Early morning in South Africa

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“Early Motoring in South Africa” by R. H. Johnston. 224 pp. 11 1/4 in. x 8 3/4 in. (C.Struik (Pty. Ltd.) Cor Wale and Loop .Streets, Cape Town, 8001 „S. Africa. R.12 .95.)

At one time we in this country tended to be very insular and did not take much notice of the kind of motoring that went on in other countries. Europe, as the cockpit of pioneer motor racing, was all right, but happenings farther afield were very largely Outside the British focal point. Then racing went to S. Africa and our field of interest widened. Since the war it has been accepted that the motor car as an instrument of pleasure and sport, instead of just transportation, is accepted the World over. So there is a definite incentive to learn about What takes place, and has taken place; in other countries. particularly in Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Thus this big-paged and very nicely produced book by R. H. Johnston, a Canadian who moved to Johannesburg in 1936 and who after the war replaced his 1925. Vauxhall with a 1921 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost which he still has, is especially welcome.

It extends from the inventive age at the automobile to the advent of the Second World War, a period of S. African motoring, portrayed by more than 425 very good and well captioned photographs, the makes being, quoted in almost every case and details being given of the numbers of imports to Africa in many instances. Cars of almost every type are illustrated, in divers, situations. There are occasional reproductions of ancient advertisements and similar documents but this is by no means: a brush-and-paste publication. It captures admirably not only how motoring developed in S. Africa but conveys the feel of movement in the early and vintage years with especial skill and charm. Naturally, the sporting sections are of most interest to us and the town-to-town records that obsessed Africa in the 1920s, like Durban-Johannesburg, Cape-to-the-Rand, and other efforts to beat the mail trains, and Campbell’s LSR bid at Verneuk Pan, are included, although in a book ranging from the earliest times to 1939 a sense of proportion has had to be maintained. However, there are large and fascinating pictures Of Huppmobile, whose sales were assisted by it. Paddy Adair’s famous Vauxhalls (racing an Avro 504 in one picture), Chrysler, and Model-A Ford, setting such records, which are listed. The great Trans-Continental expectations are there, and Paige-Jewett (running in the Ladies’ class), sports Salmson, Adair’s 30/98 Vauxhall and the Chevrolet tourer that made f.t.d. are seen at the Transvaal AC’s Mulder’s Drift speed hill-climb. 1 am intrigued, too, to find that they had a Brooklands in S. Africa; a sort of small-lime grass track, however, near Durban, on which a Ford Special is seen performing.

Grand Prix racing in Africa is well done, too, with a brief text, and pictures of an Ulster Austin, van Riet’s Austin 7 single-seater, “Mario’s” GP Bugatti, Earl Howe’s Type 59. Bugatti at East London, where Fairfield won in his ERA, on to the arrival of the Auto-Unions, the racing successes of which Old many two-stroke DKWs there, which is perhaps why the last three plates in the book are of these little German Cars. It is all there— the period shots such as those of an Austin 7 Chummy with a DH9 mailplane, a Riley tourer—”the favourite of the sports-car set”— with a lady and her dog at a Concours ‘Elegance, a Trojan van used by the Durban Dogs’ Home ambulance (the canines had the benefit of pneumatic tyres), girls in the costume of the twenties extricating their American carsfrom difficult predicaments, the car factories, with a Foden steam-tractor delivering crated Chevrolets from the railhead, before these ears were assembled at Port Elizabeth, stunt driving, publicity gimmicks, cars at the seaside, at the garage, in the outback, etc., etc. Very entertaining, this one.—W.B.