Cars in books, June 1984
Knowing my love of the past, the good life as it were, one of the marshals on the VSCC Welsh Week-End gave me a soft-cover publication called “Good Times”, by V. C. Buckley. It consists of a wealth of photographs taken by this much-travelled Etonian to depict what life at home and abroad was like in the between-wars years. There is a chapter on motoring, from which we learn that Buckley’s first car was a 1924 Morris-Cowley two-seater bought for £250, after he had had a few driving lessons on his father’s Buick, which a photograph shows to have been a 1921 All-Weather tourer, looking much as any other American car of that period. The text of the motoring chapter is rather superficial, a Cubitt owned by an undergraduate in Buckley’s college at Cambridge being remembered and some space being devoted to the Riley he took to Ireland in 1936, a red-and-black Monaco saloon, wrongly captioned as of 8 hp. After the Morris the author had a dark blue Austin 12 two-seater, equipped rather unusually with aluminium disc wheels and bumpers, Buckley says the most beautiful car he ever saw was an all-white Rolls-Royce Park Ward sedanca de ville, parked outside the Berkeley Hotel in 1930. He includes a photograph of Mrs Manville’s fawn and white Rolls-Royce coupé-de-ville which she brought to Europe, usually on the SS Bremen each summer, her chauffeur Richardson wearing a uniform to match the car — it is said she made her money from asbestos. Other pictures show the Ford V8 “woodie” in which the author crossed the desert from Port Sudan to Suakin, a deserted town on the shores of the Red Sea, in 1936 and an early-1920s Daimler owned as a guests’ car by the Maharajah of Mysore, and a shot of the start of a Brooklands race in 1921, in which I recognise Cooper’s Mercedes, Duff’s Fiat, the Lorraine-Dietrich “Vieux Charles Trois” and Segrave’s GP Opel — alas, the caption says that the author enjoyed “watching the Bentleys, Sunbeams and Straker-Squires whirling around the track; today we would call them old Chitty Chitty Bang Bangs” — which I, for one, wouldn’t! His idea of the pace at which these cars “whirled round” is rather conservative; he suggests “the then fantastic speed of 90 mph” for Count Zborowski’s black Mercedes, but, of course, they went far faster. . . There are some shots of early air-liners, and the 197 pictures are certainly nostalgic — the book was published in 1979 by Thames & Hudson Ltd, 30 Bloomsbury, London, WC1B ,QP, so copies may still be available. — W.B.