One in Seven
Lord Stokes has over-reached himself in telling the Nation’s customers that they are letting the Country down when they buy a foreign car. In the days when Britain could afford to be insular this sentiment was permissible and, indeed, there was a “Buy British” campaign which advertised the slogan: “My dear, he’s driving a foreign car!” This, however, is competitive 1970, with the ECM a strong possibility. It is essential for Britain to export cars and what is good for the goose (or Lion) is good for the gander—does Lord Stokes tie his buy-nationally tag on those BLMC products he ships overseas? Presumably not!
Lord Stokes bemoans the fact that one in every seven cars bought here is a foreigner. But, instead of saying naughty, naughty to buy VW, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Citroen, Peugeot, Lancia, etc., etc. when there is a shiny new British Leyland awaiting you, Lord Stokes would do better to fight these foreign invaders technically and sales-wise (which, if they have a 1-in-7 foothold at today’s import-duties high prices, will flood in at competitive EMC prices). The BLMC has made slow progress since the Great Amalgamation. Its first truly new car, the Austin Maxi, had a tepid reception. Sir Alec Issigonis’ ingenious Minis were badly put together and their recent face-lift came late and is not to everyone’s liking. The famous name of Riley has been discarded, its brilliant pre-war o.h.v. engine cast aside. Jaguar’s vee engines remain a myth (perhaps to materialise next month?). The excellent Daimler Majestic Major V8 was sacrificed for a brutal piece of six-cylinder badge engineering. The one-time lead in transverse-engined f.w.d. small cars of the Austin/Morris/Riley/Wolseley/MG family is being eclipsed by refined foreigners of the same format, which sticking “GT” labels on little saloons which are anything but will do nothing to alleviate. In the avidly followed world of competition motoring Ford can wipe the BLMC eye almost any day …
Mercifully, the Stokes’ dynasty makes good sports and high-performance and cross-country cars. Motor Sport is anxious to test and publicise them. We think we have much to offer Lord Stokes in this direction. We have the largest ABC-certified circulation in the game—that means readership. Our road-test reports are noted for honesty (perhaps they are too honest for some?) and readers tell us they will not buy a car unless it has been reported on in Motor Sport—that means sales. We have been at it since 1924 and have a long-established following of well-to-do motoring enthusiasts able to indulge their car-owning fancies—which means customers, not window-shoppers. So you might expect the BLMC to ply us with road-test cars, as other British and Continental interests do. Unfortunately, not so! We have tried to borrow a Triumph Stag, after driving one briefly at the pre-view party, but all our requests have been stagnant. The last time we tried they thought up the excuse that the only cars available were tired old Stags, worn down at those pre-view frolics. This tale was being told to us by Simon Pearson of the Standard Triumph Press Office on the very day another paper, with a non-sporting title and perhaps half our circulation, was receiving its road-test Stag . . “You must wait another month”, he said. That is why our popular feature on the older Triumph sports cars wasn’t followed up by a test of this new Leyland eight, in last summer’s special sports-car issues …
When the Range Rover was announced we proclaimed it as a revolutionary British vehicle, shutting out eyes, from a sense of patriotism (which Lord Stokes should applaud), to Japan’s lead in this field— although we think the Range Rover may have some advantages of its own. We haven’t tested one since that brief run at the pre-view showing .. . Then there is Bob Berry telling us that the XJ6 is not for Motor Sport because our readers are keen motoring enthusiasts and Jaguar does not normally do business with enthusiasts. Ye gods!
We air the foregoing PRO’s dirty linen to enlighten those correspondents who keep asking when a Motor Sport road-test of a Stag, XJ6 or Range Rover will appear. In a highly competitive, cynical buyers’-market Lord Stokes would do well (a) to give up speaking petulantly of patriotism if the alternative to buying-foreign is spending decimal currency on inferior performance, finish and longevity and (b) to put a boot under any PRO’s who cast aside valuable proffered publicity because of favouritism, casual planning, badly-serviced Press car fleets or mere indifference.
The British Motor Industry has been savaged by industrial disputes. Outputs have fallen to all-time low levels. For the sake of every British citizen, from Lord Stokes to the tea-boy, it is essential that British factories quickly resume full-production. And that they produce cars which will sell – all over the world. And that no opportunity be lost, whether it’s a few column inches in a million-circulation daily or several sincere pages in the technical motoring Press, to tell the World what Britain has to sell … We now await with interest to see what Stokesmobiles we are offered for test, if any!
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New picture feature
Commencing with this issue you will find a whole-plate colour picture on the last page of the Pictorial Review, 988, the first of a series of such pictures of specially selected cars which constitute, in our opinion, worthwile subjects for this art presentation and suitable for use as framed pictures to decorate study, garage, workshop, etc.
The picture is of the classic monoposto Alfa Romeo which was such a dominant part of the motor-racing scene during the mid-nineteen-thirties. The example photographed has the 2.9-litre twin-cam supercharged straight-eight engine, the 1/2-elliptic front and reversed-1/4-elliptic rear suspension. The complicated final-drive using dual propeller shafts can be seen.
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More Goodyear G800s available
The supply situation of Goodyear’s G800 Grand Prix “70” car tyre has improved and stocks are readily available from leading tyre dealers. Previously, this ultra low profile high-performance tyre had been allocated as original equipment to the Vauxhall Viva GT, the VX4/90 and the Ford Capri GT.
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Tyrrell’s own F1 car for Stewart
Having spent a couple of weeks denying its existence, Ken Tyrrell came out into the open with his own design of Formula One car on the day after the Austrian Grand Prix. Full of polite comments about the March which his driver Jackie Stewart has been using this season, Tyrrell is plainly not happy with the performance of his present cars.
In spite of an almost uncanny similarity to the French Matra MS80 with which Stewart won the 1969 World Championship, the Tyrrell (as the car has been named by its reluctant constructor) was designed entirely in England by former Ferguson employee Derek Gardner. It naturally complies with the Tyrrell formula for success by using a 3-litre Cosworth engine and Dunlop tyres.
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Lola at Los Angeles
At the very first race meeting to be held at the Ontario Speedway in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 9th, 1970, Lola T. 200s came home to a one-two win in the Formula Ford Race. The first car was driven by Ron Dykes and the second by Mike Hiss.
A Foulis manual
A comprehensive manual about overhauling British cars has been published by Foulis at 85s. Claiming to cover “all the work which any owner can reasonably hope to tackle on any British car made within the last ten years”, the author is John Organ, whose previous books have been about rare vegetables and decorative and edible gourds.
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The things they say…
“I would not like to drive a racing car unless there was an element of danger involved any more than I would like to fight a bull without horns . . .” – Stirling Moss, 1960.