(By ‘Mirror Reporter”)
Ministry acts after ‘Le Mans test’
The Ministry of Transport ordered an inquiry last night into the use of the M1 motorway as a test track for high-speed sports cars.
This move came after it was revealed that one car clocked 183mph on the M1 in a try-out for the 24-hour road race at Le mans next week-end.
Police patrols on the motorway have been ordered to keep a lookout for the cars, which are capable of speeds around the 190mph mark.
Superintendent E.S. Turton, chief of the traffic department of Bedfordshire police said:
“If we find cars travelling at that speed with other traffic about, they will be reported with a view to prosecution for driving at a dangerous speed”
A police spokesman said last night that special checks -possibly with radar- would be made on the speed of such cars.
He added that although there is no speed limit on the M1, speeds of around 180mph could be dangerous.
A Hertfordshire police spokesman said: “If a lorry pulled out to overtake and a car came up at this speed, there could be a damn great smash.”
One of Britain’s top sports car bosses said last night: “A number of companies have been using the M1 for high-speed tests for about two years.”
The car that clocked 183mph is an A.C.Cobra, which is powered by a 4,261cc American Ford V8 engine. It sped along the motorway at dawn.
Mr. Charles Hurlock, joint managing director of A.C. Cars of Thames Ditton, Surrey, said last night: “I am unhappy about having to use a public road like this for such tests but British racetracks can’t cope with sustained runs over 160mph.
We had only one run- and we checked to see that the motorway was clear.”
A Royal Automobile Club spokesman said that in an emergency a car travelling at 180mph would need 665yards to stop under perfect conditions. In wet weather, it would need about half a mile.
(Originally published on Monday June 15, 1964. Price:3d, but you can have it for free)
Photograph taken by me, but obviously, copyright for the original article belongs to Daily Mirror.
So, why have I published this? Well, that’s all to do with my Grandfather’s involvement with Goodyear tyres in Wolverhampton, when he was attached to the Shelby Cobra Le Mans racing team at the time, but that’s another story…
I just thought I’d put this out there, simply to add a little historical context to the current discussions around raising the UK motorway speed limit to 80mph… it was this series of tests that caused the UK to bring in speed limits on motorways, and the fact that my Grandfather was in some way involved makes me feel somewhat proud, in a very weird way. I guess he felt the same sort of way- that’s probably why he kept the original newspaper (pictured).