Motoring Books for Summer Reading
“The Vintage Motor Car Pocketbook.” Compiled by Cecil Clutton, Paul Bird and Anthony Harding. 256 pp. 5⅝ in. by 41/8 in. (B. T. Batsford Ltd., 4, Fitzhardinge Street, London, W.1. 8s. 6d.)
There is no end, it seems, to the books that pour from the presses about vintage cars, but this little reference work is the greatest fun. Indeed, it is more likely to be used for pleasant browsing than for serious reference and, naturally, its compact size prevents detailed information being imparted. What this “Vintage Car Pocketbook” does do is to provide the uninitiated with a background of knowledge about the cars the world built between 1918 and 1930, from A.B.C. to Zedel. Specifications are provided for the more outstanding models, giving engine size and h.p., valve location, wheelbase, number of speeds, axle ratio, and tyre size. So the prospective purchaser of a vintage automobile can spend happy hours pondering on which make and model best suits his ability, temperament, purse and motor-house — that the car of his choice may not be on the market or even exist at all is not the responsibility of the authors . . .
The brief items of text are snappy and to the point, and one detects frequently the opinions of Clutton, even to “sour grapes” about Bentley and Rolls-Royce and unalloyed enthusiasm for the Vauxhall. The copious illustrations, largely collected by Anthony Harding, are enormous fun, especially as the initiated will recognise well-known cars used for certain of the illustrations, or where early Autocar or hand-out pictures have been used.
This really is a fascinating little book and the distinctly “potted” histories of the wide variety of makes contain notes on origins and Edwardian background, as well as discussing the pros and cons of vintage models.
Sheer enthusiasm for the subject made the writer delve deeply. He found little to complain of and obtained a great deal of enjoyment. Such errors as appear to have crawled in silently and unapprehended are a sorry thing, however, for, basically, this pocketbook stands or falls as an accurate work of reference. Thus it is a pity that the early adoption of very good front-wheel brakes amongst American cars is not credited to Buick, or Parry Thomas’ ingenious o.h.c. drive not referred to when dealing with the Leyland Eight. The Chrysler 62 isn’t illustrated, although it is surely more in the vintage tradition than the model 70 and had the merit, as one of the authors should surely have appreciated, of Vauxhall-type scollops along the bonnet! The Clyno Nine is quoted as so closely resembling “its mysterious contemporary the Cluley” that the latter is not separately dealt with. This is very wide of the mark, because the Clyno Nine was in production from 1928 onwards and had a 58 by 90 mm. (951-c.c.) engine, whereas the Cluley appeared in 1921 and the 10.4-h.p. version faded out after 1925, while this had a 65 by 110 mm. engine. At the time when the Clyno Nine came out Cluley were concentrating (if not very hard) on a 13.9-h.p. 75 by 120 mm. car. Perhaps the authors intended to imply that the 10.8 Clyno and 10.4 Cluley were similar, but even this is illogical, for the Cluley had a longer stroke, shorter wheelbase and higher axle ratio. If there was a “duplicate” of the Clyno Nine, surely it was the later A.J.S.?
Only the four-cylinder Essex is included but the Super Six “coach” was a well-known vintage model of this make. It was in 1922, not 1923, that the 2-litre G.P. Fiats were so successful, and the foot control of the famous model-T Ford’s gearbox might have been mentioned. Frazer Nash is hyphenated in the book, which is wrong, and the unusual valve layout of the Guy V8 isn’t referred to, although the unique” hot-spot” arrangement of the Gwynne Eight is. The main interest of the “Speed Model” Hillman is said to be due to Raymond Mays’ early exploits with one of them, but surely the racing successes of George Bedford’s single-seater version should stick more prominently in the memory? And while the straight-eight Hillman finds itself in the book the more sporting Hillman Husky doesn’t. The 14/40 Humber is omitted, too; it is debatable whether the 2-litre Lagonda is really a ” 2-o.h.c.” car; and a definite error occurs in describing the late-1930 “Ace of Spades” Lea-Francis as having a twin-o.h.c. engine; this engine had a single o.h.c., although Lea-Francis did use a Meadows twin-o.h.c. six in earlier years. When it comes to the Marendaz Special there is a real muddle, the later models, after the Anzani-engined cars, being credited with “eight-cylinder engines of obscure origin,” whereas only isolated straight-eight Miller-engined Marendaz cars were made, the majority having side-valve six-cylinder Continental or Erskine power units.
It is nice to see the Morgan three-wheeler included, but sad that Senechal is omitted when less-well-known small French sports cars like B.N.C., Bond and Vernon-Derby get in. The authors state that Renault retained their radiator behind the engine even with the introduction of the straight-eight 40-h.p. model in 1929. In fact, this straight-eight Renault had the radiator at the front, although the smaller models continued to use the scuttle-mounted radiator.
The o.h. camshaft of the vintage Rhode was driven by a vertical shaft not by chain, and although the rare vintage flat-twin Stellite is mentioned, the better-known Edwardian four-cylinder i.o.e. Stellite is not. It is debatable whether any overhead-camshaft 24/60 or 24/70 Sunbeams were sold, while the 1921 14-h.p. Sunbeam was not called a 14/40; the 14/40 appeared in 1924. The Talbot illustration said to show a 1924 8/18 depicts a 12/30 Talbot, as the 8/18 never had f.w.b. or a four-seater body. And the picture purporting to be of a 1920 V8 Talbot-Darracq is really of a later in-line Darracq. Only the single-seater Wolseley Tens at Brooklands were known as “Moths “; the 15-h.p. racer wasn’t so named, and there was no 12-h.p. “Moth.” It is surprising to find, under “R,” the new make of “Rushton Hornsby” — Ruston Hornsby, the famous engineers of Lincoln, are implied.
Incidentally, some items seem to have been culled from the now-defunct Vintage and Thoroughbred Car.
These criticisms arise, not with malice aforethought, but because the writer has read this splendid little book so eagerly. It really is fun, and the pictures alone make it eminently worth while. One will expect to see it being thumbed as frequently at future V.S.C.C. gatherings as lorgnettes are raised in art galleries. Very properly it is dedicated to Tim and Margery Carson. — W. B.
“The Motoring Montagus,” by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. 144 pp., plus catalogue supplement. 8 ¾ in. by 6 ¾ in. (Published by Cassell. Obtainable from the Montagu Motor Museum, Beaulieu, Hants. 31s. 6d. post free.)
There is some refreshingly new material in this book, which is the story of the Montagu Motor Museum, told by the present Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, son of the second Lord Montagu, who was a famous motoring pioneer, and publisher of the long-dead Car Illustrated.
Lord Montagu paints a vivid picture of the pioneer motoring days as they affected his father and the great personalities with whom he came in contact. We read of the first Royal motoring expeditions, for King Edward VII took some of his early drives at Beaulieu, and of how Car Illustrated assisted materially in the cause of Edwardian motoring, early aviation and the popularising of Brooklands Motor Course.
The second part of “The Motoring Montagus” is devoted to the establishment and growth of the Montagu Motor Museum. This is particularly interesting because the veteran, Edwardian and vintage cars, racing and record-breaking machines, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, bicycles and tricycles, and individual exhibits that comprise the exhibition are described in detail. It is especially absorbing because not only is each exhibit described for its place in history but notes are included about how the particular items were discovered and under what circumstances, and what exploits they have engaged in away from the Museum. We are pleased to find that Hutton-Stott’s 1902 “Paris-Vienna” de Dietrich racer is included, this being one of the many historic cars saved through the intervention of the Editor of Motor Sport — another is the only surviving example of Leyland Eight, which Leyland Motors Ltd. heard of through the same source. The illustrations of cars in the Museum are very nicely chosen.
The book concludes with a catalogue of the Museum exhibits, from which it is seen that there are 67 cars on loan and 29 belonging to the Museum, while 74 motorcycles are on loan and ten in the permanent collection.
This list emphasises the wide scope of the country’s finest Motor Museum, which Lord Montagu has formed and expanded as a monument to his famous motoring father, one of whose cars, a 1903 de Dion Bouton, is in the Museum halls. Incidentally, amongst the many pieces of fascinating detail that emerge from studying Lord Montagu’s book is the fact that his present red Jaguar 3.4 saloon carries his father’s original registration number, AA 19.
This is a book that fills in some gaps in the early history of the movement and presents a pleasingly definite reminder of how many of the historic machines from a past age are safely preserved at Beaulieu. Motoring historians will not be hesitant, we are sure, in sending for their copies. — W.B.
“World Championship,” by Gregor Grant. 208 pp. 8 ¾ in. by 5 ⅜ in. (Autosport, 159, Praed Street, London, W.2. 21s.)
The Drivers’ World Championship, at present held by the late Mike Hawthorn, is of such great interest that this book by the well known Editor of Autosport should be extremely well received. Grant gives a useful and exciting history of all the races which have counted towards the Championship since this was instituted in 1950. The accounts are brief but entirely adequate and are greatly improved by the inclusion of personal anecdotes of happenings “behind the scenes.”
Nor is this all, for “World Championship” opens with pen-sketches of past holders of the title — Giuseppe Farina, Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, and Mike Hawthorn, and concludes with very worthwhile tables of race results from 1950 to 1958 and fastest laps made in all last season’s big races.
Time passes rapidly and it comes as a bit of a shock to one who has attended many post-war races to find that he has almost forgotten the first season of the Championship, when the races that counted were shared between Farina and Fangio. So it is excellent that we now have a book, splendidly illustrated, to refresh the memory.
I am sure Gregor Grant will not mind me saying that quite the best thing in “World Championship” is Hawthorn’s Foreword. — W.B.
“The Racing Coopers,” by Arthur Owen. 243 pp. 8 ¾ in. by 5 ⅜ in. (Cassell and Co., Ltd., 35, Red Lion Square, London, W.C.1. 21s.)
The Lotus story has been told and here is the Cooper history to date, especially topical as the Surbiton marque has the ascendency at present over the cars from Hornsey.
It is good that the story is told by Arthur Owen, himself a Cooper driver. His style of writing may not appeal to everyone but he employs it to successfully achieve a truly formidable task, that of capturing the atmosphere of present-day motor racing and holding the reader’s interest to the end of a long one-make history.
The account covers the rise to fame of Cooper from small beginnings in 1946 to the present and is essential for the enjoyment and as a reference work for all students of the Sport. Stirling Moss writes the Foreword and the Coopers — Charles and John — contribute a Preface. Could it be that because Charles Cooper was born in Paris and spent his formative years in France that racing ears emanate so readily from the works at Surbiton?
The illustrations are fun and the closing chapters describing Cooper record attacks, including those made at Montlhery and Monza by Owen himself, are of absorbing interest. — W.B.
“The Gobbling Billy,” by Dynely James. 190 pp. (Victor Gollancz Ltd., 14, Henrietta Street. London, W.C.1. 13s. 6d.)
This is a charming novel about vintage and Edwardian-car enthusiasm in Ireland, written in a delightfully Irish manner. There is a quite improbable International race for old cars at the end of the book, won, of course, by Gobbling Billy — the entries include de Dietrich, Fiat and Mercedes, which makes even Oulton Park sound tame. The author’s pen name conceals the identity of Dick Caesar and William Mayne, so naturally a Bentley figures in the book, too. Good escapism. My 11-year-old daughter read it with relish. — W. B.
“B.A.R.C. Year Book-1959.” Soft covers, 96 pp. (British Automobile Racing Club, 55, Park Lane, London. W.1. 5s.)
This popular Year Book, besides containing details of British and Continental circuits, how to get to them, and, naturally, masses of data appertaining to the Goodwood, Crystal Palace and Aintree circuits where the B.A.R.C. holds race meetings. includes some controversial articles. John Wyer deals with the 1961 G.P. Formula (” I do not believe that, in the last 25 years at least, the Grand Prix has made any significant contribution to, or even had influence upon, the design and development of the normal (volume-production) cars.”) William Boddy. Editor of Motor Sport, covers “Variety in Racing,” as introduced by the J.C.C. and B.A.R.C. in years gone by, and emphasises its importance today if public interest in motor racing is to he maintained (” . . . anything within reason which makes for variety in motor racing is surely to be welcomed? “). Cyril Posthumus traces the history of the “T.T. — Britain’s Oldest Motor Race.” A good dollar’s worth!
A revised and re-set edition of “Ettore Bugatti,” by W. F. Bradley, has been published by Motor Racing Publications, Ltd., at 15s.
Those planning motoring holidays in Britain should note that this is the title of a new Foulis book by Christopher Trent, priced at 21s.
Another edition of the useful publication “Caravan Sites” has been issued, at 2s. 6d., by Modern Caravan, Heathcock Court, Strand, W.C.2.
C. C. Wakefield & Co. Ltd. have issued a very interesting book, “The First Fifty Years,” to commemorate the first half-century of competition successes on land, water and in the air achieved with the aid of Castrol oil. Castrol has been used for many of the greatest feats, from the first double crossing of the Atlantic by the airship R34, to the first 100-m.p.h. lap in the motorcycle T.T. This book illustrates many of these epics. A postcard with which to order it appeared in Motor Sport last May but if you overlooked this send an ordinary p.c. to 46, Grosvenor Street, London, W.1., mentioning this journal, and copies will be sent free to you and your friends.
Cars in Books
In “The Five Pound Look,” that delightful travel book by Tom Houston (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1956), I found this admirable description of hydramatic transmission: “Several times the mighty engine hiccupped and stalled. For anyone used to putting both feet down in an emergency it was hard to realise that both feet now meant accelerator and brake, like a mounted policeman who uses spurs against a tight rein. Gradually we gained control, left the long suburbs of Chicago, found ourselves on the high road and set a course due south.” Thus an English adventurer making his first acquaintance with a hired 1955 Ford, a car which the author confesses would do considerably more than 100 m.p.h., a speed attainable by a 1953 Ford convertible which also figures in this very readable book. — W. B.
Farmer-readers, or their children, may care to speculate on how many farm-tractor miniatures are available. The Editor possesses large models of Fordson and Ferguson, and in small scale there is now a good Massey-Ferguson 65 tractor and a 30-cwt. tipping trailer (the tipper works and the tail-board is hinged) of the same make, Nos. 50 and 51, respectively, in the Corgi Toys series. Corgi have also introduced a 3½-in.-long miniature of the Farina-styled Austin A40, in two forms, free-running (No. 216) at 3s. and inertia-powered (No. 216M) at 4s. 2d. The latter is finished in mail-red with a black roof and reaches realistically high speeds.
From the May issue of the Citroen C.C. magazine The Citroenian we glean that the Hon. Editor is a member of the Tiger Club, a cover picture showing Sue Burgess, England’s No.1 woman parachutist, with a 2 c.v. Citroen and a Turbulent monoplane. The magazine hints of a new 530-c.c. 17-b.h.p. Citroen 3 c.v. with handsome new body, expected on the English market by 1961, priced at £489.
The Riley Register Coventry Rally
The members of the Riley Register are holding a two-day National Rally in Coventry on July 4th and 5th. The programme consists of: A Navigational Rally on the afternoon of Saturday, July 4th, will start and finish at the Barras House Hotel, Stoke Heath, Coventry. Ordnance Survey Map 132 will be used but for those without this map there will be maps made available by the members of the Coventry Section for loan.
There will be a very informal social at the Barras House Hotel on the Saturday evening, when the prizes for the Navigational Rally will be presented.
On Sunday morning the cars will be assembled in year order at Rowley Road, Coventry, for a parade through the city centre to the Blackberry Lane, Stoke Heath, end of Morris Engines Ltd., where there will be driving tests.
Mrs. Victor Riley will be presenting prizes for the driving tests and the Concours d’Elegance in the grounds of the Barras House Hotel on the Sunday afternoon, when the Concours will be held.
Anyone who is interested in the marque whether they are owners or not, will be very welcome. Accommodation, Sunday lunches and camping facilities are available. Further details from Mrs. M. Walden, 31, Rollason Road, Coventry (Tel.: 87651).
[Incidentally, we note that many inexpensively-priced Rileys figure in the advertisement pages of the Riley Register magazine, which is a refreshing discovery in these days of absurdly high values being placed on so many pre-war cars. — Ed.]