BOOK REVIEWS, March 1956, March 1956




• • • “Annual Automobile Review—I954 Edition.” 262 pp., 12/ in. by 9} in. (G. T. Fouls and Co. Ltd., 7, Milford Lane, Strand, London, W.C.2. 42s.)

The arrival of this annual is one of the events of the motoring year. First published in 1954. then as now by Edita S.A. of Lausanne and handled in this country by Foulis, “Annual Automobile Review” makes similar publications look like pale shadows and, with its complete survey of the cars and competitions of 1955, its Sue drawings, magnificent colour-plates and incomparable photographs, is an expensive publication which is worth every penny of the price asked for it.

Printed in English. French and German, this edition has proper stiff covers and 130 of its large pages are devoted to motor-racing and competition. There are, besides, authoritative and well-illustrated articles on “The Impact of Styling on Motor-Car Design,” by Mario Revelli de Beaumont, three separate articles on traffic problems, and a very comprehensive survey of the new cars from all countries by Gordon Wilkins. Racing and rallies occupy the rest of this absorbing annual, and apart from reports of the leading 1955 fixtures, Denis Jenkinson describes his drive in the Mille Miglia with Stirling Moss, Paul Frere describes what it is like to drive at Le Mans, Raymond de Becker deals with ” The Psychology of Motor Races,” and there is a very comprehensive technical description of the Mercedes-Benz racing-car project W196R, with masses of pictorial support, by Federico B. Kirbus.

The photographs which illustrate the whole book, and the competition section in particular, are classics; for example, Ascari’s dive into the harbour at Monte Carlo, Moss reversing out of a ditch during his epic Mille Miglia, and some non-sensational but revealing sequences of the tragic accident at Le Mans are amongst an outstanding collection, so prolific that we refuse to count them ! Circuit plans and race lap-charts are included with the race reports.

When we were in Monte Carlo for the Rally we saw a copy of ” Annual Automobile Review” in a bookshop but by next day it had been snapped up. Obviously this unique publication has become a best-seller, amongst well-to-do motoring enthusiasts. For this reason it must have considerable advertising value and it is instructive to find that whereas Fiat takes a two-page colour spread in it and D.K.W., B.M.W., Taunus, Lancia, Renault. Mercedes-Benz and Borgward have page colour advertisements, of British car manufacturers only Jaguar and Standard follow suit.

The ” Annual Automobile Review” is worth going without many lesser publications to acquire, hut old-car fanatics are warned that their pet subject is almost entirely neglected.—W. B. “The Skilful Driver,” by James S. Blair. 166 pp., 8/ in. by 5f in (Temple Press Ltd., Bowling Green Lane, London. E.C.1. 10s. 6d.)

This is a refreshingly new approach to the subject of bow to become a good as distinct from a mediocre driver. The author puts in little anecdotes from vintage times onwards to underline his points, there are innumerable hints and tips additional to the expected ones, many clever photographs indicate what and what not to do in given circumstances, amusing Brockbank cartoons are included and the final chapter deals with how to get the most out of the complicated road testa which are a feature of the publisher’s companion weekly 1 The “Ideal Car” forms another chapter, and we like the photograph of a police car with its rear window obscured by a POLICE notice, used as an example of how your rear view should not be cluttered up 1—W. B.

” A.B.C. of British Cars,” by John Dudley. 71 pp., 6 in. by 4 in. (Ian Allen Ltd., Craven House, Hampton Court, Surrey. 2s. 6d.)

The latest edition of this little guide to current British cars is fairly comprehensively illustrated and new models not included in the previous edition are depicted by asterisks against reference to them. The author has included, very courageously, maximumspeed figures for all the cars, remarking wisely that ” these are approximate.” Makers’ addresses are given but we miss a table of prevailing prices for quick-comparison purposes. The illustrations are makers’ ” hand-onts ” and it is interesting to note that British manufacturers are making use of female models to distract attention from the frailties of their mechanical models, as America has done for years. These range from ladies in full evening dress draped about the Humber Super Snipe to a long-haired brunette in a wellfitting swim-suit perched on the back of the Austin-Healey 100. A good ” buy ” for the kids.

FITTING A NEW HOOD There is no doubt about it, the look of a car

There is no doubt about it, the look of a good sports car can be

completely ruined by a ragged hood, and vice versa. When your car needs a new hood, probably the first consideration is the expense. This can be excessive, especially if this is fitted prole=sionally. The obvious answer is to fit one yourself. No previous experience is needed and the only tools required are a tack hammer, centre punch, pincers or pliers, and a safety-razor blade. Hoods for standard sports-car models may be purchased direct

from the London Trimming Co., but for non-production bodies the old hood must he sent with the order to give a pattern for the new hood, or better still, if the car is taken to the makers, measurements can be made direct. This latter course has two advantages, the first is that you do not lose the use of the old hood while the new one is being made, and second the old hood may have pulled out of shape slightly. Measurements made from the car take just over an hour. If your present hood has the type of rear window with a rigid metal frame, it is well worth considering replacing this in the new hood with a flexible plastic window. This will generally make it possible to have a far larger rear window.

The hood is sent by post the day after the measurements are taken. The first thing to do is to remove the old hood, which it. tacked or screwed to the body. This is easily done with a pair of pincers or pliers. It is a good idea to remove as many of the old tacks as possible that have been used in fitting previous hoods, because it may be difficult to find room to knock in the new tacks when the hood is in place. (This proved to be the chief time-waster with the fitting of the writer’s hood.) If the car has a felt inner lining, now is a good opportunity to

patch it up, and tighten it again, as it is completely separate from the hood except at the rear window which can be seen to at the end. For patching this lining and fixing it round the window special upholstery solution is necessary. Now the hood should be spread across the frame and pulled taut

Lengthways. Here the help of a friend is useful, although not essential. It is important that the hood is really tight at this stage. Two or three tacks at the front and back will hold it in position while the sides are fixed with one or two tacks. Then the front can be made secure with a tack every two or three inches to prevent uneven pulling, and then the same for the back and sides respectively. The edges are now trimmed. After experimenting with a pair of large scissors it was found easier to use a safety-razor blade, as the cloth has to be trimmed very close to the tacks. All that remains is to tack on the finishing banding along the front and around the edges. The loose ends are covered with chromium-plated metal ends. The total time needed to take off the old hood and fit and trim the

new one was between 3i and 4 hours. This will naturally vary slightly with different types of hood. A catalogue, samples, and price lists may be obtained from the London Trimming Company, 40, Queensgate Mews, S.W.7, who will also give any further advice you require.—A. B.

CAR PRICES IN SOUTH AFRICA A doctor writing from Cofimvaba, South Africa, makes some

A doctor writing from Cofimvaba, South Africa, makes some interesting comparisons between the prices of ears in the United Kingdom and as they arc in South Africa. Claiming that no British car offers a heater, demister, cigar-lighter (a safety fitting for smokers, our correspondent observes!), independent rear suspension, full six. seater body with centre armrests front and back, and outstanding roadholding, steering and economy for the £870 that the Renault Frigate costs, he goes on to list the prices of cars prevailing at the time of writing in South Africa, as follows :—

These prices are those listed in the Government Gazette as the maximum for a particular car at the coast, and they vary slightly but our correspondent remarks that “there has been a regrettable tendency on the part of British cars for a steady increase in price, while the Continental producer does try to keep the price down somehow. The small U.K. cars all seem to give trouble after about 20,000 miles, many sooner, and once the Volkswagen becomes available in quantity I think the Austin A30, Morris Minor, etc., will have to fight for salea. At present I have a Standard Vanguard Phase II, an ugly car but good on bad roads and very reliable. I did have a Ford Zephyr but it was uncontrollable on bad corrugations when lightly loaded. If you can make the deaf hear …”