Book reviews, April 1989, April 1989

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Armstrong Siddeley — The Post-War Cars
by Robert Pen Bradley. 208pp. 10″ x 8″. (MRP, The PiIton Estate, 46 Pidake, Croydon CRO 3RY. £24.95). published, like the HRG history, under the auspices of the Michael Sedgwick Memorial Trust, this book fills a previous gap in one-make history, because the author’s claim that Armstrong Siddeley has hitherto received “no detailed study in print” is true if Motor Sport’s articles of 1958 are ignored! Even so, only 15 pictorial pages (contributed by Nick Baldwin) are devoted to the pre-war cars, for which it is back to our articles …

Bradley, an Australian without motor trade connections who came to England to do his research, has owned Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Lagonda, Daimler, Jaguar, Jensen and MG cars as well as some forty Armstrong Siddeleys, and regards the latter as the best all-rounders. He has certainly tackled his subject very thoroughly.

Mechanical and body mods are covered, along with chassis numbers and body colours for the various models from the Hurricane onwards (even boot-trims are quoted) and 25 appendices cover specifications, performance figures (three were 100 mph cars), production quantities, special-order colours, special coachwork and pick-ups. One-offs such as Tommy Sopwith’s Sphinx racing-car and Mike Couper’s Monte Carlo Rally Sapphire are included, and the detail brings in such items as the little jet-engine pods added to the Sphinx mascot when the Sapphire was introduced, and how the Dinky Toys model introduced countless children to the Hurricane.

There is advice about running Armstrong Siddeleys, and examples of their longevity, all rendered with some “down-under” flavour but no bias — for instance, the Sapphire’s automatic transmission is remembered as the “Jerkomatic” and the fast 234 and 236 models as “baby Sapphires”, the right cars launched at the wrong moment. The AS Museum here and the AS Clubs are not overlooked, and there is a wealth of good pictures. No-one interested in this typically British make can afford not to read Bradley’s book, and as an admirer of the Sapphires and Star Sapphires I am glad it has appeared. Very complete; recommended. WB