Reviews, February 1993



An Album of Sentinel Works Photographs, by Anthony R and Joseph L Thomas. Woodpecker Publications, £15.95.

Those readers who are not insular in their enjoyment of the older vehicles should be delighted with a further book on Sentinel steamwagon history, by Anthony R and Joseph L Thomas, who between them have contributed previously much splendid material.

This first volume of their latest work covers Standard and Super Sentinels. It runs to 155 fine art-paper pages, which set off admirably the pictures of a large number of these wagons and the tractor conversions, and the trucks they and the wagons pulled.

There is also a 51-page register of these Sentinels from 1906 to 1930, to keep steam enthusiasts happy for countless hours. Formidable!

Available from Woodpecker Publications, Woodpecker Lodge, Barneshall Avenue, Worcester, WR5 3FU, post free. WB

Used Car Secrets, by Peter Ward. Forward Vision Publishing. 150pp, E6.95.

Buying a used car is not as straightforward as acquiring, say, a packet of digestive biscuits. Never has been, never will be. It’s a process rich in variables and potential pitfalls. You need a degree of luck.

I used to have a flat-mate who swore by a succession of Nissan Bluebird 180B estates, which cost him between £50 and £150 apiece. When each, in turn, finally ground to a halt, he never complained. He’d always had his money’s worth.

I feel the same about the Citroen 2CV which comprises half the Arron family transport. Now old enough to get married (though not yet entitled to go into pubs on its own), it cost £350 over 11,000 miles ago, and it starts every morning. When it finally ceases to do so, we’ll appreciate the value it gave.

For all the technical appraisal that we bothered about at the time of purchase, it might have been on the verge of collapse. In a win-some, lose-some world, our charismatic trundler must qualify as a victory.

Peter Ward’s exhaustive work is designed to ensure that all used car buyers drive away satisfied. No stone is left unturned, no screw unthreaded. If there’s anything that is likely to need checking, it’s in here.

Those who remember cramming their Latin vocabulary will recognise the chapter devoted to colloquialisms of the motor trade, though you probably don’t need to learn it verbatim. Most of us know that Nelson Eddies are pound notes; how many know that the verb ‘spoodle’ means to valet a car prior to sale?

For those weary of their Datsun 120Y coupe with its turquoise and iron oxide coachwork, there are plenty of useful selling tips, too.

This is easy to understand, and easy to use thanks to a comprehensive index. The purchase price (£6.95, including postage and packing) may well save you a great deal more money (aka folding, dosh, wedge, loot etc etc) in the long term.

The author’s tenacity can further be gauged by the fact that he published the book himself. Copies are available direct from Forward Vision, PO Box 2497, Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 1HN (TS 0384 370089), or from a local branch of Waterstones or Dillons. SA

L’Annee F3000, published by Editions Drapeau a Damier. 142pp, £19.95.

I wonder how many people buy this? Formula 3000 continues to attract pitiful crowds, most of the time, but a seasonal review for the formula’s devotees continues to appear, year after year.

The quality of reproduction, in full colour throughout, is quite superb, as is the standard of photography. Anyone who has ever watched F3000 cars coming through Pau’s Parc Beaumont will particularly appreciate the shot of Jean-Marc Gounon on pages 50/51. Allegedly, he came back off the kerbs without hitting anything.

The thing that lets this down, once again, is poor proof-reading and the occasional identity crisis. Nigel Stepney, for example, does not have a beard and glasses. In addition, one German contributor’s contribution has been left unsubbed. To most English readers, the resultant prose will make about as much sense as your average chunk of Korean.

A spit and a polish is required to bring the textual content (bi-lingual throughout, in French and, supposedly in parts, English) up to the high standard of the pictures, but the fact that the book is published at all is tribute to a dedicated bunch of enthusiasts.

As one who has been following the European F3000 season since its inception, I appreciate the book’s existence. The publishers must hope that the public at large will tolerate its idiosyncrasies. SA

57 — The Last French Bugatti, by Barrie Price. Veloce publishing, 150.00 (or £200 leather bound).

Whereas most of the books that contribute to Bugatti history cover a wide spectrum, Barrie Price has concentrated on one model, the Type 57 and its variants. (That is if by variants we include the Types 59 and 64 and the final postwar T101.)

The book is a feast of over 300 fine pictures, and some technical drawings, illustrating particularly the coachwork that graced the T57 chassis, such as Galibier, Ventoux, Stelvio, and Atalante from the factory, as well as bodies by Aravis, Corsica, Gangloff, Graber, Letourneur & Marchand, Van Vooren, Saoutchik, James Young, Vanden Plas, Figoni & Falaschi, Sodomka, Labourdette, Rice & Harper etc. Nine pages are devoted to the official sales records. That alone should extend the knowledge of many followers of Ettore Bugatti.

Barrie’s endorsement for compiling the book is that he joined the BOC in 1952 to help Blomfield race his Bugatti and is now Chairman of the Bugatti Trust. If it seems expensive at £50, let me hasten to explain that royalties will go to the Bugatti Trust.

Incidentally, the author has driven every type of Bugatti except the T59, including the 4wd car.

The book would have been even better had Veloce not left out some important paragraphs on three of the early pages. But Barrie’s technical descriptions, though brief, are worth having, being based on his intimate experience of these cars.

Did you know, for instance, that there was a Bugatti with Daimler fluid-flywheel and Armstrong-Siddeley preselector gearbox? The competition exploits of the 57 are touched on more in captions than in the text, but Barrie concludes that, suitably geared, the T57G would have done 145mph, or better than the Jaguar XKC of 1951, based on Benoist’s 1936 hour-record of 135.42mph. WB

Automobilia of Europe, by Alistair Morris and Gordon Gardiner. Antique Collectors Club, £25.

Aimed at the collector of all things automotive, bar cars themselves, this large volume illustrates lamps, mirrors, tools, badges, mascots, catalogues, signs, brochures and the like, with captions and, bravely, even estimated values.

There is only minimal text, but given that the book is more likely to be used as a quick picture reference than a research text, there’s nothing wrong with that. You might argue that giving prices is irrelevant with the uncertain auction market today, but the point is to show, for example, which RAC badge is the rare one, with some idea of relative values. The trouble is that, wide-ranging though the chapters are, they still only show a selection in each field, so the book is likely to raise as many questions as it answers.

This revised and updated edition is available by mail from Sotheby’s (0243 841403), where both authors are consultants. GC

Nigel Mansell’s World Championship, by Gremlin Graphics Software.

There are now computer games pertaining to almost every kind of driving, be it Formula 1, rallying, motorcycling, supercars or whatever. The choice is virtually limitless.

One of the more recent releases is Nigel Mansell’s World Championship, which is available in a variety of software formats, from £10.99 to £34.99.

Although we haven’t had chance to try the game, we hope it’s more realistic than the accompanying PR blurb, which describes Nigel Mansell’s 30 GP victories as the “most successful ever”…

Features include 16 different circuits and a variety of weather simulations. It doesn’t specify whether the aspect of ‘realism’ stretches to losing a wheel when you leave the pits in Portugal, or whether you can see the whites of Ayrton Senna’s eyes in Barcelona… SA

Touring Car Year ’92, published by The Nott Organisation. 112pp, £6.95.

The British Touring Car Championship is big business nowadays. A few years ago, they had trouble selling race programmes at BTCC meetings. Now, you can buy T-shirts, hats, jackets, car muffs, key rings and just about anything else short of BTCC loo rolls.

Publisher Martin Nott has assembled an editorial team with in-depth knowledge of the BTCC scene, and there is a sensible balance of race coverage and features, even if a few of the latter look suspiciously advertorial.

Still, the healthy number of adverts sprinkled hither and thither probably help to explain the reasonable cover price.

In places, the layout appears to be in need of a spring-clean, but that shouldn’t be taken as too harsh a criticism. This is, after all, a first effort, and it’s a bloody good one at that. SA

Mercedes SL – The Complete Story, by Brian Laban/Sporting Fords – Cortina to Cosworth, by Mike Taylor. Crowood Autoclassics, £19.95 each.

Not being a Ford man, I expected to find Cortinas and Cosworths less riveting than the sporting Mercedes, but in fact Mike Taylor’s work goes much deeper than the tuned saloons, giving a concise wrap-up of Cosworth the firm as well as Cosworth the ram-raiders’ delight, the wild Group 5 Zakspeed Capris and the competition non-starters such as the P68, GT70 and RS1700T. It packs a lot in, including a quick run-down of pre-Cortina days, and combines much production data with all the race and rally history.

Brian Laban’s outline of the SL in all its variants is similarly comprehensive, with company background and racing history as well as the technical information. Both are generously illustrated, with new photos for model details plus a good selection of period pictures, while the Autoclassics style of separating various data out into side boxes makes it easy to grasp. GC

Sponsorship and the World of Motor Racing, by Guy Edwards. Hazleton Publishing, £100.00.

At first sight this enormous book appears to consist of a mass of diagrams and statistics, of appeal only to those concerned with obtaining solid sponsorship in motoring competition fields. But finding such support is more than ever necessary to individuals and teams if they are to continue in this now business-orientated sport, and who better than Guy Edwards, who has specialised in accomplishing it to top levels, to tell us how to set about it? He does so in this great tome, very thoroughly, and in entertaining detail.

One should have no quibble with that, for has not this dedicated motor racing enthusiast brought £100M into the sport? If you wish to endeavour to emulate him, here is his advice — how to get the cash and, more importantly, how to hold on to it. All done with panache, to true Financial Times level, with colour charts, diagrams, the lot.

However, that is but half the story. The rest is an exceedingly well told, and therefore readable, unfolding account of Guy’s burning desire to race, and how with zero resources he set about achieving his ambition, a fine rags-to-riches story that must appeal to every young person in the same predicament. I confess to being enthralled.

Not exactly a born racer, Edwards is a lover of statistics. He has competed in 286 races in 20 different countries in 37 different cars on 54 different tracks. This resulted in 32 wins, 25 second places and 22 thirds… enlivened by 35 accidents, many of which he describes in graphic detail.

He started with a Mini Cooper in 1965 and continued to 1989, driving all manner of saloons and sports cars. He eventually raced in F1, albeit at a low-key level, and also racked up numerous starts at Le Mans from 1971-1985, taking fourth on his final appearance at the helm of a Porsche 962.

His remarkably tenacious sponsor-chasing, an activity he continues today in his role as Team Lotus’ Director of Marketing, has netted over 60 companies, of whom 55 were in motor racing for the first time.

Without disclosing too much of the contents, I can say that I read with interest the other side of Graham Hill, as Guy saw him, and was reminded that Keith Duckworth’s engines weren’t always successful. I also relished Frank Gardner’s description of how the Lola T292’s suspension functioned before it was correctly set up… though that cannot be published here.

We may be read before the nine pm curfew.

This is a great book, embellished by magnificent production and splendid photographs, which will profit any would-be racing driver who is in the least bit serious about his or her career. WB

• If you’ve ever fancied watching a Thruxton race meeting from the comfort of the A303, or you’re of the opinion that Silverstone’s run-off areas are more of a challenge than the Paris-Dakar, you could try these. Pentax has just launched its PCF range, priced at between £99.99-£134.99 dependent upon strength. Of all its binoculars, Pentax says the PCF’s large aperture, wide-angle lenses make them most suitable for sports fans, as it’s easy to keep track of fast moving objects such as rally cars, racehorses and Rory Underwood.