Book Reviews, July 1955, July 1955



”Targa Florio,” by W. F. Bradley. 164 pp., 5 ½ in. by 8 ½ in. G. T. Foulis & Co., Ltd., 7, Milford Lane, Strand, London, W.C.2. 15s.)

Having originated the idea of devoting a book to a classic race (“The 200-Mile Race of the J.C.C.,“ Grenville Publishing Co.), the writer is delighted to see that the veteran journalist W. F. Bradley has written a book on that romantic race, the Targa Florio.

This account of that astonishing race held regularly over the tough Sicilian circuits from 1906 to the present day is typical of Bradley, by which we mean that he writes in a manner, amply interspersed with anecdote, calculated to hold the interest of ordinary readers as distinct from that of avid enthusiasts who devour all motoring books as a matter of course anyway.

The author tells of how Vincenzo and Ignazio Florio, themselves picturesque figures, became interested in motoring and of how it came about that the first Targa Florio race was organized in 1906. Bradley is not, and never has been, afraid to introduce conversational sallies into his motoring accounts and race reports and if one is apt to wonder at a memory so retentive that the saying of celebrities of fifty years ago can be quoted verbatim, let us remember that if a history gains in interest by occasional lapses from strict fact there are many who will vote for thus embellishing the facts! Viewed, perhaps unfairly, in this light, “Targa Florio” is a very enjoyable book, in which the great drivers of the past live vividly on almost every page. Some repetition seems inevitable in motor-racing literature these days and Bradley’s brilliang comparison of Nuvolari and Varzi is reminiscent of a similar chapter in his biography of Ettore Bugatti, while those fortunate folk who possess the 0922 bound volumes of The Autocar will find that Chapter 15 of “Targa Florio” is not new to them.

Here, then, is a book for lovers of the early motor races and especially will it appeal to lovers of Bugatti and Alfa-Romeo, whose stern battles over the dusty, mountainous Madonie circuit are excitingly portrayed.

Bradley gets the “local colour” and politics over particularly well and fresh facts are between the covers of “Targa Florio” for the sifting, as the tale unfolds of a race run under difficulties by sheer enthusiasm, Florio often entering his own race, and persuading his friends to do likewise, when entries had fallen below the customary number.

One of the better motor-racing books, this one is enhanced by some rare and extremely interesting photographs, although these are not presented in any particular relation to the text. Bradley is vastly entertaining — we still await eagerly the book on his full career as a motoring journalist, although he may be wiser to release this, instead, as separate titles — and he captures the atmosphere of the earlier days of motor-racing admirably indeed.

The later races in the Targa Florio series, from 1932 onwards, he glosses over in a single brief chapter, although his book contains comprehensive results-lists of all the races from 1906-1954.

Having every reason to praise this book, it still remains for someone to write a technical history of the Targa Florio races. — W. B.

”’Daily Mail’ Motoring Guide, 1955.” Edited by Courtenay Edwards, 160 pp., 4 ½ in. by 7 ¼ in. (Associated Newspapers, Ltd., Northcliffe House, London, E.C.4. 2s

Here again is this comprehensive Daily Mail annual, packed with articles by experts of all aspects of motoring and containing, on the sporting side, a chapter on motor-racing prospects by Courtenay Edwards, “How to become a Rally Driver,” by Sheila Van Damm, “Aintree Prospects,” by C. Grant and data on the Vanwalls.

”Motor-Cycle Engines — Second Series.” 64 pp., 8 in. by 10 ½ in. (Temple Press, Ltd., Bowling Green Lane, London, E.C.1. 3s. 6d.)

This book is excellent value for those who wish to have data, both textual and clearly-pictorial, at their elbows — and remembering that the Vanwall engine owes allegiance to motor-cycle practice, most of our readers will wish to do so.

The engines dealt with are: A.J.S. 7R, 347-c.c. A.J.S. and Matchless, A.J.S. and Matchless parallel-twins, Ariel Red Hunter, Ariel twin, B.S.A. Golden Flash, British Anzani, Douglas Dragonfly, Norton Manx 499 c.c. and 348 c.c., Panther 100, Royal Enfield Bullet, Triumph Terrier, Triumph Thunderbird, Velocette MAC, Velocette MSS and Vincent Rapide. There are many drawings of details, but the exploded views of complete engines “make” this modestly-priced book. — W.B.

“The Driving Test Fully Explained,” by F. S. Hoilidge, 133 pp., 4 ¾ in. by 7 ¼ in. (Temple Press, Ltd., Bowling Green Lane, London, E.C.1 5s.)

By a well-known author of books of this class, this work is very comprehensive, illustrated, and just the job for pre-test study by jittery wives and girl-friends.

“‘The Motor’ Repair Manual — 11th Edition.” 181 pp., 4 ¾ in. by 7 ½ in. (Temple Press, Ltd., Bowling Green Lane, London, E.C.1. 6s.)

At the present time, with repair labour charges of 10s. and 12s. an hour, it pays to work on the car oneself, and this manual is exceedingly useful as guide and mentor. It not only describes how to undertake major overhaul of engine, transmission, back axle and chassis, but covers electrical and bodywork repairs and possesses two appendices, dealing with useful workshop materials and how to trace engine troubles. In addition, workshop equipment, including the lathe, is described and soldering, case hardening and brazing, explained. — W. B.


Esso have issued a useful series, of foreign phrase books for the motorist, those to hand covering French, Italian, Spanish and German. Each book, the cost of which is 6d., contains a map and is divided into sections for ready access to appropriate phrases. Thus, under “On the Road” we learn to say Ou puis-je trover un bar?; Dove posso trovare un bar?; Donde encontraria un bar?; or Wo finde ich eine Bar ?

These attractively-arranged booklets also contain road-signs, conversion tables, touring hints and information on wines and are really splendid value. It should be emphasised that they are obtainable only from Esso depots and service stations.


The British Road Federation has issued an attractive book, “The Road Way to Safety,” consisting of photographs and plans showing how sensibly-applied road reconstruction schemes (small roundabout costs £1,200, an elaborate one £11,400, a canal bridge £34,500) obviate accidents — the second book of its kind they have published. It is available free of charge from the B.R.F., 4a, Bloomsbury Square, London, W.C.1, on mentioning Motor Sport. (When another book is contemplated the B.R.F. photographer should certainly include that shocking railway bridge with blind oblique turns at each end on a strictly two-track road, which lies between Pangbourne and Streatley on A329, where reconstruction has not been undertaken!)

The manner in which postal services and food supplies have been maintained during the disgraceful railway strike, with vehicles running very much below capacity and no private cars commandeered, suggests that less importance need be placed on the railway than we have been accustomed to believe. If every vehicle were fully laden on all journeys railways would be of even less importance, and if trunk motor roads were laid over the permanent way …! Certainly this strike may cost the British Railways dear, for the convenience of the road for human and freight transport will have been underlined for many, who in future will probably prefer to spend on petrol in preference to train tickets. To the B.R.F. we suggest a slogan: “Give Us the Roads and Dispense with Rails.”


The Handbook of the Elstree Flying Club has been in great demand since it was reviewed in Motor Sport, and we are asked to state that it is obtainable from Elstree Aerodrome, Herts, and not from the club’s London office. On July 2nd there will be a meeting at Elstree from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., with demonstrations, pleasure flights and an instructors’ race. Admission by programme (1s.). Amongst the aeroplanes present will be a Battle of Britain Spitfire, early Mosquito, etc.