Reviews, June 1995

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There are over 300 parts in this detailed 1:14-scale resin kit of a Ferrari 166MM Barchetta, from American makers Creative Miniature Associates (29 Parker Ave, Stamford, CT 06906, USA). The chassis and suspension are fully detailed, the photoetched wire wheels are pre-assembled, and even the gauges are correct. This is part of a range which includes 1:24 and 1:43 European sportscars, also available ready-built, and while we have yet to see one in the flesh, the quality looks very fine.

MG Trials Cars, by Roger F Thomas. Magna Press, Knole House, E Horsley, Surrey, £14.95.

It could be said that there is not much substance to this book and that some of the explanations it gives of the pre-war trials scene will be known to those who run MGs of the period it covers. That said, I regard it as one of the most interesting and jolly books I have seen for a long time. Thoroughly enjoyable!

The reason lies in the invigorating pictures of MGs taking active roles in these trials anti in particular because the book contains reproductions of correspondence between the drivers of the “Cream Cracker”, and “Musketeer” MGs and the works at Abingdon. So for the first time it is possible to see how much works’ support these teams had, how much store the MG Car Company set on publicity from good performances in these mud-storming events, how the cars were prepared, the finances given and how in later days much of this diminished and the drivers had to purchase the cars themselves, but with a good re-sale arrangement. Fascinating.

For me these old letters “made” the book, along with so many memory-stirring pictures. But in the 104 pages Thomas, a competitor himself, and running an MG restoration business, also manages to remind us of what trials are about and how they changed over the years. outlines the history of the MCC long-distance events, for which no praise can be too great, provides interesting biographies of the better-known MG trials’ drivers, describes the technicalities of the “Cream Cracker” and “The Musketeers” MGs from 1934 to 1939, lists the whereabouts of the surviving cars today, and puts in descriptions of some of the more famous trials hills, together with results obtained in the Abingdon-Abingdon and Chiltern trials, with a route card for the 1938 “Abingdon” etc. (So one can look at these hills if so inclined, but the author sensibly suggests that such expeditions be made on foot, to avoid tarnishing the good name of the Sport).

A small book, but one no trials enthusiast should miss. The colour front-cover picture of a pipe-smoking Toulmin in JB 7521 on a trials sections reflects the purpose of this truly enjoyable book, — which was well-timed to co-incide with the MGCC’s Rodborough Common reunion of the pre-war MG competition cars.

Microcar Mania, by Chris Rees. Bookmarque Publishing, £24.95

It seems only the other day that I reviewed a book about bubble-cars. Here is another, more comprehensive as it is not just a pictorial survey but claims to be the definitive history of the small car. Not quite that, because it does not cover the pre-1915 and vintage years of the successful and struggling economy cars (a book I would like to have tackled) but it does look at all the later little microcars — although the interest in these rather astonishes me, unless we are soon to be driven to driving nothing else… On the subject of micros and bubbles from 1940 to today the 176-page book is thorough, but can you call a Citroen 2CV or Fiat 500 a micro? Electric specimens are there, as is a list of 28 obscure makes, from Baldet Bluebird to Roe Little Giant/Runner. Curious, I thought the bubbles had burst.

New titles from Brooklands Books include four Gold Portfolios on the Mini Minors of 1959/69 and 1969/80, the Audi Quattros of 1980/91 and the Jaguar XjS of 1975/88. Packed with reprinted data of all kinds, these volumes are invaluable for historians, researchers or just for fun reading. Each costs £12.95 plus £1.50 postage direct from the publisher.

Congratulations to Haynes of Yeovil for updating the Gerherd Berger story to the end of the 1994 season of Fl racing (PSL, £16.99) and Christopher Hilton’s Schumacher story just three days after he won the 1994 World Championship (£9.99). But I question the good taste of more Hiltonism on Senna, right up to the moments before and after the fatal accident, too soon after his death.

PSL have now made available a third updated edition of Graham Robson’s Cosworth — The Search For Power (£19.99) and a fifth expanded version of Paul Frere’s Porsche 911 Story (£19.99), and from MRP we have the first book to be devoted to the 4WD Suzuki Vitara, by Nigel Fryatt, in their Enthusiast’s Companion series (£12.95).

To celebrate its 50th birthday the Vintage SCC of Australia has produced a fine commemorative book, 191 pages of pure “downunder” nostalgia, which is a fitting companion volume to that which our own VSCC produced ten years ago for its Golden Jubilee. The Australian book sold out very quickly in Australia, but is handled here by Menoshire Ltd, Unit 11, 21 Wadsworth Road, Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex UB6 7L0, and costs £49.95. W B

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