The Veteran, vintage and classic-car fields have come a long way since the VCC and VSCC were formed, and the wheels are kept turning by an astonishing number of one-make and even one-model books. Several decades ago my shelves were already filled with such books, starting with Harold Nockolds’ Magic of a Name, the first Rolls-Royce history; now every model of R-R has a book about it.
Years ago there were reference works on cars from AC to Wolseley, Voisin and VW Since then others have filled the few remaining gaps, such as a book on the Bianchi for one, but to attempt to pick out one from another is impetuous. At random I can list the Lanchester story by Anthony Bird, with Chris Clark’s later book, Anthony Blight’s monumental Roesch Talbot book, recently reissued, and there are all those Bentley books of which, for me, Hay’s The Vintage Years 1919-1931 and Frostick’s Cricklewood to Crewe are interestingly outspoken.
I treasure the French-published works about Panhard and Peugeot, and Chris Draper’s useful little Salmson account, while the masterful coverage of Bugattis, first by Eaglesfield then by Hugh Conway et al is also excellent. Long ago, too, Aston Martin was very comprehensively covered by Dudley Coram, and some magnificent later books have emerged on this make. St John Nixon and Brian Smith long ago took on the Daimler story, Michael Sedgwick did a marathon about Fiat, and Peter Hull and Kenneth Day have the Alvis history well sewn up.
Of course Austin, Allard, MG, Alfa Romeo, HispanoSuiza, Lea-Francis, Citroen, Lancia and Vauxhall, etc all have books by expert authors, and one-model works are well represented by Nick Portway on the 30/98 and Simon Moore on Alfas. David Scott-Moncrieff’s Three-Pointed Star tells of Benz and Mercedes, and Armstrong Siddeley and Singer are splendidly described in two more titles. And I must add Dr Alderson’s comprehensive Morgan account, the recent Napier story by David Venables, and Leonard Setright’s Bristol books, as posh as these cars themselves.
But I must have missed many which should be acknowledged. There are still a few gaps to fill, such as Amilcar, Crossley (but this is in hand I gather), Hillman and a few more. The STD cars have their explanation in Motoring Entente by Nichols and Karslake, and what could be more enthralling than the books about GNs and Frazer Nashes by Thirlby and Jenkinson?
Letters, October 2006
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The Right Crowd and No Crowding
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