Tony Davis April 13, 2012
One of the enthusiasts ... a Bristol Blenheim coupe.
Seems that I have again come under the notice of the Combined British Car Enthusiasts' paramilitary wing.
As Bristol enthusiast Barry Cooper of Victoria put it in a letter to Drive's Big Kahuna: ''Where on earth did they drag this idiot Tony Davis from … I wouldn't have thought you'd employ someone who writes this sought [sic] of trash.''
It is hard not to be won over by the persuasiveness of his argument, particularly when he cleverly counters my bucketing of the current Blenheim coupe - which filled one short paragraph in a story about other things - by citing the reliability of the 1956 model.
Of course, to quote Mr C selectively could be unfair (unlike, say, writing to my boss and telling him I'm a moron), but some concision is necessary, and even then all the abuse is not going to fit. Anyway, he points out:
''Bristol cars still travel this country reliably, most recently some fifteen Bristols drove across from Sydney, Melbourne and parts of Queensland to Western Australia for a rally over there then back again, admittedly one had two punctures. The president of the English Bristol Owners Club drove his 1956 Bristol from England for this rally & then back to England. Try doing that in a Ferrari …
''As for modern day Bristols, the idiot that wrote his stupid comment probably wasn't even aware Bristol had been put in the receivers' hands, bought out by another company, Fraser Nash, and is only producing hand-built one-offs and restoring early model cars. … surely you'd be better off getting someone who knows a bit about cars to fill your pages.''
There are a couple of issues here, beyond the punctuation and spelling (It's Frazer with a Z, as Ms Minnelli once famously sang), and beyond the rather inconvenient truth that Bristol, a builder of apparently exemplary cars, has gone belly-up through lack of interest.
One is that Bristol has been ''saved'' by Frazer-Nash. That is the automotive equivalent of a financial institution being rescued by the Lehman Brothers-Barings-Northern Rock-Icebank Consortium.
The other point is that I did know and have written elsewhere about the Bristol meltdown, to wit: ''In early 2011, Bristol went into receivership and was bought by Kamkorp Autokraft, part of the Frazer-Nash group (Frazer-Nash being another specialist English maker that had seen better days).
''Kamkorp claimed the Blenheim would continue as one of its 'primary offerings', though wouldn't specify a price.''
I have rechecked the official website: yep, they claim they will build you a brand-new Blenheim. And it will still have a four-speed transmission, solid rear axle, pushrod engine, separate chassis, and about the same number of electronic safety and driving aids as a cricket bat. Perhaps the 1956 model was a fine car, but 2012 is not the time to build it.
It is also possible for comments to be made politely, unfashionable though it may be in this instant-gratification age where you don't print out a letter, reread it, find a stamp and envelope, then walk to the postbox - giving yourself several chances along the way to stop and think whether you are likely to make a complete tit of yourself.
In response to a recent mention of the Le Mans-winning ''blower'' Bentleys, a rare lapse for which I apologise, former Leyland employee Peter Ward wrote most civilly that Walter Owen Bentley was suspicious of the supercharged engine's reliability (with good reason), preferring to increase the engine's capacity.
''Although Bentley won Le Mans five times in the 1920s, with proper W.O. Bentleys, none of these results were achieved using a supercharged (blower) 4½ litre. Three-litre Bentleys won in 1924 and 1927; an unblown 4½ litre in 1928 and unblown 6½ litres in 1929 and 1930.''
Where on earth did they drag this polite person Peter Ward from?