“The American Car Since 1775”, 501 pp. 8 2/5 in. x 9 1/5 in. (Automobile Quarterly Inc., New York. Distributed by E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 201, Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003, US of America, 17.95 dollars).
This book, published by Automobile Quarterly of New York, claims to be the most complete survey of American ears ever published, and we would not dispute it. It ranges from the pioneer days of the American automobile, covered in considerable detail by L. Scott Bailey, to modern items like lists of Clubs and Registers and Museums and Collections in America and Canada. In between there is much absorbingly interesting material, such as a chapter devoted to the beginnings and growth of the Motor Industry in Canada, by Herman L. Smith, Hugo Pfau’s account of American coachbuilding art, with a list of such coachbuilders from the American Body Co. of 1919 to 1925 to the Woonsocket Mfg. Co. of 1921 to 1929, with notes on each. This is followed by a portfolio of American coachbuilt cars, starting with a Brewster-bodied Barrett electric runabout of 1889 and concluding with a 1942 Packard victoria coupé by Bowman & Schwartz. Incidentally, how remarkably modern the Rubey-bodied Rickenbaker pointed-tail coach looks, for 1921. With centre-lock wire wheels and front brakes it would have passed muster at Olympia a decade later. It is, however, more a study of the American and Canadian car industry than the cars, themselves; nowhere did I find reference or picture of the Chevrolet 499 which toppled Model-T sales after 1926.
Michael Sedgwick writes of the American influence on foreign automobiles and contributes a list of the Anglo-American hybrids, from Abadel to ZIS, again with notes on each. I was interested to see that he does not include the Marendaz Special, although he has said elsewhere that this six-cylinder model had American Continental crankshafts and camshafts. The most vital part of this great and Important history is the tabulating of 5,000 cars produced in America and Canada, with brief explanations about many of them. This is supplemented by Stanley. K. Yost’s list of 165 American cars planned but never produced. These lists alone qualify “The American Car Since 1775” for a place in every British library.
But this is not all—there are illustrated chapters about the American trucks by John Montville, again with a list of their manufacturers, from A & B to Zimmerman, licence plates are comprehensively covered by Keith Marvin and last but very much not least, is a list of production figures, make by make from 1896 to 1970 by James J. Bradley and Richard M. Langworth—and shame on our historians and Industry that nothing like this has ever been done for British cars. I learn from this remarkable table, in a very noteworthy and remarkable book, that Durgan made 13 vehicles in 1896, that the estimated top figure for 1900 was 1,500 Columbias, that Ford was top-of-the-league from 1906 to 1926, but lost very seriously to Chevrolet in 1927, was still down but back at the top in 1929 and 1930. Chevrolet beat Ford from 1931 until 1935, when Ford was top, as in 1945 and 1959, but otherwise Chevrolet had it, until Ford got above them in 1970. So where have all the Chevrolets gone ?
Altogether this is a magnificent reference tome. There are masses of pictures, some rather small and sepia, but all very clear, 500 in all. I recommend your early order. — W. B.
A book about American cars of the 1940s has been introduced into the Olyslager Auto Library, and costs £1.50 from Frederick Warne Ltd. It follows a similar book about American automobiles of the 1930s and is edited by Bart H. Vanderveen. It will help in sorting out the oddly-styled US cars of the immediate post-war decade.
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G.T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 50a, Bell Street, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire have issued three more motor racing reprints in their “Motoring Chassis” series. These are “Full Throttle” by Sir Henry Birkin, Bt. (£3.00), “Bits & Pieces” by HRH Prince Bira (£2.80) and “Road Racing 1936” by HRH Prince Chula (£2.80). These are nicely produced and durably dust-jacketed 8 4/5 in. x 5 1/2 in. volumes but as there is no explanation in the text that they are reprints or that two of the authors are dead, they are pure collectors’ reprints and not revised books.