Books for the New Year

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Sporting Rileys—The Forgotten Champions by David G Styles. 288pp. 91/2″ x 8″. (Dalton Watson plc, Russell Chambers, The Piazza, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8AA, £24.95)

A very welcome follow-up to David Styles’ earlier Riley history, As Old As The lndustry, which won him the SAH’s Cugnot Award for “the best automotive history published in 1982”, this new work about Rileys in competition has it all—the racing, the trials, the rallies and the safari runs. If you have both “bibles”, your knowledge of Riley history will be complete. Apparently I have to take some of the stick for the long hours of research Styles must have put into his dedicated work, because he says it was something I suggested when reviewing his earlier Riley history.

Racing cars are more interesting to most of us than their production counterparts, so this new book could have an even greater readership than the companion volume. It contains pictures of every conceivable sporting and competition Riley (static and in action) and Styles has his own line-drawings of many of them. Although, like most who write of the past, David has had to rely on contemporary reports, his position in the Riley Register ensures that his watchful eye will have been cast over all important happenings.

The book runs chronologically from the formative years, conveniently broken up by chapters about Specials, the Irish and Manx races, Brooklands and Donington, English long-distance races, foreign racing and record-breaking, great expeditions, rallies and hill-climbs. Riley personalities and the rise and fall of the company get further chapters to themselves, and there are six appendices, sorting out the sporting Rileys, bravely attempting to list all their achievements and depicting their different badges. There is even a Register of 800 known sports Rileys, with registrations and chassis numbers — a truly informative book! Circuit maps, miscellaneous photographs (additional to the masses in the body of the book) and a bibliography add even more to the coverage.

The foreword is by Bob Gerard, the preface by none other than Joan Richmond of Australia. The pictures alone, many from Motor Sport, make the book irresistible. The various Riley brothers are well “sorted out”, as are many are other “Rileyites” about whom I previously knew little, if you pariendy sort through the personalities chapter, which could have done with name-headings. The only other criticism I have is that Parry Thomas was not quite the recluse he is sometimes said to be, as I have shown in Motor Sport: nor, surely, did he help set up T&T’s, which was started as a result of his death in 1927. And WO, not Dorothy Paget, financed the Bentleys SCH Davis drove. Otherwise, a great book and a magnificent contribution to Riley history. WB

The Pegaso remains one of the less documented makes but for those students of motoring history who have a command of Spanish, this has been put right, with the comprehensive Ricart Pegaso — La Pasion del Automovil, by Carlos Mosquera and Enrique Coma-Cros.

Published by Arens Ediciones and running to 280 pages (12in x 101/4in), this fine publications tells the story of Ricart Pegaso and the sports-cars he built from 1950 onwards, by two writers who have owned these rare cars and have collected a unique accumulation of photographs and drawings of them. These latter form over 400 illustrations for their book, ranging from pictures of the early days of the make and of Ricart-Perez racing and sports-cars from which it evolved.

Commercial vehicles (shots of Pegasos in Barcelona seem to have London buses in the background), engines, racing boats, advertising material for Pegaso and a great many competition action pictures, all are in this very fine book. It is available in Europe for 11,500 pesetas post-free, or for 13,500 pesetas outside Europe, from Acts Ediciones, Janvine Arco, Travessera de les Corts 200, Atico 20,08028 Barcelona, Spain. WB

Fuel injection is becoming more and more commonplace on family cars as well as on high-performance models and a book explaining the different systems, how they developed, and how they operate, seems a good idea to me. The updated edition of Jan P Norbye’s Automotive Fuel Injection Systems, from Haynes of Yeovil, is just such a book, with analysis of 19 systems, mechanical and electronic, with more than 200 illustrations to explain them. It covers Bendix, Bosch, Cadillac, Chrysler, Ford, Kugelfischer, Lucas, Fiat-Marelli-Weber, Pierburg, Rochester, Zenith, Solex, etc, and seems to be the DIY man’s and mechanic’s dream-book. It costs £9.95. WB

Heritage Motoring Films has issued a great range of historic motoring videos, made from pre-war nitrate film which would be destroyed by natural decay by the year 2000 anyway. Thirty-three titles are already available from Wychwood Video of 27 Cranley Mews, London SW7 3BY, or are in preparation for release later this year, covering competition and other aspects of Austin, MG, Rover and Triumph cars, and running from 20 minutes to 90 minutes. Wychwood has a video The Magic of the Tin Toy in which David Pressland’s collection of very rare frail toys is seen working (perhaps for the last time, so delicate are the mechanisms), which runs for 55 minutes and costs £19.99. Heritage also has eight special Austin videos, from a six-minute Stanley Holloway advertising film to 80 Years of Austin. WB

The second (1988) edition of the MG T-Register Year Book is available from D Saunders, Owl Cottage, Ermine Street, Caxton, Cambridge, for £4.50 post-free; the 1987 edition is virtually sold out, but a few copies might still be available at £3.50. WB

The Vintage Car Murders edited by Jonathon Goodman. 218pp. 83/4 x 5in. (WH Allen & Co Plc, 44 Hill Street, London W1X 8BL. £11.95)

An excellent holiday book, this account of 13 real-life murders involving old cars, by the celebrated crime-historian, follows others in a series. The title is a bit of a con, for not all the cars involved are vintage on our terms; in fact, in his introduction the author thinks veterans are pre-1904 instead of up to 1904. But never mind, the book, which opens with the burning by murderer Rouse of a Morris Minor followed by the mystery of the death by burning of Evelyn Foster in her Hudson Super Six hire-car and another murder by fire involving a Chrysler and an Essex, is compelling reading.

The Hotchkiss on the dust-jacket has no connection with the book, and I was disappointed at the omission of the shooting of PC Gutteridge, in which a Morris Cowley was identified by its exhaust note and the murder weapon found in an Angus-Sanderson, and of that American crime involving a 30/98. I reviewed Goodman’s full-length book about the Foster murder in Motor Sport in 1977 (it was republished in 1988) and he uses another writer’s account of it for the present book. The remainder of the fascinating stories involve cars from a Judge’s Cadillac to the Cooks’ Mini in the Kim Newell case, but two of the stories are about hansom-cab murders, two involve London taxis, and the last is a Bonnie and Clyde piece. So the vintage-car theme, as I have said is a con — but don’t let that stop you buying the book if you are a crime-report fan. There are some very mediocre pictures. WB