Cars in books, June 1961

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“Designing Male,” by Howard Greer (Robert Hale, 1952), gives a picture of New York, Hollywood, Paris and London during the “gay ‘Twenties” and refers to many cars of the stars, including the Hispano-Suiza of a Comtesse living in Liege, the breakdown of Lady Duff Gordon’s car (unnamed) on a visit to this household, “the gigantic black Cadillac saloon” of Jimmy Cruze, who directed “The Covered Wagon” in Hollywood in 1923, in which year the author, having made a success of dress designing, acquired a “red Dodge convertible,” apart, of course, from the inevitable Rolls-Royces.

In “Is She a Lady ?” by Nina Hamnett (Allan Wingate, 1955), there is passing reference to “Jo Carstairs, the motor-boat racing girl,” whom the author painted, in Paris, accompanied by the Carstairs’ mascot “Lord Tom Waddles”, a small doll “Who had many suits of clothes, a cigarette case and a bed.”

A reader says he encountered “Automotive Passacaglia” from “The Air-Conditioned Nightmare,” an amusing account of the author’s inability to deal with his Buick during an American tour in “The Best of Henry Miller,” in which book there is “some delightful dialogue delivered by a sort of automobile horse doctor and Miller’s own fascination with cams, pistons and intricate whirring thingamajigs,” to quote our correspondent. And Michael Sedgwick, Curator of the Montagu Motor Museum, tells me that there is a reference to an “old 110” in “Take a Girl Like You,” by Kingley Amis, which by inference must be a very tatty 34-litre Roesch Talbot, although in the book the objectionable young hero refers to it as a “Sunbeam-Talbot.”

There is brief reference to early American motor races in “High Tension,” by Hugh Baillie (Werner Laurie, t960).—WB.