Books for Christmas

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“Seven Years With Samantha” — By Clive Ball — 247 pp. 8-3/4 in. x 5-1/2 in. (PSL, Bar Hill, Cambridge. £3.95).

Most people, especially if they are Austin Seven enthusiasts, will remember Clive Ball, the chap who, having rebuilt a very derelict 1929 Austin 7 saloon, set off to tour the World in it, acquiring a wife en route. This is his story, of a fabulous piece of vintage-car motoring, extending to a total of 48,000 miles, or more than many Austin 7s covered in their lifetime. The Montagu Motor Museum sponsored the adventure to the extent of £50 (alas, their advertising board had to be removed when it became imperative to hand-crank the engine after the dynamo had ceased to charge). Worse troubles befell the car, from broken springs to overturning, but it defeated the European Alps, the roads of Yugoslavia, the Iraqi desert, the Khyber Pass and the long return haul to England after shipment to Australia, via Canada from New Zealand.

The book marches as quickly, if not more so, than the sorely-tried little Austin, for Ball eschews flowery journalism yet gets it all in, a sort of quick-fire diary of everything that happened to car, driver, and those they encountered on this truly-marathon undertaking. At times it seems that many others were engaged on similar feats of driving, as Ball meets up with similar long-distance tourists in old and newer vehicles. But soon he is the one who is really making for the far places, although he modestly disguises much of the hardship and sheer adventure of the expedition.

This is a difficult book to lay aside, because the scene unfolds easily yet so enthrallingly. The reader wants desperately to discover what the next adventure will be like, how the machinery will survive during the next long haul, and what other vintage cars Clive will next encounter. The pictures are very good, the maps appropriate to the text, and altogether this is another travel book you must not miss, even if others, many others, have gone before, not forgetting those Edwardian epics, “Round the World in an Austin Seven”, and Coleman’s more recent book about driving a 1925 Austin Seven from Buenos Aires to New York. If you enjoy that sort of book you will enjoy Clive Ball’s account of a greater journey in a vintage small car and, bearing in mind a certain Museum Proprietor’s propensity for unearthing exciting exhibits in India, this book may even result in someone overseas finding another vintage Austin 7.—W.B.

We are glad to sec that G. T. Foulis & Co. of Yeovil have brought out a third edition of “Bugatti” by H. G. Conway, as this will enable anyone who has been remiss enough not to have acquired one of the earlier editions to ensure that his library contains it. Few will deny that the Bugatti is one of the most fascinating of motor cars and in this book, which runs to 463 pages, the engineering history of its complex range of models and its technical development as seen to be fit and proper by the one-and-only Ettore, are clearly set out, from the pre-1914 8-valve cars to the great Type 59 GP Bugatti and the post-strife Types 60 to 252. All this magnificently illustrated data is reinforced with further chapters on Bugatti history, including boats, aero-engines, aeroplanes and the steam engine, a great deal of intriguing Bugatti miscellany, and information about the World’s Bugatti Clubs, how a Bugatti should or should not be restored in an age when these cars are very expensive possessions, and tabulated data on the model designations. A great present this, for any enthusiast who has not seen it. The price is £5.95.

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Nice pictures of old vehicles is about the only recommendation to be made about Octopus Books’ “Veteran & Vintage Cars” by Peter Roberts, which follows the format of previous recurring volumes of its kind. But this 128-page miscellany is less expensive than usual, at £1.75.

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The Triumph Toledo and 1500 are covered in new servicing and repair manuals by Pearson’s and by Intereurope. The former manual costs 75p.

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Pan Books has republished G. N. Georgano’s “A Source Book of Racing & Sports and Sports Cars” as a Piccolo picture-survey of “Racing and Sports cars”; it makes a repository for lots of previously-seen pictures, and brief specifications.

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Those who intend to spend Christmas touring, or planning future tours will find the British Travel Authorities’ “Nature Trails”, price 15p, and the Wales Tourist Board’s “Castles and Historic Places In Wales”, at 70p, useful ammunition to encourage walking as well as driving.