Book reviews, June 1987, June 1987

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Flywheel — Memories Of The Open Road by Tom Swallow and Arthur H Pill, and the members of the Muhlberg Motor club, Stalag 4B, Germany 1944-45. (Michael Joseph. £10.95)

Thi, facsimile reproduction of a unique collection of motoring magazines produced by British enthusiasts in a German prison camp during World War II is deeply nostalgic. Reliving motoring adventures before the war, carrying road tests and features and generally attempting to be optimistic about the future in a post-War world, it makes quite compelling reading. Not because of the editorial content, but because it makes you realise what a remarkable feat it was to produce such drawings and graphics, largely from memory, using whatever raw materials the staff could lay their hands on. It serves as a quite remarkable testament to the courage and fortitude of ordinary men, motoring enthusiasts, in what would seem to us conditions of total pessimism and utter hopelessness. NH

Grand Prix 1986 by Nigel Roebuck and John Townsend. Edited by Barry Naismah. 160 pp. 113/4″ x 8″. (Kimberley, 4 Church Close, London N20 01U. £12.95).

This annual review of the World Formula One Championship must be the best ever, taking into account the modest price which has remained unchanged for this edition. Each race is reported in detail, the colour is quite magnificent, and the driver profiles and seasonal review crisp. What more can the reader ask for? WB 

Haynes/ Foulis’s newest Super Profile is about the Ford Model T, by Michael Allen. Text, tables and pictures cover this famous Ford, and the Crofts, who own six Ts, are interviewed. There are even notes on how to buy a Model T. Good value and good fun for £5.95. WB

Amongst specialised sportscars TVR has an appeal all of its own, and the whole story of the make in effectively condensed in one of MRP’s Collector’s Guides, by Graham Robson.

Priced at £9.95, its 144 pages in sensible format are a revised edition of the 1981 book, and bring things up to the 1987 model-year. The dust-jacket shows the latest convertible alongside a 1970s Taimar coupe. WB

Motor Racing Publications Ltd are the sole UK distributors for the American Motorbooks International illustrated Buyer’s Guides, the latest of which is aimed at those wishing to avail themselves of a Lotus of any kind. The author is former Lotus director Graham Arnold, whose text includes the racing and road cars, non-factory jobs and replicas, look-alikes and forgeries. Of the many good pictures, one of the original Hornsea factory reminds me of collecting road-test Loti for Motor Sport and fish’n’chips-in-newspaper lunches, so very far removed from later hospitality at Hethel. Lots of data is included and the price of the guide is £9.95. WB

From the prolific output of Haynes/Foulis of Yeovil comes Elite Cars, by an unnamed compiler. It is a slim volume whose title seems more of an excuse for a book than the fulfilling of a need. The contents cover what are subtitled “the fastest and finest cars”, and the reader is assured that none can be bought for less than £23,000. Some you cannot buy at all. such as the dream cars led by the Buick Wildcat and Vector W2 TwinTurbo, but others you can, such as Porsche 959, Ferrari Testarossa, De Tomaso Pantera and Ford RS200. If you like good pictures you may like this book, at £7.95 . WB

It seems a long time since glassfibre was introduced as a new means of constructing automobile bodywork. For reasons which include lack of finance for setting up press-shops, and the inability of professional body-suppliers to sell to small manufacturers, and of special-builders to cope with panel bashing in steel or aluminium, this form of construction is now widely used and properly understood. This is to the benefit of many, since wood and papier-mache have never really caught on for enclosing passengers of motor vehicles. Thus it indistinctly useful that MRP has published, for £9.95, Automotive Glassfibre, by Dennis Foy, which covers almost every aspect of using this material for the building or repair of bodywork. WB

Haynes Publishing Group established its business on instruction manuals devoted to popular cars, their authors’ instructions to readers based on practical experience in the Haynes workshops. The latest in this idiom is Kim Henson’s Guide To Purchase and DIY Restoration Of The Ford Escort and Cortina. It has 367 large pages and more than 1000 illustrations to make repair and renovation easy, and includes a new paint and interior colour-scheme section, while engine and electrical overhaul are also given careful attention. This GT Foulis imprint costs £12.95. WB

Any very close account of the rise and fall of the Rotary Aero Engine and its motoring antecedents, by Andrew Nahum, has been published by the Science Museum in London at 5.95, and is obtainable from good bookshops, HMSO, and the Museum itself. It is the first book on the subject since Buds devoted some space to rotaries in 1916, although another new publication on the same subject has just appeared.

Nahum covers ground familiar to those who have made special studies of these unusual engines, but his account is very readable, and his explanations as to why rotary engines became virtually defunct by 1918 and their bmep limitations, are compulsive extra study. So too are the tables comparing Gnome, Le Rhone, Clerget, BR, and other such engines with contemporary “stationary” aero-engines. The pictures evoke nostalgia, but many have come from a book about the Cornwall Aviation joy-ride company, reviewed by Motor Sport some years ago.

Nahum’s treatise is redolent of the memorable smell of burnt castor oil, usually but not necessarily Castro!, he uses adverts for Homco Miscible and Gnomal castor oils, in fact. WB