Books for the New Year

 The World’s Racing Cars and Sports Cars  by Douglas Armstrong. 208 pp. 5 in. by 7-5/8 in. (Macdonald & Co. (Publishers), Ltd., 16, Maddox Street, London, W.1.  15s.)

This landscape book of reference covers recent F.1, F.2 and F.3 racing cars, a solitary example of a U.S.A.C. Formula car, sports/racing cars, sports cars and high-performance cars. It devotes a page write-up to each, opposite which is a good, but not necessarily original, picture of the car concerned. There is a useful specification of each of the 91 cars covered but a small page is all too little space in which to describe these, so that this book only faintly offsets the disappearance of the once-annual Racing Car Review by another author. Useful is the list of makers’ addresses, for racing as well as sports-car manufacturers, while the book is printed on de luxe glossy paper with a colourful dust-jacket and a foreword by Hawthorn. Armstrong has been both topical and comprehensive in including cars like the defunct Chevrolet Corvette S.S.,  the gas-turbine Rover T3, the Wartburg, the Belond-A.P. Special and the Kharkov Six F1 car, but it seems a little odd to find that, while the Volvo PV444 and Tatra 603 are included under ” High Performance,” the Borgward Isabella is excluded  —  W. B.


 Aeromodeller Annual 1958-59. Compiled and Edited by C. S. Rushbrooke, F.S.M.A.E. and D. J. Laidlaw-Dickson, 140 pp. 8-5/8 in. by 4-5/8 in. (The Model Aeronautical Press Ltd.. 38, Clarendon Road, Watford, Herts. 10s. 6d.)

This annual will be of interest only to a limited number of motoring enthusiasts but it is an excellent example of how such an annual should be produced. There is a colour frontispiece, descriptions and plans of all kinds of model aeroplanes, chapters on dope fuels, rocket power, indoor modelling, plastics, calculations, etc., while the review of the available model i.c. engines is extremely intriguing, for we find that these begin to work from 10,000 r.p.m. or so and will go up to 17,500 r.p.m. or even more.  Specifications and power curves are given for these engines, fourteen in all, each of which is illustrated. The book also contains a list of all British, World and International model aircraft records, from which we find that the World’s speed record stands at nearly 178 m.p.h. and the World’s duration record at 8 hr. 34 min. 21 sec. The annual concludes with an illustrated list of the 1957-58 Contest Results.  —  W.B.


All about the Volkswagen by Henry Elfrink. 192 pp., 81. in. by 54 in., soft covers. (Henry Elfrink Automotive Publications, P.O. Box 20715, Los Angeles 6, California.  3.50 dollars).

This is an exceedingly comprehensive description of the famous and immortal “beetle,” including detailed servicing data, speed tuning information and specifications of the VW industrial engine and VW and Porsche aeroplane engines. There is a tabulated specification of the VW as well as the hundreds of pages about every detail of the car. There are interesting lists of modifications introduced between 1948 and the present-day, which is a reminder that the Volkswagen has not remained unchanged to the extent that many people suppose.

This book is published in America but can no doubt be obtained from specialist bookshops in this country.  —  W.B.


British Grand Prix   by Richard Hough, 160 pp. 8-5/8 in. by 6-9/16 in. (Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. 178-202, Gt. Portland Street, London, W.1.  21 s.)

Following his history of the Tourist Trophy race, Richard Hough now provides a one-volume history of the British Grand Prix. His book comes in a tasteful dust-jacket with a colour photographic reproduction, on the cover, of the start of the 1955 British Grand Prix at Aintree won by Moss’s Mercedes-Benz by 1/5th of a second from Fangio’s Mercedes-Benz, with Kling’s Mercedes-Benz completing the 1, 2, 3 Mercedes victory. Hough follows his previous style, describing each race, tabulating the results, concluding with technical notes on the cars and leavening the whole with quotes by famous personalities of the appropriate era. Thus a useful work of reference is available, in chapters (curiously, there is no chapter index) covering the races of 1926 and 1927 (at Brookands), those of 1937 and 1938 (at Donington Park) and the whole of the post-war series, although only tabulated results of the 1958 British G.P. are provided.

The two Donington races were not, strictly speaking, British Grands Prix, being called Donington Grand Prix races, and having included those of 1937 and 1938 Hough might have included the earlier races in the series, those of 1935 and 1936, in which some Continental opposition was present. However, the race did not assume true Continental Grand Prix status until the German Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union teams entered for the two pre-war races but the two Brooklands’ races were not only true British G.P. races of the R.A.C. but did  have a fair number of Continental drivers and cars to contest them. The book is nicely illustrated but many of the pictures have been seen before and a fearful error mars one of them, Alfa-Romeo 159s being captioned as Lago-Talbots!  The brief technical accounts of competing cars serve as an excellent aperitif  to a flagging memory and how quickly the racing scene changes is brought to mind by the frontispiece showing Froilán Gonzáles after beating the previously-invincible Alfa-Romeos in a 4-1/2-litre Ferrari in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone only eight years ago.

This is a book for students of motor racing who like to have the history of the big races on their book-shelves.  —  W. B.


Case History by Norman Smith. 27$ pp. 81 in. by 5t in. (Autosport, 159, Praed Street, London, W.2.  30s)

This is a very worthwhile study of some of the greatest makes in motor racing. In articles revised in some cases from those published in Autosport  Norman Smith traces the racing careers and technical development of cars which have made the more recent motor racing history, i.e. Auto-Union, Mercedes-Benz (from 1934), Lago-Talbot, 1-1/2-litre G.P. Delage, E-type E.R.A., Type 158 Alfa-Romeo, D.46 Cisitalia,  H.W.M., Ferrari (G.P. cars), D50 Lancia-Ferrari and Maserati.

The author is admittedly more concerned with racing history than detailed mechanical matters but he does give the reader a splendid account of the part which each of these cars played in racing and, as human memory is notoriously short, this book is fascinating to read, particularly when dealing with races of pre-war days. There is a courageous attempt at straightening out the complex history of the 1-1/2-litreG.P. Delage cars after they ceased to be works’ entries and to this end an owner-driver table is appended for these cars.

The book is adequately illustrated and well printed and has an index and a Foreword by Gregor Grant, Editor of Autosport  —  W. B.


Old Cars the World Over by Elizabeth Nagle. 334 pp. 8-3/4 in. by 5-5/8 in. (Arco Publishing Co. Ltd., 10, Fitzroy Street, London, W.1.  30s.)

This book serves to emphasise what we know already, namely, that interest in vintage and veteran cars is expanding at an astonishing rate all over the world, so that gone are the days when such vehicles appealed only to the more off-beat of genuine enthusiasts; now the old motor cars are owned as a sign of social distinction, from self-publicity and commercial-publicity motives, and because of this they often motor in an aura of fame, TV cameras, film and stage celebrities and inaccurate assessments of their capabilities and background.

Elizabeth Nagle, once but no longer secretary of the V.C.C., one feels is not at all adverse to the publicity angle of the veteran motor car.  In ” Old Cars the World Over ” personalities get about as much attention as cars, although very few historic motor cars anywhere in the universe can have escaped Miss Nagle’s notice. She covers the expansion of the movement here, in France, Australia, the U.S. of America, New Zealand, Africa, Scandinavia, and Western Europe, even taking in the Fiji Islands on her world tour.

Anyone anxious to assess the prospects of setting up in business as an exporter of historic heirlooms, and those nervous at the thought that their hobby might crumble away overnight, will gain strength from this long, really rather tedious, account of what all the clubs all over the world are doing to discover, restore, exercise and publicise ancient motor vehicles. Some of Miss Nagle’s sorties have had to be conducted by reading, through the pages of club magazines but generally the technical data should be correct, because it has been “vetted” by Dennis Field, A.M.I.E.E.

Determined to leave nothing out, Miss Nagle obtained a series of congratulatory Forewords from Fred Bennett, Cecil Clutton, George Brooks, Duane C. White, Jeff Watson, Halvor Haneborg, Robert Schimp and Andrew Anderson, and at the other end of the tome are included pictures and brief specifications of a selection of 66 miscellaneous veteran, Edwardian and vintage vehicles, from 1896 to 1930.

Here, then, is a comprehensive if quick survey of veteran world affairs for those who are interested. Unfortunately the reader is left with the impression that in spite of its size the book is incomplete as on many pages asterisks are encountered to bring attention to the fact that vehicles so marked were dealt with in an earlier book and this can easily give rise to the feeling that, after all, there can be too much of a good thing. Perhaps if less verbose writing had been employed, more about these cars could have been given in the one volume  —  but of Elizabeth Nagle’s enthusiasm there can be no doubt. Does she not reveal to us that she “drinks her breakfast tea across the bonnet of a Bentley, reviving daily the desire that possession will someday aspire higher than the brittleness of porcelain” and boast of  “a dressing gown unique in the world”  because it is covered, presumably, in old car pictures “(proof supplied on request.)”?   Not bad for one who only got into the game eight years ago; which may be why some of the real pioneers of veteran car revival, such as K. Kirton, Dick Nash, Kent Karslake, Richard Shuttleworth and W. Boddy get but scant (or no) mention in this or her earlier book. Without seeking for inaccuracies, one caught our eye. The big Benz which Cyril Paul used to race at Brooklands is referred to as “the fabulous 100 h.p. Blitzen Benz.”  But has anyone ever established that this was a “Blitzen” and wasn’t it usually called a “200-h.p.” Benz ?  Then Donington is mis-spelt and Bolster’s “Bloody Mary” isn’t a  “G.N. Special.”  Incidentally, this book reminds us that Cecil Clutton is dead against motor museums, because he is quoted as having said “A motor car of character is too personal and vital a thing to be herded together with a lot of others in a sort of concentration camp. It must be loved and tended and used; and without these the life goes out of it.”

For what it is worth, here is a conscientious account of the state of the veteran car movement throughout the globe as it was up to the early part of last year. But it fails to capture the spirit of that pioneer enthusiasm which inspired people to grapple with scarcely-understood veterans in the scarcely-organised Brighton Run of the 1930s and which prompted Karslake to go about the country in search of subjects for his “Veteran Types” articles. In those days, perhaps before Miss Nagle was born, royalty and TV cameras were not interested in veteran cars.


Odhams Press Ltd. now publish  Cape Cold to Cape Hot  by Richard Pape in a 2s. 6d. soft-cover illustrated edition in their ” Beacon Books ” series.