“J.A.P. — The Vintage Years” by Jett Clew. 255 pp, 10 in x 7 in. (Haynes Publishing Group, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset. BA22 7JJ. 12.95).
One encounters JAP engines in every facet of historic motoring and I have often thought it would be nice to have a book about them, yet this seemed highly optimistic, because the precision engineers of J. A. Prestwich made myriads of different engines and to even sort them out must be an author’s nightmare. Yet brave Jeff Clew has tackled it, at least for the vintage years, the important period for JAP of Tottenham, and his book is more than welcome. He tells the story of John Alfred Prestwich who started as the maker of cinematographic projector apparatus but who made his first ic engine in 1901/02. The book is packed with nostalgic pictures of motorcycles, threewheelers and cyclecars that used JAP engines in the vintage years, many of them racing machines, and with statistics aplenty. The pictures alone are worth the “entry fee” but there is far more — Clew covers the early JAP aero-engines, the start of recordbreaking for JAP, the war-time production, and how later the company prospered — and made pencils as well as its famous engines. Some of the chapters are devoted to racing and record-breaking, largely at Brooklands and Bert Le Vack gets one to himself, which to a degree covers known history (and makes me wish that Peter Hartley would complete his trilogy of BMCRC Brooklands books) but if there is some padding of this nature, Jeff can be excused, for as I said, the task of writing a JAP history is truly daunting. In spite of this approach much that is new about JAP is there, making the book unique and very worthwhile; it includes the complicated JAP engine-coding system. —W.B.