The December Profiles

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The pattern of the car “Profiles” edited by Anthony Harding has now clarified; they bombard us at the rate of six per month, each one costing 2s. and containing between 4,000 and 6,000 words by an acknowledged expert on a famous car or cars out of history. Colour drawings and a good selection of photographs are the primary appeal of these publications and each one contains a specification table as brief or as comprehensive as the author cares to make it.

Number 37 in the series covers “The Coupe de L’Auto Sunbeams, 1911-1913 ” by Michael Sedgwick. There has never been a great deal of data on these elusive yet significant side valve racing voiturettes of Louis Coatalen, so Sedgwick is to be congratulated on tackling a difficult subject, which has necessitated writing a good deal about the races in which these Sunbeams ran as well as about the cars themselves. He does not fall into the common error of stating that the engines of the ordinary 12/16 Sunbeam and the racing Coupe de L’Auto cars were virtually the same (probably benefiting from the information which W. G. Sanderson provided on this topic while he was visiting England from his native Australia), but equally he does not throw any light on how different the actual racing power units were from the catalogue sporting model 12/16. The post-road-racing careers of these cars are included, and the author does not claim that Lord Montagu’s example is the winning 1912 car, suggesting, indeed, that it may have been Resta’s single-seater re-bodied or the reserve car for the race. The pictures are fascinating, from those of the 1911 car to Campbell and Ivy Cummings in the cars they raced post-war. The colour plates are the work of Gordon Davies, who depicts the fuel-filler on the tail of Rigal’s winning 1912 Sunbeam, which doesn’t look ” immense ” as one photographic caption calls it. (But at least he has put it in, which is more than Rush did in one view in the Napier-Railton Profile.) Good, this one!

Profile No. 38 deals with ” The Six-Cylinder O.M.” and is by Douglas Armstrong, whom one remembers is an expert on this make. He does an excellent cross-section of these covetable sports cars of the later vintage and p.v.t. era, including a perhaps rather ” tabulated ” account of their competition successes, which is often unavoidable when wordage is limited.

Armstrong gives a fine pen-picture of the side valve O.M.s, 1-1/2-litre to 2.3-litre, both as contemporary enthusiasts saw them and as they present themselves to present-day admirers of this great Italian make. He gives adequate information about the Rawlence-sponsored, Oat’s designed ohv conversions and the supercharged cars. The illustrations capture admirably the spirit of the times, and include Automobile Engineer drawing of the 2-litre engine, while Kenneth Rush captures exactly the atmosphere of the 1925 2-litre and 1930 2.2-litre O.M.s owned, respectively, by P. R. Green and C. T. Metcalfe, in his colour drawings.

D. B. Tubbs has Profile No. 39 in which to describe ” The Austin Seven,” meaning Sir Herbert’s not Issigonis’, and not including the sports or racing versions. If he tells us very little that has not been said before, the perspective is good and in picking Tubbs to write this one Harding does not make the mistake of giving the job to an author who is so biased that he merely eulogises his subject. In fact, the Austin Seven is described as an instant success but, adds Tubbs, ” I wish I could call it a good car!” The pictures are pleasing and pretty comprehensive and particularly good are the eight examples of different coachwork on the vintage Seven, as part of Rush’s colour contribution. That of the 1928 coupe brings back many pre-war memories for me, of carefree days when I regularly drove one of these cars, already ten years older than when it had left the bodybuilders. But to describe these early Sevens as four-seaters is either a stretch of the imagination or a compression of the human form. Alas, in two places this Austin 7 Profile seems to have suffered from printers’ errors, while the specification has obviously been lifted entirely from a catalogue, nor can the author decide within 1/2 h.p. what power the original Seven developed. The experts will probably enjoy arguing about the specification changes down the years as listed by the author and certainly the Ruby didn’t have 16 in. tyres in 1935 nor was the three-bearing engine found in this model from its inception. Tubbs tells us Sir Herbert’s house, where the Seven was planned, was called Berwood Grove but surely it was Lickey Grange?

Profile No. 40, ” The Daimler Double-Sixes,” being by William Boddy, should not be praised and can hardly be expected to receive criticism here (see, however: Vintage Postbag on page 16), so suffice it to say that it contains some fine pictures of the Royal Daimlers (even if the full-page frontispiece-picture depicts straight-eight, not V12, Daimlers leaving Buckingham Palace) and others of the legendary low-chassis Double-Sixes, of which Mr. Burnett’s car formed the subject of a long article in Motor Sport last month and is shown in the colour centre-spread by Gordon Davies in this Profile.

” The Type 57 Bugatti ” by H. O. Conway constitutes Profile No.41 and is thus beyond quibble, either over choice of car or selection of author, except that it is one of the less wordy of the series.

No. 42 gives a detailed competition and technical history of the McAlpine Connaughts, under the title of ” The A-Series & L-Series Connaughts ” by Anthony Pritchard and Keith Davey. So the December selection was varied, and as fascinating as ever.—W. B.