The Complete Book of Automobile Body Design

By Ian Beattie. 143 pp. 9+ 1/2 in. x 6 3/4 in. (G. T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, BAzz 7JJ, £4.50).

If “complete” in this book’s title is stretching a point, it has a great deal to commend it as a work of reference, although not illustrated to anything like the standard of George Oliver’s standard work on car bodywork. The main purpose of Ian Beattie’s book is to clarify the nomenclature used in conjunction with types of bodies and especially of the coachwork found on vintage and older chassis. He is a brave man to attempt this, because no two people, let along coachbuilders, used to agree about such matters. Yet his definitions, with very simple line drawings to depict many of them, hold water; and there are a great many, ranging from the earliest days to the present. If you want to be able to distinguish a vis-a-vis from a dos-a-dos and sort out the many landaulette and limousine variants, not overlooking the limousine-landaulette, this is your book. An index helps to lead you to explanations of some 200 body-types. If we all in future kept to Beattie’sformula, we wouldn’t confuse ourselves and one another over body designations.

In addition to this sorting out, the book has a directory of coachbuilders and body makers which, if a trifle superficial, is very useful as pointing to when and where many of them operated (and how to spell the more difficult Continental ones!). This list runs from Arnold to Zietz (but omits Whittingham & Mitchell), mentions that Gurney Nutting made bodies for Sir Malcolm Campbell’s “Bluebirds” (but not that Thrupp & Maberly did likewise) and refers to Salmons’ “Tickford” saloons (but omits to mention the wind-down heads of these cabriolet bodies). Line drawings illustrate some typical stylings of some of these firms.

The book concludes with explanations of how the better-known body types developed, and to illustrate this more detailed side-view drawings are used. Altogether, I would rate this a useful book for students and for reference purposes, and one that will give much food for thought and pleasure to old-car folk. Incidentally, the bodies depicted as types and as coachbuilder’s styles are on unidentified chassis but of those in the development chapter, 19 grace Rolls-Royces, Mercedes-Benz is well represented, and even the TT Replica Frazer Nash and 328 BMW are included. W.B.