Watts Up

Today vacuum cleaners, tomorrow cars. The EC has banned powerful engines in what we used to call Hoovers. How long before they go for cars? They’ve forbidden proper light bulb; they’ve given fridges and washing machines ratings. Cripps lives. The austere Sir Stafford (right) of the post-war Labour government disliked luxury cars and would have banned powerful ones. His fellow-reds in East Europe decreed the Trabant. Other levellers destroyed France’s luxury car industry. Cripps’s colleagues refused car manufacturers steel unless they made one model only.

Competition was deemed wasteful, but those that conformed, like Standard with the Vanguard (below), lived to regret it.

It was only the wisdom and entrepreneurship of the Wilks family, scorned by the powers-that-were for making Rovers so deprived of the means to make them, who got by with aluminium-bodied Land Rovers. The stop-gap saved their factory.

The EC and the Guardianistas have turned the war against carbon into a political movement. Fabian Cripps wanted Emergency Powers to rule by decree and although he never managed it, the EC follows the same principle. It imposes experts’ latest wheeze on the grounds that They Know what is Good for Us.

New vacuum cleaners are forbidden to have motors above 1,600W and, from 2017, 900W. The BBC’s environmental guru Roger Harrabin yesterday assured us that power was not important to the performance of a vacuum cleaner. It gathered dust just the same. You could say that about a Trabant (below); it would get you to Berlin or Moscow, it just took longer, it was noisy and it smoked.

The average vacuum cleaner now is about 1,800W, some as much as 2,200W, but it is only a matter of time before Crippsy bureaucrats marshal “experts”, to decree cars’ power for the sake of the environment, our own safety and banishment of wasteful competition.

They have already imposed rules on exhaust emissions, safety, headlamp heights, crush zones, materials, dimensions, fuel consumption and noise. Make the Watts Kilowatts. That would be 160kW or about 215bhp. And 90kW in a couple of years is 120bhp, about a mid-range Fiesta. Well it’s better than the 20kW or 27bhp of an asthmatic Trabant but then we have moved on haven’t we and we need more power to drive heavy bumpers, high headlamps, catalytic converters, crush zones, airbags…

Clive Jacobs 1939-2014

Clive and I worked as colleagues on BBC Radio 4’s Going Places and BFBS motoring programmes, as well as a 1970s venture in stereo recordings of motor racing called Competition Cassettes. I marvelled at his professionalism in live studios. I was a hesitant broadcaster, but with Clive you knew there was never going to be a crisis. His rich voice would intervene in its deeply measured way and you were out of trouble in a trice.
You weren’t always out of trouble with Clive. We drove together sometimes on press launches and at least once, when he was at the wheel of a right hand drive car, we faced disaster in a left hand drive country. Meticulous, precise restorer of clocks and watches, Clive made models, loved cars and revelled in their rectitude. He could afford good cars although he had to suffer incredulity with a few, such as his AMC Pacer, at least with grace although not invariably good. This Rolls-Royce was one of his better ones.
Clive and I, you could say, were related by marriage. I was sorry he wasn’t at my recent birthday party; when he wasn’t able to come we knew things were serious but he was cheerfully represented by his son Blair and family. Clive was a great stepfather to Craig, invariably kind, and an everlasting friend.

Divina Galica and Susie Wolff

Divina Galica and Susie Wolff illustrate the difference between quick and competitive lap times. Quite a lot of drivers can manage decent back-of-the-grid laps in a well set-up racing car. I have done it myself. And inside the five laps which, they say, shows you could go faster.
Reaching the middle of the grid is harder. A front row time requires not only native skill, visual acuity, lots of experience or whatever it is that makes a good racing driver. You have to be brave. Professional drivers deny bravery in public but in private they have told me they have caught themselves literally holding their breath trying for a fast lap. Sure there are the Jim Clarks and Sebastian Vettels, who have some magic ingredient that always makes them point something of a second a lap faster – or the Michael Schumachers who take risks on skis.

When it gets to actual racing wheel-to-wheel a driver needs an unusual degree of self-confidence, or maybe lack of imagination. It must get the adrenalin-flow that makes them face danger if not with equanimity at least with resolve. At that point it doesn’t much matter which sex you are.

Divina Mary Galica MBE held the British women's downhill skiing speed record at 125 mph so she could cope with speed. She took part in her first Olympic games at Innsbruck in 1964 aged 19, competing in downhill skiing and slalom. She was in the next two winter Olympics, at Grenoble in 1968 and Sapporo in 1972, both times captain of the British Women’s Olympic Ski Team, finishing in the top ten of the Giant Slalom. Aside from Olympic competition, Divina achieved two World Cup podium finishes downhill, taking third place at both Badgastein and Chamonix in 1968. She even returned to skiing at the 1992 Winter Olympics, representing Great Britain in speed skiing.
Divina drove so well in a 1970s celebrity motor race that she embarked on a new career. She raced karts before Formula 2, finding success in sports cars and later in the rough and tumble of truck racing. She drove in Formula Renault and Formula Vauxhall Lotus and publicity and sponsorship opportunities led to Formula 1. There was more single-seater racing before she switched to Thundersports S2000 sports cars, eventually becoming a racing instructor with Skip Barber Racing Schools. She rose to senior vice president of Skip Barber Racing, managing both its driving school and racing series. In 2005, at the Mont-Tremblant weekend of the Skip Barber Race Series, Galica announced she was leaving Skip Barber to work for iRacing.com as a director in the company.

Divina was cross with me for downplaying her chances in Formula 1 although I tried not to buy into the idea that her reputation on snow and her looks engaged the sponsors. Yet even the staid old Guardian took any opportunity to carry her picture. She certainly had the right stuff and really was only a few fractions of a second off the pace.
Susie Stoddart, now Susie Wolff will drive a Williams.

Divina Galica, the former Olympic skier, is to try and qualify for the John Player British Grand Prix on July 18. She could be the first British girl to drive in a world championship Grand Prix should she lap the Brands Hatch Grand Prix track in around lmin.23sec in the Surtees TS 16, with which she broke five British speed records last week.
John Surtees is trying to complete a new TS 19 car for her to take part in the biggest test of her two-year-old career at the wheel, but she will probably still use the car in which she lies fourth in the Shellsports 5000 European Championships,
The chances of Divina reaching the starting grid in the Grand Prix are slim. There are 30 entries, 26 places on the grid, and it will only be if some cars fail to turn up, or have trouble during practice, that she is likely to take part in the Grand Prix - round nine in the 1976 World Championships.
Two years ago Lella Lombardi, the Italian girl driver who subsequently took part in a full season’s Formula One, was entered for the same race and managed a lap at 1min. 23.3sec. Although there were five cars slower, she failed to qualify for the race by a full second. Recent alterations to the track have slowed it slightly, and James Hunt’s pole position for the Race of Champions in March was 1min. 20.4sec., so Divina will need to aim for something between 1min. 23sec. and 1min. 23.sec., to reach even the back row of the grid.
Yesterday I asked what her best time in private practice had been round the undulating 2.61miles, but she confessed she had not yet driven the full course. Her longest race so far has been only three quarters of an hour, to the two gruelling hours a Grand Prix would take.
Imperial Tobacco Ltd will take their cigarette brand insignia off the cars they have entered in the Grand Prix, which means the John Player Lotuses will appear in plain black and gold, without the J.P.S. logo. This follows an undertaking given to Dr David Owen, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Security last November.
Throughout their two cigarette manufacturing units, John Player and Sons and W. D. & H. O. Wills, Imperial Tobacco are one of the largest sponsors of motor racing in the country. No similar undertaking has so far been given by Phillip Morris, the American company who sponsor the Marlboro World Championship team.
Davina crashes
Divina Galica had a narrow escape from injury when she crashed her Hesketh on the first day of unofficial practice for Sunday’s Argentina Grand Prix. She went off on one of the fastest parts of the course, a 150 m.p.h. bend, and wrecked one side of her car against the safety barrier.
“I was trying out some suspension modifications,” she said later. “The car just turned round on me. It was very quick, and there’s really no explanation. We are getting the spare car ready for practice tomorrow.” Miss Galica had been having trouble getting down to a competitive practice time, and her accident might make it difficult for her. She needs to improve by seven or eight seconds - a big margin - to reach a qualifying speed.
She has been in Buenos Aires for several days, and so far has not posted a lap speed that would qualify her for the race. Mario Andretti (John Player Lotus), James Hunt (McLaren), and Niki Lauda (Brabham Alfa Romeo) were among the fastest drivers yesterday in good conditions, with a light breeze taking a little of the heat out of the strong sun.
Miss Galica was not the only driver who went off the road. Didier Pironi, the new member of the Tyrrell team, collected some catch fences on the right hand corner at the end of the pits, but damage was superficial.
Practice proper starts today with 24 starting places at stake for the 28 cars entered. It is already apparent that the winners will be those who pace themselves best on Sunday. Driving on the limit in this heat would, mean cars would be unlikely to survive two hours’ racing, even if the drivers did.
Tyres have gone soggy within a few laps, not so much from the influence of the hot asphalt, as the absence of the usual stream of cool air to keep their working temperature correct
Lap times until now must be treated with caution, because yesterday’s tests were more in the nature of a shake-down. Brake pads must be bedded-in, the gloss abraded off new tyres water and oil run through engines to make sure things are done up, but already there are signs to show who will be fast and which teams have tpo worry about starting places.
The military remains the biggest worry to the Grand Prix Circus. Like many other things in Argentina. The track officials take second place to the masses of heavily armed soldiery who stand about, taking on roles usually the preserve of police at European tracks, or as in Britain, volunteer marshals.

Good piece by Beverley Turner in The Telegraph today

Pipe down

Smoking in cars is one thing, smoking on a motorcycle quite another. Ninety years ago Motor Sport, or the Brooklands Gazette as it was known, was advertising the OHV (for overhead valve) pipe featuring a device on top of the bowl to prevent the tobacco being fanned red-hot by the slipstream. I gave up smoking my pipe in my MGA not only because the wind raised sparks that caught in my hair, which I had then, but when it dawned on me that if I had an accident my pipe would probably be stuffed down my throat.
Motorcyclists, it seems, had no such worries. I guess they hoped that in an accident rider and pipe would expect, as they said then, to be “thrown clear”.
The Only Pipe for Motor-Cyclists – Gives a cool even smoke at high speeds – in high wind, and in rain. No sparks to fly out. Revolving and removeable top of aluminium, easily adjustable to direction of wind. Owing to the Briar being matured by special process, and also to the scientific adjustment of bore, this pipe can be smoked when new without harshness. Free draught. Exceptionally light. No clogging. Best finish throughout. English made. Hallmarked silver band. Equal in every respect to many pipes sold at 21/-. Refuse imitations. Money back if not satisfied. At 5/6 (27.5p) I hope J Singleton of Suffolk St, Birmingham sold lots.

Banning smoking in cars sounds like one of those laws you shouldn’t need. Common sense says it’s not good. Bad enough imposing smoke on children or passengers but it’s also bad for car control. Fag ash, red hot or not, flying about a car is distracting and so is holding a cigarette at the wheel. Some things, alas, are beyond the scope of a law.

Saab 92 aerodynamics

Talking, as I have been, about manufacturers’ publicity pictures, I always liked cutaways. It’s the engineer in me. Nothing ever conveyed a car’s structure like a good graphic. The Motor road tests used to do it well, showing how the mechanical bits of a car fitted in with rather stiff-looking occupants. The Saab 92 (left), produced from 1950-1955, makes the point. You can see where the tiny engine leans forward ahead of the front wheels, which it drives, and where the radiator is mounted to catch the air-flow. The upholstery looks a bit thin and rear people have to tuck their feet below the front seat.

In 1950 they made 1246 Saab 92s, every one the same shade of green. It was more important to get production started, and eliminate bottlenecks in the paintshop, than offer buyers a range of colours. It’s said the aircraft factory had over-stocked on green paint for its aeroplanes. Modest power propelled the little car at barely 100kph (60mph). There were only three gears and reaching 50mph occupied the best part of half-a-minute. It scarcely mattered; there was no shortage of customers in 1950.

Although slow, the Saab had clear-cut qualities. Encouraged by the success 2-stroke DKWs had in Sweden before the war it went for an engine cheap to make and simple. A parallel twin-cylinder 3-port 2-stroke of 764cc (80 x 76mm) with Schnürle scavenging, producing 24bhp at 3,800rpm, it was narrow enough to be set across the front with an aluminium head and flat-topped pistons. It had three main roller bearings, a built-up crankshaft with a pair of 180-degree-spaced crankpins, and three main bearing journals pressed into disc crankwebs. Only the small-end bearings were plain, not ball or roller. An extension from the crankshaft carried the cam for the dual-coil ignition, and lubrication was by 4 per cent oil added to the petrol.
A single-plate clutch and 3-speed gearbox, with synchromesh on third and top and a steering column gearshift, formed a unit with the engine. Engine mountings were unusual, a single transverse leaf spring supporting the forward part on rubber torque-resisting buffers, and a rubber cushion at the rear. The result was virtually vibrationless, especially at low revs.

Laurence Pomeroy, who had conducted experiments on aerodynamic cars at Brooklands in 1939, tested a 92 in 1950: “… a most interesting example of the type of car which emanates from an aircraft factory, and shows the benefits of clean lines by giving nearly 65mph (105kph) on less than 25bhp. Excellent roadholding and direct steering were also characteristic of this model, but, as is often the case with 2-strokes, the fuel consumption was not the best feature, failing to reach 40mpg (7.06l/100kms).”

Pomeroy’s advocacy of the slippery shape was only partly justified, for far from being worthy of an aircraft manufacturer, the Saab fell short of ideals laid down by German aerodynamics pioneer, Paul Jaray. Despite the classic teardrop shape, it had a thoroughly average air drag coefficient of 0.35. The bulbous front wings gave an unnecessarily large frontal area so the puny power had a lot of air to displace at 60mph (97kph). Had it been slimmer below the waistline, fuel consumption might have been better.

On the steering, however, Pomeroy was characteristically correct. The Saab’s rack and pinion took only 1.75 turns from lock to lock so it was high-geared, light, accurate and by comparison with nearly all its contemporaries (with worm and nut, cam and roller, recirculating balls, and other nightmares) sheer delight. Tactile, direct, strongly self-centring, drivers could feel road shocks but they could also feel what the wheels were doing, adding amply to the control that compensated for the car’s relative sloth.
In 1950 The Motor commented: “The Saab's layout is ingenious both in conception and in detail. Its unorthodoxy sets a reviewer a task which is difficult yet exceptionally interesting: difficult because of lack of standards for comparison, and interesting for revealing the gains and losses resulting from new layouts and construction methods.” The Motor wanted to be convinced. Its authors liked the principles Saab employed, but they were not finding the results entirely bore out their expectations.

It says something for the speed expected of a 1940s small car that they observed: “The surprise comes in experiencing the power. The car is fast, but what distinguishes it is acceleration in top gear in the vital 15-45mph speed range, which would not disgrace a car of twice the engine size.” There were doubts about refinement: “The Saab lacks the smoothness and silence which the average baby car has acquired between 1940 and 1950.”

The problem of stiffness around a boot lid aperture was solved by not having one on the 92. Access to luggage was through the rear seat. The smooth underside had stiffening ribs and box-section sills, its flat profile a great boon on loose, gritty Swedish roads while the designers concentrated the strength of the body in the middle. The burden of suspension loads were fed into the strong central structure by mounting the front torsion bars in the forward scuttle with tubular bolsters. Torsion bars for the trailing arm independent rear suspension were well forward of the rear hubs, so that the length of the frame subject to suspension-induced loads was less than 85 per cent of the wheelbase.

It was a strategy adopted more than a decade later by cars as diverse as the D-Type Jaguar and the Rover 2000, both of which had stiff centre sections carrying the strain of the suspension, so that the outermost extremities of the car could be thin-skinned and light weight. Above: prototype Saab 92s. Below, later Saab 96 with in-line engine.


800,000 Scots

I agree with Alistair Darling. He wants the 800,000 Scots living elsewhere in the UK to make themselves heard. I was Scottish Nationalist for about a fortnight when I was 15 but I got over it. It was a teenage symptom. Alex Salmon thought he would harness the yoof vote for the referendum, only for a recent poll to show that teenagers know the real world better than he does. Mr Darling was launching a London branch of the Better Together campaign and drew a comparison with the separatists’ Yes Scotland campaign, which asserted that people living south of the Border should not be able to donate more than £500 towards it. Sir Alex Ferguson handed over a symbolic £501 by way of contradiction. It says something if I can agree with Alistair Darling and Sir Alex Ferguson in the same paragraph.

The Better Together launch at Westminster was backed by Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Lord Strathclyde, former Leader of the House of Lords. Addressing the 800,000 exiles, which include 100,000 in London, Mr Darling said: “You may not have a vote in the referendum, but you do have a voice. You have a right to have your opinion heard and you have a right to play your part in keeping Scotland in the UK. The nationalists don't want to hear from you. They believe that, because you have chosen to live and work in another part of the country, somehow you shouldn't be allowed to be involved.” Le Mans 1956. The first of Ecurie Ecosse’s astonishing wins with Flockhart and Sanderson in D-type Jaguar XKD501.

Scarcely any of Salmond’s campaign is not now completely shredded. It is summed up by the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson: “Only now is (Alex Salmond) facing proper scrutiny, and he seems strikingly unprepared. He has been flummoxed by George Osborne’s declaration that an independent Scotland may have trouble using the pound. For years, the SNP has hinted that it has legal advice claiming an independent Scotland could stay in the European Union. It has now been forced to admit that no such advice exists. The latest can of worms to burst open is the notion that an independent Scotland should have a properly funded pension scheme: dull matters, certainly, but important ones that expose the mess that separation involves.”

Jim McColl, one of Salmond’s greatest business backers, said recently that he would settle for “an independent Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom”. Some hope. A few weeks ago he was exposed as a Monaco-based tax exile. As with actors such as Sean Connery and Alan Cumming, the SNP finds nationalists who will do anything for Scotland except live there. Billy Connolly got it about right, describing Holyrood as a pretendy parliament. Remember Tony Blair reassuring somebody 20 years ago that it would be no more than a sort of parish council.

Agree with Tony Blair? Maybe that would be a step too far.

Scots in motor racing: (top) Jim Clark’s Rookie of the Year 1963 Indianapolis jacket. (above) When drivers wielded a wheel spanner. Jackie Stewart unbolts a wheel on his BRM in a Tasman race while Jim Clark drives up the pit lane during practice. (below) Dove Publishing ebook. Buy from Amazon £7.21.

Middle Lane Muse

What do they mean, hogging the middle lane? I set the cruise control to an indicated 80mph, that is 70mph plus the 10 per cent or so the law allows. At this speed the middle lane of the motorway is perfectly agreeable. Flyers fly by on the outside, trucks trundle along on the inside; everybody, you would think, would be happy.

But no. Self-appointed Guardians Of The Highway Code, which says in effect you should always pull to the left, come up behind at 85 or 90mph and make a great display of swerving out as they overtake. They flash indicators and point leftwards in rebuke. I am too old and dignified for road rage and let them get on their high-blood-pressure way.

Smooth consistent and predictable behaviour is far better than dashing from lane to lane. The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) manual says: "Return to the left when you can, but do not do this over-zealously so that you end up constantly skipping from one lane to another. Far too often on motorways you see strings of cars bunched needlessly in the right hand lane queuing up to pass a few people drifting along in the centre lane."

Drifting along in the centre lane seems to exclude those, like me, going about their lawful affairs at around the statutory speed limit. Driving experts disapprove of Slow Lane, Middle Lane, and Fast Lane; the outside one is the Overtaking Lane but in theory if the Middle Lane is occupied by 70mph traffic nobody should be overtaking anyway.

The safest roads are those on which all the traffic is doing the same speed. If everybody is bowling along at 60 or 70 nobody is going to be taken by surprise. Consistency, changing lane as seldom as possible, and constant monitoring of what is behind are best. Yes of course I look in the mirror and pull over if there’s nothing in the leftist lane, but now I fear those Guardianistas will think the traffic plods are on their side and hector even more.

(top) Bugatti Type 57S Atalante. (below) Bentley blower by Amherst Villiers.