Rumblings, February 1943

Instruction book library

In the past Motor Sport has devised a number of schemes with a view to assisting the sports car owner— the inexpensive Sales and Wants advertisements ; the publication of addresses of enthusiasts willing to meet, or correspond with, exiled fellow enthusiasts; the Register of the Unique; the census of sports cars in use on work of national importance, and so on. Now we have in mind another service, one which, however, is dependent for its success on the help extended to us by readers. What we aim to do is to form a Library of Instruction Books, to be held by the Editor, from which accurate maintenance data relating to popular, and not so popular, cars can be drawn.

We receive very frequently requests for maintenance data relating to cars of an individual character, as distinct from queries concerning how to improve on standard performance (often answerable from the articles on tuning different marques, which appear from time to time in these pages) or those relating to behaviour, durability and performance factors in general, which information is also relatively easy to come by. Such queries as “Please, what is the correct ignition advance, valve timing and tappet setting for my engine, and how do I remove the gearbox with the minimum of labour?” are the sort we have in mind. Obtaining the correct answers is of considerable importance to the owner of a type of car with which he is unfamiliar, but giving those answers is impossible if the manufacturer is defunct and fellow owners are uncontactable or are not sufficiently knowledgeable to help. Consequently, when J. V. Bowles, of the 750 Club, kindly sent us an instruction book for the supercharged “17/95” 1,750 c.c. 6-cylinder “Gran Sport” Alfa-Romeo, remarking that we might like to pass it on to an owner of one of these cars, we had the happy idea of retaining it and attempting to add others to it, to form the aforementioned library. That is where you, perhaps, come into the picture.

Have you, for instance, an instruction book for a car of sports or individual type, old or modern, for which you have no further use? Do you know of any such books at a second-hand booksellers which you could buy for a few shillings and present to us? Are you, as a service manager of a big manufacturer, or a friend of such persons, in a position to send us copies of your company’s instruction books? Will manufacturers help? The receipt of any books sent will be acknowledged in these pages. When anyone who requires servicing information sees that an instruction book covering his or her car is in the library, they will be very welcome to send in for any information required, and, providing a stamped envelope is enclosed, we will quote the answers in so far as the book can supply them. In wartime we would ask that only essential information is requested, but in happier times it may be possible to send quite detailed instructions to genuine enquirers, or even to produce type-written duplicates of the entire book in the case of out-of-print editions. Frankly, we doubt whether the hoped-for library will ever become really extensive, because there is all too clear evidence that instruction books are scarce possessions. But if only a limited number of cars can be covered, that would be something else achieved towards assisting those who prefer real motor cars to buzzing boxes. So will you, please, see what you can do? The loan of instruction books is not requested at present, because we just have not the time or staff to devote to taking copies, nor are we anxious to receive publications relating to secret Army vehicles. Please address to : 129, Fleet Road, Cove, Hampshire.


“The proprietors of this journal, being fully in accord with the recommendations agreed upon at the Paris Economic Conference, give notice 1917 that they will not permit the advertisements of new goods manufactured in enemy countries to appear in this publication either during or after the war.” “Whether the petrol difficulty arises from genuine shortage of supplies or whether through faulty distribution we do not know, but we are prepared to guess that given proper organisation there should not be the slightest difficulty in every legitimate car owner obtaining sufficient spirit for use in his business.” ” In the case of electric lamps, at least one thickness of ordinary white tissue paper must be placed over the glass.” These, and many similar extracts from some copies of The Light Car of 1917 which have recently come into our possession, indicate that one world war is very like another. For all the scares and restrictions quite a lot of motoring went on in this country in 1917, although the small car was in the ascendant. Singer Ten, Swift Seven and Ten, Calcott, G.W.K., Stellite, A.C., Lagonda and 11.9 Standard were very popular, and Hillmans, Humberettes, G.N.s, Calthorpes and the 2-speed American Saxon were by no means rare. People debated the possibility of still cheaper and lighter light cars, wondered if steam wasn’t better than petrol as a prime mover, and built themselves curious “specials.” Dashing young R.F.C. officers got petrol enough for their stripped Baby Peugeots, G.P. Morgans and tandem-seated Gregoires, and lady drivers organised outings for wounded “Tommies” to justify applying for further basic petrol.

The 8-valve Bugatti, capable of 60-65 m.p.h., was considered the last word in efficiency, and as such was equally praised and criticised, although even the critics had to confess that only the G.P. Mathis and Calthorpe Minor came anywhere near to it in performance. Some long runs were undertaken in these early economy cars, notably 386 miles in a day of 23 hours, from Oxford to Glasgow, by two undergraduates in a Singer Ten of the type of which we found a perfect specimen for sale in a London garage only two years ago, and a journey from Ayrshire to Cheshire via Shap Fell, in winter, by a lady driver in just the sort of 7.9 h.p. 2-cylinder Swift which R. G. J. Nash had in his collection of old cars at Brooklands just before this war. Yes, 1917 was not unlike 1942, except that now no one offers Motor Spirit Substitute in 40-gallon casks, as Fred G. Scott & Co., of Newcastle-on-Tyne, did then! Incidentally, reverting to that clause about the advertising of enemy goods being banned during and after the war, did Messrs. lliffe & Sons, Ltd., conveniently forget it after the Armistice, or did they argue that Germany was no longer an “enemy” in peacetime; or is that why their bright little paper—which, unlike the Temple Press rival of like title, tended to ignore cyclecars and tell only of miniature large cars—went out of existence soon after the Armistice?