seen of them it is grossly unjust to praise Renault, at any rate, at the expense of British small cars.

My Peugeot 203 has been infinitely better. With 40,000 up I could not spend a shilling on the front end if I wanted to — and haven’t spent it, except for a silent bloc bush and a couple of “concertinas” for the rack. But the Renault very nearly put me right off French cars. The rear end has not been as good. I have probably spent about £15 (not more, I think) on damper repairs and have had to repair a damper mounting and the Panhard road anchorage. When I did the former damage I had been deceived by potholes I thought were shadows and did 65 when I should have done 35, and in addition was accidentally without a reinforcing plate — the other side took it O.K. The Panhard rod anchorage was probably cracked when I did 45 m.p.h. sideways downhill after a tubeless tyre had suddenly deflated on a rocky corner; however I have to admit that that tyre had never held air better than a tube and may have been damaged in fitting. Several attempts had been made to get a good seal. I have now put tubes in the others, thank you.

The VW is selling like hot cakes here as it apparently does everywhere it goes. I wonder what part historical accident plays in its excellence? For example, if I recall Hoppinger correctly, bits designed for the military version and heavier than the accepted civvy bits were incorporated; perhaps that is why it is now so tough? Further, I imagine a lot of bugs were found during prolonged military use, and even in the few early civvy machines before production really started. I have driven one only a very short distance but it certainly did oversteer (strongly rather than viciously, I’d say) and did drum rather a lot. In our round Australia trial last year VW swept the board, but had the assistance of mobile repair shops and if they were so intent on winning one wonders whether the cars were specially prepared. But do not mistake me, before the VW, the 203 was the smallest car to do well in these events, and in the 1,100 c.c. class if you can finish the pot is pretty well yours — and the VW wins outright.

I am, Yours, etc., G. W. Taylor. Canberra.


Which Brand?

I use Regent petrol, of various grades according to mood, from Messrs. Sergeant and Collins because,

(a) They employ a very pretty girl to dispense the stuff;

(b) They once advanced two gallons when my wife called without cash (neither car nor wife were known to them);

(c) It is reasonably near here and not subject to queues. Incidentally, the vehicle (vintage Lagonda) accepts all and any grade with gratitude.

I am, Yours, etc., G. Warren-Smith. Bickley.



I use BP Super and Energol, because I see Stirling Moss proclaim that, together with Mercedes-Benz, this is what he wins races with.

Fangio first for Officine Alfieri Maserati, using B.P. Energol and (in very small type) B.P. fuel; which we all suspect isn’t quite the same as our garage sells, but if a Vanwall wins the G.P. d’Europe on it, then it’s good enough for us.

I must admit, that the fact of the Index of Performance Lotus, using Esso Extra, and (fairly small type) Golden Esso Extra, has shaken me, but I remain faithful to B.P.

It most definitely has an impact on the consumer, to see that a big race is won by a machine that used a component, tyre, or oil, which he can buy for his machine. He would probably be much less impressed by the fact that many of the retired cars also had this particular equipment.

It certainly pays to associate the product with a standard of success which is there for all to marvel at.

Although all these petrols should be practically the same, their effects do seem to vary considerably on different engines; so in the end, choice is usually based on trial and error, as to suitability for one’s particular machine.

I am, Yours, etc., R. I. Willis. Frodsham.


A D.K.W. In Kenya


Mr. M. van Holdt’s article on D.K.W. motoring in the Union was very interesting. Whilst we who live on the same continent may think their politics a little strange, there’s no getting away from the fact that they make damn good roads.

My wife and I did a business tour of 8,500 miles in three and a half months down there about a year and a half ago, and were agreeably surprised at the high average speeds that could be attained, though we had a two-pedal V8 Dodge to do it in. (Our best was 74 m.p.h. for three hours including a stop for petrol. The Dodge did 12 m.p.g. at any speed!). Any car, however, with reasonable suspension, would be tireless to drive, and the degree of tiredness would depend almost entirely on the texture and design of the seat and the position of the steering wheel.

In England people are inclined to crash into either each other or lamp-posts. In South Africa where there are neither obstacles in any quantity, drivers usually indulge in far more spectacular gyrations. In the Union I imagine they go off the road because it suddenly bends a few degrees after 20 miles straight. In Kenya they do the same but because the roads are so appalling! and they usually get away with it.

The other day a Morris Minor with seven Indians up — they always pack themselves in like sardines — dropped 300 feet off our famed escarpment near Nairobi and only two of them were detained in hospital. The Minor didn’t even make the scrap yard!

I am, Yours, etc., H. B. Stutchbury. Endebess, Kenya.


Excess Profits


The profits mentioned by Mr. D. C. Cressy in your July issue are not unusual.

A friend of mine in Manchester was quoted £6 10s. for a £2 2s. Bosch voltage regulator. I foolishly paid 8d. each for three new needle-rollers which are really 5s. 9d. a hundred!

The remedy is to cut these sharks out whenever possible by dealing direct with the manufacturer.

Gaskets. Send a pattern to Richard Klinger Ltd., Klingerit Works, Sidcup, Kent. The Lambda head gasket should cost 15s. unbelted or about 25s. belted. The latter is recommended in this case.

Ballraces, etc. Revolvo Ltd., 399, Edgware Road, London, W. 1. This is the London branch of R.I.V. who make the original equipment for all Italian cars. Very helpful firm indeed. Prices very reasonable.

Electrical Equipment. Bosch Ltd., 20, Carlisle Road, The Hyde, Hendon, London, N.W.9. Very helpful indeed and not expensive by Lucas standards. Will usually produce a modern replacement for very old parts. Can also supply Scintilla and Marelli parts where the latter are made under Bosch licence.

Hoping this information will help all enthusiasts for both vintage and post-vintage Italian cars. Michelin “X” tyres for swing axle rear suspension. I used to get 5,000 miles with a well known British make. I now get 25,000 miles!

I am, Yours, etc., A. H. Piper. E. Molesey.


A Good Ford


I have owned a Ford New Prefect since May 1955 and have now covered 50,000 miles (50,200 at the time of writing, to be exact), and apart front an oil leak on the valve-cover plate and oil on the clutch whilst the car was still under warranty, nothing has been done to the engine or transmission since. Servicing has been carried out regularly by one of the local Ford agents and so far the only replacements have been: one new set of plugs, one set of points, one fan belt and one radiator nose (hose). The front brakes only have had to be relined once.

During petrol rationing I had smaller jets fitted which increased the m.p.g. from 33 to 39 m.p.g. — the cost of fitting and supplying the jets was 10s. (unlike the VW economy adjustment, which as advertised, cost 2 gn.). The smaller jets seemed to make so little difference to the general performance that I am continuing with them. A cruising speed of 55-60 m.p.h. is easily maintained — the speedometer, by the way, is absolutely accurate at 60 m.p.h.

On journeys of 100 miles and over, e.g., to and from London, Bristol and Leeds, I can average 38-42 m.p.h. including stops. The car has always been run on Esso Mixture.

Oil consumption is now about 1 pt. per 400 miles using Mobiloil Special for the first 40,000 miles and now Mobiloil Arctic. There is no pinking and there are as yet no expensive noises apparent in the engine or transmission.

The trim and finish is remarkably good for the price and despite being out in all weathers there is little or no deterioration of paintwork or chrome.

But no car is perfect. What a pity Fords do not fit four forward gears and as for the vacuum-operated windscreen wipers, they are a menace since they have a nasty habit of stopping when needed most — going uphill in a stream of traffic.

However, I look forward to many more miles of trouble-free motoring and have no worries about taking the family, together with all their paraphernalia inside the car or boot, to Land’s End or John o’ Groats in this particular product of the British motor industry.

I am, Yours, etc., M. J. G. Kirby. Glenfield.


Railton Enthusiasts


How often over the past 50-odd years this phrase has been used to describe the backbone of British motoring. It adequately describes the members of the Railton Owners’ Club. This club was formed a year ago, to do honour to the name of Railton and to preserve and exhibit the remaining examples of Reid Railton’s contribution to everyday motoring.

The membership is around 60 with a potential of about 200, and I am quite sure the club will never debase itself by finding that there are near pedigree Railtons amongst Hudsons or Brough Superiors, or by forming a junior league to boost subscriptions, or the like.

I suppose most motorists are familiar with the lines of this most elegant motor-car. The Board of Directors of the Vintage Sports. Car Club Limited once expressed their opinion that it was “somewhat agricultural machinery” whilst at the same time doing honour to the M.G. powered by the Morris Oxford engine.

Perhaps the fact that a team of Railtons would be likely to make almost any one-make team from the V.S.C.C.’s 2,500-plus membership look just a little shabby, and, of course, the astonishing performance of the Railton in comparison with many supercharged and much talked-about cars, might also have something to do with it.

I would like to quote an extract from “Britain’s Motor Industry” by W. H. Castle, published in 1950: —

“End of an Era”

“The Railton first appeared in 1933, a fast, quality car and an Anglicised version of the Hudson.

“Perhaps its outstanding feature was its astonishing acceleration. The standard, unsupercharged model — which won races against other supercharged cars — could go from zero to 50 m.p.h. in just over seven seconds, and using only top gear it went from 10 m.p.h. to 90 m.p.h. in less than a minute.

“And it is the name of Reid A. Railton that brings us to one more series of notable achievements before we drop the curtain on the years before the second World War.

“Reid Railton has become almost immortal, has at any rate earned his place in automobile history, as having been the designer of the famous Cobb-Railton-Napier Specials which have kept the world’s land speed record for British cars.”

This letter doesn’t intend to prove anything, except perhaps that it is the small select motoring clubs of Great Britain, past and present, who leave the really permanent mark in motoring history.

I am, Yours, etc., Antony Hyde-East. Guildford.


Early Tubeless Tyres

I have been reading the letters in Motor Sport on the controversial subject of tubeless tyres and believe I should relate my experience along these lines in order to further becloud the atmosphere for the uninitiated. 

When I was a lad of five summers, my father owned A 1906 model St. Louis car. This machine was a quite elegant two-seater, side winding, with a healthy one-lunged engine beneath, chain-driven and with five wire wheels of about 3-in. cross-section. There was a dickey seat forward of the driver and dash which when closed gave the appearance of an early electric model. When unfolded this seat afforded a fine post of observation, therefore, it was my favourite perch when our family went motoring. Besides the usual brass lamps and horn, the car was fitted with cycle-type wings of patent leather, sewed over a steel frame.

Getting back to the tubeless part of this story, the wire wheels mentioned above were fitted with tubeless tyres of the cycle variety except of wider cross-section. This type of tyre was prone to the development of so-called pinhole leakage, and was given injections of most anything at hand. Oat grain and water was a favourite filler. I do not know what took place inside the tyre but I do recall most vividly what happened outside when riding on my favourite perch. The right front tyre burst at 25 m.p.h. and every revolution sprayed my white linen suit with oat mash. Needless to say I lost all faith at this point

With the resurrection of the tubeless tyres I could only remember the above related incident and did not care to try them. I am now further convinced that they are not here to stay since a British friend, who works here in the United States as a research chemist, has invented a hollow nail for tubeless tyres. When the race at Le Mans is won on tubeless tyres I may be convinced of their merits and safety.

Incidentally, on the subject of tyres, what supplier in Britain can supply four, new stock, 6.50 or 7.00 by 18 six-ply passenger covers and tubes?

I am, Yours, etc., W. D. “Dewey” Alter. Flanders, U.S.A.


Classic Cars in Japan


Every month I open with trembling fingers the Motor Sport sent all the way from England and read every page with a great enthusiasm. The most interesting part is, however, the last few pages devoted to small advertisements. As a “spare parts starved” vintage-car enthusiast, I literally scrutinise every line of every page with a deep sigh.

In Japan it is extremely difficult to keep vintage-car even just going, not to speak of maintaining it in concours condition. Tax is high and petrol is expensive, if not scarce. Spare parts are almost non-existent except those for Austin Seven and handbooks are not available. The biggest problem is as to tyres and wheels. Many friends of mine reluctantly converted wire wheel to disc because of tyres being not available.

For these reasons our cars are, I admit, not always to the accepted standard. Nevertheless, we cherish them like precious jewels and have a pride in them.

I am a 27-year-old impecunious vintage-car enthusiast and my first car was an inevitable Austin Seven. She gave me faithful service for two years and still going strong in my friend’s hands. After the Austin I acquired a 1928 4½-litre high chassis Invicta which had been converted to a dirt track racer by some fool in the past. At the same time I fell in love with a 1926 Tatra four-seater. It had many unusual features such as backbone chassis, swing rear axle and air-cooled, horizontal twin o.h.v. engine. I could not afford to restore two cars so I sold the Invicta to an American enthusiast. Then I bought for daily transportation a 1949 Citroen Light Fifteen. This is the only post-war car I have ever owned. After one year of ownership, I swopped the Citroen for a 1935 Lagonda Rapier tourer. Now I own a 1936 3½-litre Alvis Vanden Plus sports saloon and 1931 model-A Ford coupe. I acquired the Alvis from the original owner who bought her in 1936 in England. To my best knowledge the engine has never been rebored but new piston rings were fitted about 15,000 miles ago. The wooden-framed, aluminium body has been, however, attacked by age, and I decided to do an extensive renovation.

Last November we organised the Classic Car Club of Japan. Our membership is only 30 yet but all the members are very enthusiastic vintage-car addicts. Those cars registered to our club are, in addition to the cars I used to own and own now, 1924 R.-R. Silver Ghost, 1933 R.-R. Phantom II Park Ward limousine, 1937 R.-R. Phantom II, 1936 3½-litre Bentley Park Ward sports saloon, 1928 Lancia Lambda tourer, 1927 Hispano Suiza Boulogne tourer, 1935 Hispano Suiza 30 C.V. close-coupled saloon, 1925 Berliet tourer, 1934 Speed Twenty Alvis Charlesworth saloon, 1929 F.W.D. blown Alvis two-seater, 1935 Delage D6-65 saloon, 1935 3½-litre Hotchkiss saloon, 1928 Type 35C Grand Prix Bugatti (less engine, the Japanese Navy took it for research purposes during the war but the owner has Bugatti sports-car engine), 1933 Auburn Straight Eight convertible, 1937 Lincoln KV12 Le Baron convertible, 1937 BMW, 1928 Essex, 1935 Mercedes-Benz convertible (reputed to be the actual car which Hitler sent to Tojo as his personal present), 1937 Mercedes-Benz 220 limousine, 1936. Steyer convertible coupe, and many Austin Sevens.

We sincerely hope to correspond with a reader who has common interest in the vintage-car.

I am, Yours, etc., Shotaro Kobayashi, Secretary, The Classic Car Club of Japan. Tokyo, Japan.



I would like to express my appreciation of W.B.’s account of the ceremony on the demise of Brooklands, and of D. S. J. on Monza.

I was taken to Brooklands when in my teens in 1924 and later I had the great good luck to ride as passenger with M. E. Davenport in the last 200-mile sidecar race in 1930. Even these brief contacts with the Track made me love it although I lived in the north, and of course I used to meet quite a lot of the regulars at Southport, etc. I cannot imagine any of the top liners of those days, or even we lowly stooges, not going wild with joy for the chance of a crack at the Americans at Monza. I have not met or watched any of our Grand Prix drivers of the present time, but after the Monza incident I am not bothered. I cannot agree with Denis Jenkinson that they are “very brave” and I think the majority of the drivers themselves would agree with me. They are doing a job of work at which they are highly skilled, with meticulously prepared machines, and they like it. I think it is much more dangerous to drive on the roads nowadays, especially during the rush hours, personally I am not brave enough for that, I use the train.

I am. Yours, etc., S. E. Hume. Prestbury, Ches.



I was very pleased to see that my article on the Sizaire-Berwick appeared in Motor Sport. I hope that it has added something, however small, to the history of vintage cars. I have one error to bring to your attention, one which is entirely my own fault. Mr. R. H. Johnson has asked me to draw your attention to the fact that he supplied the photograph of the 25/50 torpedo tourer, and to read his name for that of D. Scott-Moncrieff. I should have acknowledged that this was his photograph, and in fact his wife perched on the back. I must apologise for this error on my behalf. Mr. Scott-Moncreiff did in fact own this same car later on, and it is now in the hands of yet another person.

I am, Yours, etc., G. R. G. Berwick. Sanderstead.