Book Reviews, August 1959, August 1959

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“What Has Four Wheels And Flies?” by Douglass Wallop (Peter Davies, 38, Bedford Square, London, W.C.1. 13s. 6d.).

This novel, about a driving school at which dogs teach themselves how to drive cars, in order to prevent the motor industry of America reaching saturation point, an ideal with which all who have seen motor cars pouring from modern assembly lines must surely agree, is not only delightfully funny but a splendid skit on today’s motorist. He should benefit from some of the sly digs which Wallop wallops at him and at least one big manufacturer in this country should cringe a bit when Hobbs, the bulldog who originates and controls this dogs’ driving school, hangs the names of famous makes of cars on each of his dog-pupils’ vehicles, which, of course, are all extremely similar, if not exactly alike! The author wrote, amongst other books,”The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant”, from which came the Broadway musical comedy “Damn Yankees”. He certainly has no flies on him where motoring is concerned, nor, apparently, has his dog Harry, seen on the dust jacket about to drive away in a roadster. — W.B.

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“Souping the Volkswagen,” by Dick Morgan. 110 pp., soft covers, 8½ in. by 5½ in. (Floyd Clymer Publications, 1268, S. Alvarado Street, Los Angeles, 6, Calif. 3 dollars.)

One is often asked what is available for increasing the performance of the Volkswagen and this Floyd Clymer book provides some answers. After a preliminary skirmish to put in the picture those who are not conversant with how the petrol engine delivers its power, the author gets down, in a breezy, easy-to-read style, to how to obtain more power from the VW engine.

Such aids to power as Dietz dual carburetters, Express dual carburetters, Okrasa heads, ditto using Jaguar XK exhaust valves as inlet valves, Iskenderian, Harman-Collins and Weber camshafts, stronger valve springs, special silencers, etc., are covered, and Judson supercharging is mentioned.

The author takes heart in the VW’s ability to stand hotting-up from the fact that Dr. Porsche developed it into the Porsche Super engine which develops 70 b.h.p., “using the VW crankcase with only slight modifications.” It is significant that he quotes a method of realising 60 b.h.p. from a VW engine of stock bore and stroke, using an Okrasa kit, 8.5-to-1 c.r and an Iskenderian J2 camshaft, equal to a 67 per cent. power increase at a cost of 330 dollars. But 7.5-to-1 c.r. is considered sufficiently high if normal, not premium, fuel is to be used. In these tuning considerations 5,000 r.p.m. is spoken of frequently, and the ultimate is 90 b.h.p. from a 1,500-c.c. version of VW! [And to think that I regard mine as a modern equivalent of the model-T Ford! — Ed.]

To show that such tuning isn’t idle musing the case is quoted of a VW in America which, in a speed trial, beat fourteen TR Triumphs, six Morgan Plus Fours, eleven Austin-Healeys and sixteen M.G.s, etc., etc., using Okrasa heads, a stroke 5 mm. shorter than standard, Isky J2 cam, Kombi clutch, peened rods and crank, front anti-roll bar, decambered rear suspension, and Englebert Competition P tyres on the front, Michelin “X” tyres on the back wheels. For the less ambitious this little book deals also with servicing and other items applicable to unsouped VWs. — W. B.

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Cars in Books

Jessamyne West, in “To See The Dream” (Hodder & Stoughton, 1958), in which she tells how the motion-picture “The Friendly Persuasion” was made, reveals that her car was a rather sad Dodge convertible with a leaking hood. She felt it compared badly with the Cadillacs and Jaguars on Wiltshire Boulevard. She also sees Austin “Healys” and Lincolns while a friend’s car “started life as a Chevrolet,” and farmers are described as having forsaken rocking-chairs for Hupmobile. Graham-Paige or Overland. On the subject of the female form, Miss West describes the big breast as in the same category as a 1902 Reo, because, since the advent of the infant formula and the baby bottle, this has become a kind of antique and “a man enjoys owning one or two and displaying them, as he does a piece of Paul Revere silver or an antique car.” In this book, too, we meet the owner of a white Cadillac Eldorado convertible who buys a dollar’s worth of gas at a time “to cut down expenses.”

Finally, Jessamyne replaces her Dodge with a new car — ” It has power steering, and this cheats me of the feel of the road in my arms as I drive. I drive for exercise as well as transportation, and driving now has become a carrot-peeling job, no exercise beyond the second joint of the fingers. Steering is now a job for the eyes and what the eye sees — other cars eye-steered — is no treat.” Gary Cooper calls her new car “very Hollywood!”, to which she retorts ” Hollywood!  And you with a Mercedes!”

Miniatures News

This time there is news of a very imposing Dinky Supertoy by Meccano, No. 986, of a Thornycroft Mighty Antar tractor drawing a low-loader trailer which is transporting a ship’s propeller, reminder of the huge loads that impede traffic on Britain’s roads. This fascinating model, the four-bladed propeller overlapping its trailer, just calls for a Dinky police-car escort! In fact, this twelve-wheeled outfit is over 11½ in. long and 3½ in. wide. The trailer is properly articulated, the massive rear road springs and radiator grille are faithfully reproduced on the tractor and the load is detachable. This fine model costs 14s. 11d. and is an asset to any model roadway, whatever motorists think of such transporters in real life! For use with 00 and HO gauge model railways Meccano have introduced a small Bedford articulated flat truck (just the job for accommodating pins on the Editorial desk — paper clips continue to be carried in Dinky Bedford tipper lorries and in a Corgi FC-150 forward-control Jeep). This is No. 072 in the Dublo Dinky Toy series and costs 2s. 6d.

Lesney have not been idle, their latest contribution to the realm of motoring in miniature being a tiny Commer 30-cwt. Nestle’s van, with sliding driver’s door, and an equally bijou Thames Estate car, respectively Nos. 69 and 70 in the Moko Lesney “Matchbox” series. No doubt many transport drivers buy replicas of the vehicles they drive, for themselves or their children, and the selection provided by Dinky, Corgi and Lesney is very wide.

And, adding to the farm vehicles, Lesney now have a colourful Massey-Ferguson “780 Special” combine harvester, No. 5 in their Major Pack series.

Playcraft Toys, too, have been industrious, their latest model being a Corgi replica of the Plymouth Suburban station wagon which, 41/8  in. in length, faithfully reproduces the external features of the full-size Plymouth but — and here is an important innovation — is equipped internally with seats, dashboard, steering wheel, interior trim and a rear luggage platform. Finished in vanilla and almond, this Corgi Plymouth costs 3s. 9d. and sets a new standard in motor-car miniatures. — W.B.

_

D.K.W. O.C. Meeting

The D.K.W. Owners’ Club and their friends and families will be gathering at 10.45 a.m. on August 16th at Newlands Corner, near Guildford, to participate in a Road Safety Outing, to be followed by a film show. Any D.K.W. owners wishing to join this Club should contact the Secretary, F. P. Taylor, 74, Hesketh Crescent, Erdington, Birmingham 23.

Riley Register Coventry Rally

The Riley Register held their annual Coventry Rally on July 4/5th, which proved most successful. Nearly a hundred cars took part in the parade through Coventry led by the 1904 Riley Tricar, belonging to the City of Coventry Museum, with Mrs. Kay Petre as a passenger perched somewhat precariously in the basket on the front of the tricar.

Results:

Navigational Rally: 1st: E. J. Smith (1936 Merlin); 2nd: R. Cresswell (1936 Kestrel); 3rd: P. Hitchman (1937 Adelphi).

Driving Tests: 1st: O. W. Charlton (1933 Monaco); 2nd: B. Newlands (1927 Mk. I tourer); 3rd: D. Burt (1935 Imp).

“Monaco” Trophy: B. J. Taylor (1933 Monaco).

Concours d’Elegance:

Closed Class: 1st: A. N. Farquhar (1935 Kestrel 12/4); 2nd: A. E. Rogers (1937 Kestrel Sprite); 3rd: N. J. Butcher (1936 Kestrel).

Open Class: 1st: R. Neat (1922 10.8.h.p. tourer); 2nd: A. Lomas (1934 Imp); 3rd: D. Burt (1935 Imp).