Cars in books, February 1986

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From “Swans Reflecing Elephants — My early Years” by Edward James (Weidenfeld 8, Nicholson, 1982. edited by George Melly) we learn that the great British eccentric, who lived at the time of this book at West Dean in Sussex, where HM King George V attended shooting parties, had a Rolls-Royce when he was in America before the war, which figured in his pranks. and that when he went to Rome he got an Alfa Romeo which he drove at speed, waved on by the carabinieri. In fact, James was an Honorary Attache to the British Embassy in Rome, and at that time kept his own Rolls-Royce and chauffeur. It was used to take his bride, the Austrian singer Tilly Losch, to the church on Fifth Avenue for his wedding, but before that he was let down by a secondhand Rots-Royce his first car of this make, which had only done 1,200 miles but broke down outside Reading when he was taking Clementine Churchill to hear her son Randolph make his maiden speech at the Oxford Union .The old and stupid chauffeur being unable to make the Rolls go they had to continue the iourney in a taxi at a cost of £20. arriving just as the speech was ending Edward James, who had a present of one million pounds on his 21st birthday. had aeroplanes which he flew himself, looping the bop on occasion. but their make isn’t divulged.

To feed this long-lived feature, D.S.J. has drawn my attention to an interesting passage from “After You Marco Polo” by Jean Bowie Shot (McGraw-Hill Books) about her journey from Venice to Peiping. Meeting the Shah in Iran the author remarks that she had heard he had a fast sports car. a Frazer-Nash with triple carburetion” (whatever that means) and soon the Shah of Iran and her husband Franc were talking about motor-cars Then the car arrived at the picnic lawn and after looking at the engine and the interior off they went. the Shah and Mr Shor, for a fast run, “siren screaming.” The Frazer Nash is described as underslung yellow two-seater shaped like a torpedo. A few days later a picture of the car, with the Shah and Franc in it appeared in the window of a local photographic shop. The shop’s owner was asked by Mrs Shot to remove it in case His Majesty objected to this picture showing him in close proximity to a foreign journalist, but next day the picture was back in the window, but the Shah was alone, his passenger having been touched out!

This ties in with a reference in Jenkinson’s book “From Chair Drive To Turbo-charger -The A F N. Story!” (Patrick Stephens. 1984, to the very pretty Carrozzeria Touring-bodied prototype Frazer Nash Spider with Bristol engineshown at the Geneva Show of 1947, which went to the Shah of Iran. although at that time the car. which carried Frazer Nash badges. was cream with green upholstery — W.B.