Books For The New Year

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“Press on Regardless,” by Anne Taylor and Fern Mosk. 115 pp., 5½ in. by 8¼ in. (Simon and Schuster, 630, Fifth Avenue, New York. $2.95.)

If you want light and inconsequential reading about sports-car people in California today, or in England as it was 25 years ago, then this book will amuse. The truth about the motor trade is always funny, and when dressed up by two American girls and featuring well-known Californian sports-car people thinly disguised, time passes pleasantly.—D. S. J.

“Ten Years of Motors and Motor Racing,” by Charles Jarrott. 297 pp., 8¾ in. by 5½ in. (G. T. Foulis and Co. Ltd., 7, Milford Lane, Strand, London, W.C.2. 25s.)

This is a reprint of a book which stands as one of the motoring classics. First published in 1906, “Ten Years” is Charles Jarrott’s account of the dawn of motor sport, from the Emancipation Run of 1896 to the Gordon Bennett races up to 1906.

He tells an enthralling story and this reviewer clearly recalls the thrill of reading a 1928 edition for which he had saved up the requisite sum and purchased as soon as it was published. The excitement of that first Brighton Run in the fog of November, early drives as lonely pioneers in primitive Panhard-Levassors with tube ignition and carriage lamps, and then the all-embracing adventure of Jarrott’s participation in the great town-to-town contests, driving ever bigger Panhard, de Dietrich and, later, the odd Wolseley Beetle, cars–such was, and is, the stuff on which “Ten Years of Motors and Motor Racing” is based and Jarrott’s story will, or should, fascinate the present generation as it did the previous one.

The author has the rare knack of taking the reader with him on those motoring escapades of long, long ago and thus his book ranks as one of the greatest of motoring autobiographies. There is little of the text book about “Ten Years,” although a chapter is devoted to “Racing Motorists I Have Met” (wherein are the great names of this all-but-forgotten era—de Knyff, Charron, Giradot, Zborowski, Snr., Farman, Berteaux, Lorraine Barrow, de Caters, Jenatzy, Levegh, de Crawhez, Edge …) and the book concludes with tables of race winners and holders of the flying kilometre record up to 1906—and an index.

Foulis have done a good job in producing this fourth edition, which appears to be unexpunged, except that the maps of the great races which were in the third and earlier editions have been deleted. If the writer was confined to a desert island and six motoring books, “Ten Years” would be one of the essentials.—W.B.

 

“Riley Maintenance Manual,” by S. V. Haddleton. 390 pp., 8¾ in. by 5½ in. (G. T. Foulis and Co., Ltd., 7, Milford Lane, Strand, London, W.C.2. 35s.)

This is a bulky maintenance book compiled, for owners of Riley cars built between 1930 and 1956, by the man who for ten years was Publicity Manager of the old Riley Company and who is now Advertising Executive of the Nuffield Organisation.

Mr. Haddleton is quite obviously a Riley enthusiast, who, if he were honest, would no doubt admit that the Nuffieldised Riley is but a shadow of those Riley models which emanated under the guidance of Stanley, Percy, William, Allan and Victor Riley, gentlemen whose portraits grace the fly-leaf of his book. Some of this nostalgia is conveyed by chapters one and two, which give a history of Riley and means of identifying the different models. These chapters are, however, purely introductory and a full history of the old Riley Company remains to be written, nor are the illustrations in this section at all comprehensive, pictures of the original “Monaco,” ” Brooklands ” and ” Gamecock ” Nines, for instance, being conspicuous by their absence. Because the book starts with 1929/30 instead of 1926/7, no reference is made to the “Biarritz,” while the competition successes of the Riley marque are lumped together in one paragraph all too superficially. However, this serves to emphasise that this useful book is purely a maintenance manual and as such it appears to be comprehensive and well illustrated and it contains very detailed specifications of the 9, 15, pre-war 12-h.p. and 1½-litre and 16-h.p. and post-war 2½ and 1½-litre Riley cars, as well as an explanation of the manufacture’s model and type coding. How nice to discover a publicity and advertising executive who knows about his Company’s cars down to the intimate details.—W. B.

 

“Fifty Years of Brooklands.” Edited by Charles Gardner. 160 pp., 9 in. by 62/5 in. (William Heinemann Ltd., 99, Great Russell Street, London, W.C.1. 25s.)

Had war and bureaucracy not put it down, Brooklands Motor Course would have been 50 years old, to its official opening, on June 17th this year. It is a nice gesture that Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd., whose aircraft division occupies Brooklands today, should have remembered this anniversary and have asked Charles Gardner to produce a book worthy of the occasion.

The motor-racing and motor-cycle sections have been written by W. Boddy, Editor of Motor Sport, who has successfully condensed that wealth of Brooklands’ data contained in his three-volume “The Story of Brooklands,” which was published some years ago by the Grenville Publishing Co. He has added an outline of motor-cycle racing at the Track and, in a separate chapter, recalls some of the funnier things that happened at Weybridge.

“L’Ancien” writes the bulk of the aviation story of Brooklands and very well he has done it, too, because, apart from sketching the highlights of Brooklands as an important centre of early British aviation, he gives lots of information about later races and aviation meetings that happened in the shadow of the scarred cement bankings and, moreover, quotes more of the makes and types of the rarer light aeroplanes, and of the pilots who flew them, than it is usually possible to enjoy in books of this kind. His chapter “The Flying Twenties” so well recalls the Brooklands flying days between the wars. The more important efforts of pioneers like A. V. Roe and J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon and Paulhan and Grahame-White etc., are naturally covered. Curiously, there is no reference to Mon. Ballamy, the very first man to bring a flying-machine to Brooklands (in 1907). This reviewer also looked in vain for passing reference to the break-up of a Vickers Vilbebeest torpedo-‘plane in the late-‘thirties, an episode he remembers witnessing from the aerodrome, seeing pilot and observer float down under their parachutes unhurt—but the torpedo was never seen again!

However, so much happened at Brooklands, on the Track and in the air above it, that no book can hope to tell the whole story. “Fifty Years of Brooklands” makes a successful attempt to cover a lot of ground in an attractive manner, backed up by a wealth of splendid (and splendidly reproduced) photographs. Incidentally, the amount of prize money offered at Brooklands in the early days was pretty fantastic—over £5,000 for the first race meeting and £2,500 for the first aviator to fly a circuit of the Motor Course, not to mention Edge’s £10,000 wager!—which sums can be multiplied by about five to give a 1957 equivalent! The final part of the book, by E. Colston Shepherd, Air Correspondent of The Sunday Times, deals with the history of commercial aviation at Brooklands, giving fascinating insights into the Hawker and Vickers concerns and the changes which took place down the years in the Brooklands terrain itself.

Altogether, a book for all those who knew and loved the Brooklands of old and especially so for those who seek a fine range of illustrations of racing cars, famous and less so, and of pioneer, transport, R.A.F. and light aeroplanes which flew above and landed within the Brooklands estate from 1908 to the present day. The book has indices divided between personalities and machines and another original touch is the inclusion of pictures showing how certain historic aspects of now-out-of-bounds Brooklands are seen today by Vickers’ employees.

“Fifty Years of Brooklands” is both complete in itself and an excellent introduction to Boddy’s much more comprehensive volumes about the Track.—C. F.

“Famous Auto Races and Rallies,” by Erwin Lessner. 380 pp. (Erwin Lessner, Hanover House, Garden City, New York. $5.)

The main entertainment of this book for serious students must be spotting the errors in it, for “Famous Auto Races and Rallies” teems with them. Its Austrian author, now an American citizen, presents a miscellaneous selection of races and rallies in no particular order, with emphasis on racy reporting. Spelling errors are legion, proof reading obviously not part of the production routine.

Taking merely the chapter on the World’s Land Speed Record, Lessner quotes the 350-h.p. V12 Sunbeam as “Model-1922,” whereas it was built in 1920, makes Rene Thomas drive a Leyland-Thomas instead of Parry Thomas, confuses the 300-h.p. Fiat of 1911 with the earlier Fiat “Mephistopheles,” mixes up Segrave’s 4-litre V12 Sunbeam with the later twin-engined, 200-h.p. Sunbeam, and then, coming to that car, gives it a 24-cylinder “plant” instead of two separate 12-cylinder engines. The Irving Special “Golden Arrow” is described as being “a huge box of steel, with sort of an airplane’s steering gear in the rear, “which presumably refers to its fixed stabilising fin. Later we were told “the disks from its wheels” were removed to “reduce wind resistance,” when, in fact, discs are usually fitted in an attempt to reduce wind resistance and are removed only when they interfere with steering in side gusts. There are some startling gaps in the history of this record and some obscure cars are referred to, yet no mention is made of Lockhart’s very creditable Stutz, in spite of its American origin. 

After this, little faith can be placed in the rest of this book, which covers rallies, Indianapolis, Le Mans, the Mille Miglia, the French G.P. races, Watkins Glen, Sebring, the Targa Florio, the Carrera Panamericana, Vanderbilt Cup and many more, opening with Peking-Paris. We are startled to read that a 2-litre Bentley ran at Le Mans in 1926, and of Dario Resta we have to endure: ” . . . he turned the speedway at terrific speed, letting his car swing high up the banks with boyish delight, oblivious of sales, indifferent to approaching middle age. He was young again, a champion set to outdo all champions, to set marks that should be standards for a long time to come. From the pits came admiring signals, in anticipation of new Brooklands marks. But then it happened. There was no apparent reason why the Sunbeam got out of control, but it swerved, balanced precariously on pair of wheels for a brief moment, then overturned. The ambulance found Resta dead.” In fact, he was attacking relatively unimportant class records and a burst tyre caused the car to go through the Railway Straight fence.

There are, however, a few interesting pieces in Lessner’s bulky book. For instance, he seems to know a lot about Felice Nazzaro, who, in 1907, “made 200,000 lire, more than four times the take-home pay of a cabinet minister,” and sets out to explain why Nazzaro failed as a car manufacturer whereas Lancia, also a racing driver, succeeded.  Amongst a dramatised account of the 1914 French G.P. the point is made that frequent failures of Boillot’s Dunlop tyres contributed to the Peugeot’s ultimate retirement with differential failure — however, in Laurence Pomeroy’s “The Grand Prix Car,” volume one, the Peugeot’s retirement is given as due to a broken exhaust valve in No. 3 cylinder, while the reason for frequent tyre changes being necessary, as given by Jules Goux, one of the other Peugeot drivers, is quoted by Pomeroy and destroys the rest of Lessner’s argument. (Kent Karslake, in his “A History of the French Grand Prix,” also disposes of the legend that Boillot had excessive tyre failures but he does quote the cause of the Peugeot’s retirement as “broken back axle.” Probably, like Lessner, he was hood-winked by excuses of the “blown gasket” kind issued byPeugeot after the race! Nor does Cecil Clutton, in “The Racing Car,” throw any light on the Peugeot retirement in this dramatic race.)

All authors drop a “clanger” sooner or later but it is necessary to emphasise the errors in “Famous Auto Races” in order to warn serious students of motor-racing against it. We see that it has a catalogue card in the Library of Congress and hope that not too many borrowers will be misled. The book has no illustrations and no index. It isn’t one we should want with us on a desert island! — C.F.

Motor Sport Racing Car Review, 1957,” by Denis Jenkinson, 122 pp., 7½ in. by 5 in. (Grenville Publishing Co., Ltd., 15-17, City Road, London, E.C.1. 9s. 6d.)

This welcome annual appears again, uniform with earlier editions, the first of which was published in 1948. It covers the Grand Prix racing cars of 1956 — B.R.M., Bugatti 251, Connaught “Syracuse,” six and eight-cylinder Gordini, Lancia/Ferrari D50 and Experimental, Maserati 250/F1 and Vanwall, together with descriptions of the FII Lister, Lotus and Cooper cars.

The book is illustrated with excellent “landscape” photographs, mostly the work of the Motor Sport photographer. It is right up to date, including, for example, an account of the B.R.M. post-season tests at Monza and it contains some rare views of technical detail, such as the new transverse leaf-springs on the B.R.M., a full side-view of the streamlined Maserati which was prepared for Reims but never ran there, and the cockpit of the Vanwall.

Apart from details, every marque gets a full-page illustration of a complete car and each description of a car’s development and history throughout 1956 is followed by a tabulated specification, from which, however, the author omits controversial b.h.p. and r.p.m. figures.

I am not going to pretend that this is light reading, because in the space available there is room only for pure description, with no explanation of technicalities for those unversed in racing-car matters and the Jenkinson style is sometimes on the complex side, giving the impression of rather hasty writing. This will not discourage the enthusiast, who will find a wealth of valuable information in “Racing Car Review” that builds up into a complete technical review of last season’s races. We learn how Ferrari so effectively made the best of the Ferrari/Lancia jigsaw puzzle on his hands at the end of 1955, and of the problems presented to Maserati when they adopted fuel-injection. Fresh facts come to light, too, a delightful one relating to why the body-paint on the experimental streamlined Maserati once burst into flames as the engine was being warmed up, and what steps the Italian mechanics took to prevent this happening again!

Jenkinson, as usual, writes fearlessly. His view of the present position of the three British G.P. contenders is extremely interesting. Of B.R.M. we read ” . . . the way the B.R.M. went in its first few races was most encouraging, but then they sank back into the doldrums and all the good that was done by the terrific performance of the car on its first outing has now been undone, and the name of B.R.M. is rapidly returning to the laughing stock it became with the fruitless endeavours made with the 16-cylinder cars.” Of Connaught: ” . . . at least the smartly-turned-out Connaught racing cars will not disappear from the starting line, though the engine is reaching the limit of its development to hope for much in the way of success at the finishing line in the major races of 1957.” Of Vanwall: ” . . . the Vanwall team returned home sure in the knowledge that they are as near to total success as anyone could hope to be and far nearer than any British racing car has ever been before.” If you want the whole story you certainly want this little book.—W. B.

“Scale Model Cars,” by Harold Pratley. 79 pp., 7¼ in. by 43/5 in., soft covers. (Model Aeronautical Press, Ltd., 38, Clarendon Road, Watford, Herts. 5s.)

It is some time since a book on model-car construction has appeared and Harold Pratley’s work is remarkably comprehensive, inasmuch as it covers motoring history, even to yet another account of the Wilhelm Maybach/Gottlieb Daimler origins (!), explains veteran, Edwardian and vintage cars, refers to all manner of proto-types for modelling, some of them quite rare, and goes into the fascinating subject of model-car history itself.

Pratley, indeed, seems to give almost as much about the “real thing” as about models, and he does not cover “kitchen table” or petrol-engined model cars. What he does do is to provide valuable hints and tips from his great experience of scale-model work to these embarking on the better forms of model-car construction. Chapters are devoted to collecting data, preparing drawings, building a workshop and equipping it with tools and materials, the concluding chapter being devoted to the finer points of modelling.

This is a book for advanced students and no plans from which to build your first model car will be found, although there are many diagrams to improve advanced technique. Photographs are also included, of “subjects” as well as of models. Pratley knows his subject, so that errors are confined to casual proof-correction, although a picture of the 100 m.p.h. Brooklands Vanwall is surprisingly captioned as a “cyclecar model” and reference to some of the models in the Science Museum taxes the eyes, for the showcases referred to scarcely show in the very small accompanying photograph. The Dunlop herringbone pattern tyre is described as Edwardian, but was better known in vintage times. Some of the prototypes paraded in the text, such as early vintage Buicks and sports/racing Studebakers and Du Ponts, will be of little interest to model makers, as no plans or pictures are included. However, avid model makers, especially the advanced students, will not wish to be without this book.—W. B. 

 

Castrol have issued a set of 18 “cigarette cards” of well-known competition motor-cyclists. A splendid souvenir of the 1956 season, these cards are obtainable free, on mentioning Motor Sport, by dropping a p.c. with your address to C. C. Wakefield & Co., Ltd., 46, Grosvenor Street, London, W.1. 

 

From the same address can be obtained, also free, Castrol lubrication charts covering Fiat 600, Ford New Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac, Standard Vanguard III and estate car, Sunbeam Rapier, Wolseley 15/50 and 6/90. 

 

A comprehensive book on “Nickel Plating for Engineers” is available free, for Motor Sport readers, on application to The Mond Nickel Co., Ltd., Publicity Dept., Thames House, Millbank, London. S.W.1.

 

 

 

 

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