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Author Topic: Three Mercedes and a Lancia  (Read 1500 times)
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Permanent resident
Posts: 2055

« on: 31 May, 2017, 01:26:15 PM »

I came across this in the Motorsport archive whilst browsing and felt it worthy of a post.

Three Mercedes and a Lancia
For 20 years, in India, I drove a succession of large Americans; after the last war a pre-war 6-cylinder Hillman, in 1948 a Citroën Light 15, 1951 a Zephyr, 1955 an Austin 90, and in 1959 a used (16,000 miles) Mercedes 220S in lovely condition. The Mercedes' seats, having softened, were very comfortable, it handled beautifully and, after the Austin—admittedly half its price— was a real delight. I did 90 miles on the Milan-Venice autostrada at over 100 m.p.h., when the engine temperature never shifted a point, and on the appalling surfaces in North France could hold 70-75 comfortably. Its forte was its 3rd gear and its balance over all road conditions.
After two years I traded it for the, then, new Mercedes-Benz 220SE. I was very proud of it, its looks, extra power, etc., but I was never happy with it. The seats were board hard and they always gave me cramp. The car was too big . . I don't say in inches, but it drove much bigger than the 220S. I was still running it in, when after 3,000 miles I swapped it for a 190 Mercedes SL, soft-top. I was delighted with this. It drove beautifully in one piece, was as handy as a cat, and for me (5 ft. 8 in.) the epitome of comfort. The top, when up, was completely draught and noise-proof. The engine was too noisy but had a sparkling performance, and on the Munich-Salzburg autobahn reached 120 m.p.h. . . . when we were having a dust-up with another exactly similar white, red trim job. So far so good. Where the car failed was if she was fully loaded for touring, on the aforesaid surfaces in, say, North France she lost her form completely. She pitched into every pot-hole, the steering became erratic and the ride so uncomfortable that one had to pull back to 50 m.p.h. or so. We drove it abroad for two years and finally I had a strike on my hands. . . I loved to drive it with the top down and my wife hated the gale down her neck, and, true to say, whenever one topped 70 this was considerable. My wife is a mad keen motorist, but "fair dos" . . . she does a lot for me and I had had it!
We were in Rome in 1962, and there I saw the Lancia Flavia coupé. A friend of mine had a saloon. Prior to this he had owned a Rover, Bentley, Bristol, etc., and he maintained that getting him to and from his race meetings (he is a trainer) the Lancia did the journeys quicker and with less effort than any of his previous cars. Further, he had a friend who had a Flaminia. Each drove the other's car and both, he told me, agreed that the Flavia was the better car of the two. He drives like the devil, and I was impressed. I was further impressed when I drove and saw the lines of the coupé. I traded in the 190 for the coupé in March last year and I could not be better pleased. I have never heard of a bad Lancia and this one is a corker. It is on the noisy side, but don't all GT makers let through that extra Bruuuumph to underline that it is GT? I think so.
Its performance matches that of the 190SL; it is as comfortable; it corners better by some 5 m.p.h.; and it pulls better at low revs, and, here is the point, one can load it fully and drive it over any surface at any speed. Last year, through Spain and back through France, the car floated effortlessly over the worst of roads and held a perfect line at 80 m.p.h. or more. Only a 300 Merc, passed us. It isn't that it is faster than my Mercs. but its springing, road-holding, steering and brakes are so perfect that one does in fact drive faster than in the other cars, and of course it takes up very little room on the roads. Its only superior, I would say, for my purpose is the Flavia fitted with the 1800 engine. As our roads get more and more congested, nothing would induce me to own a large car. With its ability to carry touring luggage this small superlative quality car seems to me to stand alone.
What else? Porsche . . . you can only pack a toothbrush; E-type . . . ditto; Alfa 2600, Healey, Rover 2000, M.G. . . . not the quality and less luggage room. Jags generally. . . well, I just don't trust them; my owner friends have had too many "experiences" with them for my peace of mind. As a member of a motoring journal test staff said to me: "Well, you see, they really offer too much for too little money."
I expect that enthusiasts, having read this, will be licking their pens.
Newmarket. Denzil Holder (Lieut. Colonel).
Permanent resident
Posts: 1170

« Reply #1 on: 31 May, 2017, 03:37:27 PM »

An interesting post, I wonder what vehicles he would pick today and would he have similar comments.


1973 Fulvia S2 1.3
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