Book reviews, August 1958, August 1958

“The Trailblazers,” by T. R. Nicholson. 178 pp., 8 9/14 x 5 3/8. (Cassell & Co. Ltd., 35, Red Lion Square, London, W.C.1. 21s.)

Tim Nicholson has followed up his book on the great Pekin—Paris and New York—Paris cross-country races with a scholarly account of eleven marathon motor journeys, commencing with Dr. Lebowess’ attempt to encircle the globe in 1902 in a vast Panhard-Lavassor and concluding with the Cape-to-Cairo attempt by Capt. Kelsey, with an Argyll, in 1913/14. Mr. Nicholson also covers other great pioneering travels by motor car, such as the world tours of Charles Glidden, the conquest of the Andes in 1914 and the first employment of a motor car in Antarctica by Shackleton in 1908/9.

Some years ago Alan Hess wrote of such journeys in a book to offset his own long-distance runs in Austin cars. But Nicholson’s is by far the more painstaking and comprehensive work, enriched by 20 pages of half-tone illustrations and 8 pages of maps.

Motoring historians in many lands should require “The Trailblazers,” though it is unlikely to earn as much for the Inland Revenue collectors as, for instance, Alf Francis’s “Racing Mechanic.” Incidentally, it is fitting for a motoring historian to drive a vintage car and this the author does, owning a 1927 Humber 9/20 saloon.—W. B.

“Aircraft of the Royal Air Force-1918/58,” by Owen Thetford. 533 pp. 8 3/4 x 5 1/2. (Putnam and Co., Ltd., 42, Gt. Russell Street, London Er.C.1. SW.)

Following our review last month of Putnam’s magnificent contribution to aeronautical history in the form of “British Aeroplanes 1914-1918,” by J. M. Bruce, comes another absolutely splendid book “Aircraft of the Royal Air Force-1918/58,” by Owen Thetford.

In this lavish work, printed and illustrated in the highest quality all the R.A.F. aeroplanes from the earlier post-war reorganisation to the fantastic jet machines of today are described in detail, with photographs, 3-view scale drawings and tabulated data relating to manufacturers, engines, dimensions, weights, performance and Squadron allocations, etc.

Every library and aircraft firm should possess a copy of this fascinating, beautifully presented work of reference, and those who love the between-wars period when fast cars were complementary to Siskin, Bulldog and Grebe fighters will spend many happy hours delving into the astonishing wealth of information so ably and painstakingly collected together by Mr. Thetford.

References to past R.A.F. Pageants at Hendon are nostalgic, and regarded as a serious work of reference, long overdue, this book is quite indispensable. It is sensibly indexed, aeroplanes being grouped chronologically under makes, and thus in over 500 absorbing pages you can go the whole gambit, from Airspeed Oxford to Westland-Sikorsky Whirlwind helicopter.

1914/18 aeroplanes used in the post-war period have their place in this book, so that the student re-makes acquaintance with Avro 504, Sopwith Snipe, F.E., B.E. and ether favourites. There is even a comprehensive photographic appendix of aeroplanes subsidiary to the main R.A.F. types from 1918/58, another appendix quoting civil aircraft “impressed” for military service during 1939/45, while the author’s concise Introductory Note on the R.A.F. and its Aircraft is alone worth much of the cost of this extremely welcome addition to aeronautical knowledge.

Even now the subject is not exhausted. We understand that Thetford has in preparation a book on “British Naval Aircraft-1912/58” and “Allied and Enemy Aircraft-1914/18” and that Putnam intend to publish two volumes by A. J. Jackson on “British Civil Aircraft – 1919/59.” We await them eagerly.—W.B.

“Motor Cycling Road Tests—Fifth Series.” 59 pp., 10 11/16″ x 8 1/12″. Soft covers. (Temple Press Ltd., Bowling Green Lone, London. E.C.1. 5s.)

Those who like to keep in touch with motor cycling matters will be glad to avail themselves of these road-test reprints from Motor Cycling. They cover a whole range of modern machines comprehensively, from 105 m.p.h., 498 c.c. Triumph “Tiger 100” to 52 m.p.h. 147 c.c, James “Cadet” and 148 c.c. Royal Enfield “Ensign II.”

It is interesting to discover that the most economical machine of those tested is the aforesaid Royal Enfield, which returned 140 m.p.g. at 30 m.p.h. Many of the lightweights put minims to shame, comparatively, in respect of petrol economy.

“The Modern Car Easy Guide Series—6: Automatic Transmission.” 52 pp. Soft covers. (Temple Press Ltd., Bowling Green Lane. London, E.C.1. 2s. 6d.)

This is a very useful guide to the complex matter of automatic transmissions. It covers the basic principles of automation in gear changing and, in detail, the Austin, Armstrong-Siddeley, Bentley, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Citroen, Daimler, General Motors, Renault, Rolls-Royce, Rover and Studebaker applications, together with proprietary systems. There are many diagrams, rendering this a half dollar well spent.—W. B.

“On The Line,” by Harvey Swedes. 213 pp., 7 1/2″ x 5″. (Peter Davies Ltd., 38 Bedford Square, London, W.C.1. 13s. 6d.)

This is fiction, and concerns the reaction of various different characters to working on the assembly lines in an American automobile factory. It is a book of considerable literary merit but not one to read as a cure for a fit of depression.—W. B.

Accident statistics and hints and tips on safe driving are contained in “It Couldn’t Happen to Me!”, published by Unilever Limited, primarily for their driving staff, who number over 3,000. Of course, it doesn’t apply to you but you might like a copy to pass on to your wife or a friend. The crash pictures will delight ghoulish journalists like R. Glenton and K. Purdy. If you want a copy drop a note to J. E. C. Humber. Press Office, Unilever House, Blackfriars, London, E.C.4, mentioning this reference in MOTOR SPORT.

The Roads Campaign Council continues to campaign for propel roads for Britain—very laudable, although if all roads were ruler-straight motorways should we enjoy our motoring as much as we do now? One of the latest R.C.C. publications, “New Roads for Old,” has a colour cover, contains many fascinating photographic reproductions of traffic congestion in various parts of the country, together with lots of appropriate statistics and summaries of papers to be read at the Conference on “The Highway Needs of Gt. Britain” organised by the Institution of Civil Engineers. You can get a copy by writing to the R.C.C., 15, Dartmouth Street, Westminster, London, S.W.1.

A car thermometer

It is pleasant to discover an accessory which is both useful and well-finished and which sells for a modest price. Such an accessory is the Sundo car thermometer which The Pool Clock Company, 30, City Road. London, E.C.1. Clearly calibrated from —20° to 110°F, this dial-type thermometer has a suction cup for attaching to the windscreen. It is imported from the Western Zone in Germany and retails for 12s. 6d.

A supercharged star


I was interested to see a reference to a supercharged Star. I can only imagine that it is the one built by M. A. McEvoy Ltd., at Derby with a Jensen body and a type 5 Zoller supercharger mounted between the dumb irons and directly driven from the front end of the crankshaft.

I enclose a photograph [see below, ED.] of this car. It was built for a local resident in Derbyshire and was a most delightful sports car in every way with a wonderful performance and great smoothness and flexibility as well as good handling characteristics.

It was a six-cylinder, with push-rod-operated overhead valves and a capacity, to the best of my recollection, of approximately 2,400 c.c. The date must have been about 1932.

I am, Yours etc.
lver, Bucks. M. A. McEvoy
[From a photograph it is evident that the supercharged Star referred to last month is a far earlier car than the interesting vehicle to which Col. McEvoy refers.—ED.]