Letters from Readers, September 1969

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

Piston Stroke and the Jaguar XJ6


I suggest that someone on your staff who knows something about engine fundamentals is long overdue. Nothing could be more absurd than your criticisms of the Jaguar engine because its crankshaft speed for maximum power is “only 5,400 r.p.m.”. I suppose you would say that the 3-litre F.1 Cosworth Ford is also out of date because its maximum power crankshaft speed is “only 10,000 r.p.m.” in contrast to the 19,000 r.p.m. of the 50 c.c. 2-cylinder racing Honda.

One of the first things to learn about engines is that their speeds can only he properly expressed by a “length” per unit time. Lanchester felt obliged to apologise for having to draw attention to such an elementary truth at an I.A.E. meeting in 1910, and it is about time it filtered down to editors of magazines such as Motor Sport.

In your criticisms of the Jaguar’s stroke/bore ratio, you are also merely echoing the popular fallacies about the effect of this characteristic. The optimum stroke/bore ratio for an engine depends on a host of factors and it is a sign of ignorance to state categorically that the ratio of any particular engine is either too low or too high. Then, apart from anything else, the effect of increasing the stroke/bore ratio on reducing the potential maximum power of an engine of given swept volume is comparatively small and is compensated by a potential increase in useful speed range.

Motor Sport, I believe, claims to take an independent line on most aspects of motoring, but as far as engines are concerned, it is sunk as deeply in the quagmire of fallacies as the most puerile of its contemporaries, and I am afraid that articles such as those of “Autolycus” do little to alter things. Thus it is apparent that his ideas on valve area and stroke/bore ratios constitute a virtual perpetuation of the R.A.C. rating theory, but Lanchester pointed out the fallacy in this some 60 years ago.

East Horsley. F. R. B. King.

[We do not intend to be drawn into the arguments for and against long-stroke engines, which engaged Pomeray/Coatalen in such a classic battle in the 1920s. The fact remains that the trend for some considerable time has been for modern engines to have square or over-square bore/stroke dimensions. So far as the XJ6 Jaguar is concerned, we admit that we have not driven this car. What purpose would there be in publishing a road-test report on it in Motor Sport, which is read throughout the World essentially by motoring enthusiasts, when Jaguar Cars Ltd. have themselves stated that the vast majority of people who buy Jaguar cars are not enthusiasts? But what we quoted, about its now out-dated 92 x 106 mm. twin-cam XK Jaguar engine, was taken from a reliable source, which remarked on the engine sounding fussy and less smooth, if not strained, above 4,500 r.p.m.—Ed.]

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The Single O.H.C. Engine


I found the technical appraisal of “The Single O.H.C. Engine” by “Autolycus” very interesting indeed. This type of article makes good reading, and similar features on, say, suspensions would he most welcome by this reader.

There are two points in the above article on which I wish to comment. “Autolycus” finds the use, by Rover in their “2000” engine, of two shims to obtain valve adjustment to be unnecessary. It may interest him to know that the reason is to facilitate servicing in that there are two sets of shims available. The thickness of the shims of one set increases in increments of ten “thou”, while that of the other has increments of one “thou” thereby allowing the correct working clearance of the valves to be more readily obtained—from a smaller number of shims.

The theoretical disadvantages are nothing compared to the very practical advantages.

In the same context, whereas the use of split bearings for the camshaft in several engines is undoubtedly more expensive than other types, they do again make servicing that bit easier. However, this feature is not really required by Vauxhall who have their own very neat taper screw adjustment for valve clearance.

Edinburgh. Ian A. Douglas.

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Jaguar Mascots


I would like to point out, with reference to the letters of Mr. Walker and Mr. Atkins that I am surprised they have not noticed more Jaguars without mascots.

As far is know the XK and XJ series are not the only ones without mascots. The C, D and E types have no mascots and the 420 G has no mascot either. Other older models with no mascot include the S.S.1 Airline saloon, the 1935 1½-litre saloon and the 1952 Mk. VII saloon.

Epsom. G. P. Woodbridge

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Oil Cooler or Oil Thermometer


Further to the letter in the July issue concerning oil temperature, my experience with a Hillman Imp may be of interest. The oil temperature was taken via the sump drain plug, as per the Works cars. During the everyday 20-mile run to work, oil temperature would generally creep up to 60ºC unless I was late when it might begin to approach 70ºC. But a long run on a motorway cruising at 4,000 r.p.m. (60 m.p.h.) would send the oil temperature up to 90ºC. Slowing down to 3,500 r.p.m. would bring the reading down to 75ºC within 3-4 miles. All this was with the car bog standard—no engine modifications, no oil cooler, and no sump shield.

The answer would appear to be a thermostatically-controlled oil cooler.

Maidstone. P. L. Baker.

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Reader’s Views on G.P. Racing


I have read with great interest in this month’s issue of Motor Sport about the troubles of “Team” Lotus and B.R.M. as described by Denis Jenkinson. “D.S.J.” is the most knowledgeable and authoritative journalist covering motor racing today and the points he raises prompt me to commit to paper some of my personal feelings on the present G.P. scene.

Stewart apart, let us consider the current protagonists (not in any particular order). Rindt—as fast as Stewart, braver, but not as consistent; Brabham and Hill—with advancing years now seem to have lost the fire, drive, ability and will to win, and should bow out gracefully; Ickx—the only one currently racing on a par with Stewart and Rindt, and better than both on occasions, as shown in the German G.P. A hot favourite for a future World Championship; McLaren and Hulme—do Can-Am for a living and G.P.s for a pastime; Surtees—add his temperament to B.R.M.’s team organisation and you get a shambles; Oliver—talented, but no chance with B.R.M.; Siffert—a first-class driver labouring under the limitations of being a privateer; Bonnier—a non-runner. Elford—a competent professional, but no more; Amon—Ferrari’s policy of a one-car team gives this highly-talented driver no chance; Beltoise—difficult to assess, being in the shadow of Stewart; Courage—skilful, but in the same category as Siffert. Add to this Gurney’s “retiral” to the States and Andretti’s very infrequent appearances, and you are left with a virtual two-horse race—Matra versus Lotus; Stewart versus Rindt.

Lotus have been acknowledged leaders in G.P. development and design for years, but have lost many G.P.s. either because the cars entered were so technically advanced that they were raced before they had been proved, or from just trying to be too clever.

The recent British G.P. is a classic example of the latter. If Lotus had been content to merely stretch the rules to the limit and put on the biggest aerofoil they could get away with, then things might have been different. But no, they had to add shaped end plates, the usefulness of which is not readily apparent, to say the least, and one of them came loose, virtually costing Rindt the race. Is this not the very thing the ban was meant to prevent? Just to make sure, however, they ran out of petrol, an inexplicable and inexcusable error.

As they and Matra are the only people in contention nowadays, one would have thought that they would take a leaf out of Tyrrell’s book, as he is very obviously much more successful than they are. Tyrrell knows that there is no difference in skill between Stewart and Rindt so he makes sure that his cars will finish. He errs always on the side of reliability—a stronger half-shaft here, a thicker bolt there, and extra five gallons, etc. etc. Admittedly his cars are a bit heavier, but they finish (usually). Proof of this, if proof is needed, is the fact that Stewart can jump into a team-mate’s car and still win, even after an 85-lap flat-out dice on one of the world’s fastest circuits.

As one who is fortunate to have lived and closely followed motor racing during the career of the greatest driver of them all, Jim Clark, I cannot help thinking that had Jim had the reliability from Lotus that Stewart gets from Tyrrell then, from 1962 onwards, he would have won nearly every G.P. that he entered (with the exception of 1966, when Lotus were caught without a 3-litre engine).

I know that Clark, Chapman and Lotus were inseparable and that Clark would be the first to defend them were he here today, but the fact remains that he started in some 70 World Championship G.P.s; won 25 of them; finished in a lower place 19 times (10 of these before 1962 and almost all of them due to mechanical trouble); and retired on 26 occasions. I think that the Lotus Organisation has now grown far too big for Colin Chapman to organise everything personally. The time would now appear to be ripe for him to hand over the running of Team Lotus to someone who can give it full-time attention. Graham Hill, perhaps?

As Stewart is now certain to win the World Championship I hope he will be a worthy one. He wins because he is the only driver of any class left (through death and default) and because he is fortunate to drive a racing car prepared as it should be (a rare phenomenon). When he is officially World Champion I hope he will enter a wider variety of races in different types of car, as previous holders did and a true World Champion should. I certainly hope he stops continually bleating about “safety”—as he sees it. Clark hated Spa as well, but it never stopped him racing there—and winning four times. Nor did it stop the others for that matter, until Stewart came along and set himself up as a Factory Inspector of circuits.

Grand Prix is already losing ground to the Can-Am and other big money races. If it is to survive as the Blue Riband of motor racing they we can ill afford to lose genuine road circuits such as Spa that are unique to Europe and Formula One Grand Prix racing.

I am sure that many of your readers will take issue with some of the points that I have made, but I did say at the outset that it was my personal view of the current G.P. scene.

Dalserf. J.L.M. Cotter


On reading last month’s edition of Motor Sport I came across certain suggestions that Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt were not driving as a team. Since I have been a great admirer of Lotus engineering for quite some time now, I feel somewhat concerned as to whether there is any known reason for these two drivers to ignore the fact that Gold Leaf Team Lotus is supposed to be a “team” which works together—not divided, as it is now.

I was considerably upset to read about the occurrence at Zandvoort in June. Could this be because Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt are not friendly, or because each is a different class of driver, or what? I would be very happy to know the answer to this small problem.

Stanmore. M.B. Popper

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Commuting—Lamborghini Style


I thought that some of your readers might be interested in my impressions after some 18 months’ ownership of a Lamborghini 400GT 2+2. Unlike most owners of this type of car, I used mine as an only car for commuting through the worst of Birmingham traffic and for long distance work in all weathers. The engine, transmission, suspension and road-holding were of the very highest order. It never ceased to amaze me how the engine would idle for long periods in heavy traffic and then pick up instantly and cleanly to full power with no fuss at all. It was very flexible and providing the jets in the multiple Webers were cleaned regularly one could run down to 15 m.p.h. in 5th speed and accelerate away quite smoothly. On the other hand, using all the gears up to 6,500 r.p.m. was a great joy and this is the only car on which I have actually covered 100 miles in an hour while holding a serious business conversation with my passenger, who did not seem to notice that anything out of the ordinary was going on. Nor were our voices raised, as the general noise level was very low. The gear ratios are excellently chosen and there always seemed to be exactly the right gear for any occasion. Braking was first class with never a sign of fade, and traction in snow was well above average because of the excellent weight distribution. Having eulogised somewhat I must now come to the faults.

The electrical gear, except the ignition system, was of a shockingly low standard. As sold the headlamps were as dim as the proverbial Toc H lamp and quite useless at above 40 m.p.h. The wiring, switching and fusing were all of the cheapest possible and thoroughly unreliable. The heating system was an absolute joke, being barely discernible when full on, and there was no fresh air ventilation for hot days. The general finish inside was good but the paintwork was not up to, say, Aston Martin standards. I had the polished alloy wheels painted to stop the salt getting at them, which it did with remarkable speed. Don’t they use salt in Italy?

I parted with the car only because I found that the 2+2 arrangement was not practical to my needs, as I often have to take more than one passenger. The new owner has already done a further 20,000 miles in three months and his impressions are much the same as mine: a marvellous car to drive, with the accent all on the basic essentials but with considerable improvement needed on the lesser details.

Having sold the Lamborghini I decided to have a Ro80 N.S.U. This was at three months’ delivery and in the interim I have been using a Ford Zephyr V6, which is the exact opposite to the 400GT. First you get an enormous lot of car for very little money. Everything is there for passenger comfort, heating, cooling, space, excellent accessories, all of which work, unfailing reliability (as far as my experience has shown), and as a passenger all very impressive. But what a lamentable car to drive! The understeer is fantastic and the lack of traction on the rear wheels almost unbelievable. It took me a few weeks to learn that one must start turning on the steering long before one got to the corner and then keep winding it on all the way through the corner. I parked the car one day on absolutely level wet grass and, knowing about the lack of adhesion, was extremely careful when I came to drive away. Nevertheless I still needed a push to get going. When one thinks of the money that Ford spend on racing, why don’t they learn something from it? Front-wheel drive would solve these two problems, leaving a very good car indeed, the shape and the space inside being unchanged.

I now have my Ro80. It is too early to say much about this car but I can say that it is an exceedingly comfortable four-seater, fun to drive, incredibly silent, and it seems to be well screwed together. Time alone will tell whether the three-year engine guarantee is necessary, but it certainly shows great faith by the makes in what I think must be the engine of the future.

Streetly. Brian Morgan

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A.A. Deficiencies


Mr J. B. Kemp is not alone in his unhappy experience with the A.A. I too used to waste a few pounds a year by throwing them into the A.A.’s coffers, until one evening in 1966 I found myself needing their services.

I had been motoring to Co. Clare in my Sunbeam Rapier convertible and had stopped at the Eire border to pass through Customs. Having finished the Customs details, I glanced confidently at the A.A. patrol man standing there, as he always does, and tried to start the car. It wouldn’t start. The A.A. patrol man told me he could do nothing to assist—presumably he is there to decorate the scene—but that an official A.A. garage in Dundalk would certainly help. We push-started the car and I staggered into the A.A. garage, where I was informed that the owner-mechanic was not in. I finally induced the oafish pump attendant to give me the mechanic’s telephone number and access to a telephone.

When I rang the mechanic and told him of my plight—I had arranged to meet my guide on a deserted road at 5 a.m.—after much argument (why didn’t I spend the night in Dundalk and he could fix the car tomorrow? Why didn’t I drive a car that gave no problems? Why did I drive in the middle of the night? Why did I breathe?, etc.), I finally prevailed upon him to come down and inspect my ailing vehicle. He did, found it a simple matter for the starter motor had stuck and simply needed to be soundly kicked, then proceeded to tell me that it had been an inestimable sacrifice for him to come down to the garage at the ungodly hours of 10 p.m., and demanded payment. I told him repeatedly that his was an “official” A.A. garage, and that consequently he would be paid by the A.A., not by me, but to no avail; finally, to still the man’s whining demands, I gave him 10s. or a pound and drove off in a huff. I had just cleared the town when the bonnet flew up, blinding my vision—for he had neglected to ensure that the bonnet was properly closed.

When I returned from my weekend away I wrote the A.A. and complained. They contacted the mechanic, who denied that he had ever heard of me or charged any member of the A.A. anything: accordingly, nothing could be done, the A.A. informed me.

What did I get for my A.A. subscription? A nice little book telling me which country had which registration letters. Not a very sound investment.

St John’s, Newfoundland. E.H. Leyton

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“Shopping for a Daimler”


Your article, “Shopping for a Daimler” struck a responsive chord with this reader. The July issue of Motor Sport arrived at my home on July 28th, hence the rather delayed reaction in the form of this letter.

Our reasoning on Daimler automobiles has closely paralleled your own. We have three Rolls-Royces and two Bentleys in the museum here on exhibit, but we also have a Daimler DE 36 close-coupled limousine by Hooper—”The Spey” model, a Daimler 3½ -litre Empress saloon by Hooper, and a very energetic 1955 2½ -litre Daimler Consort sport roadster. All three of these automobiles maintain the tradition of fine coachwork which characterises so many bodies on the Rolls-Royce chassis, and for that matter on many other chassis on the better English cars. We find substantial interest on the part of our museum visitors in these coachwork exhibits.

Denver, Colorado. Arthur G. Rippey,
The Veteran Car Museum.

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Service Abroad


In reply to your correspondent J. B. Kemp I think that my own experience whilst travelling from Rome to London will illustrate the difference in attitudes between the Continental garages and the so-called service station in England.

After leaving Geneva and passing through Morez I stopped at a very small garage for petrol in Dole. Over the last few miles my wife had mentioned several times that there appeared to be a grating sound coming from the nearside rear wheel. Reluctantly, because of possible delay, I asked the garage owner to listen whilst I drove slowly forwards, but as he could not define what it was he suggested that I drove into the garage entrance, where they jacked up the rear wheel and discovered that the half-shaft bearings had gone. He attempted to rectify it on the spot—without success.

I told him that the nearest agents were in Geneva, therefore he telephoned to them for a spare half-shaft (Bentley). They said that as it was Friday they would not be able to get a replacement to him until the Monday, plus delay for Customs, whereupon he changed his clothes, got his Citroën filled with petrol and asked me to accompany him to Geneva—a similar journey would be from London to Birmingham—where he had arranged to pick up the spare.

At Geneva he offered to pay the agents for the half-shaft (about £40), but I offered the A.A. vouchers, which were accepted. Upon returning to Dole his assistant replaced the half-shaft in 10 minutes and we were on our way. Charge—£5 for labour, plus the cost of petrol to Geneva and back!

Where in England would one get this service?

Because of previous experience I did not cable the A.A. as they suggest in the Five-Star Service.

Harrow Weald. Frank Walker

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“W. O.” and the Birthday Honours List


Whilst I concur with the remarks made by your correspondent, Mr Trevett, nevertheless I must remind him of the following facts:

The Great “W. O.” has not been submerged in the undistinguished mass of “little Sir Nobodies”. Also his name will live for ever amongst all those who are sports-car enthusiasts.

Should, however, a Government, at last, be influenced by a twinge of conscience, then there is only one award which would be appropriate, “The Order of Merit”.

Worthing. B. Karslake

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Used Sports Cars


In 1961, after a disastrous year with a new Mini infested with warranty claims, I adopted a policy of buying used low-mileage sports cars. The first, kept for ten months, was a Mk. I Austin-Healey Sprite bought at 11,000 miles and exchanged at 26,000 for a Mk. II Sprite, kept for two and a half years, from 4,000 to 50,000 miles. Both of these cars gave better m.p.g. figures than the Mini on similar journeys and were outstandingly reliable and economical. One journey of 510 miles in a day produced 46 m.p.g. at an average speed of 44 m.p.h. in the Mk. II Sprite. Seeking more performance and excitement a three-year-old Healey 3000 with 18,000 miles covered was bought and proved so good that it was kept for four years before being replaced by a 4,000 mile 2-litre Vitesse convertible. All of these cars offered considerable savings on the new price (over £800 saved on the Healey) and had the advantage that the first owner had the bother over warranty work. One sees so few Healeys on the road and so many in the rear of Motor Sport that my experience over 45,000 miles might be of interest.

The inherent disadvantages of the Mk I include minimal ground clearance, a vulnerable exhaust system, heavy controls and poor visibility, a slow gear change and high insurance. The advantages of effortless performance from an engine that rarely needs tuning, robust heavyweight body construction, powerful servo brakes and model rarity are perhaps illogically thought by fans, of which I remain one, to outweigh the bad points.

Depreciation averaged £65 per year, less than the Sprites or the Mini, and repairs and replacements cost about £70 per year, of which at least half seemed to be on tyres and exhaust bits and pieces. The flexible couplings in the front down pipes were a continual source of trouble as they solidified and then snapped. The experienced owner retains the old pipes and brazes new flexible sections in against the day—never far off—when they are needed. Petrol consumption varied from a pre-“70” 15 m.p.g. driven hard to 24 m.p.g. trundling in overdrive with an average over 30,000 miles of 20 m.p.g. Two new overdrive solenoids cancelling out any money saved on petrol was a blow, but it is an extra well worth having, especially for high speed cruising. Tyre wear on Dunlop RS 5s was about 10,000 miles per set, but this improved to 30,000 miles (estimated) when a set of Michelin XAS was fitted. These also rejuvenated the deteriorating road-holding, especially on wet roads, although even with their high shoulders they had to be inflated to 28/32 lb. to prevent grounding the exhaust on hump-back bridges. Replacing the anti-roll bar rubbers at a cost of 6s. effected a further improvement in road holding, or perhaps I was gullible. Brake pads were replaced once at 32,000 miles, but the rear linings were the originals when the car was sold. Front discs had to be replaced as they resembled corrugated iron, but the old ones do make good, if expensive, standard lamp base weights. The generally solid feel of the car inspired confidence that with regular care it would go on for ever, and I certainly hope to buy another. The sales brochure spoke of a “surprising amount of luggage space in the boot” and I am sure all owners will agree with the joker who wrote that.

As a replacement the Vitesse has none of the listed Healey disadvantages, but remains unloved, being regarded as mere transport.

Your comment about what factors really sell a car was brought home forcibly to me last month. My neighbour’s wife had just bought a car. “What is it?” I asked her. “Oh, it’s Turquoise,” she said. “I’ve always wanted one.”

Englefield Green. D.E. Stembridge

* * *


With reference to the letter concerning the purchase of used sports cars in the July 1969 issue. I paid £200 cash for my 1959 Sprite against all the experts’ advice. The main reasons being my great love for the Mk. I—in its unadulterated “frog-eye” guise and the fact that the engine sounded all right and the oil pressure was 40 p.s.i. when warm: 30,000 miles and two years later the oil pressure is still 40 p.s.i. and the consumption is around 1,200 m.p.p. on Castrol GTX. Petrol consumption is disappointing at 33.5 m.p.g. over varied motoring.

Although I have never driven it flat out in deference to its age, I do not “mollycoddle” it. I am fanatical about regular and frequent oil changes. Apart from this and renewal of oil filters, the engine has been untouched. The odometer registers 56,000 miles at present but, if the bodywork is anything to go by, it is probably considerably more.

Suspension is not up to limousine standards, but then this is a sports car—and about the cheapest on the market at the time. However, over journeys of around 200 miles, I feel quite comfortable and, anyway, I like to feel the road—a legacy of my motorcycle days.

As I am a do-it-yourself fan the car is often called upon to double as a workhorse. Items that I have safely carried: A 6 ft. high fir tree, 10 ft. lengths of 4 in. x 2 in., a lawn mower, a garden roller, a bicycle—on the boot rack—various awkward-shaped items of furniture and the kitchen sink.

The only time after all this that it failed to start was when the starter jammed once. It always starts on the button (without a handle it needs to).

Performance is adequate for my needs—after all, it is only an A35 engine. My wife finds it rather hairy and more than she can handle, but she is only a novice and, anyway, prefers her old Standard 8, so her opinion can be discounted!

The hood is left in the boot (I have a lockable interior, one fitted) in all but the most inclement weather, and the benefit to one’s health and appetite has to be experienced to be believed.

So, to sum up, for sheer reliability and economy, plus the ability to carry awkward loads, throw caution to the winds and buy a used sports car—BMC preferably.

Emsworth. P. Marf.

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The 70 M.P.H. Speed Limit


I am sure that you will be as interested as I was in the following recently-published figures for police activity on the M4 last year. Forty-four percent of drivers stopped for exceeding the 70 m.p.h. speed limit were prosecuted, compared to 8% of those stopped for dangerous driving or driving without due care. The percentage of 70 m.p.h. prosecutions was also higher than the percentage of prosecutions of drivers stopping on the carriageway (19%) or committing the sheer lunacy of driving the wrong way (35%; all percentages correct to the nearest 1%). It seems that the enforcement of an arbitrary speed limit is considered more important than the punishment of really lethal acts of driving. What strange priorities!

Wexham. R.S. Whelan

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Shoestring Motoring


I like to read my Motor Sport from cover to cover. Following my enjoyment of the correspondence “Shoestring Motoring”, and then on, and then to the small ads, I was quite fascinated by the advertisement of a Mr W.A. Jones offering a 1928 Clyno for £475.

This brought on a wave of nostalgia. In the mid-1930s I bought a 1928 Clyno for £6 10s. on the instalment system. Ten shillings down and 10s a month. I still have the document proving my eventual title to the car. I frequently fell behind in my payments, and there was one payment of 11s. 9d. Heaven knows where this came from; maybe a win on the pools, but the vendors did not get away with anything. The next month shows a payment of 8s. 3d!

During a year’s ownership I did 8,000 miles in this splendid car, whose right hand crash gearbox was a joy, with very little trouble. Two front stub axle failures, the necessary parts obtained from a local scrap dealer for 2s. 6d. Each time I had several nuts and bolts left over, but this did not seem to matter.

More serious: a half-shaft went 100 miles away from my scrap dealer. I tried to make it appear like a local telephone call. He started with 25s. I offered 10s. We settled for 15s. and then I told him to put it on the train to where I had broken down.

Apart from these three things, no trouble at all. When I bought my dream car, a 1931 12/60 Alvis, I advertised the Clyno for £5.

I met a potential customer at the Pack Horse Hotel, Bolton, who offered £4. I stuck for £4 10s. and tried to weaken him with pint after pint of beer (at 6d. per pint). He wouldn’t budge, so we tossed up £5 or £4 and I lost. Back with me to my parents’ house, and, having paid me, he drove away. I have often wondered if he ever got home alive. It seemed unlikely, since down a 400-yard hill he failed to find a single gear, and his progress was erratic to say the least.

It is perhaps worth mentioning my experiences with Alvises.

My first was a 1924 side-valve 12/40 two-seater, bought from a scrapyard in 1932 for £9 with a co-owner. A wholly delightful car, which gave no trouble at all. Why are my memories of 1932 and 1933 all of hot summer days and continuous sunshine? Were those two summers in fact like that?

My co-owner was not a chap sympathique to machinery, and the end of this car was the breaking of the crown wheel. We sold the car back to the same scrap dealer from whom we had bought it for £4, and I trust he found a rich customer who could afford £10 for a new crown wheel and pinion.

I would give a lot of today’s money to have this car back.

My 1931 12/60 cost me £40, but the smoke screen it put up indicated an engine overhaul, which cost £70. After that, only one breakdown. If I remember correctly, there was one timing wheel made of fibre. This broke in Glasgow when I was there for the 1935 Exhibition. Some miraculous garage found a second-hand one, and I motored a further 100,000 miles with no more trouble. The war intervened, but in 1946 I entered for the fabulous Elstree meeting. It was a glorious day. From far and wide came the most extraordinary pieces of machinery running on God knows what, since petrol rationing allowed on six gallons a month.

I was paired with Rivers-Fletcher in a similar car, and I won by a yard or two, doing the standing quarter-mile in 20.6 sec. [Yes, and my Alfonso Hispano Suiza was leading John Bolster’s 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost when fuel starvation set in; I sold it later for £100 and, unrestored, it fetched £5,300 at an auction sale last year.—Ed.]

The V.S.C.C. expected about 2,000 spectators. Over 20,000 turned up, and my heart bled for the owner of the one peripatetic catering van there. He was cleaned out in 15 minutes flat. He must still have recurring nightmares about the fortune he could have made that day. Some 15,000 bods who had not brought picnics, expecting catering facilities, went hungry and thirsty all day, but even so I expect they thought it was worth it.

Bromley. W.J.D. Clarke



I read with interest Mr Cooper’s letter on “cheap and reliable” motoring.

Last year I bought a 1938 Morris from a scrap yard for £2 10s. I spent six months rebuilding it and this July I took the car and two friends and luggage to Scotland. We travelled just under 2,000 miles in a fortnight and the only trouble we suffered was a broken dynamo bracket. The car averaged just 35 m.p.g. for the fortnight and used slightly more oil than Mr Cooper. I think this is what is meant by CHEAP and RELIABLE motoring.

Christchurch. G. Payne.