"Automobile Year-1976-77"

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edited by Douglas Armstrong. 236 pp. 12 1/2 in x 9 1/2 in. (Patrick Stephens Ltd., Bar Hill,Cambridge, CB3 8EL. £16.50.)

Among an increasing number of annuals that give detailed coverage of the previous season’s motoring sport, the well-established Edita of Lausanne’s “Automobile Year” stands out for its lavish production and beautiful pictures. 84 in colour and 421 in black and white in the present volume, which is case-hound in Skivertex with a full-colour laminated jacket. And also because it contains more than just results of the 1976 Drivers World Championship, World Rally Championship, World Championship of Makes; the World Sports-Car Championship, Le Mans, Indianapolis. and the various European Championships. There is a review of the Automobile Industry in 1976, from the production, technical and novelty aspects, with an article on styling and brief tests, with many pictures, of exciting new cars. I am sorry, however, to note that this great annual has succumbed to auction-sale mania, so far as the older automobiles are concerned, instead of reviewing the veteran and vintage scene of last year.

Racing is well covered, with a leading piece about the Lancia-Ferraris, Peter Windsor on racing-car designers of today, Alan Henry looking back at the turbulent 1976 season, etc. “Automobile Year” is mainly important for its line illustrations, of racing and other cars. These are fully up to previous standards. And are enhanced by high-class colour advertising by Mercedes-Benz, Renault (especially Lila, Facom, Fiat, Goodyear; Marlboro, Cibie, Bendix-Lockheed, Martini, Lucas, Klaxon, Champion and Benelli Presses, with Ligier on the dust-jacket. A lavish presentation, with race results tabulated in the end-papers. –W.B.

To commemorate the long run of the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb, first organised by the Midland Automobile Club in 1905, which makes this continuing event the oldest motoring speed event in the World, its sponsors claim, run over the same course—which knocks out the TT. which also originated in 1905.. This is a remarkable record, making Shelsley Walsh, where we still enjoy stirring ascents by modern and vintage machinery, older even than Brooklands, which is, alas, defunct anyway. It does seem astonishing that the farm road which the MAC found and adapted 72 long years ago is still in use, in much the original form, a 1,000-yard climb from 1907 (in 1913 The Autocar gave it as 1,133 yards long), today, with many of the old landmarks still standing. The record has fallen from 77.6 sec. to 27.39 sec., during these exciting years. To mark all this activity the MAC has published an absolutely splendid little book, edited as a labour of love by Harold Hastings, about Shelsley. It has maps, and photographs aplenty, to recall the changing scene and the great days, at this essentially British institution. This hard-cover 112-page (8 1/2 in.x 6 in.) book contains a full history of the climbs from 1905 to last year, recalled by C.A.N. May. More, it includes the most fascinating. reminiscences by the late son of Leslie Wilson, the never-to-be-forgotten Secretary for so many of those hot and dusty, wet and muddy SheIsley’s by other personalities associated. with this famous hill, and there are biographies of some of the celebrated Shelsley Specials reprinted from that late lamented weekly, The Light Car, descriptions of what it is like to drive up the course at record speeds by Raymond Mays, Michael MacDowel and Ray Lane, the motorcycle history of Shelsley, an account by Hastings of how the place was discovered and by G.B. Flewitt on how it is made suitable and safe for the climbs, and much more history besides not forgetting comments on the public address systems used (originally hand-bells rung by the Police!) and of Eric Findon broadcasting from “Vox Villa” for 2L0–which I used to listen to in London when I was unable to get to Worcestershire. The book concludes with a list of all the fastest times, including those of the motorcycles. All historians and those who enjoy or have enjoyed Shelsley Walsh will want this excellent coverage—available from the Midland AC, The Old Town Hall, 31, St. Andrews Street, Droitwich, Worcs., for £3.95, or £4.25 if sent through the post. Its sales will help club funds and the 80 or more photographs are alone worth the money.—W.B.