“One Hundred Years of Motoring — An RAC Social History of the Car”, by Raymond Flower and Michael Wynn-Jones. 224 pp. 10 1/2″ x 7 1/4″ (The Publications Manager, Box 92, RAC HOW, Lansdowne Road, Croydon, CR9 6HN. £13.95).
The Automobile Association having produced a very good history of its origins, endeavours and activities, one had hoped this might be the Royal Automobile Club’s companion volume, its reply as it were. Alas, no! The original title of the book, seemingly for American consumption, was “One Hundred Years on the Road”, and this aim thr book fulfils admirably, largely in pictures, drawings, paintings, cartoons and a few colour-plates. But a serious history of the RAC it is certainly not. The RAC is the controlling body of Motoring Sport in Great Britain but this book devotes only about twenty pages to racing. Only one picture of an RAC patrol and one of the RAC’s headquarters intrude, so clearly this book is intended to be about the evolution of the road vehicle, not a history of the Club. The authors are not above using pictures of top-less ladies, humorous captions, and suchlike and the book suffers from a few minor errors of fact and too many pictures we have seen previously. There are 24 colour profiles of cars along the years, from 1891 Panhard-Levassor to 1981 Plymouth Reliant, some of them contributed by Paul Fee em. but they tell us nothing new and are too brief on their own to make the book “a collector’s item” as the dust-jacket blurb proclaims of them. The book is divided into sections called “The First Spark”, “Middle Class Motoring”, “The Triumph Of Technology”, “The Challenge Of The Car”, “Town And Countryside”, and “Countries Fit For Cars?”, covering the periods 1885-1900, 1900-1914, 1914-1925, 1925-1945, 1945-1960 and 1960-1980, if you follow! The Foreword is by His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, President of the RAC, and the Preface is by Jeffrey D. Rose, Chairman of the RAC.
As a good Christmas browsing book, ok — the best thing in it, in my opinion, is the Frontispiece picture of a Daimler travelling a very rough country road circa 1904, but it is not what I had hoped for. The RAC should try again. — W.B,