Book reviews, July 1987, July 1987

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Custom Fords by Pierce Riemer and Stephen Mills. 120 pp. 101/4″ x 8″. (GT Foults & Co, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ, £12.95).

Those who are interested in custom cars will like this book, which offers many pictures of modified and unmodified Fords. There is an introduction to normal American and British Fords, right up to FWD models. It is hardly true to say that Model-18 Ford V8s did that well at Brookknds, unless minor events are implied; the banked Montlhery track was certainly not 7.8 miles to the lap; and I do not see why Sydney Allard’s Cadillac-Allard J2 (which was third at Le Mans in 1950) is described as a “four-wheeled motorcycle”.

One hopes that Simon Lane’s Ford V8 with hc heads and a supercharger is intended for short distance runs only, remembering how these engines overheated! The pictures are good. WB

To write a book on his obsession must be the dream of many a lifelong Formula One enthusiast. One such is Alex Rollo, according to the cover blurb on The Monaco Grand Prix, published by Ian Allen Ltd of Weybridge at £13.95. And unfortunately it shows.

This 160-page hike through a famous history gushes early enthusiasm, allows commendable space for photographic record, and will suit the coffee table quite well. But a definitive history it is not. Its race-by-race thumbnail chronology portrays facts and figures aplenty, but progressively less excitement and ambience.

It would perhaps be unfair to expect depth where it was never intended, yet the absence of insight leaves a noticeable hole; the informed reader is painfully aware that he is being told nothing he does not already know. Indeed, the most startling revelations concerned the surfeit of Es in the typography of household names such as “Clarke”, “Hawthorne” and “Guerney”! However, if one can accept the book for what it is, a summary appreciation, one can then relax with equanimity to enjoy the pictorial story. GT

Shire Album No 192, by Ian Dussek, covers Sports Cars, and at £1.25 is a useful explanation of what the term means, with pictures enthusiasts will enjoy. WB

Shire Album No 196, The Jaguar, is by the expert on the make, Andrew Whyte, who provides a worthwhile introduction in 32 well-illustrated pages, including a picture of William Lyons on the Harley-Davidson motorcycle he raced in 1920, all for a mere £1.25. These attractive albums also cover other makes such as Rolls-Royce and MG , and vintage, classic, children’s, three-wheelers and sports-cars. WB

A rather shallow introduction to the German manufacturer’s wide-ranging sponsorship of British sport last year is presented in a video cassette, Volkswagen in Action ’87. The detailed coverage which will most interest motoring enthusiasts is that of the junior works team’s assault on our National Rally Championship with four Golf GTis, though VW engines’ Formula Three dominance is briefly touched upon, alongside tennis and aerobatics. The video is available for free hire by clubs ad schools from the VW press office at Yeoman’s Drive, Milton Keynes. GT

CH Gibbs-Smith’s The Wright Brothers, costing £3.50 from HMSO, is a brief account of the pioneer of heavier-than-air fliers of 1903, and No 9 in the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust’ s series Rolls-Royce And The Mustang, by David Birch.

The former has many illustrations of gliders the Wrights experimented with before they conquered the air in their powered aeroplane, which are useful to model-makers or anyone who is tempted to make a bamboo and canvas pioneer flying machine from scratch, but who perhaps sees a VW or similar power-unit as permissable! The latter is a deeply technical treatise on the Rolls-Royce Merlin aero-engine used in the US fighter, which costs £5 (post-free) from PO Box 31, Derby. WB