The Golden Age of British Motoring

The Golden Age Of British Motoring, by Roy Bacon. Sunburst Books, London, £19.99.

Books of photographic reproductions of cars are usually of outstanding interest, this one is unique, as a record of some of the works of the late W J Brunell. The detail he captured on camera puts him in the master-class. Here we have 330 large format pictures of cars of all kinds, at pre-war beauty spots or in races, trials, rallies, speed trials and sand races. The subjects are fascinating in the extreme, the reproduction impeccable. How can anyone resist them?

Veteran cars, Brighton Runs, rare makes such as Noma, Vulcan, Gardner, Ascot Six and Marmon are there, and many shots are of Brunell’s daughter Kitty, who went on the Monte Carlo Rally at the age of 16, with her 14/45 Talbots. Racing celebrities, early light cars and motorcycle events round out this very desirable picture book, which will be enjoyable and useful to historians and all enthusiasts. I admit I was shattered to find that Bacon, described as “having a reputation for solid, accurate writing and attention to detail” had allowed so many errors to intrude. In his Introduction, which reads suspiciously like the piece I did for MOTOR SPORT after I had interviewed Mr Brunell in 1961, he says Brunell worked mainly for The Autocar, whereas he actually worked for The Auto. He cannot spell correctly the name of the man Kitty married, and he omits a significant aspect of Brunell’s later life. And the mistakes in the picture captions are incredible — most could have been eliminated had you checked with MCC entry lists, Roy. To describe a Singer Ten as a Catcall when the number plate clearly proves otherwise is just careless: to mistake Earl Howe’s GP Delage for an HRG, a Rally sports-car for a Straker Squire unbelievable.

However, this does not detract one iota from the sheer enjoyment this book provides.

Indeed, the knowledgeable will be able to correct such mistakes for themselves and there is no gainsaying the value offered or the pleasure this feast of marvellous photographs will give.

I am exceedingly glad not to have missed it. W B