Book Reviews, February 1967, February 1967

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” Auto-Universum, 1967.” Edited by Arthur Logoz. 201 pp. 12 in. x 9-1/4 in. (Hachette, 4, Regent Place, Regent Street, London, W1. 63s.) This is the tenth edition of this annual new-car review, formerly called “International Automobile Parade,” which not only contains specifications of the World’s 1967 cars and illustrates many of them in colour, but reviews the 1966 sporting season and publishes road-tests by foreign writers of 20 modern cars, including the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, Sunbeam Tiger, Mercedes-Benz 250S, Saab V4, Jaguar E-type 2+2 and Dodge Charger. In this respect, British journalists will ask themselves how they have allowed Charles Meisl to steal such a march on them, for he not only writes a page report on the Silver Shadow but includes performance figures (0-60 m.p.h. in 9.5 sec.; 0-70 m.p.h. in 13.1 sec.; 0-100 m.p.h. in 31.0 sec.; 13-1/2 – 15 m.p.g.; maximum speed 118 m.p.h.) when no road-test report of the new Rolls-Royce has appeared in any British technical journal! Meisl gives his dislikes of this car, which so few of us have driven more than a few miles, as its soft suspension, power steering and door slamming, but he liked the safety features, the brakes and the smoothness! (How far did you drive it, Charles ?)

This year the feature article on a famous manufacturer covers Chrysler International, while the Portrait of the Year is devoted to Pininfarina. This is a useful work of reference, beautifully produced, so that it is also an excellent ” browsing ” publication.—W. B.

***

“Atlantic Wings, 1919-1939” By Kenneth McDonough. 132 pp. 11-1/4 in. x 8-1/2 in. (Model Aeronautical Press Ltd., 13/35, Bridge Street, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. 90s.)

If we review rather a lot of aeronautical books in these columns it can be said that almost all of them reach such an extremely high technical and production standard that to include them should at least keep motoring historians and publishers of motoring books on their toes! “Atlantic Wings ” typifies exactly what we have in mind. The production is magnificent, so that enhanced pleasure is derived from the reading matter in consequence (I am not a paper-back enthusiast) and, indeed, the pages deserve to be handled with care and almost reverence.

The book is illustrated with the author’s colour plans on really thick art-paper, and by a number of his fascinating and very clear drawings depicting technical features and cockpit interiors of many of the trans-Atlantic aeroplanes with which his book is concerned, annotated to draw attention to the outstanding features.

The quality of the illustrations, the colouring of which occupied many months of research and took the author to those museums where historic aircraft are preserved, alone justifies the book. Twelve of the machines that made pioneer crossings of the North Atlantic are illustrated, all to a scale of 1/6th of an inch to the foot.

The text supports these unique plans admirably. Kenneth McDonough sets out to tell of the conquest of the Atlantic ocean by flying machines, from the unsuccessful attempt by Hawker and Mackenzie-Grieve and the successful one in 1919 by the British aviators Alcock and Brown in the Rolls-Royce-engined Vickers Vimy, to the time, just prior to the last World War, when Imperial Airways introduced a weekly experimental mail crossing with Short flying boats. The author says that he has kept to facts, making no attempt to embellish the story; this is as it should be, in a serious historical and technical work. And this approach in no way diminishes the drama and suspense of the accounts—of daring take-offs with tyres bulging under the load of hundreds of gallons of petrol, and the feeling Hawker and Mackenzie-Grieve must have experienced while seeking, for 21 hours in stormy mid-Atlantic, a boat that might pick them up after they had ditched their stricken Rolls-Royce-engined Sopwith, the engine of which might stop again at any moment! As with motor-racing history, some very interesting sidelights emerge from the story as a whole. For example, in the past I have believed the tale that after Alcock and Brown landed in a bog at Galway and nosed over, they hailed a passing motorist who gave them a lift, and who inquired of the weary, unshaven, dirty airmen “Where are you from?”, to which the reply was “From America! ” McDonough tells us that Alcock circled the Marconi wireless station at Clifden and eventually attracted the attention of the staff, who ran to the Vimy after it was down. They may not have had any idea of which aeroplane this was, but this seems unlikely, and even if they didn’t they were soon told and obviously believed Alcock, which in the more lurid tale the motorist obviously didn’t.

Then it is quite astonishing how casual navigation was on the part of pilots about to attempt to conquer the Atlantic. Take the case of Chamberlain and Lavine, for instance, who flew from New York to Berlin in a Bellanca in 1927 but had to land twice, 108 miles and some 60 miles from their destination, to find their position, having had the good fortune to see the Mauretania 300 miles out at sea and so fix their landfall. It is also quite remarkable, to me at any rate, that when they smashed the propeller on this second landing, another that fitted the crankshaft of this Wright-engined monoplane was found at Tempelhof aerodrome and brought out to them. The author must have done a great deal of research in compiling this book, but I wish he had told us the makes of the cars that took the heros out to their aeroplanes before the take-offs! There are truly fascinating appendices, one tabulating all the attempts, successful and otherwise, made between 1919 and 1939, although the times of the crossings are not included. Another gives detailed specifications of 12 aeroplanes and nine engines that figured in these Atlantic flights, the airship crossings are written up, and there is an Index and a Bibliography. (Curiously, the author seems to have missed Mrs. Hawker’s account of her husband’s attempt and rescue.) The layout is superb, there are maps in colour and photographs of many of the pilots and crews, and the model publishing trade has scored a definite landmark with this fine book. If you have a Christmas book-voucher left over, there is only one way in which to use it! Quite rightly, the Foreword is by Air-Vice-Marshal D. C. T. Bennett, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., known to the motoring world but writing here as one who played a major part in the formation of the North Atlantic Return Ferry Service in 1940.—W. B.

***

G. T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 1-5, Portpool Lane, London, E.C.1, have joined the publishers who provide for those who cannot get hold of manufacturers’ workshop manuals, by publishing one-make handbooks. Theirs is by David Marshall and Ian Fraser and devotes itself to ” B.M.C. 1100’s”. 176 pp., 8-3/4 in. x 5-5/8 in., 30s.

***

Apart from their photostat books about Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, Autobooks Ltd., Bennett Road, Brighton, offer “Alvis in the Thirties,” a 64-page soft-cover publication reproducing technical descriptions and road-test reports from The Motor and The Autocar (which is very generous of those journals) about Alvis cars of 1929-1939. There is also an article reproduced from The Autocar about the 12/50 Alvis cars W. B. used to own, which has made him very nostalgic. This publication costs 13s. 6d. and its publishers are also recommended for those rare and out-of-print books for which we sometimes receive inquiries.

***

Sent to us by a reader, not the publishers, “One for the Road” is an Australian anthology published last year by Angus and Robertson of Sydney and 54, Bartholomew Close, London, 255 pp., 9-1/2 in. x 6-1/8 in., which will be of interest to those who try to keep absolutely complete motoring libraries because, although much of the material has appeared elsewhere, the book contains some good and interesting pictures of cars raced in Australia, and those used for the old Inter-state and Inter-city records that were a feature of the Australian motoring scene up to 1935. Land Speed Record and trans-Continent cars are included and the book goes up to present-day races. There is a gem of a picture of Jack Brabham in a dirt-track midget, another reminds us that one of the Indianapolis Stutz cars won the New Zealand Cup, and we would like to know if anything remains of the banked Maroubra track at Sydney these days ? On it Brescia Bugatti, Overland and Ballot are seen racing in a very Brooklands’-like setting. Curiously, a Brooklands-model Riley 9 shown racing on the Penrith dirt-track, also near Sydney, is captioned as “a Morris Cowley with Riley radiator.”