When I started cars in books in Motor Sport, it began with fiction, the ploy being to decide what actual car a novelist had in mind when quoting an invented make. I soon found cars in -factual biographies were of greater historical impact. But the Butler-Lacey was a cause of controversy. Had it really existed?
The Butler-Lacey puzzle has given rise to many legpulls, as in the Malayan VC Register’s magazine, and an entry purporting to be from a catalogue of the 1926 Melbourne Motor Show which, after entries for Brocklebank and Buick, has one for Butler-Lacey, followed by those for Cadillac and Chandler. Then the programme fora 1979 Royal Scottish AC Veteran & Vintage Run lists a 1922 Butler-Lacey, along with Humber and Rolls-Royce, with a long description of the non-existent B-L. All were ingenious hoaxes, as cleverly contrived as a Spike Milligan Goon Show script. They even led to letters from a ‘Mr Ironside’, supposed designer of this never-never car, built ‘in the old clavichord works at Hendon, hence the exquisite finish of their French-polished dashboards’. Please don’t start all this again with the blame on me!
I believe there is a Ford in one of the Harry Potter stories but I will not get in that far! T H White’s Sword in the Stone (Collins, 1938) also features two boys, a magician who casts spells and many adventures; could it have inspired the Potter books? White’s intelligent and informative autobiographical book England Have My Bones (Collins, 1936) is technically correct about his vintage Bentley.