Books for Christmas

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“The Four-Wheeled Morgan, Volume One The Flat-Radiator Models”

by Ken Hall. 136 pp. 7 in. x 91 in. (Motor Racing Publications, 28 Devonshire Road, London W4 2HD £5.45)

One would be justified in saying that the writing of books about the Morgan has been somewhat overdone, fascinating as is the subject. Because when I remarked last month, when reviewing Peter Garnier’s IPC review of the Morgan from its three-wheeler days onwards, that you cannot have too much of this make or of Aston Martin and Frazer Nash cars, I had not expected another Morgan book quite so soon! This one, by Ken Hall, is however, a rather different approach, being a very detailed discourse on the flat-radiator 4/4s (not that I remember any vee-radiator Morgans), presumably to be followed by a similar book about the later four-wheeled Morgans.

When I say “detailed” I mean just that, because after a preliminary piece of Malvern history Hall gives us chapters on the production and evolution of the Coventry-Climax, Standard Ten and Ford-powered Morgan 4/4s, including Le Mans Replica and a supercharged version, how these flat-radiator cars fared in competition work and how to repair and maintain them, after which he branches out into how to run club events, including autojumbles, and how to judge a Concours d’Elegance, concluding with a chapter about the history and objects of the Morgan Sports Car Club (formerly the Morgan 4/4 Club). There are many large pictures, to which the book’s landscape shape lends itself, of Morgans in pieces as well as in spirited action. Peter Morgan contributes the Foreword and, as W. O. Bentley did in another book, adds after-thought footnotes about the author’s findings. Some of the illustrations have naturally appeared previously, and the colour cover picture is of the author’s own well-publicised Le Mans Replica, but there is much that is entirely new in this useful book, which includes production figures for all the various 4/4 Morgans, and a list of competition successes from 1935 to 1953. The author has been unable to resist adding three postscript-pictures of later Morgans, with curved radiator grilles. This is one mainly for the more practical Morganist, who has work to do on his car. -W.B.

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Those whose ambition it is to find and restore an aged truck, to use on the farm or for some other utilitarian purpose, may derive a modicum of pleasure from “Truck” by John Jerome (The Bodley Head, 9 Bow Street, London WC2F. 7AL, £3.50), wherein the author, in a decidely off-beat fashion, tells of how he attempted to do just that with a 1950 Dodge pick-up.

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“4-Wheel-Drive Fundamentals” by Granville King (Haessner Publishing, Inc.) is a very comprehensive soft-cover book about all kinds of four-wheel-drive cross-country vehicles, with good pictures of each, the history and type-definitions, driving impressions and test figures, references to where workshop manuals can be obtained, and even explanations, for the beginner, about how the basic mechanism works. Those interested in such things as Land Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, the CJ-7, 4WD Subaru, Suzuki Brute IV, Chevrolet Blazer, Cherokee Chief, Dodge Ramcharger, Chevvy K 10, Ford Crew Cab, GMC K-25, Jeep J-20 and others may care to note that this 158-page 11 in. x 8 1/2 in. publication is available from Patrick Stephens Ltd. of Barr Hill, Cambridge, at £5„25.

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The big coffee-table type of “annuals” continue to appear, most of them, in my opinion, useless to serious motoring historians, and a waste of money. In this category are “The Survivors Series”, by Henry Rasmussen, handled here by Patrick Stephens Ltd. of Cambridge. If you like “arty” colour pictures, some deliberately blurred to emphasise this artistic flair, and photographs of well-known pre-war cars and bits thereof, from Europe and America, tied together by dramatised stories of some of those who are now fortunate enough to own such possessions, you may be prepared to spend £14.95 on each. I wouldn’t be. In much the same category is “The Encyclopedia of the World’s Classic Cars”, by book-prolific Graham Robson. It comes from the New English Library, embraces 256 12 in. x 8 3/4 in. pages and short explanations and specifications of some 260 cars from A to Z and 1900 to 1977, with many colour pictures, the Unfortunate thing being that the latter are an odd mixture, with big ones from the defunct “Profiles” series mixed up with others of different sizes and taken no doubt from other publications. So there is little new, pictorially, in this book, which becomes an odd way of learning motor-history, although more competitively priced, at £5.95.

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We are glad to learn that after an unfortunate publishing experience in Henley-on-Thames, the Meccano Magazine, now in its 61st year of publication, has been taken away from Delta Graphics and will in future be published by Meccano Ltd. themselves, from the familiar address at Bintis Road, Liverpool. The current issue has several motor transport items, such as a description of a giant Meccano model of a 6-wheel-drive Super Scammell Recovery Tractor of the kind supplied to the British Army in 1950, which is to a scale of 1: 1 o and took four years to design and build, a four-wheel-drive independently-sprung, cross-country Meccano chassis, pictures of the Marnod steam-car (already reviewed in Motor Sport) and Mamod steam-wagon with Guinness van body, and an article by the Editor of Motor Sport on Meccano and the Motor Car, illustrated with a Meccano chassis designed, we are told, by none other than F. Gordon Crosby, The Autocar artist, obviously in the early 1920s.

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If you want to support a good cause, the Morgan Three-Wheeler Club is selling a 1978 Calendar, illustrated with large pictures of vintage Morgans, to aid Club funds. They are available for £1.50 each including postage to any country, payable to MTWC, from T. Birks, 14 Grosvenor Av., Streetly B74 3PB.

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Frederick Warne Ltd., 40 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3HE, has issued “American Cars of the 1960s” in their Olyslager Organisation series. An 80-page indexed landscape book, with an average of about five clear pictures on each 9-;in. x 71 in. page, it costs £4.25.

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Peter Filby has completed his second volume of “British Specialist Cars”, this 103-page softcover publication covering the roadsters, replicas and fun cars. Published by Bookstop of Cobham, it is priced at £3.85, and covers cars like the Albany, Arkley, Mk.6 Bentley Specials, Dutton, Gentry, D-type Replicas, Lotus Seven, Magenta, Morgan, Opus, Panther, Siva, Spartan, Status and Super Seven. For those who like such cars this is a book they will like.

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The BBC has issued a “Beginner’s Guide to Car Care” by Richard Hudson-Evans. This little soft-cover publication is strictly for novices but might make a Christmas present for someone in this category, at £1.00, from the BBC Publications Department, 35 Marylebone High Street, 1.ondon W1M 4AA.

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I have handled some outsize books in my time but I think the record is probably held by “Morris Cars 1913 -1930” compiled by Philip A. I. Garnons-Williams. It weighs nearly half a stone and measures, wait for it, 16 3/4 in. x 12 in. It will need a coffee-table with specially-strengthened legs to carry it! One sometimes wonders where all the World’s paper comes from and whether it is not being squandered faster than petrol…. The book is in fact rather disappointing, being reprints of contemporary Press reports and Morris sales-catalogues, although, as is usually the case, blowing up the many pictures to a large size considerably enhances them. An edition of 500 has been laid down, at a cost of £18.60 each from The Bullnose Morris Club, whose members receive a concession. – W.B.

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The Haynes Publishing Group has produced a Foulis book about almost every aspect of recent hill-climbing and sprinting, copiously illustrated with little photographs, and seen largely through the eyes of Robin Boucher, who knows the fast acclivities front the cockpit of a McLaren M10B, sampled as a novice driver. He knows this specialised sport more intimately as a reporter and official, and his book looks at it largely through Roy Lane, who contributes the Foreword. Course maps, a list of RAC and other Hill-Climb Champions down the years, a chapter on how to take up this sport, one on motorcycle sprinting, all help along this big, £3.95 book.

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Very specialised, but essential to any motoring library which claims to be comprehensive, is “Snow Travel and Transport”, by Walter Lorch, a 159-page hard-cover book that takes in every conceivable form of snow-transport, in good and often dramatic pictures. The motorised sleighs, from airscrew-driven contraptions to a 1910 competition Rolland-Pilain (it won the Touring Club de France’s Motor-Sledge Contest in the Vosges) to the 1928 Citroen Kegresse caterpillar, the Nyberg, Scania-Vabis and other vehicles on skis, and a Saurer-wheeled ‘bus with snow-plough, are among these depicted. There is even a picture of a No. 93 London ‘bus, en route for Epsom Station over a snow-covered road. Special tyres, snow-chains, ploughs, and blowers are shown and the book runs from dog and horsedrawn sleds, onwards. It is published in the Gawsworth Series, by Horse Drawn Carriages Ltd., The Coach House, Gawsworth, Macclesfield, Cheshire, no price quoted.

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Although it does not contain much about vehicles, those interested in the First World War may like to know that Sir John Glubb, brother of Gwenda Hawkes„ the racing motorist, has written his diary of 1914/18 war experiences, which Cassell are to publish next year.

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