book reviews, February 1999, February 1999

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Auto-Architect – The Autobiography of Gerald Palmer £19.95. ISBN: 0 9519423 6 0

A book does not have to be elaborate or expensive to be of interest. Such is certainly the case with this publication of the work of Gerald Palmer, who was responsible for so many cars, beginning with the Jowett Javelin. Mr Palmer reveals much interesting information about these matters and the technical merits and problems with the cars he and others designed. He does not mince matters, nor fail to name can he was associated with from childhood, like the Model-T Ford he made into a sportscar. But even more interesting are his reminiscences of work for Jowett, Nuffield, BMC, Yeoman and General Motors and memories of designers and executives, with outspoken details of their characters, charms and downsides.

Much material is woven into Palmer’s story plus the facts about his dismissal, brought after Leonard Lord had read a toocritical Autocur road-test on the Wolseley 6/90 in 1955 the power of the press! Palmer tells of his Scammell clays, a Monte Carlo Rally and devotes a chapter to the T44 Bugatti and 1924 Targa Florio Mercedes he rebuilt. The pictures have intelligent captions to add to the interest. This very readable book is supplemented by further information and drawings. Highly recommended, particularly to those interested in car design and those who own any of the cars described.

British Trials Drivers – Their Cars and Awards, 1929-1939, by Donald Cowboume £36.00. ISBN: 85825 107 9

This is a companion book to Mr Cowboume’s work on rally drivers from 1929-39 h. Like its predecessor it is astonishingly complete, listing all competitors in major trials in the prewar decade. The tabulation occupies 720 large pages, and there are enough pictures to liven up the contents and capture the atmosphere of the era. A special feature has illustrations of badges, trophies, maps etc. Mike Worthington-Williams has done the foreword. Stupendous! I eagerly await the next ‘Cowboume’, about the 1910 to 1920s trials.

Latest on the Veloce series on increasing the power output of popular cars is by Des Hammitt, covering the 1275cc Aseries BMC/BL/Rover cars. Useful data and explanatory pictures for those craving extra ‘oomph’ from these cars, it costs £14.99.

David Tremayne has come up with a 240-page hardback on Jordan, about its efforts in F3 and F3000, and on to its F1 era. This is essential reading for all F1 followers. Published by Haynes, at £17.99.

Haynes have continued their well-known ‘Buying, repairing and tuning’ handbooks, of which that on the Audi Quattro is the latest, priced at £19.99.

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