I have every sympathy for your correspondent Mr. Jones.
Like him, I have never yet driven a strange Talbot with properly adjusted brakes. This, however, is hardly the fault of the car, and while I do not for one moment wish to implicate Mr. Jones himself, reading his letter has reminded me once again what a pity it is that so many people rush into print to blame motor cars for some failing which is clearly attributable either to old age, or to the ignorance and abuse of persons unfit to be entrusted with their well-being.
The Talbot is not the only car to suffer from these misrepre sentations, but it has certainly attracted an unfair share of them. One of the reasons is the complete lack of factory data or service manuals; besides, they are rare cars, and engineers of integrity prepared to work on them are rarer still. All the same, it is hard to forgive the august personages who have perpetrated so many libels through the years. “Inaccessibility” is the hoariest of them all; any competent amateur who knows the procedure and has the correct set of tools will make rings round the legendary long-fingered dwarfs which are said to be essential for any major overhaul. Some of the tools may have to be made—the factory is no longer there to supply them; but it is quite wrong to assume that because something is different it is therefore difficult. “Impossible to maintain” is another; but maintain what ? True, the Talbot engine has to be dismantled to remove the camshaft; but this applies to the Bentley, Bugatti, and many others if one so much as wishes to grind in a valve. “Too complicated” — even W. O. Bentley has subscribed to this one; I can only conclude that he has never compared his camshaft drive, troublesome dual magneto cross shafts, and valve gear with Roesch’s conception of these matters. “Overheating” (invariably a choked radiator), “poor starting” (poor batteries)—the unhappy Talbot has had to take it all. Yet talk to any sensible Talbot owner or mechanic who owned or worked on these cars when they were new, and you will find that they loved them for their ease of maintenance and first time starting, but always had difficulty in getting them to run hot enough.
Now Mr. Jones—who is clearly fond of his Talbot, in spite of his reservations—has been infected with the same disease, being prompted by his experiences to call the brakes (and by implication the whole car) “idiosyncratic.” They are nothing of the sort. None of the maladies he mentions need be accepted for a minute. Talbot brakes have always been among the best in the world. When Arthur Fox had a “90” team car on test at Brooklands just before Le Mans 5930, he recorded repeated stops from SOO m.p.h. in five seconds. It takes first-class modern discs to beat that figure. The tos brakes were better again. In all, seven toss went through three Alpine Trials without losing a single mark; if their brakes had suffered from the slightest pulling,” “grabbing” or other imperfection, I fear they would have crashed at the first hairpin.
It is perfectly possible to reproduce this braking performance today, and the correct adjustment procedure can be obtained through the S.T.D. Register.
Lastly, just one example of the way in which fallacies originate. In 1951 the then owner of the to5 team car GO 54 wrote to your journal in praise of the car, but complained that it had a poor steering lock. Now GO 54 won a Glacier Cup in the 1931 Alpine Trial (and, incidentally, finished third at Le Mans next year—a unique “double”), its exceptionally good lock being commented upon by reporters of that trial. Twelve months ago the car became mine, and the 1951 complaint was confirmed— the lock was indeed abysmal. Why ? Because the front springs were fitted back to front. . . . In the meantime, someone had wrecked the steering box in an effort to increase the movement there.
The moral is this: if one proposes to put on a pair of shoes, it is advisable first to find out how to tie a shoe lace.