Book Reviews, April 1990, April 1990

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Riley-RM Series

By James Taylor. MRP, Unit 6, The PiIton Estate, 46 Pitlake, Croydon CR 3RY. 192 pp. £29.95.

The vintage and pvt Rileys have received very complete coverage in book form and now James Taylor has given the same treatment to the RM-Series cars of this respected make. The amount of very detailed data on the Rileys which the Nuffield organisation built just prior to WW2 and which blossomed after the war into the very handsome 1½-litre and 2½-litre RM cars is as impressive as it is valuable to historians and those who own these Rileys, for which a notably active RM Club exists.

As this book goes into how to restore these cars, how they performed in the field of competition, and the nine Appendices include ten pages of identification information and the changes that took place by chassis numbers, as well as colour and trim options, the book is of value to those seeking to buy or who are restoring RM Rileys, as well as to those interested in their history. The historical side is strong too, opening with a resume of what the Riley brothers did from 1948 in the MG factory at Abingdon, to the final 100 mph Pathfinder model that ran until 1956, all with the famous twin high camshafts engines.

Technical specifications and production figures, as expected, are in the Appendices, but they also list prices of the cars when new, performance figures and even the Earls Court exhibits. The text has a chapter on the prototype cars, buying, restoring and maintaining RMs, and on the special bodywork offered, including the Massey van. The 270 pictures support the story well and those who have the earlier Riley books by Doctors Birmingham and Styles and add this Taylor title will indeed have a significant Riley reference library. This RM book rates as one of the best one-make books. WB

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Two more little softback volumes of Rolls-Royce history have been issued respectively by the R-R Heritage Trust and the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation. They are No.12 in the Trust’s Historical Series, Henry Royce – Mechanic by the late Donald Bastow and No. 14 Rolls-Royce Sons of Martha by Alec Harvey-Bailey. The first of these titles is a quite fascinating study of Sir Henry and his family and his cars, as Bastow saw them from close quarters. His 557 page account is followed by a mass of equally absorbing pictures. Royce’s car and aero-engine achievements, his forebears, his houses, the factory at Derby, maps, a family tree, the test-track, many rare technical drawings, even the painting (in colour) which Sir Henry did of his house “Villa Mimosa”, all are there, including a photograph of a 1908 R-R FWD taxi with engine and gearbox across the front of the chassis, which if it had gone into production would have preceded the Issigonis Mini (or at least those copies of it with gearbox extending from a transverse engine!). There is even a picture of the vehicles outside Royce’s West Wittering home in 1933 when drawing office equipment was being moved after his death, showing a Morris Minor CSM Special, a 20 hp Rolls-Royce tourer, the author’s Fiat 509, an Austin 12/6 and the removal van – a sad reminder of the end of an epoch.

There are 155 pages of pictures alone. The foreword is by M O H Evans, Chairman of the Trust. At £6 post free from the R-R Heritage Trust, PO Box 31, Derby, this represents truly remarkable value for money compared to other publishers’ books!

The Sons of Martha is about R-R aviation work, especially during the war, but cars come into it. The foreword is by Eric Barrass and he explains that no No.13 book was issued as R-R never used that number. The story is of 42 years of personal R-R experiences and if you did not read it as serialised in the R-R EC Bulletin I recommend purchase. Again it costs but £6 post free, an enthralling 164 page book, available from the SHRHF, The Hunt House, Paulerspury, Northants. Buy both titles and you should be enthralled for hours.

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The Haynes Sparkford Motor Museum has issued a magazine size catalogue of its 184 exhibits, priced at £1.00, or £1.50 plus p&p. The colour front cover depicts the Museum’s 1917 V12 Haynes Light-12 tourer which was rescued from the jungles of Java. WB

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