Book Reviews, August 1981, August 1981

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“Vauxhall” by Michael Sedgwick, 112 pp. 10 3/4″ x 8″  (Dalton Watson, Ltd., 76, Wardour Street, London, W1V 4AN. £7.70)

This book was a disappointment. I had expected that at last the long history of the important Vauxhall Iron Works and subsequent Vauxhall Motor Company would have occupied that industrious researcher, Michael Sedgwick, to the same or greater extent than had the Fiat and other one-make stories he has tackled in the past. Instead, this is a soft-cover picture-book, in the Dalton Watson National Motor Museum Trust series.

It is fair to refer to it as primarily a pictorial survey of Vauuxhall cars along the years, from 1903 to 1980, because, apart from a 2 1/2-page Introduction, no chapter occupies more than three-quarters of a page of text, most of the five a mere third of a page, inspite of a prominent Index. These brief chapters are backed-up by four Appendices but of these the only one of much worth is that which gives production figures for Vauxhall cars each year, for instance 43 cars in 1903, to a best annual output of 247,782 Velox, Cresta, Victor and Viva models in 1964.

The pictures, of course, are interesting, even if some have been published several times before, and I admit that their long captions are quite informative. These pictures include that one-litre four-cylinder Vauxhall motorcycle, a Pomeroy-designed V12 o.h.c. aero-engine made during WW1, and, surprisingly, an experimental side-valve V12 Vauxhall touring car. Racing Vauxhalls, Vauxhalls with Grosvenor coachwork standing self-consciously behind the bodybuilder’s plaques, and all manner of more modern Vauxhalls fill the pages, and Bedford commercials, a supercharged Vauxhall Special, and a Vauxhall-engined Cooper prototype sports-car have crept in. But this book cannot for a moment be regarded as the final word on the history of this long-established Company and, remembering the very excellent picture-books of Chevrolet/Bedford commercials and Vauxhall cars issued recently by the manufacturers, it seems a rather unnecessary one. — W.B.

“World Rallying 3” by Martin Holmes and Hugh Bishop. 160 pp. 11′ x 8 1/2″ (Osprey Publishing Ltd, 12-14 Long Acre, London WC2E 9LP. £7.85).

Books about rallying tend to tail off into pages of statistical data which might interest ardent fact-seekers but which are quite boring for those who like books to tell stories. The third World Rallying compendium by Martin Holmes and Hugh Bishop, sponsored again by Rothmans, does have this reference work character, but it also has articles of interest such as an account of Audi Quattro’s development and an informative story about Toyota Team Europe boss Ove Andersson which made good reading even though it was obviously a transcribed tape recording. The book is enhanced by the camera work of Bishop, although we were surprised to see a caption stating that Ove Andersson and David Stone won the Sanremo RaIly in 1971. In that year the event was the Sanremo-Sestriere Rally and Andersson’s co-driver in the winning Alpine-Renault was the late Tony Nash. Incidentally, we wonder why writers in English have to use French words; etape instead of leg, for instance!

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The excitement and specialised atmosphere of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race can be captured admirably from two recent publications. One is the “Indianapolis 500 Year Book”, obtainable from Albion Scott Ltd., 51, York Road, Brentford, Middlesex, for £4.95, a big 219-page coverage of Indy along the years, with fine colour plates of drivers and cars. The other Indy book is “Design & Development of the Indy Car”, by Roger Huntingdon, another big, soft-cover publication, more technical than the Year Book, if somewhat of a repetitive mixture for those technical buffs who already know it all. This book, too, has colour pictures and many diagrams and it is published by HP Books, PO Box 5367, Tucson, AZ 85703, at 12.95 dollars.

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Motor Racing Publications Ltd., 28, Devonshire Road, London, W4 2HD have added Graham Robson’s “The Big Healeys” to their “Collector’s Guide” series, the price of which is £7.95, and Haynes of Yeovil offer Bob Gayler’s “Piper Tuning Manual” for £2.95, a sort of beginner’s guide to souping-up two-stroke and four-stroke engine and supercharging or turbocharging them.

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Another author to have a crack at the “Classic Cars since 1945” theme is Michael Twite, for whom the Blandford Press, of Robert Rogers House, New Orchard, Poole, Dorset, BH15 ILU, have published a well-produced, colour-plate 160-page book for £8.95.

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Available from the Morgan 3-Wheeler Club is a useful handbook covering the F-type Ford-engined Morgan 3-wheeler. Intended mainly for those rebuilding these cars or servicing those in use, this little reference work will also give historians a bite of the subject. It can be obtained for £3.75 post free, from R. Bennett, 4, Hillmead, off Pudding Pie Lane (nice names we have in this country!), Langford, Near Churchill, Avon, BS18 7HA. – W.B.