Books for Christmas
"Motoring in the 30s" by Graham Robson. 216pp. 9 3/8" x 6 5/8" (Patrick Stephens Ltd., Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB3 8EL. £8.95)
There is still a great deal of looking-back, sometimes at well-established history, on the part of sales hungry publishers and eager-beaver authors. This theme, by the industrious Graham Robson — whom, if I did not meet him occasionally, I would have expected to have been forever seated before a typewriter, even in bed — strikes a fairly fresh theme, and covers it very competently.
Apart from writing of the motoring scene in the 1930s in almost all its aspects, it is apparent that Robson has two themes to expound. 1, that contrary to popular opinion this period was not the wasted period it is sometimes said to have been and, 2, that it was a time when in spite of the Depression and other miseries motoring flourished, particularly from the viewpoint of popular, mass-produced cars. Robson, indeed, takes the view that in the 1930s, although the Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, and Lagondas "brought the glamour that we can all remember", it was "the Flying Standards, Morris Eights and £100 Fords which were more significant". That sets the tone of this book and if you want to know, or be reminded, of what dreary family-car motoring was like, it is all there in a book whose author professes that "the often-scorned economy cars were so much more significant than the handful of Phantoms, Hispano-Suizas and Mercedes-Benz which lorded it over them." Primarily, then, this is a neat little book about Motoring for Everyone.
That is not to say that Robson neglects the more exciting aspects. He has chapters on and many pictures of racing at professional and Club level in the 1930s, which Mr. Everyman didn't understand and probably did not go to watch. But his main theme is the growth of car usage as it was known to the multitudes of car owners in the decade before the war.
In this respect this is an entertaining and socially important contribution to motoring history. It covers just about every aspect of its subject, although, curiously, Robson takes in police traps, road conditions, the cost of car usage, the 1930s scenery, the police cars, and about everything else in his journey through a rather recent part of memory lane, he does not mention the introduction of the Use & Construction Act which arrived in 1937, leading to the more recent, controversial and sometimes troublesome MoT DoE inspections of our personal vehicles.
Otherwise, what a comprehensive study of the '30s this is! It is very well illustrated, but the text suggests someone flicking over page after page of The Autocar from January 1930 to December 1939, and setting down his findings. To pack all this into just over 200 pages, the Index and Indices making up the others, is a considerable writing task however, and Robson is such an accurate historian that there is nothing much to criticise. The Frontispiece shows a 10.8 h.p. Riley tourer running across Connel bridge near Oban, beside the railway lines that have long since been removed, a remarkable picture that makes me think that cars must surely have been somehow segregated from trains when using this bridge? But if the Riley was a works demonstrator one wonders why the Riley Company was still using it in 1930, when the Nine was in current production? Then, in his chapter about "Motor sport — the big league" Robson refers to the JCC 200 Mile Race as one of the "great high-speed thrashes of the year", when, in fact, artificial corners had been introduced for this event from 1925 and it was not run at Brooklands after 1928. One wonders, too, what Derby-Bentley drivers will think of Robson's remark that "the road behaviour (of these cars) was none too special". Robson also makes much of the £100 Model-Y Ford Eight saloon, although it is my belief that few were sold and that the vast majority who bought this excellent little device paid more like £120. The £100 Morris Minor two-seater is described as having a side-valve engine to undercut the cost of the overhead-camshaft Morris Minor, but surely it didn't get into the showrooms until other s.v. Minor's priced at about £125 had appeared, nor did it last very long either. However, these are minor quibbles for the historian and the book stands unsullied, as a fine overall coverage of a lost period for the general reader, and one which should interest social historians as well as those whose fathers and mothers commenced motoring in the 1930s.
The book's end-papers depict a Morris Eight saloon being taken to the Isle of Skye on the single-car ferry when the fare for the crossing was 6/- (30p) and a P3 (I would have said a Monza) Alfa Romeo being followed by a GP Bugatti on the Dieppe Circuit in 1934, and the chapters within cover not only Britain and the motor car in the 30s, Who motored and how much did it cost?, What sort of motoring? Cars for Everyman, and Making and selling the product, but others titled Cars for the sportsman, Cars for the wealthy, Personalities and tycoons, Motor sport — big league, and Motor sport for us — the clubmen. Which shows that even Robson cannot entirely ignore the high, mighty and exciting. There are some excellent pictures from the period, backing up the text admirably, and I admit that Robson found a better one on the theme of "Buy British" than I did when wanting this for a Motor Sport editorial some time ago. The Foreword is by the late Captain G. E. T. Eyston, OBE. - W.B.
"Cars Of The Thirties and Forties" by Michael Sedgwick. 240pp. 12" x 10 1/2" (The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., Astronaut House, Feltham, Middlesex. £12.50)
It is curious how two books on much the same subject should have appeared almost simultaneously. This enormous tome, printed in Italy, is Michael Sedgwick's painstaking look-back to the 1930s and 1940s, following his very scholarly book about how things motoring got moving after the Second World War, which Motor Sport reviewed last July. Here is another very prolific author and no-one better fitted to tell us about the chosen period of automotive history, as Robson agrees, having in his own book about the 1930s (see above) written of Michael as "That eminent historian . . against whom no other motoring scribe can possibly compete". So there you have a ready-made answer to which of these two books you should buy! Robson's costs less but Sedgwick's offers more, in a gimmicky format, with much larger pages and some very fine colour illustrations. Sedgwick has written of the Cars of the 1930s before, for Batsford, and it must be remembered that this is primarily a "coffee-table" book about the cars themselves, whereas Robson casts his net wider to look at the motoring scene as a whole. Sedgwick writes very entertainingly about these 1930s and '40s cars, using long picture captions to impart fresh facets of information about them - to give but one example, he includes manufacturer's chassis drawing of the 3 1/2--litre Bentley for the use of coachbuilders, with a note to the effect that if the car was to be used with snow-chains an extra 1 1/2" clearance was to be allowed for over-the-wheel arches.
This is a good Sedgwickian offering, but with rather a hotch-potch of big colour pictures, odd drawings, reproductions of old advertisements, etc. Over 450 of these, 200 in colour, against 190 rather dully presented illustrations in the Robson '30s book. This makes the Sedgwick work less easy to read but far more amusing to browse through. He uses as chapter headings: "The Heritage of the Twenties", "Painless Sophistication", "Bodies — Beautiful and Otherwise", "Crying One's Wares'', "Luxury In Transition", "Chacun A Son Gout" and "After the Conflict". There are some surprises to be found in the text and some of the illustrations set out to explain how cars function and how they were made. — W.B.
"Cornwall Aviation Company" by Ted Chapman MSc, 88pp. 10 1/4" x 8". (Glasney Press, 28a High Street, Falmouth. £5.25)
This is a quite splendid book, largely pictorial, telling the story of the Cornwall Aviation Company, that specialised in joy-rides and later in aerial publicity, mainly with Avro 504s, of which it owned eight at one time. The fairly brief text that ties together some remarkably nostalgic photographs, is by a man who is himself a pilot. He tells a fascinating story of one of those small concerns that made a living after the First World War by taking passengers "up for a flip", usually for five-bob a time, a charge that didn't vary much along the years; and the interesting thing is that joy-riding was still going on into the mid-1930s. This book is very largely a tribute to Capt. Percival Phillips, the Cornishman who headed this small Company and who in the end was killed flying one of his own Avro 504Ns, with his dog as usual in the rear cockpit — the dog escaped injury.
A man absolutely dedicated to flying, and with a decided preference for the old rotary-engined Avro, Phillips was a very well-known figure, often flying in his ex-RFC uniform jacket and a pair of shorts. As his business expanded other aeroplanes besides Avros were used, and eventually there was a link-up with Sir Alan Cobham's National Aviation Days and later, in 1933, with the British Hospitals Air Pageants. But it is the earlier days that I find so fascinating, illustrated by a magnificent number of excellent, mostly very clear, photographs of almost every aspect of the joy-riding business. There are pictures of the Avros in every possible situation, even to their Le Rhone rotary engines being stripped down for overhaul. The side factors, like Phillips twice falling foul of the law, of the places visited — Margate was the favourite — and the double-page picture of an Avro 504 flying over the sea at low altitude, taken from the beach, alone makes the book worthwhile. Another aerial shot of Margate shows where the car was parked that took holidaymakers to the field at Chapel Hill from which the CAC Avros operated — there is even a picture of one of the cars used, a circa-1926 bull-nose Morris Cowley coupe, which seems rather restricted transport for the job in hand.
It is difficult to know which is the more satisfying — reproductions of old CAC postcards, showing how flying scenes were sometimes faked, or those of the CAC advertising posters, the wing-walking shots, the pictures of machines taking off and landing in improbable fields, or those of the occasional mishaps. In all, there are some 150 pictures of this kind, mostly unpublished previously. The cars and lorries used by the Company get occasional mention in the text and their lorry, which I took to be a Garford or similar, was actually, a 1909 two-cylinder, solid-tyred Argyll, which would only climb Shop Fell in reverse, Capt. Phillips is seen with his unnamed sports car, which is obviously a circa-1926 Grand Sports Salmson. Later there is an early Bedford lorry, seen near Abergavenny in the summer of 1932, in Cobham's livery. One of the most amazing photographs in a book which is packed full of nostalgic pictures is that of an Avro 504 with Martin Hearn standing on its top wing, holding onto a single wire, and diving close to the crowd, at a display at Plymouth in 1932.
The book opens with some pictures (in which flat-radiator Crossley tenders can be seen) and brief account of Capt. Phillips war-time career with the RFC but the bulk of it is about his Cornwall Aviation Company venture, based on Hill & Phillips Garage at St. Austell, with the aeroplanes using Rocky Parc. The author is not above telling us what landmarks still remain, or of the hair-raising happening when the Snipe fuselage used for running-up overhauled Le Rhone engines "got away" from its place behind the garage! Although one can never have enough, this little book is amply provided with anecdotes, statistics of passengers carried, prices paid for aeroplanes the Company used, and so on. There are pictures of how Avro rear-cockpits were enlarged to take four passengers, sans seat-belts, of staff camping out on the improvised aerodromes, and, as I have said, of almost every facet of the joy-ride game. It is interesting that in 1928 CAC operated from Eltham, only 6 1/2 miles from Hyde Park, and "right on the doorstep of two other leading joy-riding companies, The Brooklands School of Flying and Surrey Flying Services". Between 1928 and 1930, in fact, CAC flew from Edgware, Cockfosters, Barnet, Southgate and Palmer's Green — one wonders from which actual fields? The last part of this enthralling glimpse of this specialised kind of flying is devoted to Phillips' aerial publicity, using towed banners, and glider towing. Phillips apparently found this work boring but probably not one of his pilots, Mrs. Crossley, who twice had to force-land while banner towing, once on a Wembley golf-course, once at Dumfries. (Was it a CAC Avro that came down in the grounds of Tooting lunatic asylum while on these tasks, when I was a boy, I wonder?) C. G. Grey of The Aeroplane regarded Capt. Phillips very highly, although this did not stop him from incurring a libel action, I believe, over criticism of dangerous flying in one of the Hospitals' pageants.
This book almost reeks with the scent of burnt Castrol-oil. If anyone is looking for a present to give an aviation enthusiast who revels in flying as it was from 1924 to 1937, this is it! — W.B.
"London And Its Buses" by Terence Cooper. 65pp. 11 3/4" x 8" (London Transport Executive, 55 Broadway, London SW1. £1.50, hard cover edition £2.50)
This picture-book does not pretend to be for advanced students of omnibus history or those seeking knowledge of the design and construction of London's buses from the horse-age of 1829 to the present. What it does do, in a most attractive way, is to how London functions and to illustrate most prolifically the London Transport scene down the ages. The author gives a short but adequate history and a wealth of clear photographs, with brief explanations, does the rest. London Transport has over 100,000 negatives in its archives and has drawn on the better of these, with some outside help, to illustrate this excellent work. From the first buses going out onto London's empty streets in the early morning to the last buses of the day and the night services, it is all there, even to how buses are scrapped when their active days are over.
Building, garaging, servicing, overhauling, crewing and inspecting London buses, their use in rain, snow and fog, for special services, in the General Strike of 1926, in two World Wars, in the lull of mid-day or the evening rush, in the country or in central London, this copious collection of fine pictures tells it all. Buses of all ages are shown in these situations, and others besides, even to breakdowns. It is highly nostalgic, especially to those of us who know, or knew, the London transport scene. And although the cameras were mostly aimed at the buses themselves, there are occasional glimpses of other vehicles, to add to the fun, such as the Charron taxis in the snow at Charing Cross in 1915 or the Chevrolet and earlier Southern Railways' Thornycroft(?) trucks at Aldgate in 1936 — but buy this book and pick it all out for yourselves. I do not know if it is my imagination but Morris vehicles seem to predominate, from the bull-noses seen in a deserted Mile End Road in 1922 and at Golders Green following a No. 2c West Norwood Garage 'bus and a horse-and-cart in 1927, onwards. Perhaps this isn't so surprising, because in Robson's new book aforesaid the percentage of new Morris cars against new Austin cars sold between 1929 and 1939 is shown to have been higher for the former make.
Here is a splendid Christmas present for anyone who enjoys "road-scenes" and the sight of London buses, from the horse-drawn ones, through Electrobus and the open-top petrol buses, to the present day 177 b.h.p. double-deckers; moreover, it is available at an exceedingly modest price, particularly in view of the great number, and the quality, of the photographs ( over 200 of them) it contains. This book IS London — W.B.
"The Supercharged Mercedes" by Halwart Schrader. Translation by D. B. Tubbs. 95pp. 12 1/2" x 11 1/4" (Patrick Stephens Ltd., Bar Hill, Cambridge CB3 8EL. £14.95)
Automobile Year, Lausanne, have entered the one-make field with this enormous book. The translation for Patrick Stephens' distribution is by D. B. Tubbs, who writes the Introduction to the English language edition, and the drawings are by Carlo Demand. The book covers all the blown Mercedes and Mercedes-Benz cars, from experimental supercharged sleeve-valve to 540K and the so-called Grosser Mercedes, as well as all the supercharged racing Mercedes. So far as the latter are concerned, Karl Ludvigsen has done it before, better and in more detail. The production models have also been well covered in earlier books, notably the Cassell book, so the real merit of this book lies in the very fine illustrations, photographs, diagrams, and drawings, except that a great number are "old hat".
These pictures are of such size and reproduction quality that those who merely want fine pictures of Mercedes cars and can pay dearly for them, may be well satisfied. It is a fact that old photographs often improve when enlarged and reproduced on good quality paper — it is one of the sadnesses of my life that, due to the very big circulation of this magazine and the quantity of material that has to be inserted into too few pages each month, it is uneconomical to have better paper, perfect blocks, or larger pictures therein. The famous Lausanne publishing house has not been hampered thus in producing this book. So you benefit by excellent pictorial coverage of some very exciting motor cars. I think my favourite picture is that on the lower half of page 33, of the engine of a Show-finished 38/250 Mercedes-Benz — but didn't I first see this in The Automobile Engineer in contemporary times? Incidentally, the caption reminds us that chromium plating was used for this car, in 1929, and its metal parts "mottle finished by a cork and emery-powder". Well, well!
Technically, there are dubious items. For instance, there is a drawing of an Auto-Union racing engine said to have a Zoller vane-type blower, but it looks like a Roots supercharger to me and that is what these cars were raced with. So, from the Christmas-present angle, it would seem to be a case of, if you can afford to pay a good deal of money for excellent reproduction of a lot of old pictures, yes. But as an addition to the serious readers' book shelves, no. Italy got the print order for this one, and of its hotch-potch text the best part is about the later production supercharged Mercedes. — W.B.
"Sopwith Camel — King Of Combat" by Chez Bowyer. 192pp. 11" x 8 1/2" (Glasney Press, 28a High Street, Falmouth, Cornwall. £9.90)
This is a book which First World War aviation enthusiasts will find enthralling. It is primarily one full of pictures of the Sopwith Camel, the Single-seater rotary-engined fighter that was called the "King of Combat" because, at its chosen altitude, it remained able to out-manoeuvre German fighters long after it was out-dated as a design. The Camel is shown in every field of operational flying. But apart from these excellent pictures, so that the book reminds me of the old Harleyford flying-books, there is an ample backing-up of text, telling some very interesting and intimate things about this famous aeroplane.
For instance, there are the very informative notes published in 1918 about how the Camel should be flown, augmented by more detailed information written by a famous pilot of these tricky but so responsive machines. Then there is all the Camel data — the Squadrons that used them, the victories they achieved, their dimensions, performance, etc. There are even rigging and servicing notes, a list of presentation Camels, details of production batches and rebuilds, and much more besides.
It is interesting, in view of the one-time notorious suggestion that the Bentley rotary engine was really a Clerget in disguise, that although Bowyer calls the BRI "virtually a Clerget with steel-lined aluminium cylinders", it is praised as the engine pilots could throttle-down normally, as it was responsive and did not require "blipping" like a Clerget. The Camel was a dangerous aeroplane for pilots who were unfamiliar with it and stunting in it over England was forbidden — and the book does have some pictures of crashed Camels! It is sad that after the war was over little use was found for ex-Service Sopwith Camels, and that the only survivor in the United Kingdom is the one in the RAF Museum at Hendon. We are reminded that this was purchased in the early 1920s from the ADC at Waddon by Grenville Manton, at that time a joint editor of Motor Sport, with W. S. Braidwood. He tried to fly it with a 45 h.p. Anzani radial engine (there is a picture of this Camel) but it was underpowered and was sold to someone "who towed it by a small Fiat car from Tring, Hertfordshire, to his home in North Wales". Eventually the late R. G. J. Nash found the Camel rotting somewhere in Essex and rebuilt it, finding a Clerget engine for it. Although there is no motoring in this book — except for a picture of an RAF Leyland lorry carrying a dismantled Camel — it will be valued by aviation enthusiasts, for its wealth of pictures alone (more than 250 of them), all so well produced on good art paper the printing being done in Oxford. — W.B.
"Life With The Speed King" by Leo Villa. 111 pp. 11 3/4" x 8 1/4" (Marshall Harris & Baldwin, 17 Air Street, London W1. £6.95)
This is an Oxford printed, mainly pictorial book in the publisher's Kaleidoscope series, using high quality art paper and written by the late, Leo Villa, Sir Malcolm Campbell's Chief Engineer, with the help of Kevin Desmond, shortly before Villa died. It is packed with a great many very interesting photographs of motor racing and LSR scenes but otherwise repeats much of what Villa wrote for earlier books, and for articles in Old Motor in its now defunct format. However, while the story revolves round Giulio Foresti and Sir Malcom Campbell and even then is by no means a complete record of the latter record-breaker's career and cars, it does contain several very interesting, fresh facts. For instance, I did not know before reading it that the engine of Campbell's 1 1/2-litre straight eight Delage would not at first rev. beyond 5,000 r.p.m. because the bonnet was restricting air flow to the new carburetter intake. There are a few other titbits of inside information like that, to please those avid for detail, which it would be unfair to divulge here. Incidentally I have often thought that when a racing engine has to be stripped for measurement by the officials after a race has been won, this cannot do it much good, especially if it is hastily re-assembled. It was the result of such stripping after Campbell had won the 1928 JCC 200 Mile Race at Brooklands that caused the Delage to oil plugs before the race and trail oil-smoke at Boulogne, where it won again, however, after being run-in at 3.000 r.p.m. with a hose in the radiator! And those journalists who were let loose on Bugattis recently may like to know that Campbell is said to have been brutal when changing gear on his! And the ex-Conelli car with which he won another 200 Mile Race had badly-worn gears. So this book is another worthwhile "browse". — W.B.
"The Sky's The Limit — Women Pioneers in Aviation" by Wendy Boase. 223pp. 9 1/2" x 6 1/4" (Osprey Publishing Limited, 12-14 Long Acre, London WC2E 9LP. £5.95)
This book, by attractive Wendy Boase, got itself on Television, because it came out on the anniversary of women taking to the air. It covers concisely the careers of such famous woman pilots as the Duchess of Bedford, Lady Heath, Lady Bailey, Amelia Earhart, Amy Johnson, Anne Lindbergh, Jean Batten and Hanna Reitsch, etc., with a look at the pioneers of 1910 onwards, the brave war-time ATS girl-pilots, and those who have continued into the present, like gallant Sheila Scott. Thus this book is yet another one about the old days, pleasing to a Nation given to looking backwards. But the chapters are rather too brief, and it is the pictures, capturing the atmosphere of the never-to-return record-breaking days of the light aeroplanes, that make it attractive. However, as a quick recall of which girl-pilot was which and did what, and of their personalities and careers, I suppose the Australian writer has done a reasonable job. She has certainly been generous in publishing a long bibliography of books which give a fuller insight into those heady flying days of long ago. (I was disappointed, however, that in her passing reference to Elly Beinhorm, the authoress did not mention that pilot's marriage to the great racing driver Bernd Rosemeyer, nor has she had room to refer to the rally driving of Amy Mollison or to the motoring associations (apart from presentation to her of an MG) of Jean Batten, etc. - W.B.
"Jaguar — Motor Racing and the Manufacturer" by R. F. Berry. 94 pp. 85 illustrations. 8" x 5 1/4" (Patrick Stephens Ltd., Bar Hill Cambridge. £3.50).
In 1976 Bob Berry was a guest at the Monterrey Historic Car Races Salute to Jaguar. and while there this former Jaguar PRO, accomplished Jaguar racing driver and at the time Director, Sales Operations, Leyland Cars, read a paper to the San Francisco Chapter of the Society of Automobile Engineers. This small book, printed and published by the Aztex Corporation in the States, edited by John Dugdale and marketed here by PSL, is a complete transcript of that interesting address.
It is a great pity that the production budget should have been restricted, for the many good photographs are poorly reproduced — not much better than photostat standard. The text makes it a cheap and worthwhile buy for Jaguar enthusiasts, however. The general history of Jaguar and much of the competition background will be familiar territory to those readers, though refreshed by the 'first-hand reflections and descriptions of an "insider".
Berry's treatise covers what I believe is new ground in published Jaguar works with the reproduction of power against performance curves for the racing Jaguars, with that of a standard 1950 XK 120 as the comparative base line. I won't remove a reason for buying this book by revealing all the figures; however, the XK120 is quoted as having 161 b.h.p., a weight of 3,000 lb. and a theoretical maximum speed of 130. m.p.h. The last graph shows the power-performance curve of a 1956 "works" long-nose D-type fitted with the very last 3.8 fuel-injection engine built at Browns Lane for racing. It gave 270 b.h.p., weighed 1,950 lb. and on the right gearing is shown to be capable of 181 m.p.h. It is interesting to see that the XK 120 had a smaller frontal area, at 13.86 sq. ft., than the more aerodynamically advanced wide-screen, 1956 D-type, at 14.5 sq. ft.
Berry says that the injected D-types were markedly quicker through slow and medium corners, particularly in the wet, because of more progressive throttle response, though the power curves were similar.
He confirms the figure of 344 b.h.p. as the highest output recorded for a racing 3.8-litre 6-cylinder engine — the alloy block, fuel-injected unit fitted to Peter Lindners lightweight E-type. I was taken to task (by Andrew Whyte, I think) for quoting that figure in Motor Sport, May 1975.
There are diagrammatic illustrations of drag and weight distribution on the racing Jaguars. He relates that drag horsepower was reduced from 68 to 33 from the XK120 to the 1955 D-type (12.5 sq. ft. frontal area).
As there were no engineers employed purely for racing, competition among the staff to be assigned to the project was "fierce beyond belief", while Coventry car workers queued to find work at "The Jaguar" to bathe in the reflected glory from racing. Other benefits of racing to Jaguar were astonishing morale amongst the workforce, which improved quality, rapid development of production components and, from co-operation between Jaguar and Dunlop, accelerated development of radial-ply tyre construction.
Photographs and blue-prints of the projected mid-engine V12 road car show what might have been had it not been for fears over barrier impact and two-seater limitations. Instead we have the XJ-S — C.R.
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A great work on a totally different subject is Alan Townsin's record of the products of Park Royal Vehicles Ltd., sub-titled "A pictorial history of bus building from the 'twenties to the 'forties". Volume One (1924-1944) is packed with information invaluable to 'bus enthusiasts and they should like the large and very clear pictures of a great many historic 'buses. In addition, the bodies made for private-car chassis by the firm that started it all, Hall, Lewis & Co. Ltd., are covered, with pictures of those on O.M., Bianchi, Rolls-Royce 20, Hispano Suiza, Minerva, Lanchester 21, Lancia Lambda, Rolls-Royce Phantoms and Bentley Speed Six chassis. Views of the body-shops showing fascinating glimpses of a sports car that could be a rare Continental and of Latil and Lancia coaches, etc., in process of construction and painting. Lord Black, Chairman of Park Royal Vehicles Ltd., has written the Foreword and the publishers, remembered for their great tome on "The Leyland Bus". are The Transport Publishing Co., Glossop, Derbyshire.
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Two more "Kaleidoscope" books have been released by Argus Books and Marshall Harris & Baldwin Ltd., 17 Air Street, London W1. They are "Steam Wagons" and "Vintage Lorry Annual", the former by R. A. Whitehead, the latter edited by Nick Baldwin. The layout of the now-defunct old-style Old Motor is retained, with the glossy art paper bringing out well the quality of the reproduced photographs in the lorry book but less effectively in the other volume. Both run to 96 pages, 12" x 8 1/2", and cost £5.95 each. The Argus hand-out speaks of the brief phenomenon of half-truck lorries in the Baldwin book when it means half-track vehicles, and other articles deal with various off-beat lorry subjects, including some speculation about W & G and Talbot commercials in the STD period. The fine pictures make the book. The Argus hand-out on the steam wagon book tells the reader that this is a neglected subject. I do not agree; two very complete books on overtype and undertype steam wagons have been published, supplemented by some delightful experiences by those who drove, and virtually lived with, such wagons. The present volume has some rather splendid pictures, however, such as that of a line-up of Phillip Mills' steamers in their Battersea yard in the early 1920s, and of a Herts Gravel & Brickworks Garrett in Oxford Street, London, after a run from Welwyn, followed by an LGOC 'bus and a Model-T Ford. Both these books are better as leisure companions than for serious study of Ithe petrol and steam commercials.
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Some extremely good aviation titles are coming from Airlife Publications these days, the latest being Jean Batten's revised "Along In The Sky", describing in her own words her pre-war record-breaking flights to India, to Australia and back, to Brazil, and to New Zealand, in DH Gipsy Moth and Percival Gull aeroplanes, culminating in the Australia-England solo record of five days, 18 hours, 15 minutes. This 190-page, 8 3/4" x 5 1/2" book, which has some historic photographs and is illustrated with some good little sketches, costs £6.50 and is obtainable from Airlift Publications, 7 St. John's Hill, Shrewsbury, Salop.
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"Mechanical Toys" by Charles Bartholomew is a big (11 3/4" x 8 3/4", 156pp) book full of black-and-white and colour pictures of old toys, with the toy car element well covered. The end-papers show a tin-plate Alfa Romeo with extensible steering and many more toy vehicles are depicted within, including a 1930 racing car by Wells, the LSR tinplates by Kingsbury of America, of which The Bethnal Green Museum has a set, Minic models, the pre-1915 Hess friction-driven racer, presumably based on a GB Mors but called by Gamages a "hill-climb car", the well-known Maximo constructional sports car, and children's pedal-cars, the latter including a fine Citroen 5cv on the sands at Deauville in 1926 and two more, of no particular make but with closed bodies, etc. The Hamlyn Group publishes this one, at the competitive price of £5.95.
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A soft-cover edition of "The Works Minis" by Peter Browning is now available, for only £2.95, from The Haynes Publishing Group, address above. It was first published in 1971, and was reprinted in 1974. The pictures have lost nothing in the paperback process and if Haynes can do this, why cannot certain other publishers?
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The Morgan Sports Car Club has copied the Three-Wheeler Club by issuing a calendar, with colour pictures of different Morgan three- and four-wheelers, six in all, covering 70 years of the Morgan, to aid its funds. The price of this 1980 calendar is £2.50, inclusive of postage and packing, from the Morgan Register, 11 Larksfield Close, Carterton, Oxon. — W.B.