“Riley—The Production and Competition History of the Pre-1939 Riley Motor Cars,” by Dr. A. T. Birmingham. 248 pp. 10 in. x 6.6 in. (G. T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 1-5, Portpool Lane, London, E.C.1. 45S.)
In recent months some outstanding one-make histories have become available which should provide intensely interesting reading for historically-minded readers as well as representing, as such books are primarily intended to do, invaluable reference works— Frazer Nash, Bull-Nose Morris, and now Riley.
Whereas the first two titles are published in a series of uniform size and style by Macdonald, the Riley history is published by G. T. Foulis. It is a somewhat smaller book than the other two and it is unfortunate that the many excellent illustrations, many of them of Riley racing and competition activities, are reproduced by what looks like a photo-litho process, which has removed any crispness the original prints possessed. That grumble disposed of, however, nothing but praise is to be bestowed on this comprehensive book. Dr. Birmingham is the Honorary Historian to the active and far-reaching, if self-effacing, Riley Register and he has written this long-overdue book with the help of research conducted over the last ten years and the assistance of various Riley experts such as David Walters, onetime Editor of the Riley Register Bulletin and Arnold Farrar, Hon. Sec. of the Riley Motor Club.
The book covers Riley history from the formation of the Company and the advent of its first motor vehicle, a Royal Riley Quadricycle of 1899 to the sad day for true Riley advocates when Nuffield took over. The chapters divide the account neatly, by dealing with the early bicycles, motorcycles and tricars, the vee-twin cars and the short-lived 17/30 h.p. Riley of 1913, the well-loved 10.8 h.p. side-valve Rileys of the Post-Armistice period, the later 11/40 and famous o.h.v. Riley Nine prototype, the 12-h.p.s.v. and early 9 h.p. models, the “Plus,” “Plus Ultra” Nines and the 6-cylinder 14/6, while the closing chapters deal with the development of the 9 h.p. and 6-cylinder cars, the many Riley competition successes, the advent of the 12/4 and, finally, of the V8, the Big Four and the first Nuffield models.
Dr. Birmingham gives plenty of detailed description of the important Riley models and he includes most if not all of the make’s racing successes, including Brooklands’ activities from the side-valve cars raced by Gillow and Ashby, to Freddie Dixon’s “Red Mongrel” and other famous Brooklands and T.T. Rileys onwards. Naturally, the competition successes, so numerous were they, have had to be somewhat compressed, while there is the impression that, detailed and comprehensive as this book is, a lot of the material has emanated from bound volumes of The Autocar and other motor journals, personal interviews with old Riley personalities, etc., having been ignored. There are no specification and other appendices, as in the Macdonald books, nor are Riley Register members and their cars listed—there is, perhaps, some excuse for this, because such lists soon become out of date.
This book, nevertheless, is splendidly comprehensive, puts the diverse and complicated Riley models in clear perspective, even to minor body and mechanical changes down the years, and it is very adequately illustrated with 250 rather flat illustrations. Line drawings of Riley badges, etc., are a worthwhile inclusion.
It is particularly interesting to be reminded that Riley pioneered the mechanically-closed inlet valve and that another of Percy Riley’s innovations was valve overlap. The Riley detachable wire wheel, the Wilson pre-selector and Salerni transmission systems used on later Riley models, the marine versions of Riley engines, all are dealt with in this excellent history.
We can imagine that those Riley enthusiasts who receive this book for Christmas will be lost to non-motoring activities for most of the holiday, while those who may be prompted by Dr. Birmingham’s story to become owners of pre-Nuffield Coventry Rileys and join the Riley Register can take heart from the knowledge that this worthy organisation, like the Singer O.C., seems to have effectively resisted the absurdly high prices asked for old cars in other club magazines.—W. B.
“Memories of Men and Motor Cars,” by S. C. H. Davis. 274 pp. 10 in. x 8 in. (Seeley, Service & Go. Ltd., 196, ShaftcsInny Avenue, London; W.C.2. 42S.)
” Sammy ” Davis requires no introduction as a motoring writer—he was for years Sports Editor of The Autocar, one of the Bentley boys of Le Mans fame, a real racing driver who replied to one’s youthful letters addressed to the Iliffe weekly, a reader-service lacking today.
Davis has written many books, and one feels he was at a bit of a loss to know how to do something different for this publisher. What he has done is to unfold the mechanical development of the motor car, in picture, diagram and text, from what he terms the “neolithic ” age to the present day, enlivening what could have been a dull and repetitive work with anecdotes drawn from his own long competition and journalistic career.
In a way the book is disjointed, inasmuch as lengthy descriptions are applied to individual pieces of mechanism, such as the Panhard and Daimler engine-speed governor of 1896, the Benz surface carburetter and the Leon-Bollee control lever, while later cars get much less attention. There are long chapters about the tests, trials and rallies of 1906-1938, racing in the early days, the tanks and specialised vehicles of the Second World War, and motoring in foreign parts, these merely whetting the appetite for a full-length biography from Davis’ pen, mentioning by make all the cars he has driven on road-test and in competition.
As I have said, a rather disjointed book, with plenty of illustrations, many of which, like some of the anecdotes, have been used before. It is therefore a rather expensive book hut S. C. H. D.’s admirers may decide that it’s worth it.—W. B.
“German High-Performance Cars-1894-1965,” by Jerrold Sloniger and Hans-Reinrich von Fersen. 264 pp. 9.25 in. x 6.5 in. (B. T. Batsford Ltd., 4, Pitzhardinge Street, London, W150S)
The German Motor Industry, from Volkswagen to Mercedes-Benz, has never been in a stronger position than it is today. It may be that German cars of the vintage era seem rather dull but overall some very significant and interesting designs have emerged from German factories. Apart from the great motor racing achievements of Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union in the mid-thirties and of Daimler-Benz after the war, some not-to-be-disregarded high-performance sporting cars were evolved for the Prince Henry and Kaiserpreis Trials prior to the Kaiser War and, of course, Mercedes dominated the last French Grand Prix to be run, at Lyons, on the eve of the outbreak of hostilities. In the late-thirties D.K.W. and Adler pioneered production front-wheel-drive cars and the greatly-respected 328 B.M.W. appeared, sold in this country as the Frazer Nash-B.M.W. by the Aldington brothers.
This typically Botsford history, with copious support of good pictures and many line drawings, the latter including many chassis and engine diagrams, sets out to unravel the cars of the German Motor Industry over more than 70 years. Written by a well-known motoring writer and a German motor historian, it provides a well-written history of an incredible number of the faster cars from Aero to Ziindapp.
The market for such a book will probably be distinctly limited but it fills a gap for the serious students of automobile history and the collection of unique (at all events in this country) photographs goes a considerable way towards justifying the high price.—W. B.
“The Ford Book of Competition Motoring,” edited by Jim Clark and Alan Brinton. 107 pp. 9.25 in. x 6.2-in. (Stanley Paul & Co., 178-202, Great Portland Street, London, W115S.)
This book, nicely presented and adequately illustrated with pictures which are by no manner of means a Ford monopoly, provides, in addition to colour-plates of Clark in Lotus F.2, Indianapolis Lotus-Ford and Ford Lotus-Cortina saloon, up-to-date essays on various aspects of modern competition motoring — Walkerley on history (the exception, and superficial), Clark on his racing career, Sprinzel on rallying, Alan Mann on team management, Moss on the racing driver’s technique, Sir John Whitmore on saloon-car racing, Brinton on the great drivers of past and present, McLaren on Le Mans, Blunsden on race organisation, Jenkinson on drag strips and speed bowls, Geoff Newman on trials, Ken Chambers on endurance runs, and Pomeroy on the future G.P. formula.
This one would make a very acceptable Christmas present and could hardly have been produced at the price had not Ford decided to back it, further proof of their interest in competition motoring.—W. B.
“International Rallying,” by Stuart Turner. 142pp 9.25in. x 7.5in. (G.T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 1-5 Portpool Lane, London, EC125S)
A Book about rallying by Stuart Turner is bound to be enjoyable, because from his experience as a driver, navigator, reporter and as a Competition Manager to B.M.C since 1961, he knows all the answers and his dry sense of humour makes his writing well worth reading whether or not you intend to become a rally competitor.
Turners first book concerned itself with rallies in this country. He has now given us a compact but highly informative book about the tougher task of International rallying. Driving, navigating (“the hot seat”), preparation of the rally car, managing a team an analysis of the important rallies, such as the Mote Carlo Rally, etc – it is all there, good experienced advice delightfully presented, with examples of regulations, pace-notes, etc. The illustrations are well suited to the book, and very definitely are not a B.M.C monopoly, and that showing six varieties of studded tyres is particularly interesting.
The chapter on “How to Become a works Rally Driver” will be of great value to those at whom it is directed. It commences with the three types of letter a competition manager is likely to receive from would-be professionals and then goes on to explain the procedure that may, if the would0be professional is sufficiently determined, lead to him (or her) taking part in the Tulip as his (or her) first International. To encourage him (or her) Turner tells us how Timo Makinen, Donald and Erle Morley, Paddy Hopkirk, Roger Clark and Vic ELford broke into the Sport. Highly recommended! W.B
“Motor Road-Tests, 1965 Series,” 297pp 11.5in. x 8.25in., soft covers. (Temple Press Books,George Newmes Ltd., Tower House, Southampton Street, London WC221S)
Now here is a moderately priced publication so full of reading matter and tabulated data that it will take more than Christmas Day to digest it. These extremely useful reference books, consisting of reprints of Motor’s comprehensive road-test reports, are well known, and are irresistible to enthusiasts, besides being required reading for anyone contemplating purchase of a car. This volume, which contains some advertising, covers 50 cars, from the utility devices to quick stuff like the Aston Martin DB5, Ford Mustand and Jaguar E-type as well as sporting and sports machinery such as the FIat 2300S, Lotus Elan Mercedes-Benz 230SL, Marcos 1800, M.G.-M.G.-B, Mini-Cooper 1275S and Sunbeam Alpine IV and Tiger. Interesting tests are those relating to the N.S.U Wankel Spider, Wartburg, Gilbern GT, Chevrolet Impala, etc.
Fastest car of the 50 is the Jaguar E-type, the 4,235c.c version which did exactly 150mph followed by the Aston Martin DB5 with 148.2mph from 3,995c.c Economy-wise, best performance was the 37.9m.p.g returned by the Austin Mini Countryman, with second best showing the 37.0m.p.h of the Renault 4L Estate car – If these seem poor figures, remember the Motor does prolonged performance testing during an overall test and corrects odometer optimism. As to acceleration, the Jaguar E-type was quickest over a s.s 1/4 mile, in 14.9sec., while the Ford Mustang took 15.2sec
The amount of invaluable data contained in the publication and the sheer weight of reading matter make it a fine investment at a guinea. – W.B.
“Autocar Road Tests – Autumn 1965,” 152pp 11.5in x 8.5in soft covers
Those who want the sort of information contained in the publication reviewed above, but who wish to pay less, will find that this Autocar road test volume fills their requirements admirably. Twenty-five road-test reports are included again with some advertising matter, and almost all of them are concerned with interesting high-performance cars, from Saab Sport to Jaguar E-type in 4.2 litre form.
Naturally, the jaguar E-type is both the fastest and most accelerative of the cars tested during the autumn period, being timed at 153m.p.h and 15.1sec over a s.s. 1/4mile. Most economical of the cars tested was the Mercedes-Benz 190D, which gae 32.2m.p.g overall of heavy oil; best of the electric-ignition cars in this respect was the Fiat 1500, with 26.8m.p.g. Interesting cars included in this book are the Alvis 3-litre series III, BMW 1800TI, Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu, Ford Executive Zodiac, Jensen C-V8 Lancia Flaminia coupe 3B. Lancia Flavia Zagato Sport and Sunbeam Tiger 260 – W.B.
“The Focke-Wulf 190-A Famous German FIghter,” by Heinz J Nowarra 212pp 11.25in x 9.75in (Harley-Ford Publications Ltd., Letchworth, Hertfordshire)
This is another of those very detailed, lavishly illustrated, Harleyford Aviation Histories, painstakingly complied as usual and commencing with a history of Focke-Wulf from 1909 onwards before launching into the story of the famous 190 fighter aircraft.
The book is illustrated with the tone paintings by W.F.Hepworth, M.S.I.A., drawings based on the original draughtsmanshop of R.Haufschild and U.Warzecha, and colour paintings by H.Lobner. This fighting record of the Focke-Wulf 190 is covered and some of the photographs of crashed aircraft, including the one which came down in Berlin with the burned0out ruins of the German “Houses of Parliament” in the background, are unique, the engines used in the 190 are fully written-up and the amount of fascinating detail included is quite remarkable, except to those who know the previous eleven volumes in the eagerly-awaited Harleyford series. )these are listed in an illustrated catalogue available free by sending your name and address on a postcard to the publisher’s address above, mentioning Motor Sport).
The three-view drawings and splendid colour pictures of all the 190 variants will be of lasting joy to model makers and aviation historians. Harleyford have done it again! – W.B
“Radio Control Manual,” compiled by Henry J Nicholls, BSC and FSMAE and Tony Dowdeswell. 158pp 8.25in x 5.6inch (model Aeronautical Press Ltd., 13-35 Bridge Street, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. 16s)
We make no apology for including this non-motoring title, because many of our readers are keen model makers and few could resist surely scale model radio controlled aeroplanes of any period – pioneer, First World War, vintage, second World War or modern which look right, take off, do aerobatics and land, by remote radio control. For example, as depicted on the book’s colour dust jacket you (or at least Robert Carlisle of Nevraska USA) can build scale DH2 of 5ft span, weighing 7.25lb. which actually fires rockets from its wings, or fly (or David Walker can) a scale Avro Shackleton MR3 powered by four yes four 0.19 cu, in K&B engines
This fascinating book reviews past progress discusses the various radio-control systems, surveys r/c engines, airframes, control kits, the years contests and the top modeller’s aeroplanes, etc. and includes useful plans of successful scale and non-scale r.c models W.B
“Simple Electric Car Racing,” by Vic Smeed. 104pp 7.5in x 5in (model Aeronautical Press Ltd., 13-35, Bridge Street, Hemel Hempstead, Herts 10s.6d)
VIc Smeed needs no introduction to the growing band of those who enjoy model car racing. This little book of his provides information on every conceivable aspect of this popular pastime, with illustrations to guide novice and expect alike through the outfalls that rip those building and racing miniature cars. It is really excellent value and should be read by every serious participant on the slot tracks. The chapter on track construction is especially useful – W.B
“The Veteran and Vintage Aircraft of the World,” by Leslie Hunt. 79pp 7.25in x 4.25in, soft covers (L. Hunt, 90, Woodside, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. 5s – All funds gto go to Trueloves School for physically handicapped boys at Ingatestone, Essex)
This remarkable little book written to benefit a deserving charity, sets out to list all known vintage and veteran aircraft. The author is liveral in his interpretation of age, and includes aeroplanes of the last war, as well as earlier machines. While some quite well-known vintage light aeroplanes may have escaped, what is listed is quite fantastic and I had no idea so many Spotfires are now intact. Checking on a Spitfire 5 and a Vampire TII which I see when I drive from Hampshire to Radnorshire, both are there, which was a good start.
The collections at Old Warden the Science Museum, the Imperial War Museum, “Skyfame,” the ONERA Research Establishment in Paris, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, etc, etc, are included and it seems almost impossible to catch the author out. For instance, when I saw my eldest daughter off to Miami in the “Queen Mary! I paid a repectiful visit to the Supermarine_S6B racing seaplane – and, sure enough there it is listed on page 20. And did you realise that a Lancaster 7 is to go on display at Silverstone? (p.19)
A most useful little book, this for those who like historic aeroplanes. It is well illustrated and firmly recommended – W.B
“1966 Almanack of Sport,” Edited by Charles Harvey. 624 pp. 7.75 in. x 6.5 in. (Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd., Potter Row, Gt. Missenden, Bucks. 35s.)
This bulky book covers every conceivable sport, in three sections. The first section is a day-by-day calendar of next year’s sporting events, ‘including motorcycling and motor racing, although only eight of the latter are given and they include the Veteran Car Run! The second section contains pocket biographies of 400 sportsmen, and includes all the World Champion G.P. drivers. There is also a quiz about the Land Speed Record. The third section of this remarkable directory is devoted to an encyclopedia covering So different sports, with past results origins and history, venues and club addresses. From angling to motor racing the reader can browse, entertained by quizes; anecdotes, cartoons and pictures. The motor racing text entries were compiled by William Buddy but it is a pity the publishers have put in a picture of Alberto Ascari captioned as Louis Chiron. This unique bedside book involved 60 specialist contributors, who wrote between them a million words. It lists 7,800 fixtures for 1966 and 500 direction guides to major sports grounds. To introduce it Sampson Low gave a luncheon at the Waldorf Hotel last month, motor racing being represented by the Editor of MOTOR SPORT and his wife, who took as their guest Mrs. Kay Petre, who drove Bugatti, Austin, E.R.A., Riley and other racing cars at Brooklands and elsewhere before the war and lapped the Weybridge Track at 134.75 m.p.h. in the formidable 10.5-litre V12 Delage.
“The Book of Bond,” by William Tanner. 111 pp. 13.5 in. x . 11.5 in. (Jonathan Cape Ltd:, 30; Bedford Square, London, WC1. 12s. 6d.)
If you are a James Bond fan, this book for aspiring 007s will be essential Christmas reading, although it is perhaps significant that whereas all the works we have read in which Sherlock Holmes, who achieved as much for his country as Bond, single-handed, without the weight of the Secret Service behind him and using comparatively primitive weapons, have been in fairly serious vein, whereas this light-hearted Cape publication “takes the mickey ” out of the now immortal 007.
This little book, with a reversible dust-jacket proclaiming it to be “The Bible—Revised To Be Read as Literature,” a subtle piece of 007-ship, is included here because it contains a chapter on Bond’s cars—how to modify a 1954 Bentley Continental or an Aston Martin DB3 so as to motor in the Bond image (the ejector seats of the latter are ignored, however). The 1930 blower-4.5 Bentley convertible coupe is mentioned, of course, but we doubt if Auto-Union will thank Bond for remarking that MercedesBenz “completely dominated the Grand Prix scene from 1934-1939.” (And he cannot spell Brauchitsch’s name correctly !) Bond-girls are advised that a white Lancia Flaminia ZagatoSpyder convertible with Dunlop rally-studded tyres is their best bet, all 007-ists are warned against the misdemeanor of owning a Morris Minor, and if you only aspire to M-ship you will need an old black Rolls-Royce, Phantom or Silver Wraith. Amusing !— W. B.
“The Age of Motoring,” by Pierre Dumont, Ronald Barker and Douglas B. Tubbs. 208 pp. 7.5 in. x 5.6 in. (Edita S.A., 28, Boulevard de: Grancy, Lausanne, Switzerland. £7 7s.)
This very elaborate publication, handled here by Nulls, contains 189 colour and 120 black and white illustrations, lots of quotes from sources both rare and well known, mainly relating to the French motoring scene, and technical data on a great many cars of 1900-1939. It is a luxury illustrated anthology; but cannot be classed as essential reading. Excellent for those who can afford to buy every motoring book published, I would advise the less affluent to spend the equivalent on several of the serious motoring histories or one-make books.—W. B.
“A Toy for the Lion,” by T. R. Nicholson. 139 pp. 8.75 in. x 5.75 in. (William Kimber, 46, Wilton Place, London, S. W.’. 25s.)
Tim Nicholson is at his best describing pioneering runs by pioncer automobilists in early motor cars across truly adventurous terrain. His previous books on this theme, “Adventurer’s Road,” “The Trail Blazers” and ” Five Roads to Danger” are well known. This latest work concerns the efforts of Bede Bentley to drive from England 3,000 miles to Ethiopia, in a 1907. 18-h.p. 4-cylinder Siddeley (designed by A. A. Remington) at about the time a German, Herr Arnold Holtz, was attempting the same journey in a 35-h.p. Nacke.
The preparations for this remarkable journey and the subsequent trials which the intrepid crew had to endure constitute entertaining reading, and studying history at Oxford has obviously fitted the author for the task he has set himself, the background of the countries and personalities involved, and particularly of Menelik II, Emperor of Ethiopia, being very well sketched in. There are sufficient photographic illustrations to carry the text and the colourful dust-jacket makes this a very acceptable Christmas book.—W. B.
“Bristol in the 1890s.”—We have commented previously on the motoring material in the Reece Winstone books about the early days of Bristol City. This latest title is mainly concerned, transportwise, with horse-trams, but one picture depicts three very early cars, one of which is a 4-h.p. tiller-steered Daimler brake, driven by A. E. Johnson, on the occasion of a trip organised by the Bristol Motor Co. in 1898, and there are also pictures of the same gentleman at the upright steering control of an 1899 3.5-h.p. Progress voiturette and with an 1896 1.25h.p Beeston motor tricycle, said to be the first in Bristol. Mr. Johnson was, apparently, the first person to drive a car from Bristol to London, in 1898. The book is obtainable from 23, Hyland Grove, Bristol 9, for 15s. 6d. post free.
Those motorists who want to be thoroughly conversant with every aspect of the British Isles, will find absolutely everything they desire, and much they probably never expected to find, in the “Reader’s Digest Complete Atlas of the British Isles.” This fine publication, with data on every conceivable subject, fine relief maps, and masses of colour illustrations, has inspired a Foreword by Admiral of the Fleet, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G. It is available from the Reader’s Digest Association Of London, and represents a really fine, Christmas gift, at £3 x8s. 6d. post free.
Cars in books
I suppose “Motor Tramp” by John Heygate (Cape, 1935) really comes under the heading of a “Belated Book Review” rather than “Cars in Books ” because it is a motoring book in its own right. I remember seeing it reviewed when it was first published and I was a callow young motoring writer, but a copy escaped me until a reader of MOTOR SPORT very kindly filled this gap in my bulging library.
I am extremely glad he did so, because “Motor Tramp” is an altogether charming book, although difficult to write about, for it is a travel book by someone who obviously loved his car, and motoring even more so, yet who isn’t quite a motoring enthusiast as most of us understand this term—a knowledgeable motorist, yet not, perhaps, with quite our kind of approach to motor cars. Heygate’s account starts when he drives out of the Abingdonon-Thames factory in a new M.G. Magna 4-seater (Reg. No. CG 1425, in case it is still alive). The running-in process was carefully accomplished, obeying the instruction on the windscreen not to exceed 40 m.p.h. for 1,000 miles. During that time the M.G. was housed in a London garage “between an arrogant American limousine and a Daimler hearse.” The running-in process took the owner on various odd errands, with great enjoyment—” Sometimes I drove with a flat windscreen through England in summer and the sharp perfumes rushed at my nostrils. Half-an-hour after the drive the concentrated smells of Staines’ linoleum factories and Hartford Bridge heather and tar and sweet flowers and castrol all came to life in turn as I sat in a house afterwards.” [Well, you can still smell the Staines linoleum, but the war put paid to most of the Hartford Bridge heather. But I still use the oil the author refers to with a lower-case ” c.” We may avoid sinus by having fixed windscreens but we miss much pleasure.—Ed.].
After the M.G. was run-in there were tours in France and Germany, sleeping in the car, mild adventures in Berlin in the just-before-the-war years, holidays in Austria and Italy with, as travelling companion, a chance friend met en route, all of which are the subject of subsequent chapters, written by one who, if he cannot be counted the Antoine de Saint Exupery of motoring, writes one of the best travel books I have ever read.
Because all this strenuous touring and holidaying was undertaken in the years immediately preceding the Second World War it makes a particularly interesting study today for students of history, recounting as it tines the dislike of the Italians by the Austrians, the rumblings of Fascism, the Red Eagle, the anti-Dollfus paper, the glimpses of Nazi -armies training and on the move…
There is a great deal of excellent motoring and sporting material Motor Tramp,” such as the first experience of doubledeclutching, hurling the low-hung M.G. up the Dolomites in winter, splendid descriptions of ski-ing, while the car, its radiator muff unfurled, lived in a barn off the Albergo di Passo On another occasion it spent its time in the hall of a gasthaus in then-empty village above Zillertal). It returned to Abingdon for repairs, the body being insecure on the chassis, the steering odd and oil consumption excessive, after 20,000 miles of Continental touring, Heygate being shown the racing department while he waited.
Driving home, the old London Road and toll-house, put out of commission when the Oxford By-pass was built, was discovered by accident—little more than a grass-grown lane. Can you still motor along it, I wonder, as Heygate and his M.G. did, after mounting the footpath and diving into the blackberry bushes ?
There are fascinating accounts of drives in pre-war England, a hint of embryo parking problems in St. James’s Square, discourses on passengers, including a hitch-hiking Cadet from Sandhurst when the Military Academy was then the R.M.C. After 6,000 miles in England, the M.G. went on another visit to the Continent, across the battlefields of the 1914/18 war, into swastika-flying Germany, and on through Salzburg and Linz to Prague.
This remarkable book, which even includes sonic unexpectedly sexy interludes, ends with an encounter, high up in the snows of the Stelyio, with a speed hill-climb—” One after another, at irregular intervals, they roared under our feet and came over the summit, swung into narrowing spaces in the park ground and braked. The drivers climbed out and strolled over to the timing box. Whether they hurtled over the Summit in long red Alfa Romeos„ or rushed with the quiet Swishing of the Lancia motors or the harsh Staccato Maseratis or sat up at the wheel of the noisy little Balillas, whatever their car or horse-power the drivers displayed the same calm self-control, the same self-conscious dignity.”
The author himself tells of his exciting ascent of the Stelvio” It had none of the thrill of racing, which I have never known; but there was pride in a perfect corner and gear change and upswinging into the straight again. . .” He found it necessary to hang onto and gear between the hairpins, 3rd being too high and the gears widely spaced—” I kept my eyes on the hairpin numbers, which were now in single figures, and on the needle of the oil calometer, which was turning towards danger “—but the M.G. effectively vanquished the 8,970 feet and 48 hairpins of Europe’s: highest motor road. Its corners were different from those ” of the wonderful Grossglockner Pass, lately opened. which would be taken in a long skid on loose asphalt without easing the pedal.”
The M.G. found the Avus open to the public on payment of 1s. and covered the 5.5-mile straight from Berlin to the west in five minutes, covered 500 miles of frozen European roads in two days, got into trouble for skidding and knocking down a signpost in Austria, excited motoring enthusiasts in accident-prone Berlin –” Six cylinder, two carburettors, twelve horses, 1,270 c.c., 110 to 120 k.p.h., four gears and reverse ” Heygare would explain— and met a more recent M.G. on the Stelvio. It is a splendid tale, splendidly recounted, illustrated by intimate snapshots obviously taken by the author himself and printed a bit blurred on the text pages. It is also a little sad, remembering the people in those countries So soon to be occupied by Hitler’s stormtroopers and their incredulity at seeing an English sports car and English cigarettes in tins..- W.B
Veteran to classic: Donington Historic GP Race
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1970 Mexican Grand Prix race report
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