A life with HWM

by Fred Hobbs. 203pp. Haynes Publishing Group, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, BA22 7JJ. £15.95.

This is the story of Fred’s motoring life, particularly the years when he worked for the well-known HWM garage at Walton-on-Thames, from where the HWM racing cars came. As the book’s sub-title has it “from Aston to Facel Vega.” These were cars in which the HWM concern, run by George Abecassis, who writes the Foreword, and John Heath dealt. That comprises the best part of the story. The rest, while impossible to stop browsing through, is more of a very long ‘cars I have encountered’ article put into the covers of this Haynes/Foulis book.

If you like all cars, you will enjoy it. They are all included, from Hilda’s A7 and A30, etc to those owned by the author, which he lists at the end; these include 20 Jaguars and six modern Bentley’s, 62 in all. There is, too, a list of makes Fred remembers driving, adding another 130. He manages to pack in opinions about most aspects of the game, and sex flits lightly through some of the pages. The times when he drove the racing transporters across Europe are of more interest, as are the descriptions of working on some of the royal cars and watching Continental motor races. Many snapshot pictures. WB

We have said before that if you require comprehensive references to particular makes of car there is nothing to better the Brooklands Books series, which reproduces articles from various motor journals of various years and bind them into soft cover reference works. To browse through such a wealth of information is a happy experience and for checking dates, road test figures, specifications and the opinions of leading motoring writers on a wide variety of cars there is nothing quite like these books.

Brooklands Books has been fortunate indeed to have the support of so many magazine publishers who allow them to lift’ the material they require. In recent times both the presentation and the quality of these reproductions has much improved. The publishers of these one make/one model titles have responded to the facilities given them to produce a very great number indeed of these books. The list is truly quite remarkable, covering more than 700, and anyone seeking data on old or almost current models would be well advised to write for it.

Of the more recent titles we have seen, there are those about the 1976-86 Jeep GJ5 and CJ7, the 1960-76 Jeep CJ5 and CJ6, in the road test series, and more complete histories in the Brooklands Books’ Gold Portfolio’ series. In this latter category new titles cover the 1963-67 Corvette Sting Rays, and the 1962-69 Shelby Cobras. There are also two of these larger volumes on Morgans, which I found absolutely fascinating. At the present time when that BBC programme has focussed attention on how Morgan cars are made in the little Malvern Link factory and whether the company will survive, these books reflect this interest because they describe the works and all the cars that have emanated from there, with masses of pictures, including interior factory shots, again of course from contemporary magazines.

I was particularly pleased to find that in the ‘Gold Portfolio’ devoted to The Morgan three-wheeler, 1910-1952 the first 13 pages are a repeat of the rather painstaking work on the vintage years of the cyclecars, from the MOTOR SPORT Book of the Morgan Three Wheeler which has long been out of print. In addition the 1940 article about MS Soames’ racing Morgan is reproduced. The rest of the data in this 180 page book will be quite irresistible to `Moggy’ folk. The other ‘Gold Portfolio’ is Morgan Cars, 1968-1989, covering the four-wheelers, another 180 pages of nostalgia and reminding me of the road test report I did for MOTOR SPORT on the Rover V8 engined Morgan Plus Eight in 1968. These useful books are published by Brooklands Books, ‘Holmerise’, Seven Hills Road, Cobham, Surrey and complied by RM Clarke. Invaluable! WB