Cars in books, February 1978

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

I did not dig deep enough into “When The Riviera Was Ours” by Patrick Howarth (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977) when I referred to it last month. It also includes, apart from the items I mentioned, that the first car ever seen by Frank Harris was at Monte Carlo in 1895-6, a 7-h.p. Georges Richard, which he is said to have bought for £600 and driven round the Riviera for a month, after which he motored it home, taking seven days to get to Paris and three more to reach Calais. The book also mentions Woolf Barnato’s race against the Blue Train when, at a party in Cannes, he bet he could drive his Bentley to London faster and was, in fact, in his flat in London four hours before the famous train reached Victoria Station. The subsequent “races” by Rover and Alvis cars, etc. are only given a passing mention but it is said that “Woolf Barnato having taken fourteen hours from Cannes to Paris, others could admit to taking fifteen, but “not an hour more” and apparently the Paris-Cannes record is the subject of this comment in Peter de Polnay’s novel “A Door Ajar”. Howarth’s book also refers to the escape of Squadron-Leader Whitney Straight from the Germans in 1941, when one of the ploys was to give him a sedative to put into the wine of hospital guards.

Reverting for a moment to fictional references to cars, which have almost forsaken this column, Michael Arlen’s “Green Hat” and that French novel are often mentioned as revolving about an Hispano-Suiza, but did you know that the final lines of one of Noel Coward’s popular plays of the nineteen-twenties refer to a “red Hispano-Suiza”, or that a red Bugatti figures in Cyril Connolly’s “The Rock Pool”? Incidentally, Packard buffs will be gratified that the rich American families portrayed by Scott Fitzgerald in the stories invariably had limousines of this make, even before the First World War, when, however, he disguises the car of those pre-Kaiser-War days which he says “represented the ambition of several million American boys” as the “Blatz Wildcat”, obviously this author’s disguise for the Stutz Bearcat. In what is surely an autobiographical story, “This side of Paradise”, the famous American author writes of Amory Blaine, who is presumably himself, that “from his fourth to tenth year he did the country (America) with his mother in her father’s private car. …” As the boy was born in 1896 this means these tours started in 1901/2, which seems a trifle early for such expeditions, especially in America. Can anyone tell me whether there has been a straight Scott Fitzgerald autobiography in which these motor cars are described as the real ones they undoubtedly were?

Having encountered the Packers’ Clyno in “Pack and Follow” by Joy Packer, wife of the late Admiral Packer, RN, I find from her “Deep As the Sea” (Eyre Methuen, 1975) that this vintage motor-car which the newly-married couple used in 1925 to drive to Shropshire through the Cotswolds they called it “Tommy Clyno” was carried by Packer on HMS Warspit in 1926 “I gave Tommy Clyno’s engine a run this evening started first time and ran like a silk engine”, and, for what it is worth, that the Royal Navy was using a big Humber at Simon’s Town, S. Africa, in 1952, when it flew the flag of the Commander-in-Chief South Atlantic, which Packer had become.

The American novels of John Gardner refer to many ancient motor-cars and although when he includes a Horex motor cycle this sounds fictional, it was of course a German machine current from 923 to 1958. Reverting to the American writer Scott Fitzgerald, one wonders what was the “medium-priced 1921-model automobile” he owned before the financial crash came in his affairs (in 1923 he ran a car for 25dollars a month). I suspect that the one he purchased in Hyeres, “the only new one in that town”, which “had the power of six horses” the age of the horses was not stated and it was so small that you could run it under the veranda for the night and “no lock, no speedometer, no gauge” in which they drove to Cannes, was what we would call a 7/12 Peugeot or was it a Peugeot Quadrilette? it cost Fitzgerald 750 dollars, in 1923/4. Later, as a successful writer Fitzgerald admitted buying broken-down cars. –W.B.

Related articles

Related products