Book Reviews, April 1956, April 1956



A Racing History of the Bentley,” by DarelI Berthon. 144 pp., 9½ in. by 7½ in. (The Bodley Head, 26, Little Russell Street, London, W.C.1. 30s.)

This long-awaited book from the pen of the genial secretary of the Bentley D.C. contains a racing history of the famous marque from 1921 to 1931. It is concerned mainly with major races, so that minor appearances of the Bentley at Brooklands and in sprint events are ignored. The race accounts appear to have been taken from contemporary reports, and certainly that about the 1922 I.O.M. Tourist Trophy race is a bit tedious because so much of it was quoted verbatim from the appropriate issue of the Autocar in that other excellent book about the Bentley by A. C. Hillstead. Berthon does not confine himself only to how Bentleys fared, putting in material about other makes where this is pertinent to the story of how a race unfolded. But if his accounts in the body of the book seem to lack intimate details one would like to have, he makes up for this by including at the end of the book an invaluable table of Bentley history in all the major races in which they ran, complete not only to whether they finished, stating the reason for retirement or the placings gained, but quoting engine, chassis, racing and registration numbers of the cars concerned — a unique record. There are only minor omissions in this tabular record of races from 1921 to 1932 (Scott’s car in the 1928 Essex M.C. Six Hour race, according to “The Story of Brooklands,” went out misfiring, and Birkin’s single-seater retired from the 1931 500-Mile Race, according to the same source, with valve trouble).

The Brooklands Bentleys are covered in a series of appendices, in which are described the first Brooklands two-seater 9-ft.-wheelbase car, the blower single-seater, the Barnato-Hassan, the Marker-Bentley-Jackson and the Pacey-Hassan, and here some new facts emerge. Each of these great cars, however, is dealt with rather summarily, so that no reference is made, for instance, to Margaret Allen driving the Marker 6½-litre or to all the detail modifications made to the Birkin lap-record car. No doubt the lap speeds quoted came from the pages of “The Story of Brooklands,” although no acknowledgment is made.

So far as production is concerned, this is truly first class, and although the majority of the historic photographs used have been published before, so beautifully have they been reproduced on the high-quality art paper that it is delightful to have them all together in one volume, added to which the four photographs of the first Bentley engine — not actually a racing engine — and some of the others appear, we believe, for the first time. All the more of a shame, therefore, that Segrave’s name is mis-spelt throughout the book (but then he only drove Sunbeams!) and Birkin’s is misprinted in one caption.

“A Racing History of the Bentley” contains a full list of World International and British class records held by the marque, and some maps of circuits over which these great green monsters raced. Certain it is that B.D.C. members will willingly fork-out thirty bob for Darell Berthon’s history book, which we wish could have been carried on to cover the exploits of the later Rolls-Royce-built Bentleys raced in the T.T. by Eddie Hall and by others at Le Mans, etc. — W.B.


Das Grosse Rennen,” by Ernst Roseman and Carlo Demand. 136 pp., 7¼ in. by 10½ in. (Nest Verlag, Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. 6.80 dm.)

This landscape publication contains a remarkable studio of 128 large drawings depicting motor-racing scenes from the Paris-Rouen race of 1894 to the victory of Stirling Moss (Mercedes-Benz) in the British Grand Prix at Aintree last year. Some of these drawings are too lurid, but others depict historic racing scenes in an original and fascinating manner. As each picture is described in detail in an appendix and as the first half of the book carries much historical anecdote, students of German will learn much from its pages.


Automobile Design,” by R. H. Gurr. 95 pp., 8¼ in. by 11 in. (Post Publications, Arcadia 10, California. 3 dollars.)

This is a very comprehensive guide to drawing cars, from both the artistic and the design and styling sense. It contains at large number of exceedingly striking illustrations and goes into considerable detail. For instance, the correct materials for use in the studio are discussed and there is a chapter on the language of the studio. The book is more of a study in car design and styling and how to present this than a guide to amateur sketching, but it will be all the more appreciated by those who like to draw and doodle.


Glass Fibre,” by John A. Wills, S.P.I. 94 pp., 10¾ in. by 8½ in. (Post Publications, Arcadia 10, California. 3 dollars.)

This is a comprehensive guide to glass-fibre automobile body construction. It deals not only with special bodies for one-off vehicles but with such commercial adaptations as the Corvette, Cadillac Le Mans and Edwards — we learn, for instance, that the first few Chevrolet Corvette units were made entirely by hand lay-up methods, followed by vacuum-bag moulding, before matched die-tools replaced other methods.

This book should interest those in this country who are avidly desirous of obtaining “the lot” on the subject of glass-fibre construction, but naturally the lists of U.S. supplies, etc., will be of little value to them.


Mind Over Motors,” by W. H. Charnock. 116 pp., 8½ in. by 5½ in. (G. T. Foulis and Co., Ltd., 7, Milford Lane, Strand, London, W.2. 15s.)

From motoring verse, W. H. Charnock has broken out into motoring prose. There is much in “Mind Over Motors” of which we do not approve, such as an overstating of the obvious, calling cars by pet names — ” Rumbold,” “Jonah,” “Behemoth” — instead of by makes and using these names as chapter headings, a tendency to verbosity of description. The book sets out to capture the atmosphere of motoring as experienced in the past thirty years by avid enthusiasts, and the author has left practically no experience or sensation to the imagination. It is all there, the humorous, the pathetic, the courageous, the satisfying, in this strange world of real motor cars and their users.

He devotes one chapter to the cars he has owned, based on the “Cars I Have Owned” article he wrote for Motor Sport in 1953, from which he admits the idea for the book mainly springs. There is a fascinating chapter on “Bicycles I Have Disowned” (meaning motor-cycles, of course) and other chapters on various facets of the cult, some of which are enlargements of humorous pieces written by the author for club journals.

This is yet another title to issue from the sausage-machine which is busy churning out new books about motoring. It is not a particularly important contribution to this subject matter, for it contributes little to motoring history, and 15s. is quite a price to pay for letting the author describe to you most of what you have experienced yourself, together with an account of his personal vicissitudes and adventures with a not particularly outstanding collection of aged cars, illustrated by photographs of which previously our readers will have seen several.

Yet the book is entertaining, undeniably entertaining, and very easy to read. So if you have the spare lolly, you may as well add it to your list.


For a long time the 750 M.C. Bulletin has contained very useful articles on the conversion of Austin Seven and Ford Ten chassis and engines for competition work. Many of these articles, of which the best are by Colin Chapman and Jack French, have been reproduced in duplicated book-form by the club, the resulting publication being beyond price to amateur “specials” builders. In fact, it is obtainable, while supplies last, for 6s. 6d., from the Secretary of the club, on mentioning Motor Sport.


Temple Press Ltd., Bowling Green Lane, E.C.4, have issued their fifth little volume in “The Modern Car Easy Guide Series,” dealing with carburetters and the fuel system. It contains clearly illustrated descriptions of such modern carburetters as Zenith, Solex, Zenith-Stromberg, S.U., and Weber, as well as a simple explanation of how and why a carburetter functions and of all the auxiliaries connected with the fuel system, including A.C. mechanical and S.U. electric fuel pumps, S.U. Petrolift, the Autovac, etc. It is, in fact, excellent value at 2s.


Brighter Prospects for Inexpensive Racing

The 250 M.R.C. are this year holding six of their own meetings, three at Brands Hatch and three sprints at Stapleford Aerodrome, near Abridge, Essex.

Brands Hatch … April 15th, Juno 17th and October 28th.

Stapleford … May 20th, July 22nd and September 16th.

There may also be a November meeting at Brands Hatch.

This year the 250 M.R.C. is hoping to double its membership and those interested are asked to contact Mr. I. A. Betteridge, 19, Beverley Court, Wellesley Road. Chiswick, W.4, or are invited to any of our meetings which are held on the last Friday of every month at the “Hollywood Arms,” 45, Hollywood Road, S.W.10.