Cars in books, February 1967

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Not a great deal under this heading this time, but the reference to a No. 14 S-type London omnibus, driven by someone who had handled the old 13-type ‘buses in France during the 1914/18 war, in “Children of the Archbishop,” a novel by Norman Collins, whose style I do not particularly like (Collins, 1951) cannot be overlooked. Historians seem to suggest, however, that fewer than 48 soldiers were usually carried in the L.G.O.C. ‘buses that saw war service. There is also in this book the 23 h.p. laundry van that replaced a 1912 horse-drawn van but which had to remain daffodil yellow because the trustees of the Archbishop Bodkin Hospital in Putney would not sanction the £22 10s. it would have cost to repaint it. Later Collins refers to a 40-h.p. Model-T Ford ‘bus but is presumably thinking here in terms of developed horse-power. The laundry van was also, presumably, a Model-T, 23 h.p, being the R.A.C. rating of these vehicles.

Returning to autobiography, which is an altogether richer field; Marguerite Steen refers in “Looking Glass” (Longmans, Green; 1966) to owning one of the first of the £100 Morrises, which she christened, most inappropriately, ” Teuf-Tuuf.” Described as ” Formidably over-engined, it would climb stone walls,” which is as foolish as the car’s nickname, we learn that, fifteen years after she bought it, the little car ” was still doing service locally, carrying loads of wood and stone “— up to the outbreak of war, presumably. Finally, a reader tells me that there are several references to Model-T Ford, Studebaker and Minerva cars in ” Gypsy—A Memoir” by Gypsy Rose Lee (Andre Deutsh, 1957), together with this passage relating to a Chenard-Walcker the authoress’ family had acquired in 1931:

“On our way home mother sat stiff and straight in the worn leather scoop seat of the secondhand Charnard Weckler (yes, that’s how it’s spelt by Gypsy Rose Lee!) we had traded in the old car for. It was a bright-yellow French car shaped like an old-fashioned bathtub. Under the snub-nosed hood were four toy-like cylinders that made the noise of a Mack truck pulling up a steep hill.”

— W. B.

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