Motor books for Christmas
“Autocar Road Tests, Autumn 1962.” 112 pp., 11 5/8 in. X 8 3/4 in. Wife Books Limited, Dorset House„S’tamford Street, London, S.E.I. 7s. 6d.)
The Autocar has gone, its place taken by Autocar, and this very welcome soft-cover volume of road-tests reports emphasises this by presenting these in their new five-page form, this extended and improved format embracing more comprehensive specifications laid out for easier understanding, and performance figures presented in graphs. Standardised layout of performance data makes for easy comparison between the various cars tested.
The number of pages of this uniquely valuable reference work has been increased but its price remains at a modest 7s. 6d.— postage rod. extra.
All who enjoy discussing the merits and demerits of various cars will find this book a source of information to occupy many hours of close study; it is also a splendid quick reference for salesmen, design staff, dealers and students. In fact, it deserves the support of all true enthusiasts.
The cars covered range wide, from Aston Martin DB4 G.T. Zagato to Wolseleys 6/110 and 16/60. In price the vehicles tested range from £688 to £5,157. Fastest was the 152.3-m.p.h. Aston Martin, most accelerative the same car (s.s. +-mile in 14.5 sec.), most economical the Citroen Anti 6, with 444 m.p.g. I dislike the advertisements that clutter up this book but if the alternative is discontinued production we must just ignore them!—W. B.
“The Motor Road Tests-1962 Series.” 175 pp., 14 in. x sg in. (Temple Press Books, Bowling Green Lane, London, E.C.1. 12s. 6d.)
This book is complementary to that reviewed above and most of our readers will want both. We note that The Motor is content to retain the title it has had since 1903 and its road-tests, 43 of them, that are reproduced in this fascinating soft-cover volume, retain the format they adopted some years ago. Each one provides comprehensive data on specification, equipment and servicing. There are over zoo illustrations.
No longer is any explanation of testing methods deemed necessary but the book concludes with the usual tabulated information. The cars dealt with include Gilbern Mk. 1, Lancia Flavia, Lotus Super 7, M.G. Midget, Morgan 4/4 Mk. IV, Morris Mini-Cooper, Panhard PLx7 Tigre, Reliant Sabre, Sunbeam Harrington Le Mans, Sunbeam Rapier IIIA, Triumph TR4, Vauxhall VX 4/90 and Volkswagen 15oo, as well as many more ordinary cars. Fastest is the Bristol 407 with 125.2 m.p.h., most accelerative the Lotus Super 7 (s.s. :}-mile in 16.2 sec.), and most sparing of fuel the Renault R4L, which gave 43.2 m.p.g. overall.
In this autumn edition, the 14th, the ad-men have contrived to take some of the space.—W. B. “Ecurie Ecosse,” by David Murray. 184 pp., 8i in. x 5 in. (Stanley Paul & Co., 178-202, Great Portland Street, London, W.1. zis.)
I enjoyed this book, because it is written in an honest, enthusiastic and straight-forward fashion. David Murray might be accused of bias in favour of the Scots team whose history he outlines—he would be sub-human if he wasn’t. I3ut this in no way spoils his story.
Time passes quickly, so it is useful to be able to re-cap on the racing David Murray did himself before a serious crash in a Mascrati decided this cheerful, friendly, quietly confident Scotsman to form Ecurie Ecosse ten years ago.
In places his account dwells rather a lot on larking about and fun and games, but one feels that this stems from modesty and a desire to introduce his drivers to the reader. There is no doubt, though, that if they had fun and were at times particularly lighthearted, Ecurie Ecosse achieved everything they set out to do— perhaps more, when their two consecutive Le Mans victories are taken into account. The team was undoubtedly at its best when it truly represented Scotland, the cars prepared in Edinburgh and driven by Scotsmen, whereas now they are based at Bourne during the racing season and English drivers have been taken on, but the author makes it clear that in spirit the team is still entirely Scottish. If he ” sells ” Ecurie Ecosse several times over, this stems from Murray’s great enthusiasm, patriotism and, above all, from his sincere love of motor racing.
This book will be especially welcome in Scotland, but it is also another gap in racing history tilled in—in the text, and in appendices giving Ecurie Ecosse successes front 1952 to 1961 (68 first places, 43 seconds and 39 thirds at 125 meetings), their drivers, 40 in all, every .event in which they have competed and the products used in their Jaguar, Cooper, Lister, Tojeiro and Connaught cars, headed by Esso fuel and oil, Dunlop tyres and Lucas. electrics. Yes, I enjoyed this one.—W. B.
“B.R.M.,” by Raymond Mays and Peter Roberts. 240 pp., 8 3/4 in. x 5 3/8 in. (Cassell & Co. Ltd., 35, Red Lion Square, London, W.C. 1. 30s.)
This is another very welcome book, filling in gaps in motorracing history, and its appearance this year is especially opportune, because in 1962 the luckless and oft-despised B.R.M. cars have at last shown race-winning form, in a big way.
Naturally, Raymond Mays, whose memories and explanations have been sorted out by that prolific scribe Peter Roberts, is on the side of B.R.M., which is only natural, as he was its sponsor. So the many set-backs and continual failures of the original, and fabulous, V t6 13.R.M.s are excused as far as possible. But the development story that runs through the book is fascinating and technical specifications of the Type t5 rf-litre V16 (you could have bought them for £500 each at one time!), the Type 25 and Project 48 21-litre cars and the present Project 56 If-litre V8s are contained in an appendix, including output figures between 4,000 and 12,000 r.p.m. Another appendix lists every race in which B.R.M.s competed, from 1950 to this year’s Italian G.P., and the placings achieved. Some little known facts also emerge from the text, such as a proposal that a V16 B.R.M. should try for the Land Speed Record.
Cassell are to be congratulated on bringing out so quickly such an up-to-date book. The last chapter deals in detail with this year’s races, when some fine results were achieved after Tony Rudd had taken over from Peter l3erthon as Chief Engineer.
The opening chapters re-cap on Raymond Mays’ early motorracing exploits with Hillman, Bugatti, A.C,, Vauxhall Villiers, E.R.A. and other cars, as described so well in his earlier book ” Split Seconds,” published some years ago, and tell of how the B.R.M. organisation came into being and, with few punches held, of the early humiliations and vicissitudes. Some interesting items emerge—before the unhappy drive-shaft failure that left Sommer on the starting grid at Silverstone Mays claims to have tested the transmission by dropping in the clutch at to,000 r.p.m., and the handling qualities of the VI6 are neatly described by publication of Stirling Moss’ report after trying out the car.
Much later in the book the testing of the current B.R.M. V8 racing engine is quoted in much detail. For technical snippets such as these, a consecutive history of a great British team, or the many very clear illustrations, all B.R.M. supporters and many other motor-racing followers will want this book. There is a useful index.—W. B.
“The Fast Ones,” by Peter Miller. 240 pp., 8 1/2 in. x 5 11/16 in. (Stanley Paul & Co. Ltd., 178-202, Great Portland Street, London, W.1. 21s.)
Most personal accounts of close association with motor cars and competition motoring are fascinating and this autobiography by Peter Miller, who spent some years in Rootes’ Competition Department and went on to become Assistant Racing Manager of the Aston Martin team when it was competing in sports-car races, is no exception. It is not an important contribution to motor-racing history but it depicts realistically how motor-racing personalities and hangers-on are occupied, or spend their time, often in somewhat playboy pursuits. Much of the pleasure of going motor racing along with Peter Miller, however, is spoiled on account of his obsession with crashes. There was no need for his opening chapter to deal in gory detail with the sad accident at Le Mans in 1955, and it is no credit to author and publisher that they include three ghastly pictures of this accident. And polite words failed me when I discovered that 21 pages are devoted to racing and rally drivers killed since the war, complete with details, the author asking if readers can furnish him “with further information on dead drivers listed or other fatalities of which he has not heard.” As if this isn’t sufficiently morbid, chapter 24 is devoted to drivers’ accounts of accidents in which they have been involved—Tony Brooks, Les Leston, Bruce Halford, Mike Parkes, Pat Griffiths, Henry Taylor, all told at considerable length. Clearly, Peter Miller has an obsession with destruction and death.
There is a number of rather unfortunate errors of fact in the book and many spelling mistakes, especially where the names of foreign drivers are concerned; responsibility for the latter must be shared by Bob Morley, Barbara Gow, Jean Gray and Marion Wilson, who read the proofs. There is an index and 35 illustrations, six devoted to crashes.—W. B.
“The Triumph Companion,” by Kenneth Ullyett. 168 pp., 8 1/2 in. x 5 3/4 in. (Stanley Paul & Co., 178-202, Great Portland Street, London, W.1. 18s.)
These books on well-known makes of cars, in which history, servicing data, tuning information and a mixed bag of good and appropriate pictures and diagrams are cleverly blended, have proved deservedly popular. That on Triumph cars, covering mainly the TR models, is no exception. Some exceptionally pithy pieces on Leyland taking over Standard-Triumph and the youthful days of Ken Richardson are included; it is this ” different ” approach that makes Kenneth Ullyett’s books so acceptable.
He quotes the first Triumph car as the 10/20 and does not appear to recall the Triumph Fifteen, with contracting front brakes, of which one or two survive. He, like Peter Miller, feels it necessary to describe the 1955 Le Mans accident; the words he quotes were not wired by our Continental Correspondent!— W. B.
“A History of Coachbuilding,” by George A. Oliver. 216 pp., 8 3/4 in. x 5 3/4 in. (Cassell & Co. Ltd., 35, Red Lion Square, London, W.1. 42s.)
Congratulations to George Oliver as much for thinking of a fresh subject for a motoring book as for writing such an interesting work for the fourth title in the new series of Montagu Motor Books (the others being Lord Montagu of Beaulieu ‘s “Lost Causes” and ” Jaguar ” and Boddy’s “History of Montlhery Autodrome “).
“A History of Coachbuilding ” traces the evolution of carriagework from the days of horse-drawn vehicles, sorts out the great variety of types named in Edwardian and vintage times and discusses styling trends, the last-named naturally being based largely, one might almost say inevitably, on thepersonal opinions and preferences of the author.
If any disappointment is felt, it is that constructional details seem to concern Mr. Oliver less than styling and evolution. The many and diverse illustrations are grouped together at the end of the book—they include many examples of production bodywork, instead of being a selection of the more handsome and/or exotic works of the specialist coachbuilder’s art.
This book breaks fresh ground in the saturated field of motoring literature but I am not sure that Mr. Oliver has had the last word on the subject with which it deals.—W. B.
“Famous Racing Cars,” by David Hodges. 89 pp., 5in. x 7 1/2 in. (Temple Press Books, Bowling Green Lane, London, E.C.1. 10s. 6d.)
This little landscape volume describes, illustrates in line-drawing and photographic reproduction, and provides potted specifications of 44 racing cars, from the G.P. Fiat of 1912 to present-day F.1 cars. The Belond AP Special is there, and the Wx25 MercedesBenz and C-type Auto-Union are included.
In the space available not much can be said about each car, but the pictures benefit from good paper, model makers should find the scale drawings useful, and altogether this book is recommended as a Christmas present.—W. B.
“Coleman’s Drive,” by John Coleman. 260 pp. 8 3/4 in. x 5 9/16 in. (Faber & Faber, 24, Russell Square, London W.C.1, 21S.) Here is a good tale of high adventure. To travel by motor car from Buenos Aires to New York would be an ambitious undertaking but to do so in a 1.925 Austin Seven Chummy. . . . This is what John Coleman writes about, entertainingly and in worthwhile detail. His car received final preparation at the Montagu Motor Museum, which sponsored the journey. The much travelled Austin is still in the Museum, not, presumably, because Coleman got tired of it after his successful marathon, but as some return for the Museum’s help. This is one of the best travel books of recent times and the reader cannot fail to be impressed by how well the little vintage car stood up to the mighty Andes, the terrible Atacoma Desert in Chile, and to traversing the Inca Kindom of Peru, the jungle of primitive Ecuador and dealing with more civilised hazards of the U.S.A.
After hearing all too often of motoring adventures on the M this book makes a refreshing change.—W. B.
“The Boys’ Book of Racing and Sports Cars,” .by Michael Marriott. 144 pp., so in. x 71 in. (Burke Publishing Co.
Ltd., 54, John Street, London, W.C.I. los. 6d.) .
This book would be an excellent present for boys interested in motor racing and fast cars. It covers history, racing-car design, race rules, different circuits, Formula Junior, team management and racing drivers. There are inevitably errors, of spelling and fact, and evidence that the book has been hastily written. But the book is packed with good pictures, the Ferguson and sports/racing cars get chapters to themselves, and most boys will lap it up and learn something of racing without doing themselves much harm. A pity the picture of poor old Brooklands is published upside down !—W. B. “Racing Cars Today,” by Rodney Walkerley. 127 pp., 9 in. x 51 in. (Arthur Barker, 20, New Bond Street, London, W.I. x5s.)
It really is time Walkerley gave up dashing off motor-racing books that mislead his readers. His “Facts & Figures” was full of errors, many of which occur again in this little book. Statements and figures on one page are frequently contradicted on another. A Mercedes-Benz W154 is captioned as a W163, the Connaught’s debut is given as 1951 instead of 1949/50, the power output of the 1954 Mercedes-Benz is over-stated by at least 6 b.h.p., the G.P. Lancia of that era is wrongly described, Connaught won at Syracuse in 1955, not 1956, the new rear-engined Lotus appeared early in 1960, not in x959, the 1961-64 G.P. Formula specified a weight of soo kg., not 450 kg. at first, and the latter weight is casually given as half-a-ton on page 34 but as 992 lb. by page 46! Then the Coventry-Climax engine of 1961 is described as a Mk. 2 FWA on page 36, but captioned as a FPF Mk. II on page 56. Its power is quoted as some 175 b.h.p. at 8,300 r.p.m. in the text, but as 155 b.h.p. at 7,500 r.p.m. in the caption.
A Ferrari ii-litre Viz engine with three superchargers is mentioned, and the reader is left to guess the actual top output of the F.I/120* Ferrari engine, 185 b.h.p. at 9,500 r.p.m., 190 b.h.p. at 9,000 r.p.m. and 200 b.h.p. at lo,000 r.p.m. being quoted in different places. The Fiat 500 is docked of 70 c.c., a Cooper given swing axle rear suspension whereas it used wishbone i.r.s., the V8 Coventry-Climax racing engine is variously quoted as developing 175 b.h.p. at 8,300 r.p.m., elsewhere at 8,6co r.p.m.
There are serious errors in chassis descriptions, doubts about the B.R.M.’s power output, the rear-engined B.R.M. appeared in 1959 not 1958, the racing f.w.d. Alvis appeared in the ‘twenties not the ‘thirties, Ferry not Ferdinand Porsche designed the Cisitalia, and in a special chapter on the Ferguson its fine performance in the British G.P. is entirely omitted. The chassis specification of the flat-8 Porsche is out of date, and Walkerley states that “no new engine can be expected to perform ioo per cent, in its first racing year,” which rather overlooks the 1961 no° Viz Ferrari and the pre-war 1i-litre V8 Mercedes-Benz. The suspension of the 1961 Lotus 20 is incorrectly described and, an unforgivable mistake, the World Champion of 1950 is given as Fangio, whereas that year it was Farina. So, you see, we must advise you that we cannot recommend “Racing Cars Today.” • *
Motorists can be caught out by so many different laws that they should welcome a very useful little book, “The Law for Motorists,” published by Consumers’ Association Ltd., 14, Buckingham Street, London, W.C.2, at 6s. post free. It deals calmly and logically with the Law as it affects road-users and dispenses information and advice about insurance, what to do if involved in an accident and procedure in Court. There is a useful glossary of legal terms. * * *
Batsford Ltd. have published “The Racing Driver” and “Starting Grid to Chequered Flag” in their 5s. paperback edition. The latter has been considerably enlarged and brought up to date.