Book reviews

"The Book of The Motor Museum" by Brian Jewell. 112 pp 5½ in x 8 in. Costello, 43, High Street, Tunbridge Wells, TN! 1XL. £7.95).

This important little landscape-shaped book is bound to be welcomed by motoring historians and veteran-car followers, reproducing as it does the entire catalogue of that pioneer motor museum founded by The Motor, in collaboration with Waring & Gillow, in 1912, at the latter's Oxford Street Galleries in London. Each of the 32 vehicle exhibits, from an 1861 Compton steamer to an 1897 Clement are fully described and illustrated, as in the original catalogue, and it is fascinating to see who lent what and how their historical content was viewed back in 1912. There are also the subsidiary and accessory exhibits as included in the catalogue and an article by Jewell on the story of this unique undertaking, which was moved in 1914 to the Crystal Palace but disbanded when war broke out, some of the old cars then being disgracefully allowed to lie exposed on waste ground near Charing Cross, unless their owners had claimed them.

The lack of interest on the part of the Science Museum was blamed for the disbanding of this first motor museum and it is interesting today, aided by this valuable book, to think about how many of these veterans have survived, perhaps to belong to today's VCC members and even to take part in the Veteran Car Run. It is interesting, too, that The Motor owned some of the exhibits, including a BoIlee, whereas, some 18 years later, Sammy Davis of the rival The Autocar had to buy the one he used on Brighton Runs. If you have any book tokens left, make sure you snap up this worthwhile record from the past. — W.B.

"Vintage Sports-Car Club Golden Jubilee Book, 1934-1984" by the Club's members, with notes by Peter Hull. 310 pp, 10¼ in x 8½ in. (The Vintage Sports-Car Club Ltd, Russell Road, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 5JX . £19.75 post-free).

If Golden Jubilees are to be celebrated, it is fitting that they should be celebrated in an unforgettable fashion. This the VSCC has done, with its week of special events last year centred on Malvern, a most attractive celebration brochure, and now with its eagerly awaited Golden Jubilee Book. Impossible, really, to describe the pleasure this latter will bring to those addicted to the old-car movement. It is a very nicely produced book, rivalling unintentionally that which the VCC has produced to document its activities, and full of nostalgia (an unavoidable word in this happy context), fun, and golden memories. After the highly entertaining leading articles by Kent Karslake on motoring life before the VSCC was born, Cecil Clutton on the Club's early years, Kenneth Neve on the birth of the Northern Section, proper cars he has owned by John Stanford, more recent vintage happenings by the Club's President Tom Threlfall, its reliability trials by Leslie Winder and VSCC racing as seen from the cockpit by Martin Morris, there follow all manner of pictures, cartoons, verses and articles short and long extracted from past issues of the VSCC Bulletin (always great fun in itself) — the "Best of the Bulletin", in fact!

All this adds up to motoring entertainment unlimited. Even those who, like me, possess all the Bulletins from the very first duplicated issue cannot remember all of it, so this collection is a significant reason for vintage rejoicing. A few misprints, like those errors which Sammy Davis liked to illustrate creeping in, have done so, as they do from The Times downwards, or upwards (if you have cause to wonder why I call the Alphonso Hispano Suiza the 1st Hispano it should be the 15T Hispano) but this is a tiny, minor point and the "Golden Jubilee Book" is sheer joy. It ends on a less frivolous note than the bulk of the contents, by tabulating the winners of the more important VSCC races, Prescott vintage ftds, the Club officials along the years, etc. If there is a diminution in VSCC entries for quite some time at the Club's 1985 events Peter Hull will have only himself to blame — they will all be at home with noses buried in this excellent tome he has knitted together, thanks for which go to the late Harold Waters, who left the VSCC a sum of money, that has been devoted to its publication. — W.B.

"Brief Glory — The Life of Arthur Rhys Davids, DSO, MC and bar" by Alex Revell. 222 pp 9¼ in x 6 in (William Kimber & Co Ltd, 100, Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6EE. £10.95).

For those who study the early flying days here is the biography of one of the great, young, fighting aces of the First World War, Arthur Rhys Davids, who joined the RFC direct from Eton, flew SE5s of 56 Squadron, and gained 27 aerial victories, including shooting down the Fokker triplane of the German ace Werner Voss, before being lost without trace in 1917. The account is interspersed with the letters the young pilot wrote home to his mother and to his two sisters. This gives a direct and piquant flavour to this war story, so well conveying what was going on in France and back in England after "the lights had gone out all over Europe". There may be those who will think that the inclusion of Rhys Davids’ mother's letters of distress after his loss, of her criticism of the conduct to her by the RFC and the War Office are distasteful, but in as much as they portray history intimately and other's distress is always of interest to those not directly involved, Revell can be forgiven.

This is certainly a very good account of war in the air as it was in RFC days, but unlike one of Rhys Davids' fellow ace pilots, Capt McCudden, it is apparent that David had no interest in mechanical things, apart from his beloved aeroplanes — he considered air-fighting to be the best sport there was! — his 200 hp Hispano Suiza SE) was a splendid mount, so no cars or motorcycles figure in this book, as they do Christopher Cole's book on McCudden. (William Kimber, 1967). Indeed, the only reference of interest to motoring folk that I found was Rhys Davids meeting Capt. (later Lt-Col) R. C. Gallop at London Colney aerodrome, near St Albans, in 1917 – as Gallop was in the RFC on engine development and the new SE5a Scouts had just been delivered from Farnborough to London Colney I think we may assume din was the Gallop with post-war links with Zborowski, racing Aston-Martins and the blower-4½ Bentleys.

This is a book which all those who study the early flying days will want on their shelves. — W.B.

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Haynes of Yeovil has issued some important reprints of its earlier titles. These include the very interesting "Brough Superior — The Rolls-Royce of Motor cycles" by Ronald H. Clark, AMINIE, a 176-page history of this very desirable motorcycle, with much racing and JAP engine data therein, including George Brough's description of his Clipstone crash, etc, now selling in this third edition for £7.95. Then there is now a second edition Sal Incandela's learned "Anatomy and' Development of the F1 Racing Car” priced at £14.95, and a second edition of Jonathan Wood's work on restoring and preserving vintage and classic cars, at £12.95. Two new, large-format Haynes / Foulis books, "Mustang" and "Firebird" both by Richard Carlyon, each of these 12¼ in x 9 in-page Foulis books telling their respective stories in clear text and a generous selection of colour plates illustrate these impressive automobiles, the print jobs emanating from Yugoslavia, Each volume costs £7.95. W.B.

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Haynes Publishing Group has issued two well-established books in new, fully-revised editions of one-make histories of the greatest interest and value to followers of later maturing history. Thus the classic work "Ferrari" by Hans Tanner and Doug Nye has gone into a sixth edition, having first delighted us in 1959. This literally weighty tome covers fully the story of Ferrari, now with almost double the number of colour pictures and with re-arranged chapters, while the book, all 672 10¾ in x 8 in pages, is now more conveniently divided into six sections. It costs £39.95 and would be a great New Year present for Ferrari followers — which means almost every enthusiast. The other welcome new edition is of "Ford's Competition Cars" by Barrie Gill and the late Michael Frostick, available again since the debut in 1976, priced at £12.95. — W.B.

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One of the most complete books about the really intimate mechanical details of any one make of car has been "The Technical Facts Of The Vintage Bentley-, issued by the Bentley DC for the purpose of assisting owners of such cars to better understand how they were put together and from what materials, so that better maintenance and ownership-satisfaction would result. This great work has now been republished in a revised form, as a fourth edition, it having first appeared in 1955. It covers every conceivable thing 1 can think of, in text and innumerable pullout technical drawings and is thus essential to anyone in any way associated with the W.O. Bentleys anywhere in the World who can read English. The book is so comprehensive that it is pointless to enumerate its contents; it is really a super Workshop Manual, compiled with the expertise of those who have worked on Bentleys for a very long time. I say again it is all there, from how to fit correctly a Rudge hub-cap to complete dismantling and rebuilding of the engine. The Foreword is by Hugh Harben, the Club's President and the identification tables of all the vintage Bentleys, compiled by the Club's Patron, Stanley Sedgwick, form part of the impressive contents, as do tables of original metal specifications. The book is available from the BDC, W.O. Bentley Memorial Building, 16, Chearsley Road, 1-.18 Crendon, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP18 9AW, priced at £35 to members, £45 to non-members. If this seems expensive you have either not seen the book, or have not considered how it will aid the preservation of an appreciating asset. — W.B.

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For those concerned with purchasing and DIY restoration of the Mini, all models, Haynes offer a comprehensive, big manual running to 288 diagram-packed pages, written by Leslie Porter, for £9.95, which must be a good investment for those running or hoping to run "minibrics". — W.B.

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The third little soft-cover volume in the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation's series "Rolls-Royce — the pursuit of excellence" has now been published, written by Alec Harvey-Bailey and Michael Evans. This one is of intense interest, as it covers the development of the 40/50 hp Rolls-Royce cars, from the original "Silver Ghost" up to the V12 Phantom Ills, and the R-R aero-engines from Eagle to Griffon. Harvey-Bailey's father was R-R's Chief Technical Production Engineer and then their Chief Engineer of the Chassis Division, so his son, who burned his fingers as a child on the radiator header-tank of a hard-driven PI brought home by his father, knows his subject intimately, for he, too, was intimately associated with the Derby Company, as was his co-author. The book is an unfolding technical survey of how the R-R pre-war chassis were designed and developed, enriched with personal anecdotes and memories — rich stuff, which no Rolls-Royce believer can afford not to enjoy. The book, copiously illustrated, is available from the Foundation at the Hunt House, Paulerspury, Northants, for £4.95. The two lead-in books, about the formative years of the R-R Company, and the Merlin arm-engine, are also still available, and membership of the Royce Memorial Foundation costs £5 per annum. —W.B.

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Sutton Libraries and Arts Services, Central Library, St Nicholas Way, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 1EA, has just issued the third volume in its series on the History of Croydon Airport. This well-illustrated 166page sob-cover account is of the war period, 1939-1940, when the famous civil Airport took on a military role. The amount of information, the anecdotes included and the rare photographs, combine to make this essential to all aviation historians and the many others who recall the flying days at Croydon. Incidentally, pilots are seen with an A7 Chummy and Lord Harvey with his Norton, on the Croydon tarmac. I believe it is to be followed by father volumes, about what happened at Croydon later in the war and after the war, up to the sad demise of this historic ex-Waddon, landing ground. The present book, "Croydon Airport and the Battle of Britain", by Douglas Cluett, Joanna Bogle (Nash) and Bob Learmough, with a Foreword by Wing Commander R. R. Stanford-Tuck, DSO, DFC, Vice-President of the Croydon Airport Society, costs a modest £3.95 and I am glad not to have missed it. The same Library has also brought out a little companion-book to the third Croydon History volume, consisting of 20 colour plates by well-known artist Peter Cooksley, of aeroplanes seen at Croydon between 1916 and 1980, each plate accompanied by a lengthy description. This is quite attractive although I was disappointed that it does not include some of the air-liners I used to wait to see land and take-off at Croydon as a boy — the early Handley-Pages, Farmans, Junkers, etc, although later air-liners are included, I was amused to find a 1921 SE5a described as a "racer", which puzzled me until I realised that it was one of the machines flown in a race at Croydon on July 16th, 1921. So more nostalgia for Croydon Airport fans, this little booklet, "Croydon Airport Flypast — Historic Aircraft Profiles in Wow' selling for £4.50. Postage on both copies £1 each. — W.B.

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A new edition of "Land Rover" by K. & J. Slavin and G. N. Mackie, the latter having been with Rover's when the Land Rover was at the height of its initial fame, is now available from Foulis and the Haynes Publishing Group of Yeovil, the story of "Unbeatable 4 x 4" being told in 283 9¾ in x 6¾ in pages and a great many black and white and colour illustrations. — W.B.

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Among the enormous quantity of erudite material written and published about the Rolls-Royce motor car, the Hon C. S. Rolls and Sir Henry Royce and other great characters who were responsible for it, one book has, since it was first published in 1964, stood out as the standard first work of reference on this important subject, before any of the follow-up works are tackled. This is the book called, simply, "The Rolls-Royce Motor Car" by the late Anthony Bird and Ian Hallows. It was a scoop for Batsford when it first appeared, with Bird covering all the vital aspects of "The Best Car in the World" in his inimitable style, tracing the beginnings, development and reasons behind not only the cars but the Company that made them, comparing R-R design and mechanical perfection with those of other great makes, and showing how, and how successfully, Rolls-Royce came to build area-engines, from 1915 onwards. To this well-balanced survey Hallows added technical information appertaning to all the R-R cars from the two-cylinder model of 1904 that launched it all, up to the present, with tabulated specifications and development data.

As new Rolls-Royce models were introduced, the book went into new editions, in 1966, 1968, 1972 and 1975, and I was flattered when Bird asked me to look over the Silver Shadow additions. Now this desirable study has been issued as a fifth edition, with a few corrections where deemed desirable, and as the book always included the Bentley since 1931, the Bentley Mulsanne is included along with the later Rolls-Royce cars. So here is a chance to acquire this book if you did not avail yourselves of the opportunity in earlier times or to ensure that your information is up-dated. The fifth edition runs to 360 pages (10 in x 7 in), costs £25, and the publisher is B. T. Batsford Ltd, 4 Fitzhardinge Street, London, W1H OAH, who has handled all the re-issues, using, praise be, a new design dust-jacket for the latest of them. — W.B.