Books for the New Year

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“A History of the London Taxicab” by G. N. Georgano. 180 pp., 8.1/2 in. x 5.1/4 in. (David & Charles Ltd.. South Devon House, Newton Abbot, Devon. £2.95.)

A history of the Unique taxis which ply for hire in London, describing. their -dimensions and other peculiarities prescribed by Scotland Yard regulations, was overdue and it is excellent that the industrious and accurate Mr. .Georgano has written one, even if this endorses his entry into the prolific-motoring writer stakes. he shares. with Tint Nicholson. Anthony Pritchard and others However, Georgano mostly avoids “pot-,boilers”and this taxi book is a full-length, comprehensive, and serious history. I still cherish my copy of Anthony Armstrong’s “Taxi”, the first book of its kind, published in 1930 and kindly .given to me by a Motor Sport reader, however. . .

The fact is that books about London’s hackneys are otherwise almost non-existent.

This new one ranges from horse-hauled hackney coaches and hansom cabs to the very latest Austin FX4 (now London’s universal cab.) and even More recent productions, not forgetting the mini-cabs. There are fascinating appendices about fare changes, regulations, and specifications of cabs from the 1905 10-h.p. two-cylinder National to the 1971 Austin FX4D. The dust-jacket bears a fine picture of a 1926 Beardmore taxi and photographs or rare taxis, such as the Trojan. two-seater, are to be found inside. However, even more comprehensive picture coverage would have been welcome, to show, for example. the Citroen and Fiat cabs and the ‘X’ & G Yellow Cabs (a pre-war W & G Napier is illustrated) of childhood memory— indeed, I recall making my unfortunate mother wait in the rain and the cold during visits to London so that I could “collect” a new make of cab-, instead of taking the first on the rank. . . . For people of my age this book is nostalgic reading. If a trifle “padded”, it has been exceptionally well researched. I find myself wondering if the two-cylinder Renaults illustrated are, in fact, 8–h.p. models because they look larger than I remember them, and in discussing cab peculiarities on page 109 shouldn’t the author have mentioned the bulb horn, surely compulsory until quite recently ? I do not think fire-pump trailers were bolted onto taxi chassis for war-time use, more likely towed on a ball-hitch, but otherwise I have no criticism of this most interesting and informative book. The number of cabs on London’s streets make the mind boggle, and a book about them is more than welcome, but no credit is due to the printers for the out-of-sequence binding of some of the pages in the review copy.—W.B.

“The World Champions” by Anthony Pritchard. 265 pp. 8.1/2 in. x 5.1/4 in (Leslie Frewin Lid., 5, (Goodwins Court, St. Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4LL £3.20.)

Anthony Pritchard is a new-book-a-month man, so that one wonders what his next title will be. The idea of dealing with drivers as a change from cars is a good one and this book concerns itself with those who have held the Drivers’ World Championship, from Farina to Fittipaldi, with non-Champion Stirling Moss thrown in for good measure.

So the book runs from 1950 to 1972 and puts each of the top drivers it covers in good perspective, without unwanted drama, although naturally the coverage of each is fairly superficial, Jim Clark, whom the author thinks the greatest of those he deals with, getting a mere 19.1/2 pages. There is naturally a great deal of common-knowledge information in these pages and this book is more likely to become a library reference-work than enthralling reading for the dedicated. It has an Appendix giving the outcome of each year’s Championship down to sixth place.—W.B.

“Peking to Paris” by Luigi .Barzani. 308 pp. 9.1/2 in. x 6.1/4 in, (Alcove Press, 50, St.Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4JS. £5.00)

This is a reprint, re-edited, of the classic book about the 1907 Peking-Paris Race, written immediately after they had won it in the Itala, by Luizi Barzini, Snr., Editor of Corrierre della Sera, who accompanied the -driver. Prince Borghcse, on the classic journey.

As the original work was published in twelve countries, and republished up to 1970, many editions and even originals must Still exist, while the facts of the story, perhaps better sorted out, have been given by T. R. Nicholson in One of his books. But this reprint from a translation by L. P. de Castelvecchio, with the original photographic reproductions, is interesting, especially as it contains a long and informative new introduction by Luigi Barzini, Jnr.—W. B.

Foialis have published a book covering AP Automatic Transmissions, in their “Foulis Overhaul Series”. It will be very much in demand in this age of drive-themselves cars. The author is John Organ and the book consists of 197 10 in. x 6.3/4 in. pages; it covers the BRMC Mini, Austin/Morris 1100-1300, and Austin America cars, Organ, a member of the BRMC, having worked for some years at BMC, Abingdon.

Philip’s new “Road Atlas of Europe” is now available for £2.95 and is notable for very Clear main-road routes on contoured maps.

Frederick Warne have brought out a revised. edition of “The Observer’s Fighting Vehicle Directory” by Bart H. Vanderveen. It runs to 370 landscape pages, listing and illustrating. over 1,000 vehicles of the WW2 period, and costs £2.00.

The latest Owner’s Workshop Manual to come from J. H. -Haynes & Co. of Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, is one covering the Piot 850. saloon, coupe and saloon S models, of 1964 to 1971. It sells in the UK for £2.00.

That useful “Riley Maintenance Manual’ by S. V. Haddleton, which covers cars from the 1930 Nine to the post-war Rileys down to 1956, has been re-issued by G.T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 50a„ Bell Street, Henley-on-Thames. Oxon. This 390-page mine of Riley information sells for £3.85.

Cars in Books

This series, which has kept going for longer by far than I ever thought possible (after having the distinction of being turned down by a famous weekly motor journal, as impossible to illustrate! Who wants to illustrate it, anyway?), is composed mainly of motoring items extracted from library books I have read in an endeavour to get away from motoring for a while. This time, however, the first book I propose to mention is a current production, which came in for review. Its title is Raised In Steam, by G. C. N. Elliot (Oriel Press Ltd., 32 Ridley Place, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. £2.80. 138 pp. 8.1/2 in. x 5.1/4 in.). It concerns steam railway locomotives, being the reminiscences of a member of that now defunct race, a premium pupil under a railway Chief Mechanical Engineer (in this case Sir Nigel Gresley of the LNER). Thus was the author trained in steam, following the same pattern as Sir Henry Royce, W. O. Bentley and H. F. S. Morgan, etc. The pupils formed the LNER Pupils’ Association in the early 1920s and this hook is a pleasing assortment of recollections of the author as he made the grade up the railway ladder, of anecdotes, poems, pictures and drawings of memorable happenings, including derailments, and so on, even to a light-hearted explanation of how a steam loco functioned. Railway enthusiasts will love it, but what has this little book, with a Foreword by the Bishop of Wakefield, to do with us?

Well, the Association had a Motor Club and part of the text and many of the pictures are about it. We learn that the first run, in June 1924, included a bull-nose Morris and an Armstrong-Siddeley tourer, and there are several other period cars illustrated, such as 11.9 Humber, BSA three-wheeler, Jowett two-seater, 11.9 Star two-seater, Morris Minor saloon, 11.9 Perry, and two Singers, captioned as Nines, but actually a Ten and a larger early vintage model. As if this does not whet the appetite there is a fine Model-T Ford sedan with oval back window, a Riley Nine tourer, and a Triumph Ricardo combination, while. others are listed in the text. If the pictures are rather of “Box Brownie snap” standard, this adds to their charm. But what I find especially interesting is that there is more than one picture of a 15.9 h.p. Hispano-Suiza with which a Mr. C. H. Swan took part in these outings. It has a slightly more pointed radiator than that usually found on an Alfonso and a rather modern-looking pointed-tail two-seater body and certainly non-original helmet-pattern mudguards. It is captioned “something out of the ordinary”, as it was, even in 1924, and another picture shows the bonnet open, to prove it really had an engine! This is the well-known pre-war T-head type and the Reg. No. was LY 4334, if anyone can shed any light on this interesting car. Incidentally, on one run a member’s car “relinguished forever the power of its eight air-cooled cylinders, as the surgery found necessary to restore it was such as to discourage its owner from any attempt to match the expense”. The author says “leading vintage car experts may now guess its make”—presumably a Rover flat-twin? Royalties from the sales of this unusual little book go to the NE Railway Cottage Homes, should you have railway sympathies. . . .

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