Cars in Books, December 1983

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A reader has kindly drawn my attention to an interesting reference in “The General Strike” by Christopher Farman (Panther Books, 1934) to how Major Segrave was allocated to meet the Cabinet Minister Samuel, who had decided to return to England at the time of the 1926 General Strike, and convey him to London, at a period when no trains were running. The car used is described as “a powerful Sunbeam”, one imagines a twin-cam 3-litre. Segrave met Samuel at Dover and after a brief call on the visitor’s sister at Folkestone, the drive to London commenced, “the most famous racing motorist of that day” going cautiously through villages and suburbs but nevertheless reaching the Reform Club in Pall Mall in 70 minutes, the Sunbeam “at times touching 85 mph”. Even allowing for the traffic-free roads, this was a good time in 1926 for the 70-mile journey. It had been arranged by Mitchell-Thompson, the Postmaster-General.

Collins did not see fit to send Motor Sport a review copy of “Back From The Brink” by Sir Michael Edwardes, appropriate as this would have been, so they must regard the following extracts as some form of belated review of this important 1983 book about Edwardes’ five-year Chairmanship of the unhappy consortium that became British Leyland. Sir Michael tells of long journeys accomplished with his father, when he was a boy in South Africa, and of how he formed a transport company of his own in 1961, using a 1934 GMC truck bought for £90, and of how before that he had found out about cars when his father was running a 1933 Buick saloon, which Edwardes filled with water instead of petrol at the age of four! At 15 he was capable of driving his father’s DKW on holiday jaunts.

From “Curtain Calls-Travels in Albania, Romania and Bulgaria” by Leslie Gardiner (Duckworth, 1976) I am reminded that Gardiner made some of his journeys behind the Iron Curtain in a 1½-litre Riley. I have referred to this previously, when writing of this author’s travel articles in the late-lamented Blackwood’s Magazine. But, if they have not already done so, the Riley Clubs may care to investigate. — W.B.