"Automobile Treasures"

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Automobile Treasures,” by T. R. Nicholson. 120 pp. 9 4/5 in. x 7 1/4, in. (Ian Allan Ltd., Terminal House, Shepperton, Middlesex. 30s)

This is a beautifully turned out book, full of clear photographic reproductions and even some colour plates, devoted to the contents of British and European museums which are open to the public and contain private-car exhibits: Nothing of the kind has been attempted before, if we except a list issued by the V.C.C. for members’ use (it lists, however, cars ignored by Nicholson) and the combined catalogue of the Montagu, Brighton and Midlands Motor Museums.

The snag about paying 30s. for a book of this kind is that the contents tend to be out-of-date before publication and that some of the pictures, even the colour plates, could probably be found in the appropriate museum catalogues, and that, as the text is rather brief, it reads like a somewhat boring list of exhibits without very much qualification in the way of outstanding technical items, their place in history, where the exhibits were found, to whom they belong or how they were restored. Mainly, then, this is a picture book, lacking in continuity as museum exhibits themselves so often do (not necessarily to disadvantage) and in some of the chosen pictures one sees how sadly some exhibits depart from correct original form, the Montagu Museum’s Coupe de l’Auto Sunbeam and V12 350-h.p. Sunbeam Single-seater, and the Rapier-Railton at Measham, being examples.

The author goes out of his way to exclude commercial vehicles (but includes fire-engines), aeroplanes and even model cars, which seems a pity. His name ensures accuracy, but the Fiat illustrated on page 44 is a 12/15, not a 10/25.

Times of opening are quoted, and the Curators’ names, but not admission charges, the author explaining that these are usually nominal. The book will whet the appetite for summer visits, not only to Beaulieu and Brighton but to Turin, Monza, Milan, etc. But I would have wished the Indianapolis Museum could have been included, while the book would have greater value if every exhibit were listed, so that historians wanting to examine a given vehicle would know where to go, or start inquiring. Incidentally, what has become of the Colibri light car I found during the war, which later went to the Hull Museum? It isn’t mentioned in this book. – W. B.