Book Reviews, April 1966, April 1966

The German Grand Prix,” by Cyril Posthumus. 143 pp., 7/2 1 in. 6 1 in. (Temple Press Books, Bowling Green Lane, London, EC 1. 21s.).

This is the third in Temple Press’ “Classic Motor Races” series, and extremely welcome. It covers the German G.P. of 1926 to 1965 inclusive, with results, and starting grids for later races, contains many enthralling pictures, some of them rather small, and covers the two circuits, Avus and the Nurburgring, where these races were held, in considerable historical detail, with maps. The preface is by Alfred Neubauer and this concentrated little one-race-history concludes, in uniformity with the previous books on Monaco and Le Mans, with tables of all the drivers who competed, from Adolf to Zigrand and all the cars, from AFM to the Z, with their race records. We await with impatience further fill-ups in history through this useful series.—W. B.

From Horse to Horsepower,” by S.A. Cheney. 296 pp., 8 3/4 x 5 1/2 in. (Rigby Ltd., 22, James Place, Adelaide. Australia. A45s.).

This book, published last year, was sent to us by a reader, not as a review copy. It is an extremely interesting account of how the author sold cars in Australia, starting with 5-h.p. Oldsmobiles, to the General Motors/Holden merger of 1931. This easy-to-read, well-told tale, if interspersed with fairly stereotyped history of the makes involved, includes many new facts, such as how easily the 5-h.p. Oldsmobile shed its chain and mudguards, the 7-h.p. model being improved in this respect, how successfully the Argyll sold in Australia, the excellence of the first Dodge Brothers’ cars, and the serious short-comings of the 1921 model-490 Chevrolet, which cracked its cylinder head and broke its road springs all too frequently, and were so bad that the Melbourne agent gave up the agency in disgust. But Cheney entered two 490s and the far better FM. Chevrolet in M.T.A. 1,000-mile Trial and overcame public prejudice until a better model arrived, selling Chevrolets from Flinders Street, Victoria. the former De Dion agency.

There is an enthralling account of how would-be agents for the new Dodge travelled from all over the world in 1914 to the factory to try and secure the franchise in a car they had never seen, of how for a while Dodge feared the little-known Leaver with Continental Six engine, and of selling model-T Fords to Australian farmers before the First World War. Cheney came to England in 1926, where he drove “a 20-h.p. 4-cylinder Hillman”[puzzling, as only the Hillman 14, rated at 12.8 h.p., was in production—ED.), met Morris, got him out to Australia to investigate personally failures of frames, front axles and stub axles of Morris trucks on Australian roads in 1928 (Cheney obviously thought far better of Austin than Morris products), and bent back-axle casings and seized pistons in Morris car engines. Some confidence was restored with the advent of the model-R Morris truck. This story is said never to have been told previously and does not appear in “The Bullnose Morris” book.

Other fascinating aspects of this book are how Cheney started Holden on building bodies for imported Dodge Brothers’ chassis during the First World War, of his exciting flights in a Shell Co’s. D.H. Rapide and an ancient Fokker on a mercy errand, and his eventual association with General Motors when he took on the Vauxhall and Bedford agency. The pictures are few but adequate, although a flat-radiator Morris-Cowley is captioned as 1924, whereas it is 1928 or later, and a few minor errors occur in the text. But it is a very intriguing book, revealing some interesting figures for Australian sales in the vintage years.—W.B.

Profile Publications Ltd., having achieved phenomenal sales with their 2s. aeroplane profiles, have commenced a car series. The idea is to issue four per month, those for March being “The 1908 & 1914 G.P. Mercedes,” by A. Bird, “The Rolls-Royce Phantom I,” by G.A. Oliver, “The V12 Hispano-Suiza,” by W. Boddy, and “The Jaguar XK-series,” by John Appleton. By employing well-known authors, these 13-page 9 1/4 in. x 6 7/8 in. leaflets gain authority and they are well-illustrated by artists such as Leach, Wright, Davies and Murray, the layout embracing two rages of colour pictures; badges, specification tables and many photographs, while power curves, technical drawings, etc., are included where possible. Future titles will cover 38 and 40-h.p. Lanchesters, J. & S.J. Duesenberg, 3 1/4 and 4 1/2-litre Bentleys, Vanwall, Auburn s/c. 8, Type 35 Bugatti, Alvis Speed 20 and 25. Tipo 625 and 555 Ferrari, Model-T Ford, 22/90 Alfa Romeo, K3 M.G. Magnette, Jowett Javelin and Jupiter, 40/50 Napier, 1-litre G.P. Delage, S-type Invicta, 1914 G.P. Vauxhall, Speed Six Bentley, Tipo 508 Fiat, Ford Mustang, Double Six Daimler, G.N., H.R.G., and Napier-Railton cars. Each leaflet costs 2s, or 2s. 6d., post free, the subscription for 24 Profiles being £2 12s. 6d., and a p.v.c. binder costs 15s. The publishers address is: P.O. Box 26, 1a, North Street, Leatherhead, Surrey.

The things they say . . .

“The police are forbidden to use lie-detecting machines, even on a deeply suspected murderer, and judges frown at tape-recorder evidence and even at the impartiality of recorded hearings of court proceedings. Isn’t it quite fantastic, therefore, that millions of citizens. suspected of nothing at all, should be degraded and forced, at the whim of a traffic patrol, to submit to an appliance so demonstrably inaccurate that a few chocolate liqueurs munched shortly before the test have been known to produce a positive reading? Without a doubt, Mrs. Castle’s Bill is the most iniquitous piece of legislation ever laid before the House of Commons.” —Robert Glenton writing in The Sunday Express about breathalysers.

“He runs a big Mercedes and drives it in heavy traffic as though it were a Mini. Other motorists, scrambling for the footbrake, catch a sign in his rear window : “The Safest Car in the World ‘.”—Peter Dunn profiling David Frost in The Sunday Times Magazine of March 6th.

“No, you can hardly call it one of our sizzling successes …. “— Harry Webster, Engineering Director of Standard-Triumph International, discussing the Triumph Vitesse in the course of an interview about the incredibly successful and much-publicised Triumph 1360.

“Do we want any more legislation, barring the shifting of taxation ? Personally I do not think that we do; better it is to bear the ills we have than to seek those we know not of, easier it is to be chastised with worn-out whips than with freshly-hatched scorpions, while everybody knows how much more popular was King Log than King Stork, We are all honourable men (Brutus was an honourable man); laws were made for evil-doers, and new ones might easily put us all into this latter case. There are lots of statutes in abeyance; let us then carry on, and by our honourable conduct relegate all the irksome bonds of the existing Motor Car Act to limbo.”—Owen John in his “On the Road” feature in The Autocar sounds a topical note but—wait for it—this was published on November 30th, 1923.

Cars in books

Still this series goes on! This time it comes from a book about antiques, “Antiques In Your Home,” by G.R. Thomas -(Arthur Barker, 1957). The author, describing a terrible journey with a dealer in search of antiques in a horrible little van on an Austin chassis, remarks, by way of contrast, “We ourselves now have a Daimler (in case anyone thinks we have ideas above our station, I should explain that it is a very old one and didn’t cost nearly as much as a small car of post-war vintage. It is sumptuously comfortable and ideal for long trips when comfort and smooth running are important.”

Later the author discusses his old household possessions with obvious satisfaction—his 30-year-old lawn-mower, bought for £15, his wife’s treadle sewing-machine dating back to some time in the 1890s, one of the oldest vacuum-cleaners extant. . . . Then he comes to his car, a 1936 Daimler: “I would not change my old car even if I could afford to buy a new one. It has a Mulliner body which has been well cared for and the leather, the carpeting, the polished walnut and expensive chromium are in as good condition today as when they were put in. I am no speed fiend and I do not care a jot that modern streamlined jobs flash past me doing 80 m.p.h. so long as I can maintain a steady 40, uphill and down, at no effort at all and with an almost inaudible engine. In tight spots I am comforted by the thought that any car banging into mine is likely to come off second-best. The metal in mine is of vastly different quality. Its solid steel bumpers would repel any impact that buckled theirs like a tin tray.”—W.B.