Rumblings, December 1954

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More Miniatures
At the expense of risking, being told he has reached second childhood, the Editor has allowed references to motor-car miniatures to be made in these pages; they seem to have been very well received and to have aroused a lot of interest.

Now, to join the Dinky and Scalex car models already referred to, come some excellent authentic plastic model kits by Revell Authentic Kits, Inc., whose address is 4223, Ocean Park Avenue, Venice, California.

Apart from aircraft and ship kits, Revell issue kits of no fewer than 23 car models. These are mostly historic types, such as 1900 Packard, 1903 model-A Ford, 1903 Cadillac, 1904 Oldsmobile delivery van, 1904 Nash Rambler, 1907 Sears Touring buggy, 1908 Buick “10” rumble, 1909 Stanley steamer, 1910 Cadillac limousine, 1910 Pierce-Arrow tourer, 1910 Studebaker electric coupé, 1914 Stutz Bearcat race-about, and 1915 model-T Ford sedan and two-seater — great cars from the American scene.

In addition, Revell list two modern sports cars, very fine replicas of the 1953 TD M.G. Midget two-seater with hood up and 1953 Jaguar XK120 open two-seater. There are, in addition, a 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost coupé de ville, a 1913 chain-drive Ninety Mercédès with outside exhaust pipes, a 1907 Renault closed carriage and a 1915 Fiat two-seater, all to a scale 3/8 in. = 1 ft. Bigger ¾ in.= 1 ft. model kits covering 1913 Maxwell two-seater and 1917 model-T Ford coupé are available.

Henry Blankfort tells us that Revell go to great pains to ensure accuracy, even to the extent of obtaining blueprints of the original car if possible and sending their designers and engineers to examine a full-size specimen of the car they propose to produce in model-kit form.

As we write we have a completed model of the 1911 Rolls-Royce in front of us, in a neat dust-proof transparent display case, and can vouch for the splendid appearance and excellent detail work. For instance, the front ½-elliptic and cantilever back springs, rear axle casing, front dumbirons, starting handle, number-plates, luggage grid and various “period” lamps are present and correct. The artillery wheels, spare tyre and coupé de ville top over the chauffeur are very well represented and even the rivets along the bonnet and a tiny R.R. badge on the radiator are there!

The Jaguar makes a fine model, capturing the sleek, smooth lines of the original, and the M.G. is most realistic. Incidentally, the plinths of the display-cases have the car’s name and date in gilt, making a grand display piece for study or showroom.

Unfortunately, these Revell kits will be procurable only by dollar customers. They are well worth seeking out and are priced at the equivalent of approximately 5s. and 6s. each, in America. We understand that over there they sell in millions, 60 per cent, being assembled by adults.

Another miniature which now graces the Editor’s collection is a Japanese tin-replica of a veteran car, possessing a very clever clockwork mechanism energised by pulling back its hand-brake lever — to be precise he has two of these, as one was kindly sent to him by a reader and his secretary brought him another from Monza. Apparently these represent one of three Japanese historic-car miniatures and the make represented has been outlined in America’s Esquire magazine. Our guess is a single-lunger Cadillac of about 1904/5 vintage; can anyone confirm this?

* * *

Books
At this time of year, although it is no longer customary for cars to be laid up, the cold does sometimes drive even the hardiest enthusiast indoors from the road or the workshop, and it is then that motoring books, which in any case have flourished since the war, really come into their own.

Until post-war times motoring literature was sadly limited. Gerald Rose’s classic “Record of Motor Racing.” was just a legend — it has since been reprinted — and it was not until 1928 that the publishers of Motor Sport made available Charles Jarrott’s great work, “Ten Years of Motors and Motor Racing,” a book which so ably captures the atmosphere and monastic fanaticism of the really early days of motor-racing.

Later came H. O. D. Segrave’s “Lure of Speed” and S. C. H. “Motor Racing,” the former written shortly after Sir Henry had accomplished 200 m.p.h. in the double-engined Sunbeam and the latter as “Sammy” lay in hospital recovering from his Brooklands Mountain Circuit crash in the low-chassis 100-m.p.h. 1 ½-litre Invicta (what has become of Miss West, his helpful and painstaking secretary of those days, who attended at his bedside to sort out the chapters?). Also, “Full Throttle,” by Sir Henry Birkin, Bt., also reprinted since World War II.

These books were eagerly collected from the bookseller on the day of publication and remain classics, along with Barré Lyndon’s three volumes on Grand Prix racing and the racing career of M.G. Midget and M.G. Magnette cars. The late Humphrey Symons’ “Monte Carlo Rally” remains the best book on the great winter adventure yet written.

But these volumes, nostalgic reminder of youth, are now collector’s pieces, having long been out of print (save for “Motor Racing,” recently re-issued).

What of the current wide range of motoring books? Choice is difficult, because the field has become so vast, and is, in any case, a matter of personal preference.

Elsewhere in this issue we review some of the latest titles, which will constitute good reading over the Christmas holiday and serve as worthwhile gifts.

If a reference library is being built up, what then? Again, the range is too formidable for discussion in these columns, but the book-purchaser will be guided by Torque, the quarterly house-magazine and book list of F. & E. Stoneham.

Some works are essential to any enthusiast’s library of reference and we would include Laurence Pomeroy’s “The Grand Prix Car,” now in two volumes, dealing with pre- and post-war periods; Foulis’ “British Sports Cars” and “Continental Sports Cars” (the latter includes some servicing data for quite rare makes); Monkhouses “Grand Prix Facts and Figures” as an excellent quick-reference to racing history and a resumé of the leading G.P. drivers; one of the many annual books of British car specifications and general road-test reports; and “Motor Sport Racing Car Review” for the years appropriate to your interests.

If history has a particular appeal this list can well be supplemented by such studies as “Racing Voiturettes,” by E. K.H. Karslake; Cecil Clutton’s recently published “The Vintage Motor Car,” written jointly with John Stanford; “The Story of Brooklands” in one or all of its three volumes: “The 200-Mile Race,” both by W. Boddy; and his “World’s Land Speed Record” and Monkhouse’s “Motor Racing with Mercédès-Benz.”

Nor should the student overlook purely technical works, or individual marque histories such as John Thornley’s very informative “Saga of the M.G.,” Harold Nockold’s “Magic of a Name,” the life story of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche appearing as “Beyond Expectation,” by K. B. Hopfinger, and many others. Then there are many motoring biographies and autobiographies, too numerous to list in full.

This Christmas there will be an overwhelming demand for motoring books, not to mention motoring miniatures, cards and calendars. Since the Anglo-American Rally of the V.S.C.C. and V.M.C.C. of America the spotlight has been on vintage cars, and in this connection, if you are in London, Stoneham of Cheapside will be able to show you Christmas cards and calendars of thoroughbred and vintage-car appeal.

Safety First
This year’s Road Safety Forum of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents took place in London last month. It was the occasion for the delivery of some useful papers on different aspects of road safety, which is a subject we should always have very close to our hearts.

It seems that in the main sound common sense was talked, with a noticeable absence of those uncalled for attacks on the motorist which have all too often been heard in the past. The need for stricter driving licence checks and possibly periodical vehicle condition tests were raised, neither of which should worry the experienced driver of a car in which he or she takes a pride. In a discussion on Zebra crossings the motorists’ viewpoint was expressed fairly by several of the speakers.

When Councillor Mrs. Y. O. Yeoman of Barry mentioned the danger of children being encouraged to ride “blind” on bicycles with drop-handlebars she was immediately opposed by a member of the Cyclists Touring Club, who described this suggestion as “absolute nonsense.” Were representatives of the motoring organisations present to protect our interests?

In fact, motorists were not unduly criticised, although Dr. Eric James of Manchester Grammar School referred to the increasing speed of cars, remarking it “normal speeds of 50 m.p.h. and exceptional speeds of 100 m.p.h., – and went on to speak of “an alarming fact that 50 per cent. of the makers at the recent Motor Show, I believe, were showing cars with normal speeds of up to 100.” His theme was that it is easier to make fast cars than safe children, but he took a realistic view of modern road conditions and discussed possible solutions to educating children to their dangers.