Books for Christmas

Author

W.B.

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“Aircraft of the 1914-18 War.” Edited by D. A. Russell, M.I.Mech.E. 234 pp., 11 ¼in. by 8 ½ in. (Republished by Harleyford Publications, Harleyford, Marlow, Bucks. 42s.)

This remarkable work covering the 1914-18 fighting aeroplanes of all countries, with a photograph or more and a full-page three-view 1/72-scale plan of each type, appears in revised form.

It is indeed a welcome work of reference and represents hundreds of hours of enjoyment to aviation historians. 104 aeroplanes are covered, with plans of 80 of them and excellent photographs of all, these covering well-known and rare types used by Britain, France, America, Italy and Germany during the first World War. In addition, photographs of a further 94 British, French and German experimental and rare types and 14 large pictures of squadron lineups are included, a matter of 234 photographs in all. Each page contains a specification, detailing manufacturer, sub-contractor, purpose, power-plants, construction, dimensions, areas, weights, loadings, tankage, performance, armament and squadrons of the type concerned, followed by a long history with details of technical changes, flying characteristics, etc.

Avro 504K, B.E., DM.. Handley-Page V/1500, Sopwith Pup and Camel, Vickers FB, all are there, together with countless less-well-known types, and they come alive in these rare, beautiful and painstaking pages. — W. B.

“The Moving Spirit.” 49 pp., 10 in. by 8 ¾ in. (Motor Racing Publications, Ltd., 13, Conway Street, Fitzroy Square, W.1. 5s.)
Here is a jolly cartoon-book of “how the Motor Car Grew Up,” based on the Anglo-Iranian film of the same title. It makes a happy study as it unfolds its tale and there is a painting contest for children at the back. — W. B.

“Come Motor Racing With Me,” by Ian Nickols. 160 pp., 5 in. by 7 ½in. (Frederick Muller, Ltd., Ludgate House, 110, Fleet Street, E.C.4. 9s. 6d.)
This is a well-written introduction and guide to motor-racing, with line illustrations by George Lane, in Muller’s “Come With Me” series. It could be a children’s best-seller if it were not so expensive. There isn’t even an index and the only photograph, of Hawthorn in a Cooper-Bristol is on the dust-jacket. — W. B.

” ‘ The Motor’ Road-Tests of 1954 Cars.” 122 pp., 8 in. by 12 in. (Temple Press, Ltd., Bowling Green Lane, E.C.1. 6s.)
“‘The Autocar’ Road-Tests, 1954.” 116 pp., 8 ¼ in by 12 in. (Iliffe & Sons, Ltd., Dorset House, Stamford Street, S.E.1. 6s.)

These two welcome annual publications are really complementary one to the other and wild horses wouldn’t drag from us an admission of which we prefer!

The Motor book contains reprints of 32 tests, and chapters on “Reading the Road-Test Reports,” by J. Lowrey, B.Se.(Eng.), a tabular summary of the test findings and is in its sixth edition.

The Autocar book contains 31 road-test reprints, and a brief introduction by John Robson, A.M.I.Mech.E.

The Autocar has included advertising matter in its book, but Temple Press have not stooped to this.

In case you cannot afford both these books I will add that The Motor book includes tests of Aston Martin DB2/4, Lancia Appia and Triumph TR2. The Autocar book tests of Aston Martin DB2/4, Dyna Panhard 54, Fiat 8V and 1,100 TV, Porsche 356, Triumph TR2 and Morgan Plus Four.

From the reference point of view, do the figures vary? Let us, in answer to this obvious query, tabulate those for the last test included in both books:

“Mach One,” by Lt./Comdr. “Mike” Lithgow, 151 pp., 5 ½ in. by 8 ¾in. (Allan Wingate, Ltd.. 12, Beauchamp Place, S. W.3. 12s6d..) This is the enthralling story of the flying career of “Mike” Lithgow, Chief Test Pilot to Vickers-Supermarine, from his Service days during the war in the Fleet Air Arm, to his successful 735.7 m.p.h. attack on the Air Speed Record with Vickers Swift Mk.IV at Tripoli.

Lithgow writes with surprising, commendable modesty for that modern hero, the scientifically-knowledgeable test-pilot, as Charles Gardner emphasises in a stirring foreword.

The book contains some excellent anecdote, is in the language of pilots, and gives an interesting insight into the flying characteristics and reputations of many famous aeroplanes of the 1940-1950 period, such as the Swordfish, Gladiator, Skua, Roc, Albacore, Barracuda, Hellcat, Corsair, Avenger, Bearcat, Spitfire, Grummans and a great many U.S. wartime aeroplanes which the author flew when he was posted for test-flying to Patuxent River. After joining Vickers, Lithgow flew Seafire, Seafang, S 24/37, Seagull, jet-engined Attacker and, of course, the Walrus.

His account of those days precedes the enthralling story of his development work on the Swift. There is an enlightening chapter devoted to the methods adopted to deliver Attackers from S. Marston to Karachi, after 36 of these aircraft had been ordered by the Royal Pakistan Air Force, and a great deal about deck-landings and take-offs with both piston and jet machines.

There are advanced chapters on the problems of high-speed flight in relation to the aircraft structure and a heartening forecast by Lithgow that pilot-less missiles will never replace pilot-flown aircraft.

The whole book is very well written and produced, with excellent photographs; amongst which there is not one posed portrait of the author but plenty of casual and action views of this very brave and talented young man. Moreover, Lithgow endears himself to us still more by describing the cars of his fellow test-pilots at Vickers. i.e., Dave Morgan’s “two vintage Rileys he is constantly underneath in a losing battle to keep one serviceable” and “Chunk” Horne who “maintains a fleet of the most impossible motor cars, currently owning a Roesch Talbot and a D8 Delage.”

An excellent book, which would be enhanced by an index — and seems to contain one small but confusing slip between Sefang and Seafire on page 77. — W. B.

“H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” by John Dean, 192 pp., 5 ½ in. by 8 ¾ in. (Robert Hale, Ltd., 63, Old Brampton Road, S.W.7. 12s. 6d.)

This book is an ideal buy for sweethearts and wives who adore the Royal Family, because, before giving it as a present, you can read the references to the motoring exploits of H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh.

John Dean, his valet for many years, frequently motored beside the Duke when H.R.H. was driving his M.G. Midget, Austin Sheerline, Daimler and Rolls-Royce cars — the book does not go up to the point where H.R.H. acquired a modern Lagonda. The Duke is President of the A.A. and has decided and worthwhile views on motoring affairs. On the road he behaves, according to Dean, much as other keen drivers, chafing at “mimsers” who cause delays, shouting “matchbox” at an obstructing Austin Seven and driving long distances without stopping until necessity prevailed.

There are references to doing 100 m.p.h. in an open Bentley, in which the Duke put up an excellent average speed from London to Bishopthorpe, to the discomfiture of the Archbishop of York, as you will see from page 92. If you wonder what happens when unsuspecting police patrols stop a car which the Duke is driving, or how he pays for his petrol, etc., John Dean’s story will tell you.

Inevitably much of the material has appeared before in other accounts of the Royal Family, but the Duke’s faithful valet, who serviced him from long before his marriage and on through the eventful Royal tours until after the Coronation, adds at least as much which is new, enthralling and often intimate.

A good present, which most of you will read before wrapping it up. — W. B.

“B.B.C. Handbook, 1955.” 224 pp., 4 ¾ in. by 7 in (British Broadcasting Corporation, London, W.1. 5s.)

There is practically nothing about motoring in the pages of this book, unless it be the references to motor-racing fixtures broadcast from B.B.C. stations, yet this little work is so absorbing to those who use their radio or T.V. sets intelligently and represents so much for such a modest price that we gladly devote these few lines to it. Another excellent present for delayed packing! — W. B.

“The Vintage Motor Car,” by Cecil Clutton and John Stanford. 240 pp., 6 in. by 9 in. (B. T. Batsford, Ltd., 4, Fitshardinge Street, Portman Square, W.1. 25s.)

This long-awaited book on the vintage motor car is particularly opportune, coming as it does at a time when the Anglo-American Vintage Car Rally has but recently successfully concluded and the V.S.C,C., of which Cecil Clutton is President, is approaching its majority.

A book on vintage cars by Clutton cannot fail to be accurate and informative, so that approach to “The Vintage Motor Car” is one of interest to discover bow “CC” has gone about his task rather than that of looking for flaws and faults.

We find his pen curiously restrained compared with his writings in the V.S.C.C. Bulletin when he was its Editor — rather as if his publisher sat behind him, gun in hand, looking over his shoulder. When the A.V. monocar has to be described we get the real Sam: “This strange and splendidly dangerous service carried its driver only and came to a sharp point at the front.” But generally the book contains straightforward descriptions of the more worthwhile cars of the vintage era (1919 to 1930), arranged in the modern alphabetical style under four headings, Sports Cars, Economy and Utility Cars. Touring Cars, and Luxury Cars.

The book has an historical lead-in and here the authors are more critical, even to the extent of poking fun at modern cars, although in a more restrained manner than L. T. C. Bolt adopts almost throughout his “Horseless Carriage.”

An astonishingly large and absorbing amount of information is packed between the covers of this new book, chapters being devoted to the vintage car in general, and motoring competitions in the ‘twenties, as well as to the aforesaid descriptions of different models.

If any disappointment is felt it is that, in spite of the large number of makes and models covered, space prevents the authors from touching on all the lovable characteristics and foibles of each one, or of putting down all the knowledge they possess of this specialised subject. Moreover, the enormous amount of motoring material which has appeared in print since the war results in some inevitable repetition so far as more widely-read enthusiasts are concerned. For example, data given on the vintage Bentleys has appeared in wartime Motor Sports and in reprints ordered subsequently by the Bentley Drivers’ Club, the Bugatti references repeat information available in a number of different places, and the chapter on competition events naturally cannot help repeating facts already presented in books such as “The Grand Prix Car,” “Shelsley Walsh,” “Trials and Rallies,” “Racing Voiturettes,” ” The 200 Mile Race,” and “The Story of Brooklands.”

This the authors gracefully acknowledge and any criticism which this comment seems to imply is offset by the very masterful approach and collation they have achieved. If some aspects of the subject base had to be skated around, the skating is very nicely executed; and several new facts certainly emerge, as, for instance, the difficulties met by Napier when adopting light-alloy engine construction and the true source of origin of Morris’ Hotchkiss engines.

Their publisher seems to have done them less than justice in respect of the illustrations, for the small line-drawings of famous vintage cars, obviously copied from contemporary photographs, are not particularly inspiring and most of the photographs have been published elsewhere. The frontispiece of a 40/50-h.P. Rolls-Royce tourer in the Alps sets a standard not entirely maintained subsequently and, especially as the authors write of the cars they discuss mainly in contemporary terms, it seems a pity for photographs of modified vintage cars to be included, such as a “cut-and-shut” Lancia Lambda with too-big headlamps and a 9-hp. Amilcar which has sprouted non-standard aero-screens. On the other hand, the full-page plates are beautiful in the extreme and the book, printed clearly on excellent paper, has a splendid dust-jacket, painted by S. Robertson Rodger and depicting 30/98 Vauxhall, Rolls-Royce, G.P. Bugatti and Morris cars of the appropriate period.

Much of controversial interest is found in “The Vintage Motor-Car,” the authors stoutly declaring their preference for 30/98 to Bentley, while the topic of whether a bull-nose Morris is nicer to drive than a Clyno of the same vintage arises. Cars such as Clyno, Swift and Singer tend to be written down — “it is difficult to feel any burning enthusiasm for such cars, whose virtues are really only those of reliability …” which is very honest considering that John Stanford served his “vintage apprenticeship” with a Clyno and a Swift! The authors are also clearly no lovers of the Mercédès-Benz so far as cars of the vintage era are concerned. Nor does the Bertelli Aston Martin receive much prominence, although, of course, this car didn’t really get into production until post-vintage times.

One would not presume to find mistakes in a book by such experienced and well-known vintage-car personalities and, indeed, this reviewer has spotted scarcely any. The 1924 Six Days Trial has become transported from Wales to Scotland, the 3-litre Sunbeam is named as having the first twin-camshaft engine to be offered for sale by any European factory, with the Ballot named apparently as an afterthought, although Maudsley offered such a design before Sunbeam, and what of Salmson? The authors are incorrect in stating that no, special competition Clyno appeared. Otherwise, no fault to find; and we rejoice that such a splendid reference work is now available to those who find this world a better place because vintage cars have survived and can be acquired and restored. It is dedicated to members of the Vintage Sports Car Club, who have a treat in store. — W. B.

“Beyond Expectation,” by K. B. Hopfinger, M.S.A.E., M.S.I.A. 177 pp., 5 ½ in. by 8 ¾ in. (G. T. Foulis, Ltd., 7. Milford Lane, W.C.2. 15s.)

Although this book is sub-titled “The Volkswagen Story,” it contains much entirely fresh matter of interest to students of the high-performance car, for this is really the life-story of that talented Austrian engineer, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche.

Dr. Porsche, in a long career which terminated only with his death at the age of 76 three years ago, was a very versatile and eminently successful automobile engineer. He commenced by designing the Lohner-Porsche petrol-electric cars and in 1906 he became Technical Director of Austro-Daimler. His early tasks included forming a racing department and, after experiments with a Mercédès petrol-electric racing car, Porsche brought out the 28/30 Maja, later developed as the 28/32, examples of which did well in the 1909 Prince Henry Trials and were further developed into the streamlined Prince Henry Austro-Daimlers which finished first, second and third in the 1910 event. (There is an illustration of a 1906 Porsche designed petrol-electric Austro-Daimler with which Otto Kaes is said to have established several records at Brooklands” — of which there seems to be no record in our files.)

Porsche designed a wide range of Austro-Daimler aero-engines, and, after the war, the 1,100-c.c. and 1,500-c.c. Sascha Austro-Daimler racing cars. In 1923 Dr. Porsche joined Daimler-Benz, as their Technical Director had left to go to Horsch. Porsche brought out the supercharged Mercédès engines, and appointed Alfred Neubauer as racing manager. He followed with the Mercédès -Bens 5, SS and SSK sports models and some notable Mercédès-Benz commercial vehicles, a diesel-engined example of which won our Dewar Trophy in 1928. He also worked on a secret Mercédès motor-cycle project which because the revolutionary transverse-twin, shaft-drive, spring-heel B.M.W., and on a still-born Mercédès small car which, rather curiously, does not seem to have been the rear-engined Type 170.

Always keen to design small cars, Porsche was responsible, in 1926, for the Mercédès Type -200 Stuttgart 2-litre Six.

After differences of opinion with Benz directors Porsche went to Steyr, where he modified the Type 200 Mercédès into the Steyr 30and the very advanced 5.3-litre Steyr Austria. which he drove 715 miles at an average speed of 48 m.p.h. to the 1929 Paris Salon.

When Austro-Daimler absorbed Steyr, Dr. Porsche returned to Stuttgart as an independent consultant. In this capacity he was responsible for the 2-litre and 3.2-litre streamlined Wanderer cars, and developed his swing-axle i.r.s. and commenced design-work on a small car with a rear-placed radial five-cylinder water-cooled engine, which, when Zundapp couldn’t build it, was developed for the N.S.U. Company. At this time Porsche’s administrator was the ex-Mercédès racing driver Alfred Rosenberger.

His two main projects now constituted a small economy car and the rear-engined racing car afterwards; adopted by Auto-Union. Incidentally, it was Dr. Porsche who directly persuaded Hitler to finance Auto-Union’s racing programme when the Chancellor had thought that a Mercédès-Benz team would be sufficient.

These early designs of Porsche are discussed by the author and although not much detail is given, some fascinating insights are gleaned.

The major portion of the book describes how, after a Fiat business contract prevented N.S.U. from building Porsche’s Volksauto, for which he had decided on an air-cooled flat-four, push-rod o.h.v. engine, he was approached by Hitler’s agents and persuaded to work on the national Volkswagen project calling for a £45 four-seater.

While his V16 Auto-Union racing cars were winning G.P. honours all over Europe, Dr. Porsche was busy if not entirely optimistic in building a people’s car to the Chancellor’s drastic price limit. He experimented exhaustively with an 850-c.c, two-cylinder two-stroke and an 850-c.c. double-piston two-cylinder two-stroke, as well as setting out designs for a horizontally opposed two-cylinder sleeve-valve four-stroke, a blown two-cylinder two-stroke, a three-cylinder two-stroke and a diesel, before settling for a 995-c.c. air-cooled flat-four four-stroke.

The story which unfolds is as dramatic as any novel. How a factory was built, Mercédès-Benz asked to build six prototypes, which they turned out in beautiful style, how Porsche studied U.S. mass-production methods and how German engineers were lured back to Wolfsburg from their jobs in American factories. How the German industry reacted and the Opel Volkswagen was disposed of by Hitler. How Porsche’s son, Ferry, controlled a test team of S.S.-stormtroopers to drive 60 prototype VWs a distance of over 1 ½ million miles; the first three prototypes had each been driven over 31,000 miles, commencing the day after they had been delivered. And of how distribution was planned, the factory turned instead to war work, bombed out by Allied bombers, only to be used after the war for the repair of British military vehicles.

The British could have acquired the Wolfsburg factory as war reparations, but official Government reports failed to enthuse over the car. British Army authorities, on the contrary, saw the merit of the VW, as had Rommel, recognising the qualities of high-geared durability, light weight and an engine equally at home in the heat of the African desert or the cold of a Russian winter, which, allied to excellent servicing facilities and good finish, are now ensuring, good sales of these cars in places as far apart as America, Switzerland and the Gold Coast.

Meanwhile, Dr. Porsche, imprisoned by the French, was released to advise technically on the 4 c.v. Renault (while his son worked on the Cisitalia racing-car project), and then returned to Germany to build the now well-established sports-model Porsche.

The book concludes with an eye-opening account of Wolfsburg rebuilt, and, under the control of Dr. Nordholf, developed into a modern factory employing over 24,000 persons, which from producing only 26 VWs a day seven years ago, now produces over 1,250 daily, in the fourth largest automobile factory in the World, smaller only than General Motors, Ford and B.M.C.

I regard Hopfinger’s “Beyond Expectation” as the first refreshingly new motoring book we have had for a long time — definitely the motoring book of the year, because of the new facts it presents and the complete biography of Dr. Porsche it contains. It paints a disturbing, thought-provoking picture of how politics and war have influenced industry. In places one itches to edit the text, but there is no denying that this is an enormously impressive, moving story. It remands us that the VW is a car designed by one of the world’s great engineers, who was responsible for Mercédès-Benz sports cars and the Grand Prix Auto-Union, after which Mercédès-Benz paid him the compliment of commissioning him to design their Land Speed Record car.

Some of the export success of the VW no doubt stems, too, from the exhaustive testing it received prior to 1939. The British Motor Industry lost the opportunity of building cars to this brilliant design, which is now penetrating into the world’s export markets: it is perhaps satisfactory that, although Hitler is dead, he has left this legacy to benefit a nation which his folly so nearly destroyed.
W. B.

“Sports Cars in Action,” by John R. Bond. 254 pp., 8 in. by 11 in. (Henry Holt and Co., New York. 10 dollars.)

This is something quite new amongst a spate of sports-car books which have issued recently from American publishers. John Bond, well-known publisher of Road and Track, sets out to introduce and describe comprehensively all the sports cars that are available on the American market.

He does this in the grand manner, using large uncrowded pages, glossy art paper and good, original photographs. With each test is an acceleration chart, consisting of figures obtained by Road and Track in the course of road-testing or, where in a few cases such are not available, calculated figures. This data will be of enormous interest, although of the greatest value to U.S. readers, because fuel and other factors vary as between America and Europe.

Bond provides a chatty, informative introduction to his subject, in which it is amusing to see the space devoted to an explanation of “liters,” and with each of his 36 sports-car descriptions he provides comprehensive specification tables. It is of interest that he sub-divides the material as follows: Competition Sports Cars (i.e., Osca, Frazer-Nash, Maserati, Mercédès-Benz 190SL and 300SL, Aston Martin DB3S, Jaguar XK120C, Ferrari, Allard J2X and JR. Kurtis and Cunningham C4 and C5), Dual-Purpose Sports Cars (i.e.,Dyna-Panhard, M.G., Singer, H.R.G., Porsche, Triumph TR2, A.C. Ace, Siata, Morgan Plus Four, Lea-Francis; Lancia, Austin-Healey, Aston Martin DB2/4, Pegaso, Jaguar XK120 and Chevrolet Corvette), and Touring Sports Cars (i.e.,Simca Nine, Bristol 404, Alfa-Romeo, Sunbeam Alpine, Allard Palm Beach and K3, Mercédès-Benz 3005, Jensen, Nash-Healey, Bentley Continental and Cunningham C3). From which you will appreciate the scope of this fine book, which would make an admirable gift-book. — W. B.

”Motor Cycling’ Road Tests” (3rd Series). 64 pp., 8 in. by 10 ½ in. (Temple Press Ltd., Bomlino. Green Lane, E.C.1. 4s.) This is a “must” for four-wheeler enthusiasts who want to keep abreast of performance in the two-wheeler world. The book contains reprints of 17 illustrated road-test reports of 1954 machines from Motor Cycling (ranging from the 102-m.p.h. 348-cc. B.S.A. “Gold Star” B32 to the 181-m.p.g. 98-c.c. Excelsior Consort F4), eight illustrated impressions of rarer models, full-page cut-away mechanical drawings of eight famous two-stroke and four-stroke power units, as well as a chapter on road-test procedure and tabulated data. Good value for four bob! — W. B.

“Redex Reliability Trial Annual, 1954.” 80 pp., 8 ½ in. by 10 ¾ in. (Scientific Magazines Publishing Co.. 390-392, Princes Highway, Rockdale. N.S.W.)

This very-nicely-produced and lavishly-illustrated book is the story of the 1954 Redex Reliability Trial round Australia, which created very considerable interest, resulted in victory for a Ford V8, Peugeot 203 and Holden, and was decidedly more tough than last month’s M.C.C. Redex National Rally in this country.

The book has been compiled from official records of the event and contains an account of the experiences of the crew of a Rover 75 which constituted the publisher’s own entry.

* * *

Those who wish to make a study of modern street lighting can obtain from the Press Office of the British Thomson-Houston Company, Ltd., a very informative and convincingly-illustrated book entitled “Modern Streetlighting Practice,” by H. E. G. Watts. A. M. I. Mech. E.

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The address of Craftsman Publications, publishers of “Sports-Car Bodywork,” by B. W. Locke, reviewed last month, is 9, New Street Square, London, E.C.4 (Central 7822), and not as given last month.

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Marchal Distributors Ltd. emphasise that the price of their Girofar swivelling spotlamp is 75s. and not 5s. as appeared in their advertisement in last month’s issue of Motor Sport.