Book reviews, August 1966, August 1966

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“Rolls of Rolls-Royce,” by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. 250 pp. 4¾ in. X 5½ in. (Cassell & Co. Ltd., 35 Red Lion Square, London, W.C.1. 36s.)

Anything appertaining to Rolls-Royce is read avidly, especially in America, which may have prompted this biography of the late Hon. C. S. Rolls. But whatever the reason for Lord Montagu putting pen to paper, or paper in typewriter, it is good that he has done so, because previously the pioneer automobilist and aviator whose name was so closely linked with that of Henry Royce until he was killed in 1910 flying at Bournemouth, has been but sparsely documented. And Lord Montagu’s books, of which this is the fourth in the “Montagu Motor Book New Series,” go into the greatest possible detail.

So it is with “Rolls of Rolls-Royce.” The Hon. C. S. Rolls’ upbringing, early motorcycle and motoring experiences, his entry into the motor trade which resulted in the Rolls-Royce cars [this trade participation, by a peer’s son, is defended skilfully but surprisingly, when famous names who had railway apprenticeships are listed, that of Henry Royce, with whom Rolls was so closely linked, is omitted] as well as his ballooning and aeroplane activities are very amply described and most of the details are of absorbing interest, to anyone concerned to learn more about this unsporting, mean, unfriendly yet dashing and aristocratic young pioneer. The illustrations are in keeping with this considerable and difficult accomplishment, and nicely laid out, while the story as it unfolds is a splendid insight into the whole structure of the pioneer motoring and flying days, apart from its main function.—W. B.

“We Went Racing,” by Charles Mortimer. 112 pp. 7½ in. X 5 in. (E.M. Art & Publishing Ltd., Oundle Road, Peterborough. 15s.)

Charles Mortimer is a person who takes his hobbies seriously and tends to write books about them—as he has done about racing a sports car, owning a yacht and now sponsoring young Griff Jenkins in motorcycle racing, which culminated in outright victory in the 1963 Senior Manx G.P. at 96.1 m.p.h., on a Norton.

The author’s clear thinking and obvious enthusiasm for and enjoyment of what he sets out to do make his written reminiscences very stimulating and this little book is definitely intended to cause others to think about sponsoring young riders.

There is much good sense in these pages from which others can glean useful information, although the book does not set out to be of the “hints and tips” variety. It covers a season’s sponsorship of Jenkins, using four bicycles prepared by Francis Beart and Phil Kettle and as likely to be read from cover to cover by those of similar interests, racing in similar circumstances.

One picture shows a much younger Charles Mortimer astride the fearsome 998 c.c. supercharged A.J.S. he rode at Brooklands in 1935—which gives rise to the hope that one day he will put the memories of those days on paper.—W. B.

“British Flying-Boats and Amphibians-1909-1952,” by G. R. Duval. 268 pp. 8¾ in. X 5¾ in. (Putnam & Co. Ltd., 9 Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, W.C.2. 50s.)

This is another of those extremely covetable and highly informative Putnam aviation directories, standard in conformity with previous great works like A. J. Jackson’s “British Civil Aircraft-1915-59,” Owen Thetford’s “Aircraft of the R.A.F. since 1918” and Peter Lewis’ “British Aircraft, 1909-1914,” etc., but going chronologically from the Wyvenhoe Flier of 1909 to the Saunders-Roe S.R.45 Princess of 1952 and written in a particularly pleasant style.

There are the usual innumerable excellent pictures, the three-view scale plans and the detailed appendices, to make this a first-class work of reference.

The author keeps to his subject, so that float seaplanes are not included, although the earlier flying-boats that took part in the Schneider Trophy races are there, the Vickers Viking IV of 1921 is seen on the Fork at Brooklands Track, and we arc reminded that the Hon. Mrs. Victor Bruce owned the three-engined Saunders-Roe A21 Windhover in 1932, renaming it “City of Portsmouth” and modifying it for an attempt on the world’s endurance record, which it failed to break although re-maining airborne for 54 hr. 13 min.—these being a few of the multitude of interesting historical items that those who browse through the book can enjoy.—W. B.

“Boeing Aircraft Since 1916,” by Peter M. Bowers. 444 pp. 8¾ in. X 5¾ in. (Putnam & Co. Ltd., 9 Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, W.C.2. 63s.)

This, the latest of Putnam’s “one-make” aeroplane histories, of which those covering Avro, Bristol, De Havilland, Hawker and Fokker have already been published and others about Short Bros., Blackburn and Westland are in course of preparation, is in line with this publisher’s aeronautical titles. That is to say it is extremely informative, packed with very interesting pictures of almost every version of Boeing aeroplanes, together with three-view scale plans and ranging from the earliest Boeing biplanes to the famous 707, 720 and 727 series of today, which fly the World’s airlines and are manufactured by the largest company of transport aircraft in the World.

In addition there is a chapter devoted to “The Beginning of Boeing,” another on “Original Boeing Fighters,” and the acknowledgment of photographs and data fills no less than 41 pages —even this section is interesting reading. There are no less than seven appendices, covering identifications and serial and registration numbers and Boeing insignia are fully documented. Another major publishing success for Putnam’s!—W. B.

“The Alvis Car-1920 to 1966,” by K. R. Day. 170 pp. 9 in. X 5¾ in. (K. R. Day, 20, Thetford Road, New Malden, Surrey. 45s.)

The Secretary of The Alvis Owners’ Club has published privately this comprehensive history of the Alvis Company, describing most fascinatingly its origins and products. He deals, a bit superficially, with Alvis competition history, covers straightforwardly without criticism or discussion the entire range of Alvis models from 10/30 to the present 3-litre, mentions experimental Alvis cars, deals with Alvis areo-engines and their wartime activities, puts in specification items under different components for all models, including maintenance and repair notes and type and make of these components (even to materials used for different chassis frames, etc.), and rounds off this excellent work of reference with appendices, these embracing lists of production figures, car and chassis numbering, pre-war cars known to the Alvis O.C., Alvis patents and an address given by Capt. G. T. Smith-Clark, of that illustrious company.

The book is full of the most fascinating illustrations and is essential to anyone seeking to sort out the different Alvis models or contemplating ownership of any Alvis car made between now and 1920. There is a very interesting account by Mrs. Urquhart-Dykes about the long-distance record-breaking undertaken at Brooklands with their old 12/50 by her husband and herself, Alvis badges are illustrated, and almost everything required to give an overall picture of Alvis productions and endeavours has been included by the knowledgeable and industrious Mr. Day.

The photolitho reproduction of the text has not affected its clarity and does not extend to the excellent pictures. This is quite one of the best one-make books which has appeared for some time, from the reference point of view. If any mild disappointment is felt, it is that the 12/50 and vintage period is no more fully covered than the later years, but this will be put right when the Hull/Johnson Vintage Alvis history appears and Mr. Day’s book must surely whet the appetite for this additional Alvis history. “The Alvis Car” is obtainable, post free, from Mr. Day at the address given above.—W. B.

The Montagu Motor Museum has issued a revised, fully-illustrated guide to the Beaulieu and Brighton Motor Museurns, priced at 3s., post free.

One of the most comprehensive Road Books has been published by the A.A. in conjunction with “Readers’ Digest.” It contains “continuous” comprehensive 4-miles-to-the-inch maps, nature notes, weather information, even a colour section on typical veteran, vintage and old cars notes on how a car works, first-aid, road signs and so on. The tome comes in a plastic wallet and costs £3 3s.

B. T. Batsford Ltd., 4, Fitzhardinge Street, London, W.1, are distributing “Grand Prix Racing Cars-1921-1939”, by Hans A. Muth and Dieter Korp. It concists of 14 very large, full colour pictures, admirable for framing, of G.P. cars ranging from the 1921 3-litre Duesenherg to the 1939 W165 Mercedes-Benz, with supporting descriptions and frontal-aspect plans. There is a Foreword by Piero Taruffi and this decorative publication from Stuttgart, now with English text, costs 70s.

A loose-leaf hook of information about Grand Prix cars and single-seaters in general has been discovered by a reader in the North of England. This is obviously somebody’s private collection of notes and information collected over many years and the finder would like to trace the owner, for it must be of great personal value. letters will be forwarded.

 

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