In our regular round-up of member correspondence, you have your say on everything from winter tyres to holidaying in New Zealand
Boundless members love to comment on the things we publish, and on hot topics in general.
This month, you filled our inbox with letters and emails about a number of different subjects, including motoring, wildlife and art. Many of you also wanted to comment on a letter we published last time around...
On wheels and tyres
I remember reading my father-in-law’s CSMA magazine back in the early 1970s. At that time, it consisted only of a few sheets of A4 and was printed in black and white. It did, however, contain some interesting articles and letters.
Since becoming a member of the club in the mid-1980s, when I changed career and became a civil engineer for the Forestry Commission, I have followed the evolution of the magazine to the current, high-quality Boundless product. My first read is always the letters pages, and I’m pleased to see that more space is again being devoted to ‘Your Views’. Living as I do in the Highlands of Scotland, many of the topics aired over the years have revealed differences in life experience and points of view. Often, I have been tempted to put pen to paper and vent my feelings about something relevant to me, such as people unused to driving on single-track roads travelling far too slowly, not using their mirrors or not realising that they should pull over as soon as able and allow following vehicles to overtake.
However, what prompted me to write this letter were two things in the Nov/Dec issue. The first was Your Views, and in particular the response from Stuart Beniston about low-profile tyres and alloy wheels, and Colin Buchan’s letter questioning the (un)suitability of the wheel and tyre combination on his new car when driving on rural roads. The second was Paul Horrell’s ‘Seasonal Steer’ on p96, in which he described the advantages of winter tyres.
Winter tyres have been part of my life since I first drove in the mid-1960s. Then it was Goodyear Town and Country tyres, now it is Gislaveds. During my working life with the Forestry Commission, I opted to use my own car as I do all my own maintenance and repairs, and was still in pocket with mileage expenses reclaimed at ‘Public Transport’ rate.
My most suitable car was a Peugeot 205 diesel. It had good ground clearance, small front and rear overhangs and, when fitted with a softer rear anti-roll bar from a small petrol-engined model, very good traction. (It also covered 360,000 miles before being replaced by a younger model!). I kept mud and snow tyres fitted all year round, as I covered a significant distance on forest roads, many of them badly cut up by timber-harvesting machinery and lorries, or still under construction. The performance on dry, summer roads was not optimum but still perfectly acceptable.
I regularly travelled, summer and winter, over some of the highest roads in Scotland – one of them being The Lecht, between Moray and Aberdeenshire. When driving in snow, I would often see lights ahead and catch up with top-of-the-range 4x4s moving slowly and struggling to stay on the road. When they slid to the side, I could simply accelerate past and carry on. (This may sound heartless, but if I encountered someone stranded, I would stop and help with shovel, torch, tow rope and tools.)
One thing not stated in Paul’s article is that winter tyres should be as narrow as possible, both for snow/slush and standing water. A full set, not just on the driving wheels, is also essential to help control the car at higher speeds, as maintaining sufficient speed and momentum is essential on hills. Combined with experience of driving on snow, they can steer, brake and accelerate at least two or three times better than a modern car on wide summer tyres.
Tyre and wheel combination is not the only reason for many modern cars and vans being so incapable on poor roads and snow. ABS deprives the driver of feel on slippery surfaces, and computerised engine and vehicle management systems in most front-wheel-drive vehicles negate the effect of the accelerator when the brake pedal is pressed. This prevents ‘left-foot braking’, which is a technique that keeps the front wheels pulling but momentarily locks the rear wheels – allowing the car to be set up to oversteer so that it faces out of a bend. Once again, it should be stressed that this is not a method of driving that is appropriate for congested roads!
We received several responses to last issue’s Star Letter, 'The invisible woman?', including a few from female readers who recommended Citroën and Robins & Day Peugeot dealers for lone female purchasers. Here are some of the others:
I have never picked up pen and paper to respond to a letter before, but Mary Davidson’s letter struck a chord. I have long commented to my friends how I can look at cars/caravans/motorhomes without being bothered by salesmen, whereas couples have salesmen round them like flies round a honey pot.
My tales of being ignored are many. A year or two ago, I was considering buying a Skoda and booked a test drive. At the end of it, the salesman didn't suggest any discussion on prices or models, but simply left me. Despite having all my details, there was no follow-up call either. I have not visited that dealership since.
At one time, I had a fairly heavy caravan, and I knew which Ford car I wanted to get the weight ratios right. I asked the dealer if I could view that particular car, commenting that I wanted it to tow with. He happened to have a lot of ex-mobility cars in, and told me that a particular small saloon would be quite big enough to tow any caravan (I knew it wouldn't). Despite having my name and address, I never did receive the brochure for the car I wanted. No sale by him, and I have not visited that dealership since either.
I can wander round a caravan showroom having a really good look at the layouts and fittings without being encumbered or questioned by a salesman, but if I do decide to make an enquiry, I have to go searching for one (it doesn't help that there are often two salesmen serving a husband and wife). I believe I only managed to buy a motorhome because I had to actually go and ask for a key.
Whilst not a car issue, I was looking to purchase a video camera a few years ago and the salesman suggested that my husband call so he could discuss the purchase. I walked out of the shop, counted to a lot more than 10 and went back and had a word with his manager – before leaving the shop without the purchase I had intended to make.
I do manage to get some test drives and purchase cars, but it is never because the salesman has persuaded me. I rarely get any interest, even in the dealership where I have bought two Volvos and go back for an annual service.
I was amused but not surprised at Mary Davidson's letter. I like to think of myself as a well-educated, successful businesswoman. Recently I went to negotiate the purchase of a new car. I told the salesman exactly what I wanted, and we discussed the trade-in and final purchase price. He wrote down all the details and handed me a sheet of paper with the instructions “Get your husband to explain it to you.” He almost patted me on the head (he was about a foot taller than I). Needless to say, he lost the sale. At a different dealership, I concluded the sale in half an hour, much to the bemusement of a polite, efficient young man.
I have been a CSMA/Boundless member for many years, and always look forward to receiving and reading your magazine. I particularly enjoy 'Your Views', normally agreeing with the observations made and the memories invoked of motoring experiences past.
I have not previously been sufficiently moved to respond to another member's opinions, but I felt I ought to reassure Mary Davidson that there is no sexism at the root of her car showroom experience. I, too, have been ignored many times, in a variety of car showrooms from the late 1980s to the present day.
It appears to me that Car Sales Executives consider themselves to be physiologists who have the ability to know on sight whether the person entering their hallowed environment has the ability to purchase, or indeed is privileged enough to drive, a car of theirs.
Unfortunately, this has to be tolerated, along with the “I need to check that with my manager” waltz, if you are intent on owning a car in their range.
For the record, in said period I have purchased new cars from Ford, Renault, Seat, Volvo, Skoda and MG. So, stay persistent, Mary, and go for the car of your choice based on the sound reviews of Boundless and its members.
Spot the difference
My husband was reading your Star Letter, headed ‘The invisible woman?’, in your January/February magazine, when he looked at the photo of a woman looking through the car window. He said: “It’s you!” When I looked, I said: “I think it is – I’ve got that top and those beads.” For fun, my husband took a photo of me to recreate it. I looked on Getty Images and could see it wasn’t me, but what a coincidence that we are so similar with regard to looks and clothing. Spooky.
Am I too old, too?
In his review of the electric VW in the latest edition of Boundless magazine, Paul Horrell mentioned the “all-touchscreen” control. He said that he hated it, and that VW told him he was “too old”.
In August, I leased a VW Golf Mk 8 ETSi 1.4. This model also has the all-touchscreen control and, like Paul, I hated it! Whilst Paul didn’t say why he hated it, my aversion was primarily due to the fact that if you needed to adjust a setting – the air-con, for instance – you had to look at the screen, select the correct page and then make the selection required, which could involve ‘moving’ a slide bar. This process took a while, during which, if there was only the driver in the vehicle, his attention to the road was non-existent. I considered this dangerous, but VW’s comment was that it was incumbent upon the driver to put safety first at all times. So, clearly, VW thinks that if you want to adjust the climate control in the vehicle, you need to pull over and park, then make the adjustment.
The car also had some other ‘nasty’ traits. Unlike previous VWs, it was not possible to permanently disable the ‘lane-assist’ mode. If I wanted it disabled, before I drove off I had to go to the appropriate touchscreen page, select the lane-assist menu and slide the ‘on/off’ selector to ‘off’. I had to do this every time I started the engine. VW said it was contrary to EU regulations to disable the function, whilst an independent safety consultant said it was to get the vehicle into a lower insurance group.
Eventually, VW ‘cancelled’ the lease and the dealer took the car back. Apart from this touchscreen nightmare, it was a lovely drive: comfortable, economical and well finished. Saying that, the wing mirrors did not electrically retract, and this on a £30,000 car! I must be ‘too old’, too.
Fiesta’s snapping springs, part 2
I am writing in response to Kevin Brown’s letter in the January/February 2021 edition of your magazine.
I, too, have a Ford Fiesta that is five years old, and several months ago I heard a knocking on the rear nearside. I emptied out the boot but the noise was still there. I contacted my breakdown service, and on arrival the mechanic just reached underneath the rear nearside wheel arch and produced half a broken spring. He made the comment: “Fiestas are renowned for it.”
This spring was replaced only a day or so later. However, this was then followed by the rear nearside tyre bursting; when this was inspected, there was a cut in the tyre that was difficult to see. I suspect the broken spring had also punctured the tyre.
It seems this is indeed a recurring problem – Maria wasn’t the only member who wrote in to say they’d been affected by this. Ed
Brake when you bump on
Reading ‘Fiesta’s snapping springs’ in the Jan/Feb issue raised a smile, as I was reminded of our honeymoon experience. June 1972 saw my wife and I heading off from our reception in Southsea to drive all the way to Land’s End in a 1957 Austin A35, with many B&B stops on the way. Only the first stop was booked – you could do that in those days!
Driving through the New Forest to our honeymoon hotel, we hit a nasty pothole. We checked the tyre at the hotel, then thought no more about it. However, as our journey continued, we became more aware that every time we hit another pothole or bump, we lurched forward as if the car was braking momentarily. This became both a puzzle and an amusement to us, as there didn’t seem to be any other problems with our dear old ‘Genevieve’.
Well, having made it all the way to Land’s End and back over the course of a wonderful fortnight with no other mishaps, inspection revealed that we had broken the rear offside leaf spring. The braking system included a cable connection from a slave cylinder to the back axle, so every time the wheel hit any resistance, the rear axle was pulled backwards – momentarily applying the brake! Well done, ‘Genevieve’. Wonder if she’s still around – 496 CHU?
Your magazine [Jan/Feb issue] captured many memories of 2020 for us. We bought a VW camper and toured Scotland for a month between lockdowns. We saw the Queen's View at Loch Tummel, Glenfinnan Viaduct, Skye and the Cairngorms, all of which were covered in the magazine. The article on motorhomes was excellent and should inspire all the dreamers out there, just as it inspired us!
Paul and Sue Johnson
New Zealand? Go for it
I'm writing in regard to Heather Greenwood's article on New Zealand in the January/February issue of Boundless magazine. My wife and I have visited three times, so we can well understand her enthusiasm for the place. I describe it as a beautiful country, with people to match. Kiwis must be among the most welcoming, helpful and friendly people in the world.
We have toured the islands by car and train, staying in hotels and motels; by motorhome with a pre-planned itinerary; and by motorhome with no planned itinerary. Which was best? None – we thoroughly enjoyed all of them, but if any readers are considering a visit of their own, I thought they might appreciate the following tip.
There are two holiday-park clubs operating in New Zealand that offer high-quality facilities for mobile home and camping tourists. They are Top 10 Holiday Parks and Kiwi Holiday Parks. They guarantee a high standard of service at all of their sites, at a discount price for members. Membership can be purchased online at a modest price before leaving the UK, and for both companies it lasts for two years. Members also benefit from discounts on a wide range of attractions in New Zealand. In particular, the membership fee can be recouped in one fell swoop through a generous discount on fares on Interislander and Blue Funnel ferries, respectively for travel between North and South Islands. Come to think of it, could these companies be considered for acceptance as Boundless-approved partners?
My advice to anyone considering a visit to New Zealand is “Go for it”. Spend as much time there as you can. You will love it.
What about the planet?
I was horrified by the article [Jan/Feb issue] encouraging all Boundless readers to travel to New Zealand for holidays.
It appears that the circulation of your magazine is about 200,000, but the number of readers is probably two or three times that. Therefore, about half a million people are being encouraged to massively increase their carbon footprint by undertaking very long-haul flights. Although the article clearly states that “there's an argument for travelling less” when travel is able to resume, this just seems to mean less frequently, rather than less distance. In terms of air miles, one needs to bear in mind that one trip to New Zealand is the equivalent of 5-10 trips to Europe!
Please consider the planet more in your future magazine articles. We only have the one and it's not in great shape at the moment! The articles on electric cars are a positive step, but it needs to be clearly stated that it takes a great deal of energy to make lithium-ion batteries – and any new car, generally.
A concerned reader
Fair car tax
Reading David Williams' article in the latest magazine [Jan/Feb issue], and with HM Treasury saying it's losing £30billion a year in tax, I agree we need a fair system. We all know that millions are lost every year on those who don't pay their road fund licence, and a lot of police and court time is also wasted on those people.
Also, is it fair that I drive 5,000–6,000 miles per year and one of my friends drives over 40,000 miles a year, yet we both pay the same licence fee?
My suggestion would be to scrap the road fund licence (which is no longer used to fund roads) and add a few pence per litre of fuel – 10p should be enough.
1) Everyone driving would have to pay
2) The more miles you drove, the more you would have to pay
3) Gas guzzlers would pay more
4) It would save the police, the DVLA and the courts money
A new system will be required for all electric cars. I am not certain how paying by the mile can be managed. Who would send the mileages to the taxing authority? Criminals will always find ways to fiddle the mileage, and unregistered cars used by criminals will still pay nothing.
Safari, not so good
In talking about the wonders of nature in your safari article, 'In search of Britain’s big five' [Jan/Feb issue], you leave out some of the consequences of that nature. I live in the Forest of Dean, not far from Whitemead, and it’s fair to say we have a bit of an issue with those 'lovable' wild boar. Specifically, they are aggressive and destroy ground. Your correspondent saw the evidence of this. Not a problem with a verge, perhaps, but a disaster if they enter your garden. Indeed, thousands of pounds can be wiped off a property's value if boar have found a home there. Strict management is required and sometimes it isn’t sufficient as the population is spreading further afield.
Boundless turns to art
I wanted to let you know that my old copies of Boundless magazine do not go to waste. I make collages using old cuttings to entertain those passing my house during lockdown. I've attached my latest creation – I also created a tribute to the fallen for last year's Remembrance Day.
I recently visited Battlesbridge and its small but interesting motorcycle museum, and while there I was surprised to find an electric motorcycle tucked away in a corner – produced in 1946 along with a charging system for the battery. Intrigued, I searched the internet and was amazed to find that in 1900, there were more electric vehicles on the road than petrol ones. Had cars continued down the electric line, instead of being turned by oil barons into the gas-guzzling monsters we see today, we would most likely not be looking at global warming. If we're not careful, we'll all be running around in airtight recovery suits, as they do in the Dune trilogies, desperately trying to survive a burned-out, hostile world.
I recently received a letter from Toyota, telling me of a recall on a potentially defective part of my driver’s side airbag. I was amazed as the car is 21 years old! I had the car done today totally free of charge. Well done, Toyota!
Bureaucracy gone mad
My son's partner purchased a used Fiat 500 as it was zero-rated for road tax. To her surprise, she received a £30 fine for driving an untaxed car. She challenged this fine and was told that even though her car was zero-rated, she still had to submit a road tax application, stating tax class as 'zero-rated' and amount to be paid as 'zero'. How many other people have been caught out and had to pay the fine? What a nice little money-earner for the DVLA.
Can you beat this?
I wonder if any of your readers can beat this. My grandparents purchased an Austin 7 ‘Ruby’ brand-new in 1934, and it went on to serve three generations – I even passed my test in it in 1960. The car clocked up over 300,000 miles (two rebores), including one trip to Davos in Switzerland, before we finally sold it in about 1963. I am not sure whether it was scrapped or continued to be used.
The invisible woman?
My husband is the club member, but I avidly read Boundless each time it comes in as I am very interested in cars. I am on the lookout for another car just now, and went into two local showrooms on my own to see if anything would catch my eye. However, despite meandering through the stock both inside and outside the showrooms, I was ignored by all the sales staff.
Two days later, I went into another showroom with hubby alongside me. Not one but TWO salespeople surrounded us as soon as we were in the door. Do they think a woman on her own is incapable of buying a car?
They got no sale at all from me.
A welcome break
My husband and I are just back from the De Vere Cotswold Water Park Hotel – a three-night Boundless Break. Originally scheduled for the end of May, the break had to be postponed due to Covid restrictions.
I just had to write and compliment Paul Bache, the organiser, for all the arrangements made at what we considered to be a very reasonable price. The hotel was well prepared for all the restrictions, but our enjoyment was not curtailed! The location, accommodation, service and food were all first class. It was lovely to return to the hotel after a day’s sightseeing and enjoy a delicious three-course dinner.
Thank you to all concerned.
Save money on a range of Boundless Breaks by clicking here.
A car tax that’s fair
One of the main aspects to take into account when buying a car appears to be the tax liability. Since buying my first car in 1964, I have always owned petrol cars. The tax for such vehicles recently increased significantly – last year I paid £570 for my Honda Legend (2009 model), and I now pay £240 for my Honda Accord (2014 model).
When car tax was introduced, I understood it to be a licence to drive on public roads. Although not hypothecated, the money raised was supposed to be used for road maintenance and to support the NHS in dealing with the consequences of road accidents.
However, it appears that car tax is now primarily concerned with CO2 emissions. This seems to me to be unfair. The non-CO2 emissions from diesel cars give rise to an unhealthy atmosphere and, although these emissions are reduced at slow speeds by the filtering system, drivers are advised to give their car a fast run to clean out the filter, which means that all the emissions eventually find their way into the atmosphere. In my view, car tax should take all emissions into account.
With regard to electric cars, I think the government should take into account the extra emissions produced when manufacturing and operating these vehicles – for example, when extracting the lithium needed for manufacturing the batteries; producing and disposing of the batteries, and generating the electricity needed to charge the batteries.
If all these emissions were allocated to the electric car, then, under the present criteria, the car tax would increase. I understand that for some electric cars, these allocated CO2 emissions could exceed those of some petrol cars.
In my view, a fair car tax should be composed of both a licence fee to drive on the public highway and a charge for all the emissions caused by the car. The licence fee element could vary for different cars according to their perceived effect on the road surface and the perceived seriousness of any accidents in which they could be involved.
Then and now
Thank you for the ‘running-in’ stories. Although I was brought up in France, the same stories applied. When I persuaded my dad to get my mum a soft-top Renault 4, I made sure – at the tender age of 12 – that it was run-in properly, as my parents didn't really have a clue about mechanics. I made an 80km/h label, which I stuck in the back window of the car. My dad thought it was a genuine Renault label.
On a slightly different topic, I now have a pick-up – things do move on! – with 17-inch wheels. I have two punctured new tyres, but the punctures are in the 'wrong place'. Any suggestions as to where I might find inner tubes? 255/65 and 225/70. Thank you.
The fat boy wins
I’ve just read the piece about the Harley-Davidson LiveWire in the latest magazine and, to a degree, the article misses the spot. Firstly, I’m not a dentist as inferred; I’ve been riding bikes since the age of 14, so I’m not a newbie; I have a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy; and I didn’t get any of my gear from Disney!
At almost £30K, the LiveWire is like the new electric cars – too expensive for what it is. It’s about £8k more expensive than the archetypal Harley Fat Boy, and, with a range of only 100 miles max, would be no good to me on a ride out into the country, where three-pin plugs don’t grow on trees. I don’t want to have to wait at a charge point for 40 minutes, adding significant downtime to a morning ride that averages over 100 miles.
I embrace new technology, but until prices are more reasonable, charging is quicker and range is more suitable, they are little more than a whim!
All the best,
Fiesta’s snapping springs
I have a five-year-old Ford Fiesta with only 15,000 miles done. One of the rear springs snapped recently, and the Ford dealer who replaced it told me they had come across this problem not infrequently on Fiestas. This made me wonder why Ford was not aware of this. I'm wondering if any other members have had this problem.
Stop/start battery: a solar solution
Two members wrote in with ideas along the same lines, so there may be something in this…
I don’t often read the Boundless mag but when I read the latest copy, I was intrigued by the letters from Mr Pedley and Mr Penn. There is a very simple solution to both of their battery problems, though it will involve a small initial outlay.
I don’t possess a modern car, simply because it would spend most of its life sat in a car park quietly deteriorating. We’re normally on the canal from March to mid-July, from September to early November, and from mid-December to mid-January. So my poor 14-year-old Opel Zafira is on its own a lot. I have been caught out a couple of times with a flat battery, so I invested in a small solar panel, which I simply leave on the dashboard. Don’t ever let people tell you that they only work in strong sunlight, as this is rubbish. As long as there is natural daylight, you will get some charge in.
So in Mr Pedley’s case, with his short journeys stopping and starting, whenever he is in stopped mode, the solar panel is still putting a small amount back in. When he is parked up at his destination or at home in daylight, the solar panel will continue to work.
Similarly, with Mr Penn and his short journeys, 20 miles once a week is, to be honest, a waste of time and fuel. With all the gizmos associated with modern cars, it will take at least that amount of mileage every day to have any effect. But coupling that short weekly burst with what a small solar panel can put in will have a positive effect, not just for the battery but to clear the engine of built-up carbon, etc.
So today, as I sit looking out of my window at my very wet Zafira with the overcast skies around us, my solar panel is still generating 12.9 volts – which is putting 12.1 volts into the battery. (My set-up is a little more sophisticated as I have a couple of tiny voltmeters that enable me to quickly check the voltage.) My car has only been started twice since March because we’ve been isolating and I’m currently not allowed to drive after a brain operation – but when my son wants use of my trailer, he can simply pick up my keys, connect the trailer and he’s away.
And my boat? Well, that effectively has its own power station as there are four large solar panels generating enough to keep five large batteries fully charged.
Mr Pedley and Mr Penn, and possibly others, should look into it. They aren’t expensive or over-large, but they are certainly useful. And don’t let garages tell you otherwise – they simply want to keep selling you batteries.
Regards to all members,
Having read the letters concerning battery problems associated with stop/start, I thought it relevant to inform of my problem.
I bought a Jaguar XF as a demonstrator in November ’17, when it was eight months old. During the next year, the car worked perfectly until one day when I tried to open the door.
I phoned Jaguar, who sent an engineer of their own rather than contacting one of the breakdown companies. He attempted to charge my battery for about an hour before deciding to replace the battery under warranty. When everything was working, he gave me a valuable piece of advice, which I still have in place today.
Basically, as I did not use my car every day, he told me that the battery was becoming sulphated and needed trickle charging to stop the sulphation. This problem was solved by getting a £20–£25 solar panel, available from car component shops, and either wiring it in via a switch or plugging it into the cigarette lighter socket (providing, of course, that it does not get switched off by the car when not running).
Being a retired electronics engineer, I have wired mine directly onto the battery via a relay controlled by the car's ignition system, so that when the car is not running the solar panel on the rear parcel shelf trickle charges the battery, preventing the sulphation. This has worked well from that date, and I've had very little use of the car during lockdown.
Graham’s BSA stirs more memories
Like Robert Lidster, I enjoyed reading the article about Graham Holt and his devotion to BSAs. In fact, I remember Graham's first BSA well, as we went to the same school in Oxford and travelled there every day on the same school bus – an experience he should remember as well as I do.
Graham was a year or so older than me, and got his BSA a while before I got my first real motorbike. Mine was a 1946 Triumph 3T De-Luxe that cost me the princely sum of £7/10s in about 1967/8 – it was four years older than I was. Graham may be surprised to learn that I still have the Triumph – stuck away in the back of my garage, no longer roadworthy but pretty much in one piece.
I still regret not buying the Vincent I was offered at around the same time for £35. I thought it ‘too expensive’ and likely to be a bit of a handful for a 17-year-old to ride.
This took me back
While reading the letters pages in the November/December issue of Boundless, I was reminded of the time I spent in research and development in the motor industry. I hope my observations / comments will be of use.
Most modern passenger cars are equipped with stop/start that can be switched on or off by the driver, but are also equipped with a `low charge` sensor to prevent the system from activating when the battery state diminishes. As Martin Wickspointed out, a smart charger/conditioner is an excellent investment. However, there is no need to disconnect the battery and connect a memory saver. I use an Optimate 2 maintenance charger for both my motorcycle and car. They supply weatherproof leads and sockets/plugs, which I have permanently attached to the batteries. Connection time (when charging) is less than a minute. There is no risk of overload, and the battery can be left safely connected for months at a time.
• The letter from David Myersreminded me it was the Renault Clio that was fitted with a keypad into which you entered your PIN. One reason it didn't catch on was that, by pulling out the fuse for the keypad, it could be bypassed and started as normal. It allowed garage mechanics to work on customers' cars without having to ask for their security number.
• Colin Buchanfound out the hard way (literally) about large-diameter wheels and low-profile tyres. There are some top-end cars with very sophisticated suspension systems that can just about cope with poorly maintained surfaces, but not many. You would be surprised by just how much influence styling and marketing departments had on that decision. To the stylists' eye, the wheel arch needs to be as full of wheel and tyre as possible. Colin hit the nail on the head when he said: “I think they look good.” A smaller wheel with a deeper profile tyre is usually an improvement.
There were (and still are) many weird and wonderful ways of doing things in the motor industry.
Have kayak, will travel
Well done again for producing such an interesting magazine.
The photograph on page 82 of the Sept/Oct issue, of Queen’s View overlooking Loch Tummel, brought back many happy memories. I attended the Forestry Commission’s Forester Training School at Faskally House, not far from there, for two years. During my time there, I built a two-person lath-and-canvas canoe, which I called Tum allt after the Gaelic for for the River Tummel outside my window. In April 1966, I, along with Adrian McLaughlin, paddled from Pitlochry to the Glencoe road on the Rannoch Moor, returning via Lochs Tummel, Dunalistair, Rannoch, Eigheach, Laidon and Ba. We camped en route and it snowed some days. Inevitably, there were portages involved. There is a whole article in this adventure. I still have this canoe and it has had many other adventures since then.
I can assure your reader, David Hack [Your Views, Sept/Oct issue], that he is not an endangered species, as I too seem to manage fine with landline and snail mail. I can even enjoy a meal without looking down at a phone!
I was very intrigued by the article on Sir Noel Curtis-Bennett in the latest Boundless, not least because of the associated photo. The car shown on the left, with the gentleman holding the trophy, is a Crossley Regis that was made in Manchester probably around 1935/6.
I am a member of 'The Crossley Register' and own a 1920s Crossley car. According to our records, there are 37 surviving Regis models worldwide, but sadly the registration number in the photo is not one of them.
We would like to add the photo to our archives and publish it in our newsletter if possible.
Anyone interested in Crossley cars can find out more by clicking here.
Keith Parkin’s letter (Nov/Dec issue) about his first VW Beetle prompted several reminiscences – here’s a selection:
In 1962, I hoped that I would ‘pull the birds’ with my newly acquired five-year-old Beetle in ravishing orange.
One evening, I met a couple of nurses in my local. At 10pm closing time, I gallantly offered to drive them back to their quarters. We had only gone 50 yards when the fuel ran out, so I had to ask them to push me back into the car park. Luckily, their sense of humour prevailed, and they asked me to make the rum punch for their promotion party. Had I known about the reserve fuel lever I might never have courted and married my wife of 57 years!
The owner’s manual stated ‘top speed and cruising speed 72mph’, but the crankshaft broke when I was driving down the A1. Later, however, the sturdiness of the bodywork saved my life when I was hit amidships with such force that the car was rolled onto its side, and the dashboard panel was corrugated in absorbing the energy of impact.
Keith Parkin's letter brought back happy memories of our beloved Flossie – also a 1959 VW Beetle. Keith made one slip-up – the reserve fuel tank contained one gallon of petrol. In those days, litres were how foreigners measured their liquids; nothing to do with us at all.
What Keith failed to mention was the feeble six-volt lighting system. Even with the headlights on full beam, it was like having a couple of candles lighting the way.
Because the air-cooled engine was at the back, the front of the car was very light, so in bad weather my husband used to put two heavy stones in the front boot to give stability.
Flossie served our family for a good few years. One of my brothers-in-law managed to squeeze in his wife, their four children and his mother-in-law! No booster seats for the children and no seat belts for anybody in those days.
EV is not for me
Thank you for your thorough article on electric cars. I read all of it, but the two points which were of most interest were how far will it go and how much will it cost.
We live in West London and keep a boat in Portsmouth harbour. There are occasions when we travel to Gosport and back in a single day, and there are no charging points where we moor the boat. Some of the cars listed might make the journey on one charge, but I wouldn't enjoy the ‘will we make it?’ feeling on the way home. More importantly, I simply cannot afford to spend the £25,000 that most cars would cost. There aren't many second-hand electric cars, and a friend of mine whose company is developing new forms of energy tells me that even a two-year-old car is now running on old technology.
We will need a ULEZ-compliant car by this time next year, so we recently bought a second-hand Citroen C1. It cost just under £2,500 and is low emissions, so that's just £20 a year in road tax. It's not as green as a new electric but it's as close as I can get.
Regarding Dave Myers' keypad security feature [Nov/Dec issue] – it may have been a Gallic thing, because I'm pretty sure my old Citroën Xantia had a keypad for just that purpose. I think it could be switched off by the owner, which I did quite soon after purchase, as it was not completely reliable!
As an interesting aside, I was told by a previous owner that those early Xantias were made of thicker/better steel than later ones. Whatever the truth, it certainly looked after us when we were broadsided and rolled off the M5, escaping with barely a scratch.
I was inspired by the excellent article Should I buy an EV? by Paul Horrell [Sept/Oct issue] to share my experience of buying and owning such a car.
With Toyota finally entering the full electric vehicle (EV) market this year, electric cars are on the cusp of becoming a mainstream choice for motorists. I was keen to try an EV but, like many people, was nervous about range, performance, battery life and the higher price tag. Like many households, I run more than one car, so I decided to dip my toe in the market by buying a used EV. The target vehicle was a Nissan Leaf because they are the most numerous EV and the majority have an owned, rather than leased, battery. Leasing is best for those who use the EV as their main car and clock up average or high mileage, so it wasn’t right for me.
The range of an EV is mainly dictated by the size (capacity) of the battery, which is expressed in kilo Watt hours (kWh). Older Leafs from 2012–16 had 24kWH batteries with a sub-100-mile range, whereas the 30kWh models are good for about 115 miles. I managed to buy, from an auction, a two-and-a-half-year-old Tekna-specification Leaf with 27,000 miles on the clock and a 30kWh battery, for £12,155, complete with the balance of the eight- year/100,000-mile battery warranty.
Living with the Leaf is easy. It’s very simple to drive – you don’t have to change gear, as all EVs have only one gear and electric motors don’t have a clutch, so can’t stall. Electric motors also produce maximum torque from very low revs, and deliver it in a linear way – unlike internal combustion engines. This is what makes EVs so nippy and, in some cases, ridiculously fast.
Getting to grips with charging needs a bit of effort, so I’d recommend looking at a few YouTube videos and comparing charging networks. I decided to join Polar Plus on a monthly subscription, as it has chargers at the gym I used to go to (pre-Covid!) and at the local Asda supermarket. The car costs less to service than a petrol/diesel – no oil, drive belts, cam belts, gearbox or exhaust – and road tax is zero. The running costs to date for fuel, servicing and car tax work out at 7.4 pence per mile. The true cost per mile will vary depending on your individual circumstances, so you would need to consider the following:
• Depreciation for me is zero due to the good purchase price. Even if you buy from a dealer, EV depreciation seems to be lower than an equivalent petrol engine car (£1,500 versus £2,100 per annum for a 1.4-litre petrol)
• Finance or leasing charges if you need a loan
• Roadside assistance
After buying the Leaf, I decided to fit solar panels with money that was sat in a building society account earning £1.78 per annum. The solar panel inverter (which converts direct current from the panels into alternating current for the house) is linked to a home charger, so I have now cancelled my charging network subscription as I can charge the car solely from my panels. Note: the running costs quoted were calculated before the panels were installed.
In conclusion, if you want an EV as a main/only car and use it for longer journeys, you will have to spend more money and/or put more effort into journey planning to ensure availability of chargers. As long as you accept that a lower cost EV is not ideal for long- distance touring, it makes a great second car – I was surprised to find that I use mine for 95% of my journeys.
If you thought the Harley-Davidson LiveWire’s acceleration sounded a bit sluggish, according to the spec box on page 57 [Nov/Dec issue], you were right. A rogue ‘1’ turned the 0–62mph time from a nippy three seconds into an altogether more leisurely 13 seconds. Apologies for this error.
In each issue of our print magazine, we publish a selection of your emails and letters. However, due to space restraints we are only able to bring you abridged versions of what you've sent in. We don't want you to miss out, though, so here are the full versions of those correspondences. Happy reading!
Photos: Getty Images