Book Reviews, August 1948, August 1948

Post War Studebaker Cars by Floyd Clymer (Floyd Clymer, Los Angeles, $1.50).

You just can’t stop Clymer! Following on his book about Kaiser and Frazer cars comes one on the modern Studebakers  —  those cars that, to us, appear to be going in both directions at once. Clymer has adopted the same  tactics, purchasing a 1947 Studebaker Champion privately, running it in for 5,827 miles, then testing it over 3,000 miles including averaging 62.4 m.p.h. for the 491 miles between Cheyenne and Utah.  He again dictated much of the book on his Soundscriber and took over 100 photographs, using a Clarus camera. He also polled 5,000 owners of Champion, Commander and Land Cruiser Studebakers, tabulating over 3,000 opinions and reproducing 250 letters.

Clymer is quite critical in parts, particularly in respect of Studebaker’s transverse leaf spring and wishbone i.f.s., and the book seems to be quite unbiased.  A  one-million circulation is claimed. Clymer certainly offers a very complete impression of the cars he writes-up and another book, on the Mercury, will follow. One can have too much of anything, of course, however good or, at first, original; but it might be excellent publicity for a British manufacturer if he were to invite Clymerisation of one of his products, either by Clymer trying the Britisher in the States, or by a similarly minded writer testing a car in this country.  We commend the idea as a possible means of increasing the kudos of British export motor-cars.


Mercedes  —  Pioneer Of An Industry  by A. E. Ulmann, M.S.B.S. (Carroll Press, New York).

In this album-size, very fully illustrated book, Alexander Ulmann traces the history of Mercedes, from the building by Daimler of his first gas-engine, up to 1914. It is both an absorbing and a valuable history, attractively presented. The early part of the book inevitably repeats much of the material found in St. John Nixon’s ” Daimler  —  1896-1946,”  but the later chapters are most interesting. The story of how Mercedes won the 1903 Gordon Bennett race with a loaned 60-h.p. touring car after their special 90-h.p. racers had been destroyed by fire is, of course, well known, and we have seen before certain of the illustrations in this book, for example, those of the “Sixty”  Mercedes engine. But Ulmann has much new information to impart about the victorious 1908 G.P. Mercedes and the more illustrious production models of the 1907-14 era.  He deals effectively with early Mercedes aviation engines and with the showing of the marque in American races, and he tells the full story behind the seizure, by Rolls-Royce, of the engine of one of the classic 1914 G.P. Mercedes cars on the outbreak of the Kaiser War. He also debunks a popular legend relating to how the Liberty aero engine was designed and draws some significant comparisons between these. engines and contemporary Mercedes aero-engine designs. The concluding chapter mentions the six-cylinder “28/95” Targa Florio racing Mercedes, and hints that the author may delve into volume II and take this history to modern times. One sincerely hopes he will do so, for the Motor Industry is sadly lacking in reliable historians and, quite apart from this sentiment, a history of Mercedes is so very intriguing to motoring sportsmen the world over. Possibly if Mr. Ulmann does write a second volume the first can be incorporated with it when one would hope for rather better reproduction of the many illustrations, particularly as the fine half and whole-page photographs of the 1914 G.P. and other cars certainly justify this wish.