Books for the summer

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Rolls-Royce The Story of the ‘Best Car in the World’ 240 pp. 11 1/3 in. x 81 in. (IPC Business Press Ltd., Surrey House, Throwley Way, Sutton, Surrey, SMI 4QQ, £3.25).

This is a timely publication, with Rolls-Royce very much in the Silver Jubilee picture. It consists of reproductions of a wealth of Rolls-Royce material from back issues of The Autocar and Autocar from 1904 to the present-day. The only new material is an Introduction outlining the R-R story, with photographs of Rolls, Royce, Johnson, Lord Hives and the present MD, David Plastow and a description of the latest Silver Shadow, presumably because the book went to Press before The Autocar material on the latter was available.

Normally we do not enthuse over “reproduction” publications, except in special cases, but this IPC book is extremely well done and most attractive. Its hard-wear cover, with a big colour picture of Lord Lonsdale’s yellow 1923 Rolls-Royce 20 (with 1910 Daimler body) is eye-catching and the sheer irresistibility of the book’s subject makes the whore ensemble most appealing. The contents run from technical descriptions of early R-R models, including the 8-cylinder landaulette, and of races like the TT which Rolls won, to articles on the Derby and Crewe factories and road-tests of all the later R-R cars. As you turn the pages you take your choice of where to begin -with a run out in a 1913 London-Edinburgh or a 1920 40/50 tourer, a study of specially-equipped Royces, namely, that owned in 1915 by Gerald Herbert (an Alpine Eagle) and in 1920 by Lionel Rapson, (but where is the article on Minchin’s car?), or absorption of all the data in the many road-test reports.

Besides these, the book abounds in photographs and drawings, descriptions of R-R detail design, and complete write-ups of new R-R models, the last-named exciting at the time, and still exciting. Although I must have read almost every word of this book from the 1920 period on, I found forgotten fields to explore like H. S. Linfield’s trip to the North in a Phantom III, Montagu Tombs’ long discourse on the Belper works in 1948, an account of what was done at Freestone & Webb’s, etc. This really is a splendid cross-section of R-R history. Ronald Barker’s visit to Crewe in 1963 is there, as are descriptions of Royal and other special Rolls-Royces, and the Silver Wraith in full detail, etc. The technical data and cut-away drawings are alone worth the price. (What this book would have been like had The Motor and Motor weighed-in with their R-R material passeth imagination; perhaps there will be a separate offering later?)

Among a spate of Rolls-Royce publications, this one will surely be in maximum demand, during Silver Jubilee year. The road-tests alone are fascinating and I have extracted the following data from them, to indicate that Rolls-Royce performance kept pace along the years with the other great qualities of these impeccable British products of Manchester, Derby and Crewe:
Model — 0 -60 mph — Top Speed
1936 40/50 Continental; 19.6 sec; 93.31 mph
1936 Phantom III; 16.8 sec; 91.84 mph
1953 Silver Dawn; 16.2 sec; 87.5 mph
1958 Silver Cloud; 13.0 sec; 106.0 mph
1959 Silver Cloud II; 11.5 sec; 115.0mph
1963 Silver Cloud III; 10.8 sec; 117.0 mph
1967 Silver Shadow: 10.9 sec; 118.0 mph
1971 Corniche; 9.6 sec; 122.0 mph
1976 Silver Shadow; 10.6 sec; 120.0 mph

For the rest of the data you are referred to this timely book. It is as near-perfection as the cars it describes, although in the article about Silver Ghost AX201 the error persists that its first private-owner was an R-R Travelling Inspector and this car’s mileage when it was re-acquired by Rolls-Royce Ltd. in 1947 is perhaps exaggerated. Otherwise, the product passes my inspection and is highly recommended; there are some fine colour-plates to be enjoyed, too. W.B.