Book Reviews, August 1967, August 1967

Author

W.B.

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“Leyland — Seventy Years of Progress.” 55 pages, 11½ in. x 9 in. Soft covers. (The Leyland Motor Corporation, Leyland, Lancashire. 15s.)

This is rather an off-beat review, because Leyland have written and issued this soft-cover publication as a publicity move. But it contains very nicely reproduced photographs of many of their commercial and public service vehicles, so the attention of H.C.V.C. members at least should be drawn to it. Rather superficial otherwise as a history of the great Leyland Corporation, and making no mention of the acquisition of Rover, this book is recommended primarily for its pictures. Those of the Leyland Eight and Trojan cars are less interesting than the pictures of commercial vehicles, including steamers. One or two interesting facts emerge, such as the use made of Leylands which were en route to London during the First World War to carry essential products of Lancashire to the Metropolis.

There is a flavour of present-day interest in preservation of old vehicles in a picture of the 1908 Carter Patterson Leyland, used up to 1932 and restored to running order later by Leyland apprentices, so that it performs in today’s rallies and in the Dublin fire-engine, delivered in 1910 and given pneumatic tyres in 1940; We also learn that in 1914 one of the lorries impressed for war service was Hampton’s 1908 Leyland. It is amusing that, although the Leyland Directors frowned on Parry Thomas when he wanted to race his Leyland Eight at Brooklands, in this book his 1922 records and lap-speed of 117½ m.p.h. are proudly quoted! The number of Leyland Eights built is given as “only about 14.” This contrasts with the figure of 15 to 18 referred to in “Lost Causes of Motoring,” Hugh Tours’ “about 18” in his Profile, and “approx. 18” quoted to me by Leyland Motors Ltd. in 1931. Railcars, trolley-buses and a tramcar built by Leyland are included and for commercial vehicle addicts and collectors of company histories, this publication is, if not wildly-exciting, acceptable. It is obtainable from the Company’s Publicity Division on mention of Motor Sport. — W. B.

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The 1967 edition of that very useful reference work “Basic Road Statistics” is available from the British Road Federation, 26, Manchester Square, London, W.1, for 5s. It contains all manner of interesting tables, showing numbers of vehicles in use down the years, how motor taxation has increased, traffic grown, and how many accidents have happened down the years and the number of employees in the Industry, etc., etc. Motor taxation and road transport legislation is described and road development covered. There is a chapter on Northern Ireland in the latest edition of this soft-cover 63.-page booklet. Note that petrol tax has increased from 4d. a gallon to 3s. 7d. a gallon since 1928 and that in the year ending March 31st, 1966, the Government received £1,060,000,000 in motor taxation and spent only £210,624,000 of it on roads.

Iliffe Books Ltd. have brought out the 7th edition of “Know Your Car,” a copiously-illustrated soft-cover 122-page booklet explaining in simple language how a car functions. If you can get the girl friend to read it, buy it for her and browse through it yourself first, so that she does not ask awkward questions you cannot answer! It costs 5s. and over 163,000 copies have been sold.

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Miniature News

Corgi have a Porsche Carrera 6 — their first miniature of this make. It is only 3 7/8 in. long but is very detailed, even to the curious rectangular headlamp covers, jewelled tail-lamps, cast-magnesium-type wheels with wide tyres, rear-view mirrors and detailed cockpit layout, although the blue rear window is a stretch of the Corgi imagination. The tail-section of this fine little model of the 2-litre sports/racing Porsche lifts to reveal a miniature engine, even the huge flexible air-duct pipes to the fan at the back of the power unit being reproduced. The No. is 330, the price 7s. 9d.

The latest Corgi Major toy is a big working Holmes Wrecker car recovery unit on a Ford H-series tilt-cab tractor unit. This Corgi Major No. 1142 is 4½ in. long and sells for 25s. It has all manner of fascinating working parts. How fortunate is the child of 1967; and there will in future be no excuse for lost Corgi car-miniatures, with this notable model to retrieve them from off-the-floor predicaments!

Lesney’s new June/July “Matchbox” models were both King Size, a 45:1-scale Mercedes-Benz Binz ambulance and an 80:1-scale Claas Matador Giant combine harvester. The respective prices and references are: K-6 6s. 11d. and K-9 75. 6d. Both German subjects. Lesney foresee entry into the E.C.M.? — W.B.

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Cars in Books

Very appropriately in view of the prevailing interest in Brooklands Track, I was recommended to read “A Knot of Roots,” by The Earl of Portsmouth (Geoffrey Bles, 1965) by Mr. Heber-Percy, now resident in Africa and remembered as a vintage Bentley enthusiast.

There is very interesting reference in this book about Brooklands, Dame Ethel Locke-King and her husband, who built the Track, being cousins of the author. He recalls how while still at prep. school “only a few stations down the line,” his visits to Brooklands made him the envy of all the school and of doing “a good deal over 60 m:p.h. in an open windscreenless Pierce-Arrow. That was as fast, or faster than the early planes could fly. Indeed, one day I got school leave to go to Brooklands when M. Paulhan was there, I think in 1911.” Aunt Ethel arranged for him to fly with Paulhan but his guardian objected. It would be unfair to quote all the fascinating information the Earl of Portsmouth gives about the Locke-Kings and Brooklands in this quite recently-published book. But anyone who loves the place should read his very affectionate memories of this aunt and of his visits to her house, “Caenshill.” At the age of 70 this fine old lady thought nothing of riding in Model-T Ford trucks or flying in primitive aeroplanes on visits to her nephew and heir, Col. (later Sir) Stewart Gore-Browne in Northern Rhodesia.

There are other motoring and flying references in “A Knot of Roots.” For instance, even when the author’s father was going through a bad financial period at his ranch in Wyoming and there were no servants, there was a car, and that was in 1913. The “cars of Henry Ford and exclusion from war-torn Europe” are blamed by the author for turning the West imperceptibly into a playground, the dude ranch era. He learned “all unlicensed to drive the family car” in the summer of 1915 (its make is not revealed); “My father flatly refused to be anything but a passenger, and my mother’s gear-changing had to be felt to be believed.” I like the description of Wyoming after the war as “a lot richer, better motor-car’d and far more social.”

The servant situation after the war is discussed and, cynic that I am, I had not thought of chauffeurs who would order four new tyres for their master’s car and receive two, the price of the undelivered two being shared between chauffeur and tradesman. We read of Squire Jervoise of Herriard who “had a reading-rack made on his driving-wheel so that he could read his correspondence and committee agenda en route. The one thing he did not use the rack for was to read the Highway Code!” There is the journey to Vienna from Dunkirk in Michael Beaumont’s “ancient and very lordly Rolls-Royce touring car, with his stud-groom driver, Hewitt, in front,” in 1929. Austria was then “like Wyoming in 1905, when Doc. Frackleton our dentist, took me for a ride in his new Rambler car to the Sheridan Fairgrounds, when we actually touched 30 m.p.h. and bolted a team of broncs on the way.” incidentally, the Earl of Portsmouth, a horse lover, remarks elsewhere in his book that “on the whole horses are among the more stupid of domestic animals,” which should please the Duke of Edinburgh!

The author describes adventures in a charter Moth in India, force-landing near Brussels in a Saunders Roe Cutty Sark amphibian when both engines cut out due to lack of fuel, and expeditions over Hampshire in Harold Balfour’s D. H. Gypsy Moth, which “only flew at about 70 to 80 m.p.h.” — A. J. Jackson in Vol. 1 of “British Civil Aircraft — 1919-1959” (Putman, 1959) gives the cruising speed of the early Gypsy Moth as 83 m.p.h. and of the Gypsy II as 85 m.p.h.

I was most interested to find these references to Brooklands in this autobiography and very grateful to Mr. Heber-Percy for drawing my attention to them. How many books contain mentions of Brooklands, I wonder? Perhaps if the Brooklands Society comes into being it will be able to do some research on the subject. — W.B.

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Mercedes-Benz owners may not realise that Mercedes-Benz in aller Welt, “the magazine for friends of the Three-Pointed Star,” is now in its 12th year. It is published in English, French, Spanish and Flemish/Dutch and contains general and touring articles, with many illustrations in high-quality colour. The English subscription is 16s. and inquiries should be directed to Mercedes-Benz (G.B.) Ltd., Gt. West Road, Brentford, Middlesex, quoting Motor Sport.

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