Around and About, September 1976

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Abingdon to close?

There are rumours that the MG factory at Abingdon will close at the end of 1977, bringing to an end 47 Years of MG tradition in the little Oxfordshire town. The closure won’t necessarily mean the end of MG as a marque— “badge engineering” can always take care of that, perish the thought—but it will mean the end of the road for the Midget and MG-I3, which are assembled there from bodies made in Swindon, painted and, in the case of the GTs, partly trimmed at Cowley, using engines from Longbridge.

Such a closure would also leave a question mark over the location of Leyland ST and Its incorporated competitions department, currently housed in a huge purpose-built building on the MG site.

Whether or not the Government Will sanction such a threat of proportionally huge unemployment in the Abingdon area (MG are the biggest employers in the town) will be interesting.

The story goes that one of Leyland’s problems with Abingdon, where production figures on the old-fashioned lines are tiny by current motor industry standards, but profitable, is that the factory is leasehold. The freehold is alleged to be owned by the Hedges family, of which former works MG racing driver Andrew is a member.

The end of Jensen

The auctioneer’s hammer tolled the final death knell for Jensen Motors when all the assets were disposed of at a sale at the West Bromwich factory On August 17th. Lastminute attempts to sell the company, placed into the hands of the Receiver last September, failed. It was interesting to hear the Assistant Receiver attack the Government on the television news that night for failing to step in with assistance; Jensen sank with a full order book and at the end of a period of record sales and £14-million turnover. All they needed was financial assistance to tide them over an under-capitalisation problem.

Jensen’s history goes back to 1898 to the W. J. Smith and Sons coachbuilding company. Alan and Richard Jensen took over in 1931, to specialise in rebodying current production cars, much like their contemporary, William Lyons. Highlights in their subsequent history included such pioneering ventures as glass-fibre bodies, the use Of disc brakes for the first time on a production car, the first production car to be _Offered with fur-wheeldrive and a Maxaret anti-skid braking system. Amongst the many sub-contract –exercises in which they were involved were production of all the bodies for Big Healeys and Sunbeam Tigers.

A sad demise.

Improved BMWs

More than 30 modifications have been Made to BMW’S “5” series of cars. All models have a redesigned grille and bonnet line and realigned rear light clusters, improved braking and ventilation, additional sound damping, modified rear dampers and exhaust supports to cut down noise transmission and a new, padded steering wheel.

Alterations to carburation and a new design of combustion chamber have, given the six-cylinder 525 and 528 models an extra 5 b.h.p. each, coupled with cleaner exhaust emission and easier servicing.

New Formula

The RAC has announced a new 2-litre British sports-car formula after consultations between the major organising clubs, promoters and the Association of Competition Car Manufacturers. The Sports 2000 Formula features the running gear, racing tyres and 2-litre s.o.h.c. engine of Formula Ford 2000 wrapped in all-enveloping, two-seater bodywork.

This new formula is posing a threat to the Clubmans Super-Sports Register the future of the Clubmans Class A for modified 1600 engines is threatened by spiralling costs of competitive engines, which in turn has led to small grids, uncompetitive racing and a lack of interest from rate promoters. The Register’s suggested cure was to scrap both Classes A and B (the latter for Formula Ford 1600 engines) and replace them with one class for Formula Ford 2000-engined Clubmans cars. The Sports 2000 Formula would appear to clash head on with that idea.

It would be sad to see the Clubmans Register sunk in this way. Perhaps they could ‘devise a new specification for their frontengined sports cars, perhaps around standard, or lightly-modified Ford 3-litre V6S, or something smaller, like a Dolomite Sprint engine ?

Concours

The Rolls-Royce and Bentley Owner Driver Club will be holding its 15th International Concours d’Elegance at its headquarters, The Coach House, originally part of the Cunard Estate, at Whistler’s Wood, The Ridge, Woldingham, Surrey, on Sunday, September 19th. Activities additional to the obvious include a fashion show and things to keep children occupied. Alas, a raffle for a roadworthy Bentley will be restricted to Club members. The event starts at 10.30 a.m.

New wheels for old

Old alloy wheels road wheels can be made to look like new while you Wait at Wheel Junction, 394, Caledonian Road, London, N.1 (01-607 5889). The ravages Of salt and brake dust Soon make alloy wheels look tatty; those on our photographer’s notorious Dolomite Sprint appeared to be so corroded that Leyland Western Avenue service depot said they ought to he replaced, at about £30 each. “Rubbish,” said Jim, the man you should ask for at Wheel Junction, “the pitting is just on the surface of the alloy, where the lacquer has come off”. Our photographer was sceptical, but after the lacquer had been removed with Solvent. Jim got to work with a heavy duty, hand-held electric polishing wheel and a special polishing soap. The result, after 40 minutes’ work on each wheel, was remarkable,.as the photograph shows. The alloy had -developed a mirror-like finish, leaving not a trace Of pitting Eecause this is merely a polishing process, there is no danger of weakening the wheels.

The cost of this wheel cosmetic treatment is from £3 to £5, depending upon the state and type of wheel. Those for the Sprint cost £4 each, exclusive of renewing the black Paint between the “Spokes”, which our photographer completed himself with matt black paint. Coupled with an extremely good painttidying job by our tame body-work man, the gleaming wheels have made the Sprint look better than new.—C.R.