Letters from readers, September 1981

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172

The Police and the Law

Sir,

I write with regard to an article which appeared in the July issue of your magazine in the “Matters of Moment” column and entitled “The Mirror Weapon”. There are a number of points I would like to make.

1. The police do not require an excuse to stop a van or car; they have the authority to carry out random checks.

2. Minor offences against construction and use regulations are frequently overlooked by the police unless they are clearly a danger. For example, there are many people travelling uninterrupted on the roads with only one headlight working which is an offence.

3. The suggestion that a slightly defective vehicle be brought to the local police station for checking is simply not practicable and anyway supposing another, more alert, officer noted another offence…

4. You say “it is sickening that… so many unnecessary checks and traps are set up by the police.” Unless and until you have carried out a full, nationwide, survey who are you to state that many of the checks are unnecessary?

5. You comment on a driver reversing in a street “without causing the slightest danger to anyone”. The heavy fine imposed would suggest that the court did not share that view.

6. My final, and most important, point. It is disgraceful that you should continue to perpetuate the myth that the police are somehow responsible for (a) conviction and (b) sentencing for motoring offences. If courts do not impose fines in proportion to the severity of the offence, the police are not responsible for this. If the courts are imposing heavy fines then, in most cases presumably, it is because they take a serious view of the offence.

R. G. Inches, Birmingham

 

Mike Hawthorn

Sir,

Having attended the Farnham pavilion opening (on Jaguar’s behalf) and heard of subsequent events, I can only commend the Farnham authorities to visit Chirnside and Duns in Berwickshire to see how the great Jimmy Clark is remembered.

If they cannot be bothered, maybe there’s more warmth of feeling up in Mexborough or, failing that, in Coventry where Mike Hawthorn is highly respected as he is in Modena — and where he gained the affection of people of all ages and walks of life.

On the other hand, it would still be preferable if Farnham came up trumps, wouldn’t it?

Andrew Whyte, Ettington. Warwickshire.

 

On this and that

Sir,

Having enjoyed the road test of the Ferrari Mondial in the August issue I took time to study the photographs of that superb vehicle and couldn’t help noticing the instrument panel which appears, remarkably similar in concept to that of editorial Rover. Maybe the detail layout is different, but the “add on box” and minor instruments seem to follow that much maligned pattern.

Incidentally, I read the two letters relating to TVRs in the July magazine with interest as I have been the owner of a number of these superbly practical Blackpool creations over the last nine years. Naturally there have been many silly little faults with them but, in general, I find all of these motor cars tremendous fun and extremely rewarding to drive. It’s not easy to combine practicality with individuality and performance but TVR seem to do it time and time again. My latest car, a black 1980 Taimar is tremendous.

I have driven a Tasmin for a reasonable period and feel that you may have been unduly harsh in your criticism but as you so rightly point out it would be a sad day if everyone wrote the same, boring reports in all magazines. In general the road tests of the Tasmin have been praiseworthy and you may have had a below average car, although at the price that should never happen, even allowing for individuality!

It may be of interest to readers that the TVR Car Club is holding its 4th Extravaganza on September 26th 1981 with a factory tour, special “It’s a Knockout” competition etc, together with a convoy of TVRs from the factory to a hotel in Lancashire. Non-members of the club are welcome (by ticket only).

J. R. Bell, Redhill, Surrey

 

The Stewards of the Acropolis Rally Reply

Sir,

In your issue of July 81 covering the “Acropolis Rally” and especially that part dealing with the exclusion of the Audi Quattro, certain allegations require a clarification as otherwise a wrong evaluation or interpretation of decisions cannot but finally prove to be to the detriment of motoring sport in general.

The Stewards of the Rally have, amongst other duties, to make sure that regulations are strictly adhered to, by all concerned. It is obvious that every game has a rule and if such rules are not adhered to, then it is no more a fair but a dirty game. Whether rules are ambiguous or not is a more personal evaluation and decisions can obviously not be dependent from it. As to that part of the article whereby it is stated that during the deliberations no Audi representative was called in to offer an explanation, this is definitely not correct as both Mr. Treser (Audi Team Manager), and Mr. Rode were summoned twice to provide the Stewards with clarifications and or explanations.

The Stewards meeting lasted for three and a half hours and the decision was UNANIMOUS. I feel that the manner in which the topic was dealt with tends to mislead your readers. Opinions cannot be unanimous as otherwise there would be no grounds for discussion.

As to whether the refusal to allow the Quattros to restart is correct or not, the relevant articles of the Year-Book are clear on the subject and the decision can in no way be put into doubt.

M. Gormezano, President of the Stewards of the Rally, Athens

[Mr. Treser was called eventually, but not until late in the day when very little time was left for discussion before the rally restarted. Even one of the stewards themselves complained of being “disturbed in my lunch to attend a meeting” — after a whole night and a morning had passed! On the subject of the refusal to allow the Quattros to restart, we can only repeat that there can be no finality of conviction whilst an appeal is pending, and it was wrong to pull the rug from beneath Audi’s feet by denying them the right to restart. GP.]

 

Alta Cars

Sir,

In 1958 or 59 I acquired an Alta, registration APG 57, which must have been an 1,100 cc model, since it had a single ohc engine endowed with a single side-draught carburetter. Unfortunately, I have no record of the chassis number. The first registration was I think in 1932.

The bodywork was made of fairly substantial steel sheet, which had survived the years remarkably well. There was a slab petrol tank of about 15 gallons capacity. To fit myself into the cockpit I had to make a smaller steering-wheel. I took the rim of a cast aluminium wheel from an early Ford 8, and made a 3-spoke centre from 1/8″ Dural, which looked quite elegant.

The single carb, was mounted on a combined inlet-and-exhaust manifold of such design that the engine must have been well strangled; the Brooklands silencer and exhaust pipe were concealed under the near-side bodywork, and combined the maximum of power loss with the maximum of noise at about 3,500 rpm. I fitted a Morris 10 ex-WD engine and gearbox, unfortunately disposing of the Alta unit. I kept the spirit of the thing by fitting a remote-control gear lever from, I think, a J2 or possibly a Magnette. The Morris engine propelled the car as fast as was safe, and a Standard Vanguard silencer gave less noise but more power.

The chassis was very flexible, with channel section sides about 4″ deep, underslung at the front. Rear suspension was by quarter-elliptic springs and very short radius rods which were rigidly bolted to the rear axle and restrained the axle sideways as well as fore-and-aft. Because of the rigid bolting, the axle acted as an immensely stiff torsion bar, as, I believe, did the de Dion tube on the E type ERA. Thus when the Alta wanted to roll, something had to give, and one of the bolts on the axle sheared, leaving just one radius rod to take the axle torque, which it did quite happily. As can be imagined, it was possible to make the rear axle climb up the rear suspension in a most interesting way — how did it fare in competition?

The radiator, hidden under a cowling as in your recently-published photographs, seemed to have come off a Bugatti. The brakes were Lockheed hydraulic, and effective even though the cast aluminium backplates at the rear were considerably warped. The hand brake consisted of two shoes contracting onto a small pulley mounted between gearbox and front universal joint; as the pulley was mildly eccentric, the brake was totally ineffective but made a lovely tinkling noise as we went along.

I sold the car in 1960 on being posted to Malta. I saw it again at an AMOC Curborough sprint, when it had acquired a BMW 327 or 328 engine and gearbox, having been resuscitated from a virtually stripped wreck standing in the open.

John Norman, Nairobi, Kenya.

[Alta APG 57 was originally an 1,100 cc, twin-carburetter, twin ohc, 4-seater built for Cecil Taylor, the elder brother of Geoffrey Taylor. It was chassis number 18, the eighth car built, and was delivered on June 15th 1933 and painted blue. All Alta engines had cross-flow cylinder heads so it sounds as though the original engine had already been replaced by a non-Alta unit when Mr. Norman acquired the car, and all Alta engines had two overhead camshafts. Where is the car now? — DSJ]