Books for the New Year
“The Rolls-Royce Motor Car”
by Anthony Bird and Ian Hallows. 320 pp. 10 in. x 7 in. (B. T. Batsford Ltd., 4, Fitzhardinge Street, London, W.1. 105s.)
Books about the Rolls-Royce are something of an obsession with profit-intent publishers, because they sell well, especially for dollars. Batsford enlisted the aid of that painstaking historian Anthony Bird, and Ian Hallows of the 20 Ghost Club Record, to do theirs. A very good job they have made of it.
The bulk of this fine publication, on heavy-weight glossy art paper throughout, is the work of Bird, who takes the reader through the adolescence of Henry Royce to the present day in characteristic style, explaining and expanding instead of merely describing technical developments and debatable points as his account proceeds. This makes for an extremely readable book apart from imparting a wealth of Rolls-Royce lore, much of it new, very little omitted, although the later years, from the Phantom II period to the present, seem slightly less all-embracing than the earlier absorbing chapters, nor has enough distinction been given to the splendid “Continental” P. II.
At times one feels that Bird has been totally carried-away by his assigned task as Batsford’s chronicler of the “World’s Best Car” as to find it necessary to write in the best public relations vein, excusing all apparent shortcomings in the chosen make. Careful study of his long mss., however, reveals this to be an unfair judgement—he does offer critical comment on quite a number of aspects of certain R.-R. models. On the whole, though, he is clearly entirely pro-Rolls-Royce, even to the disadvantage of his well-loved Lanchesters.
“The Rolls-Royce Motor Car” is not only a splendidly written and beautifully presented history of Britain’s finest car but it answers critics of the Rolls-Royce; such as this reviewer. This adds even more entertainment and controversy to the plain tale of Sir Henry Royce, Bt., 0.B.E., M.I.M.E., and his cars. If criticism of the book itself is called for, it derives from the omission of almost all contemporary comment on the various R.-R. models and a complex manner of explaining the technical modifications to each, which are much better listed chronologically, as in D. B. Tubbs’ less-expensive book about the Phantoms, than hidden in the specification tables—one suspects, though, liaison between Hallows and Tubbs.
There is little to add except to strongly recommend this book to all worshippers of the twin-Rs. What Bird does not include in the text about changes in specification and intimate mechanical detail, Hallows makes up for in his most intimate and all-embracing tables, surely the most detailed ever presented outside the factory, about these cars, Bentley as well as Rolls-Royce, from 1904 twins to the current models. The combination of text and tabulated data, the fine paper and the diversity of pictures, including a colour-plate of the Rolls-Royce Phantom V, make this book something of a publishing landmark—certainly a fine investment for all Rolls-Royce fanatics.
I have only personal comment to offer. As Bird describes rival methods and systems at many points to clarify his account, I was disappointed that he does not discourse on the origins of the 6-cylinder engine and how Sunbeam, Spyker and Maudslay pre-dated Napier in this field, nor does he clarify the confusion existing over the origin of the mechanical servo-brake. When discussing high-grade cars that rivalled the Silver Ghost, or tried to, I see he omits all reference to the Leyland Eight, nor does he discuss American contemporaries like Cadillac, Packard and Lincoln in relation to the Silver Ghost, although readily admitting that R.-R. borrowed General Motors’ i.f.s. for the P. III and that later their transmission, power steering and carburation were of American origin ; it may be less surprising that he does not regard cars like the Delauney-Belleville, Ensign, Farman, Minerva, and Sheffield-Simplex worthy of inclusion either. But why, on page 108, leave Sunbeam out of the list of “splendid” cars which served the British Army during 1914/18?
In discussing the Rolls-Royce gearbox-driven mechanical brake-servo, Bird openly admits that R.-R. paid royalties to Hispano-Suiza, and uses this as a stick with which to chastise this reviewer. This I accept (likewise his explanation that a journalist and not Rolls-Royce initiated the “Best Car in the World” slogan) but some explanation of why this was so when Renault surely pioneered this type of servo and whereas Hispano-Suiza used expanding shoes in a drum, R.-R. preferred the Renault-type disc clutch, is, I would have thought, owed to the reader.
Bird includes a few pieces of fascinating R.-R. lore attributed to C. W. Morton, which seems a trifle unfair in this competitive, lucrative and specialised writing arena, inasmuch as Morton’s three volumes on Rolls-Royce history are still to come. . . .
The model-T Ford is linked in one-model longevity with the Silver Ghost, but the flat-twin Jowett, running from 1910 to 1938, ran longer than either.
On page 117 the opportunity of quoting the whirring of the Lanchester Forty’s epicyclic gearbox bands when idling in neutral as a shortcoming which made it inferior to the Silver Ghost has been unexpectedly omitted, it is a pity that the excellent index refers to a Leyland car when the war-time R.F.C. Leyland 6-tonner is intended, but I am intrigued, in view of the discussion taking place in Motor Sport‘s correspondence pages, to find on page 115 a reference to an experimental Rolls-Royce car being fitted with light-alloy pistons prior to 1914. Bird refers to some bearing failure experienced in post-war R.-R. car engines but omits any reference to this failing as it affected the 4-1/4-litre Bentley circa 1938.
One of the book’s most intriguing chapters is that devoted to “The Rolls-Royce Method and the Post-War Cars.” In it Bird really goes-to-town answering critics. For instance, he is at some pains to explain that brake fade reported on by The Motor (he means Motor) when reporting on the latest Rolls-Royce was found subsequently to have arisen because “the Rolls-Royce tested had some slight fault in the brake adjustment,” but it does not seem to occur to him, when comparing the figures in the R.-R. test report with those of “a similar test conducted a few weeks later on a car with disc brakes,” that these, too, might have been in some way out of adjustment. . . .
Incidentally, I raised an eyebrow on reading that “The premier German motor works has seldom produced a bad car, and never a dull one”—or does Mr. Bird regard the pre-war rear-engined baby Mercedes as an entertaining vehicle?
Incidentally, Rolls-Royce made a total of 18,830 cars from Silver Ghost to the P. III inclusive, not including the Springfield-built models, which are given full coverage in an appropriate chapter, or the Bentleys.
An all-embracing, completely authoritative history of the great cars from Derby that got carried on to Crewe has yet to be published; this one is the best attempt to date, and has almost made me a Rolls-Royce devotee! W. B.
“French Vintage Cars”
by John Bolster. 204 pp. 9-1/8 in. x 5-4/5 in. (Autosport, in conjunction with B. T. Batsford Ltd., 159, Praed Street, London, W.2. 30s.)
This book, eagerly awaited, proved a disappointment. As a means of reminding us of many obscure makes of French cars and cyclecars it succeeds admirably. But the coverage is superficial. The rise and fall of the French motor industry is disposed of in eight pages and clears up nothing of the mysteries surrounding the demise of the great companies and the believed amalgamation of Delage, Darracq and Delahaye. An additional eight pages are devoted to the design of French vintage cars and ten more to a useful survey of French proprietary engines of the vintage era, so many of which were the motive power of the lesser French vintage cars.
The bulk of the book is devoted to a Directory of French Vintage Cars, from Able to Zénia. This would be admirable were it more detailed. Some of the entries are very brief, however, for example: “A.N.—The A.N. was a cyclecar built at Kremlin-Bicêtre (Seine) around 1922.” Anyone armed with Le Catalogue des Catalogues could presumably have told us that. Again, of the Motovoiturette we learn that it “was a cyclecar of 3-1/2 c.v.” but nothing more. The Colombe is disposed of as “a cyclecar built just after the war at Colombe (Seine),” and we discover nothing more about the D.F.R. than that “these letters stand for a cyclecar which was assembled in the Avenue de Neuilly, Paris,” or of the Kévah other than that it was a cyclecar from La Garenne-Colombes. It had a 2-cylinder engine of 1,100 c.c. and was current from about 1921 to 1925.”
Terrible most of these French funnies may have been, and short-lived, but their interest to historians should justify more than these scant references, in a full-scale book about the vintage vehicles of France.
Other makes are naturally covered in much greater detail, a lot of it of great interest, although no very definite attempt has been made to distinguish between the Grand Sport and Surbaisse Amilcars, or the G.P., G.P.S. and San Sebastian Salmsons, for instance. Nor are the different D’Yrsan 3-wheelers sorted out, all of which was done fourteen years ago in “Continental Sport Cars” (Foulis, 1951).
Bugatti merits only three pages in the author’s estimation, Delage less than two so that the subtle differences between the Dl., D.I.S. and D.I.S.S. models are not mentioned, nor is the even more subtle matter of when the oil-brake-servo of the 6-litre Delage, to which Bolster refers, was replaced by the mechanical servo.
There is a long and worthwhile account of the Hispano-Suiza by “Jabby” Crombac, which even gives valve timing and other obscurities. It is interesting that only 2,614 of these fine cars were built between 1919 and 1938, in which period Rolls-Royce had made probably more than 15,000 cars, which explains the scarcity of the former in terms of supply rather than demise.
Had as much been written about makes other than Hispano-Suiza, “French Vintage Cars” would have been a great book. As it is, it provides a fascinating peep at the oddities the French industry perpetuated between 1919 and 1930 and enough about the better French cars to whet the enthusiast’s appetite.
The pictures, rather sparse and a mixed bag, are supplemented by some of Theo Page’s clear drawings.—C.
“The Fastest Men on Earth”
by Paul Clifton. 207 pp. 8-3/4 in. x 5-3/5 in. (Herbert Jenkins, Ltd., 3, Duke of York Street, St. James’s, London, S.W.1. 21s.)
The so-called “Land-Speed Record,” now somewhat confused by the arrival, as contenders, of jet-propelled cars and tricycles and gas-turbine cars, is a fascinating subject for the historian. Consequently, it formed the subject of a book by Capt. G. E. T. Eyston before the war (John Miles, 1939) and by William Boddy in 1951. Since then B.P. have sponsored a sadly inaccurate picture book on the subject and Boddy’s book has been re-issued with details of the present holder of the record for cars driven through their wheels (Phoenix House, 1964).
It might be thought that the matter has received sufficient coverage, but now comes Paul Clifton’s account.
In many ways this is more detailed than earlier books as to how these records were attempted and the drama arising from such attempts, but the technical aspects of the cars are more completely dealt with by Boddy’s account, the specifications which conclude most of Clifton’s chapters being only slightly embellished from those in the aforesaid B.P. picture book, the latest book being by B.P.’s publisher.
The student of history likes to read every possible source of reference—Clifton’s bibliography lists 42 books he referred to—and some new facts can be gleaned from this latest L.S.R. history, which includes some unnecessarily gruesome details of how Parry Thomas was killed. Inevitably, in these books, most of the pictures have been seen before. This is perhaps a rather unnecessary book and therefore must be regarded as expensive.—C.
“The Tiger Moth Story”
by Alan Bramson and Neville Birch. 256 pp. 8-1/2 in. x 5-2/5 in. (Cassell and Co. Ltd., 35, Red Lion Square, London, W.C.1. 36s.)
Anyone who has flown one or more of some 8,800 Tiger Moths that were built, has worked on them, is a member of the Tiger Club or was otherwise associated with the D.H.82a will derive great pleasure from this book.
It sets out to cover this famous biplane technically, historically, reminiscently and nostalgically, and succeeds admirably!
The origins of the Tiger from the ordinary D.H.60 of 1925 and earlier aeroplanes form the opening chapters. Thereafter, every aspect of these great little aeroplanes is dealt with—the colourful ‘thirties of air circuses and private flying, the Tiger as an R.A.F. training aircraft, engine development, the Tiger in war and peace, Tiger variants, the Tiger in unusual roles, not overlooking the wing-riding exploits of Mrs. Juanita (“Lolita”) Benjamin and Miss Allanah Campbell and the Tiger disguised for film-making.
The book is a fine tribute to a fine aeroplane and is enhanced by many first-class photographs, a splendid colour cover to the dust-jacket, and many scale drawings by Alan Bramson. The Foreword is by Sir Alan J. Cobham, K.B.E., A.F.C., and the appendices give the D.H.82a’s specification and performance figures (105 – 110 m.p.h. top speed at sea level), a list of Service and Reserve Flying Schools Tiger equipped between 1937 and 1954, all the world over, a summary of Tiger Moth production, including the 420 expendable Queen Bees, and a complete list of D.H.82 registrations, with works numbers and comments, from Sir Alan Cobham’s first machine, No. 1733/G-ABRC, and detailing those made by the D.H. Technical School and Morris Motors Ltd. and those built abroad.
A great book! There is a full index, but what a pity Cassell do not order some better-quality paper.—W. B.
“Grand Prix and Sports Cars Drawn by Rex Hays”
70 drawings. 12-1/8 in. x15-1/4 in. (Cassell and Co. Ltd., 35, Red Lion Square, London, W.C.1. 42s.)
This book consists of 70 scale drawings by Rex Hays of the G.P. and sports cars he modelled for the Montagu Motor Museum. The racing cars represent every major G.P. winner, from Szisz’s 13-litre Renault of 1906 which won that year’s French G.P. at 63 m.p.h., to the Lotus-Climax 25 in which Clark won the 1963 Belgian G.P. at 105.14 m.p.h. These racing-car drawings are all to the same scale and show both sides, back, front and plan view of each car. The 30 sports-car drawings run from the 1894 Panhard and Levassor to a 1964 250GT0 Ferrari and for some reason unexplained are in three views only, near-side, front and plan. The scale of the drawings is not given but wheelbase and track dimensions and colour of each car are quoted, sometimes with some other data.
Rex Hays has an interesting Introduction, in which he explains the care he has always taken in measuring the cars he draws and models, and the pitfalls that confront those who do so. He notes how alarmingly cars of a particular team often varied in body detail, outline and even in wheelbase and track dimensions. This is interesting, Hays’ point that the P2 Alfa Romeo had three different tail contours, one of which was “very similar to that of the 1922 Fiat,” explaining, perhaps, why from certain angles those clockwork models of the P2 remind me as much of the G.P. Fiat as of an Alfa Romeo. The statement that the track dimensions of the Alfa Romeo Type 158 are always given as 4 ft. 2-1/2 in. front and rear is rather sweeping—our Continental Correspondent quotes 4 ft. 1 in. and points out that as these cars had swing-axle rear suspension it depends how much weight was on the tail before you can dogmatically claim a rear track of 4 ft. 2-1/2 in., although this does not explain a discrepancy of 3 in. between the front track measurement of Hays and that of D. S. J., or the 1-1/2 in. between that of Hays and Pomeroy. It does, however, raise the point that the wheel camber of the 1961 Ferrari, 1962 B.R.M. and 1963 Lotus is such that the wheels are drawn as ellipses, front and back, so how is the track then measured to the nearest 1/2-in., remembering that the suspension of modern racing cars is set up differently for different circuits?
It is satisfying to know how accurately Rex Hays models cars, especially remembering the “draughtsmen’s licence” deliberately permitted in the case of mass-produced motor-car miniatures, but surprising, for one with close associations with Count Zborowski, to find the 1908 G.P. Mercedes referred to as a Mercedes-Benz; the amalgamation did not take place until 1926. Quite who will buy this expensive collection of painstaking scale drawings, rather flat in the absence of colour, particularly as the author says it isn’t directed expressly at the modelling fraternity, it is difficult to decide. But these accurate plans are at least there for those who might want them.
In his Introduction, Hays recalls that when he was a youth his parents had a “dark blue Austin landaulette, a vehicle I always thought was invented by our chauffeur”—which presumably was one of the fine old 4-cylinder Twenties—and a “Rossel, an extremely sporting vehicle based on a Grand Prix Peugeot.”
This being another book in the Montagu Motor Book New Series, the Foreword is by the Rt. Hon. Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.—W. B.
“The Monaco Grand Prix”
by David Hodges. 133 pp. 7-1/2 in. x 6-1/2 in. (Temple Press Books Ltd., 42, Russell Square, London, W.C.1. 21s.)
This is the second book in the welcome Temple Press Classic Motor Races” series—may there be many more! Having said of Hodges’ book on the Le Mans 24-Hour Race that “This is how motor-racing should be written and illustrated,” there is little to add about the Monaco G.P. book, which follows the same informative layout and style.
As a compact reference work it is unrivalled, and benefits materially from a Preface by Jacques Taffe, Commissaire Général, l’Automobile Club de Monaco and an Introduction by Anthony Noghes, Founder-President of the A.C. de Monaco.
There is thus plenty of data about how this most exciting and dramatic of road races, first held in 1929, came into being, and, the book being almost a pictorial affair, the circuit and the races thereon are admirably illustrated. Many of the pictures are very rare—here are SSK Mercedes-Benz, Auto-Unions and ancient Peugeots and Talbots on the circuit so well known today. And those who say modern racing is tame may like to digest the fact that whereas the big pre-war German cars stayed in one gear all the way round, today Monaco calls for a gear-change, on average, every five seconds, or 22 per lap.
Each race is described separately and the book concludes with tables of the cars involved and how they fared, including, the 1957 sports cars and 1959 F.2 cars, a fascinating analysis of retirements (Only 182 finished out of 370 starters in the tint 22 races), and the drivers, from Ackerl to Zehender, who drove in the Monaco G.P., the race, incidentally, which instituted the system of planning the starting-grid on practice times., universal teday.
Even the subsidiary races from 1936 to 1964 which supported the G.P. are given coverage—a splendid book, representing excellent value for your guinea.—W. B.
“The Other Bentley Boys”
by Elizabeth Nagle. 224 pp. 9-1/5 in. x 6-3/5 in. (George G. Harrap & Co, Ltd., 182, High Holborn, London, W.C.1 30s.)
With more than half-a-dozen full-length books about the vintage Bentley already published, it might seem that another one is unnecessary; and would in any case be extremely superficial. This concentrated interest in one make of defunct car is a significant reflection on the virile state of the vintage movement and no doubt future observers of homo sapiens will regard it as sufficiently remarkable to require comment!
In fact, Miss Nagle, by co-opting the assistance of many of the old Bentley personnel—mechanics, store-keepers, testers, etc.— has produced a very nostalgic book. To non-Bentley fanatics there may seem too much detail, but to those under the full spell of the winged-B, and to anyone who likes to probe the tiniest detail of motoring in the mad-‘twenties, “Those Other Bentley Boys” is pure, unalloyed joy.
Presumably a tape-recorder was the main medium of communication and the interviews, ranging from how the first 3-litre engine was built to the racing exploits of the marque and the closing days of the old Bentley Motors company, come over live, realistically, even in the idiom of the men involved, chaps like “Nobby” Clark, Pennal, Saunders and Hassan, all very loyal to the memory of their days with “W. O.”
A whole lot of new material emerges, thanks almost entirely to the memories of these “other Bentley boys,” enhanced because W. O. Bentley; who contributes a brief Foreword, comments when disposed to do so on the findings of his fitters, mechanics and testers of forty years ago.
Some new pictures further improve a unique book and the appendices include an extract from the Experimental Department’s notes on the Track Bentleys of 1923, a copy of the Bentley five-year guarantee, and some owners’ opinions of contemporary models. It is interesting to find three carburetters in use on the 3-litre engine as early as 1923, with a larger choke in the centre one than for those flanking it.
To quote from the text would be unfair to the boys who have so generously given their knowledge and memories to Miss Nagle’s confection. If there are any regrets it is that a few ridiculous mistakes, of the kind that would seem to be the author’s rather than the printer’s responsibility, reminding one that “a little knowledge can be dangerous,” mar the otherwise so fascinating and nostalgic text. I refer to reference on page 196 to a designer called “Watno” when surely Whatmough was intended, and to a “Me Mimes” carburetter on page 96, whereas this should, I imagine, be the Memini.
However, that is of small moment; modern “Bentley boys” will certainly relish this book, unravelling all the fresh technical data therein.—W. B.
“The Second Motor Book”
An Anthology edited by T. R. Nicholson. 240 pp. 8-1/2 in. x 6-4/5. in. (Methuen & Co. Ltd., 11, New Fetter Lane, London, E.C. 4. 25s.)
This follows Nicholson’s first “Motor Book,” an anthology of motoring which took the reader to the outbreak of the First World War. It covers the years 1919-1939, touching on all aspects of motoring and motoring sport in that period.
As a quick and readable introduction to the subject it has some value. But to those enthusiasts who have well-stocked libraries much, even all, of the contents may well have been read before, leaving only the reprinted contemporary advertisements and photographic reproductions to study, and almost all the latter have appeared previously, too.
This kind of work is attractive to an author, less acceptable, in our opinion, to the reader. We would have been much happier to have been reviewing one of this author’s original works, such as his unpublished history of speed trials and speed hill-climbs up to the ban on public-road speed contests in 1925.—C.
“Criminal on the Road”
by T. C. Willett. 343 pp. 8-3/4 in. x 5-3/5 in. (Tavistock Publications, 11, New Fetter Lane, London, E.C.4. 42s.)
This study of whether criminals are also motorists—it is, of course, common knowledge that motorists are automatically criminals–is heavy going, unlikely to appeal to those who still do their best to regard motoring as a sport. T. C. Willett has obtained his facts from 653 people who committed serious motoring offences in an English Police District, and the book is No. 12 in a series published under the auspices of the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency.
There are, however, some interesting aspects that come out of this study, such as that Court sentences vary considerably in motoring cases, that serious motoring offences are fairly often committed by people of criminal aspect and that drivers of private cars were the main offenders in the cases examined.
That the author is not anti-motorist is suggested by his quotes from at least one well-known motoring journal, while he even makes the suggestion that “perhaps distinguished racing drivers could influence the ordinary motorist and motorcyclist” in a similar manner to “Pilot Officer Prune’s” lessons to R.A.F. pilots during the war.
Particularly interesting is the author’s conclusion that “results of this inquiry leave little doubt that the police do not, on the whole, see even serious motoring offenders as criminals. Hence their evident reluctance to prosecute unless the case is nearly flawless, especially where drunken driving is concerned. In fact, there seems little or no substance in the belief that the police prosecute to get easy convictions, or to impress superiors in order to achieve promotion; indeed, the paper work alone is enough to deter them from such practices…. There is, indeed, a strong aura of ‘fair play’ about the whole relationship between the police and the driver.” We hope you have noticed it!
This weighty tome should be of inestimable value to lawyers, motorists awaiting conviction on a serious motoring charge, or to those drivers who fear that one day such a calamity may engulf them.
Chapter 3 contains a study of the Law and Motorist, including the historic background of 1832-1903, the Motor Car Act of 1903, and the Royal Commission on Transport, 1929, 1930 and after.—W.B.
by Mike Henry. 240 pp. 8-3/4 in. x 5-3/5 in. (G. T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 1-5, Portpool Lane, London; E.C.1. 25s.)
A great many books have been written about flying in both the World Wars that have assailed the world to date. This one breaks fresh ground because it is written from the viewpoint of an air-gunner, in the Second World War.
Appendices show that Mike Henry flew with 144 pilots, in 31 different types of military and 15 different types of civil aircraft, including 476 hours 10 min. in Bristol Blenheim Mks. I, IV and V, and 105 hours 50 min. in Douglas Bostons Mks. Ill, IIIA and IV.
This sets the pattern of the somewhat naive text, which also contains material of interest to armament and gunnery enthusiasts. A few cars are mentioned, and there is a picture of the author’s pre-war Austin Seven.—W. B.
A Jaguar case history
Jaguar Cars Ltd. have produced a 56-page book dealing with the story of Jaguar and its subsidiary companies. The main parts of this book are devoted to Jaguar, including Swallow and S.S., Daimler, Guy and Coventry Climax. The last chapter contains much motor-racing history and notes on cars which used Coventry Climax and Coventry Simplex engines, such as Bayliss-Thomas, Waverley, Marendaz Special, A.J.S., G.W.K., etc. The book is copiously illustrated on art paper and much new material, based on interviews with those who worked on such cars, is included. The supply is limited but prompt application to the Publicity Dept., Jaguar Cars Ltd., Coventry, mentioning Motor Sportand enclosing a 6d. stamp to cover postage, shoutld secure you a copy of this excellent case history.—W. B.