Readers letters

Brands Hatch Explanation


With reference to Mr E. F. Riddles' letter "Brands Hatch Mystery", the explanation is quite simple.

We have been marketing the 1986 Shell Oils British Grand Prix since July, 1984 and resultantly filled the Main Grandstand some long time ago. When the 1985 Shell Oils Grand Prix of Europe came into prospect we wrote in advance to all 1986 patrons giving them first option to book for 1985 the same seats which they had reserved for 1986. Hence the early sell out of the Main Grandstand.
Brands Hatch, John Webb
Director, Motor Circuit Developments
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The AA replies


I refer to Mr W. H. Fletcher's letter published in your August edition.

The "facts" as recorded in that letter do not strictly accord with those in relation to the case as they are known to the Automobile Association.

Space considerations restrict any attempt to reply to all the points which have been raised or to detail the Association's view in regard to the specific case, but your readers should know that the Association's Pre Sales Survey Scheme cannot be used by garages to repudiate warranty they offer with a second­hand car. Nor can it do more harm than good.

Under the scheme AA engineers inspect some 150 aspects of the secondhand vehicle's condition prior to the vehicle being placed on sale. Any safety related faults must be repaired prior to sale. Those of a general nature are recorded for the information of the vendor and the purchaser.

Copies of the AA report must be made available to purchasers on request to enable them to evaluate the general condition of the vehicle prior to purchase.

In the event of any minor problem arising following purchase, the garage's own warranty scheme - of which the purchaser should obviously make himself aware - applies. In the event of any disagreement about these faults between. The parties the Association can become involved in arbitrating between the buyer and seller.

Last year 1,636 vehicles were surveyed by the AA prior to sale by garages. Only in one case, Mr Fletcher's, was a complaint about the condition of the vehicle or the AA scheme received. Up to the end of June this year 7,792 vehicles had been similarly inspected and no complaints have been received from purchasers.

In Mr Fletcher's case the garage did offer to rectify the faults about which he had complained. A major difficulty, however, which had been presented to the Association throughout protracted correspondence with Mr Fletcher has been in verifying the conflicting information which he has presented in relation both to the original purchase of the vehicle and the alleged faults.

AA Pre Sales Surveys provide a valuable, independent assessment of vehicle condition upon which buyers of secondhand cars can safely rely Mr Fletcher's views not withstanding.
Basingstoke David J. Filsell
Manager, AA Public Relations
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Advanced Motoring?


Always wishing to improve my driving, I am grateful for any advice I can glean from the IAM, and am now enthusiastically following the logic of their view expressed in your August issue regarding "Heel and Toe". Not only have I discarded my practised expertise at changing gear while continuing to brake steadily, but in the interest of greater safety, have increased my braking distance still further by disconnecting the front brakes. This is of course not a new idea - I believe Sir Henry Royce thought of it first.

As the IAM state, the safety factor of this braking distance is most important, and if I continue to find mine to be too short I will encase my right leg in plaster, padlock the brake pedal to the steering wheel "Krooklok" fashion, or drain the fluid from those dratted hydraulic brakes, which are of course largely responsible for reducing the safety factor inherent in earlier cars.

You will not allow me sufficient space to pass on to your readers all the nuggets I have learned over the years from IAM publications or television programmes, but these two must surely bear repeating:

Emergency stops: If an emergency stop is necessary, "for example, if you hear a hub cap fall off, then press the brake and clutch..."

Superfluous signalling: "Do not use signals unnecessarily, ie when there is no one around to see them". Silly old me! I shall have to stop indicating my intentions at all times, just in case there is a black motorcycle (not motorcyclist!) without lights about to overtake me. To think of all the electricity and effort wasted when I should have known that if I couldn't see anyone, then there could not be anyone there to see my signals.

Readers interested in observing my new­found skills should send a SAE for copies of my itinerary for the next six months, and then drive a safe distance ahead of me.
Alton, Hants, Idris Francis

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Accident Avoidance


The statement by Mr N. L. Bailes in the August Readers' Letters - "Most accidents are caused by the slow drivers" - is sheer nonsense. Most accidents are caused by people who don't leave themselves enough space or time in which to make a quick decision and act upon it. In short, they drive too close to the vehicle in front. Truck drivers are the worst offenders.

Some years ago I was ambling down a winding Cheshire country road at about 40 mph when a horse suddenly appeared to my left and trotted across the road. This incident involved some extremely harsh braking indeed.

If the like of Mr Bailes had been behind me I suppose I would have been demolished from the rear. My fault for driving slowly?

Mr Bailes mentions the Highway Code. I suggest he reads it.
Offerton R. Sandbach
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Maserati Minefield


In your report of the VSCC Silverstone meeting it seems that we now have a grading for 250F Maseratis. You refer to Corner's 250F as "very original" whereas in your report on the same clubs April meeting you described the same car as "original". Why cannot the car be merely described as exactly what it is, and the non-Modena examples be explicitly described as repros?

There really is no difference between the Corner car and the Anthony Bamford owned 2SOF. They are both "very original" or to put it another way the real item. The outward differences between 2528 and 2534 represent a time span of almost two years thus Corner's Maserati had a very competitive life in its time, while the Bamford car was virtually a virgin until William Green took charge.

I cannot believe that Richard Thwaites credits his 250F as being 2520 the ex-Stan Jones Maserati. While Thwaites' replica was on the grid doubtless Giulio Dubbini was still fettling away on the real thing in Padova where he is restoring 2520, the car which seasons past was used by David Llewellyn. If you got your historical notes from the VSCC programme, take heart because that was wrong as well.

The Chris Mann 250F Maserati in dark blue, raced until recently by Amschell Rothschild, could not be described as "very original" on the day. Underneath the bonnet was the 2½-litre engine based upon an experimental magnesium/alloy block, tried out by the factory in their latter years of racing the 250F, and certainly not when Gilby Engineering owned 2507.

For the record, eight Maserati 250F lookalikes have been built in the UK, while all but one of the real cars survives albeit spread around the globe.

Waltham Cross, Herts Richard Crump
[We hope to do a detailed survey of Maserati 250Fs in the near future. - Ed.]
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First Climax


I refer to the query posed by "M.L." in the July 1985 issue of Motor Sport (page 733) about the competition debut of the FW A Coventry Climax engine.

Dick Steed's Lotus Mark Eight HUD 139 certainly had an FWA Climax from new; but as far as I am aware, its first competition appearance was at Castle Combe on August 28th, 1954. Although experience leads me not to be too dogmatic about these things, I don't see how Steed's Lotus Mark Eight could possibly have been competing prior to Le Mans in June 1954. I do not believe that any of the "customer" Mark Eights appeared until after the middle of 1954, and Steed's car was not even one of the first of the customer cars. So in my own mind, I am quite sure that the FW A Climax must have made its competition debut in the Kieft at Le Mans.

Steed's Lotus Mark Eight was however the first of many, many Lotuses to be fitted with a Climax engine. So in Lotus circles, that makes it quite a significant car in its own right. Incidentally this car still exists today, although it has neither the Climax nor the registration HUD 139. Steed transferred both the engine and the registration number to his Lotus Mark Nine in 1955 when he sold the Mark Eight to Lotus employee Dave Kelsey.
Bristol M. H. Marsden
Car Registrar, Historic Lotus Register
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Conversation Stopper


As I read the very interesting article, titled North American Conversation Piece in your August issue, I was saddened to see the cruel way in which D.S.J. and A.H. treat the hard-trying and often unrecognised also­rans of F1 racing; in this case Andrea de Cesaris.

Firstly, how does one define a "proper Grand Prix driver". Surely one cannot imagine all drivers to assume the form of human machines such as Prost, Lauda or Piquet. Yes, I know de Cesaris has his faults and is still susceptible to the occasional "red mist" moment, but then what a place the world would be if everyone was perfect. To my mind, de Cesaris has improved tremendously in his years of F1 racing, maturing into a surer, more resilient driver, a gladiator in the face of adversity. As a fan of his, I admire his tenacity, determination and application, and for his ability to shake off the cruel tag-of "de Crasheris" that was stuck on him. Anyone who saw his responsible, fast and accurate drives at Kyalami in 1983, and more recently at Silverstone this year, will surely agree.

In saying that FISA should make de Cesaris pay for damage to Winkelhock's RAM at Montreal, D.S.J. should also apply this theory to Alliot's destruction of Brundle's hopes at Detroit and to numerous other examples of unfortunate lapses of concentration by drivers. Also, the cynical way in which A.H. attacks the idealistic, but not inconceivable, prospect of de Cesaris driving a Ferrari shows a distinct lack of fairness. Maybe a drive of this calibre is what he needs to achieve full maturity as a GP driver and may even go places. I seem to remember a similar sort of attitude when de Angelis "bought" his drive at Shadow. Now look at him with Lotus - a model of reliability!

Come on D.S.J. and A.H., you do a splendid job, but please show some fairness, compassion and encouragement for F1's hard triers, rather than snipe at them at every opportunity.
Wigmore A. Stevens
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Power v Petrol


In your August "Matters of Moment" you suggest that the present fuel-limitation rule in Formula One is aiming towards more efficient engines. Surely its main purpose is to limit power? Although this has not been followed by a reduction in speeds, as was hoped for, it has undoubtedly put a cap on race-available power. Why- is this a bad thing? I have no desire to see 1,000 hp projectiles hurtling along straights with the corners just being in the way of the next "point and squirt". Isn't the positive attitude to cockpit boost controls that it is a bonus to be able to turn up the boost and not "Oh isn't it terrible having to turn them down".

I was interested to hear Rosberg say, in his pre-Silverstone TV interview, that fuel was not a problem for the race but that power might be, the inference being that the drivers must drive according to their engines' power I fuel consumption characteristics.

Of course there will be occasion when drivers run out because their fuel flow meters are unreliable but it will not be long before everybody has cracked this problem. McLaren seem to have already done so, and why not fill the car with micro-chips? Everything else is these days and this is progress, surely.

So I hope that your British GP report isn't going to be full of "Senna was robbed" phrases when in fact he just ran too much power for too long. If he had a 3½-litre Cosworth, in the "old days", instead of a 3-litre, no one would object to his exclusion even if he had dominated the race from beginning to end.

No, I am sorry to use such a cliche but "the rules are the same for everybody", and in this case it has just given the driver, another knob to twiddle and if he can't twiddle it right then too bad.
Odiham J. H. Pratt
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Mike Lawrence's interesting articles on Phoenix and Kieft raise a number of questions regarding my Kieft sports car LDA 5.

You refer (August 1985) to the Turner engine, intended for the Phoenix, which was fitted to Berwyn Baxter's 1955 Le Mans Kieft. This was LDA 5, which had originally been built in 1953 and fitted with a Bristol 1,996 cc engine BSl-123. This is not one of the central-seater cars, but apparently a unique 2-seater (chassis No CK 201), with aluminium (not fibreglass - like the later 1,100 cc Climax cars) body. Incidentally the central-seaters (CK 100 series) were actually built by Jon Derisley in Farnborough, Hants and not in Bridgend or Wolverhampton.

The log book shows LDA 5 as fitted with Turner engine No 1504 (1,488 cc) by May 4th 1955 - some two months before the apparently scheduled appearance of the Phoenix, with this engine, at Rheims in July – strange...

Perhaps someone can explain this -and also throw light on the original construction and detailed history of LDA 5 both prior to 1955 and indeed between 1957 and 1962.
Wimbledon, Duncan Rabagliati
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Tough Torque


I am amazed at the seemingly total lack of reaction, either in editorial or correspondence columns, to the breaking upon the world of the news that the 1984 McLaren chassis employed the Gleason Torque Sensitive differential gear.

My own assessment of this ingenious and simple device is that it is an epoch-making advance in automotive engineering.

Am I the only person to think so, and have all other Formula One constructors failed to appreciate the advantages of copying McLaren?

Why is there no news about this?
Sevenoaks, Kent P. C. Britton
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Lamborghini as she is spoke


In your article on the Lamborghini Jalpa you asked how the "Jalpa" should be pronounced. I can help you in this matter.

The correct pronounciation is "Hralpa". The Lamborghini trademark is a raging bull and the name Jalpa is the name of a famous Spanish bull which killed a bullfighter. The name Jalpa is Spanish and should be pronounced as that. Apart from that let me wish you luck and prosperity in your next 60 years.
Humlebrek Denmark J. C. Briand Decrevecoeur