Book Reviews, March 1961, March 1961

Author

W.B.

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“Automobile Year-1960-1961,” edited by Ami Guichard. 220 pp. 12¾ in. x 9¼ in. (Editor S.A., Box 1109, Lausanne, Switzerland. English edition 52s. 6d.)

This luxury publication, now in its eighth year, forms a fine addition to the bookcase besides being an excellent source of reference to motor cars, motor racing and motoring year by year. The generous use of art paper and colour illustrations puts “Automobile Year” in a class of its own amongst such annuals, and the high-class advertisements enhance its good taste. Incidentally, this now-accepted and eagerly-awaited publication must have considerable publicity value, especially as few, if any, copies are ever likely to be thrown away and it is a book that will be taken down and looked at throughout the years. It is, therefore, interesting and significant to discover that, of car manufacturers, Fiat take a two-page colour-spread to publicise their 1800-2100 and 600D models, Renault do likewise to effectively emphasise the exclusiveness of the Floride, while Ferrari push the 250GT 2 + 2 in a colour advertisement (the Ferrari 410 Super America coupé special is illustrated in Pininfarina’s page advertisement) and Alfa Romeo, Volvo (for the Sport P1800s), Lancia (showing a Flaminia coupé in a summer scene), Panhard and Mercedes-Benz have dignified layouts in this International review but, in spite of the fact that sales are slumping in England, only Austin and Jaguar advertise in the current “Automobile Review,” and then with stereotyped “copy.” Vandervell, though, thoughtfully provide a be-ribboned book-marker.

This eighth edition is full of good things, apart from outstanding illustrations. Race, rally and hill-climb results of 1960 are there for reference, together with descriptions of last year’s racing cars, the F.2 Ferrari being the subject of a pull-out colour folder. Records established in 1960 are quoted and the 1961 International Calendar is included.

Amongst the articles Laurence Pomeroy discusses how, in future, extremely compact engines may come into general use, thereby increasing passenger and baggage space, the tuning establishments of Abarth and D.B. are looked at and their histories described by Gauchard and Cahier, there is a well-balanced article on “The Place of the Ancients in The Modern World ” by William Boddy (Editor of Motor Sport) in which he sums up the outstanding British vintage sports cars and shows how motoring journalism has changed down the years, while Gordon Wilkins covers the 1960 Motor Shows with emphasis on the cars of the year and W. Woron looks at trends in the U.S. Industry and inquires into the purpose of “dream cars” — those curious experimental vehicles of futuristic demeanour.

Count Lurani reviews last year’s motor racing, backed up by the pick of the pictures from such cameramen (or agencies) as Kirbus, Cahier, Guichard, Debraine, Picard, Molter, Eves, Hughes, Goddard, Deacon, Ambor, Pinheiro, Van Bever, Gower, Rubin, Ballard and Alexander — literally scores of first-class pictures for quiet study again and again. Lap charts of the leading races, the markings in the World Drivers’ Championship and the International Hill-Climb Championship and fine colour-plates of Brabham, Moss and of famous racing cars in action are included.

Each year “Automobile Review” covers a classic make. Last year it was Fiat, this year Jacques Ickx deals with Renault in an informative and splendidly-illustrated appraisal — although we cannot agree that Renault made straight-eights as early as 1921 and more technical data about the vintage models would not have come amiss. But it is interesting that Ickx’s figures for Renault’s annual output differ from those in Saint Loup’s rather superficial book on Renault and it is significant that he contradicts the legend that the Renault 4 cv owes its origin to the Volkswagen design of Dr. Porsche.

If you have to cut down on your spending in the motor book field, possession of “Automobile Review” will make amends — it is a book that makes you feel you want to own one of the World’s newest, most stylish automobiles and that, for a man, probably has the same psychological uplift that women tell us they derive from buying a new hat. — W. B.

“Motor Quiz,” by C. K. Wood. 32 pp. 5 3/16 in. X 3 9/16 in., soft covers. (Ian Allan Ltd., Craven House, Hampton Court, Surrey. 1s. 6d.) Quiz problems are generally acceptable and here is a little book of motoring questions (and answers) ideal for club nights or for baiting one’s knowledgeable friends. The Editor was “heard” by his “middle” daughter after a hard day at the office (it’s as well to have an excuse handy!) and scored 60 per cent, correct answers to the 400 questions.

The problems are pleasingly varied but it is rather important for the person setting them to know the correct answers. Mr. Wood is wrong in giving 1905 as the youngest age of Brighton Run entries, a tachometer counts speed not just number of revolutions, and the V.S.C.C. recognises cars older than 1920 as vintage, this definition commencing in 1917. The year of the Austin Seven’s introduction is given as 1923 but it was described in the technical Press in 1922, while there was a Racing Car Show in London earlier than 1959. The first veteran car run was not held in 1896, because cars taking part in the Emancipation Run that year had not become veterans, nor is the present Run necessarily confined to cars built “not earlier than 1895.” The first Morris-Cowley appeared in 1915 not 1919 and “Imshi” was driven by John Prioleau, not Priolean. These errors apart, this little book is great fun. — W. B.

“Performance Conversion Equipment,” by Philip H. Smith, A.M.I.Mech.E. 142 pp. 8 9/16in. x 5¾ in. “The TwoStroke Engine,” by K. G. Draper, A.M.I.M.I. 108 pp. 8¾ in. x 5½ in. (G. T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., Portpool Lane, London, E.C.1. Respectively, 21s. and 18s. 6d.)

These two latest titles from the House of Foulis are self-explanatory, being useful volumes full of practical advice, the former dealing with proprietary tuning equipment and the application thereof to well-known power units, by an acknowledged authority on the subject, while the book on two-stroke engines not only explains the working principles but the tuning of such engines and gives descriptions of many well-known examples, not forgetting those technically-ingenious and throaty supercharged 4-litre six-cylinder Foden and 3.2-litre Rootes commercial-vehicle units that might one day be adapted for cars. There is a chapter on racing two-stroke engines. — W. B.

“Automotive Essentials,” by Ray F. Kuns. 502 pp. 9½ in. x 6½ in. (Mark Paterson for Bruce Publishing Co., 34)36, Beech Street, London, E.C.1. 50s.)

We frequently receive requests for text books that form an introduction to automobile engineering and this weighty volume from America, copiously illustrated, should fill this requirement. This revised edition provides information on repair as well as assembly, of motorcycles, scooters and outboard motors as well as cars. Each chapter concludes with questions for the student to answer. — W. B.

The late Mike Hawthorn’s “Champion Year” is now available in a 2S. 6d. soft-cover pocket edition (Wm. Kimber), Herald Advisory Services have brought out new editions of their useful “Bed and Breakfast” booklets, covering S. and S.W. England and Wales, N.E. England and Scotland, in two 3s. 6d. booklets, and The India Tyre & Rubber Co. Ltd. have issued a useful booklet called “Safer Driving,” obtainable from Inchinnen, P.O. Box No. 5, Renfrew, on mentioning Motor Sport.

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A Clear Atlas

Maps are now something of an obsession with the Editor, although it was not always so — before the war he used to rely on the maps in his annual pocket diary, with the result that he once left Cornwall bound for London and found himself and his Austin Seven in Wales — it’s a true story! Today he cannot resist collecting maps of all kinds and ages, and welcomes the new Geographers’ Road Atlas of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, published at 15s. by the Geographers’ Map Co., 28, Gray’s Inn Road, W.C.1. This is a very clear, 4 miles to the inch, main-road map, marking motor-racing circuits, aerodromes, telephones, ferries, etc., in 118 sections, clearly indexed. Very easy to read, and with 35 town plans, this Atlas depicts A and B roads very clearly, without giving away cross-country routes to strangers! A de luxe edition is available for 22s. 6d. and those contemplating summer touring will find this Atlas an asset.

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Transport for H.M. the Queen

John Gordon of the Sunday Express rightly criticised the arrangement that caused H.M. the Queen to ride in a German car — a Mercedes-Benz — in India and in an American car in Pakistan, but he should be delighted to know that on her visit to Jaipur, she rode in a very fine 1933 Hooper-bodied Rolls-Royce Phantom II open sports tourer.

Recap.

Last month I reviewed briefly “F. W. Lanchester — The Life of an Engineer,” by P. W. Kingsford (Edward Arnold, 1960), but this is a book that merits more detailed comment. There is no doubt that too few of us in the motoring world appreciate the extent of the late Fred W. Lanchester’s genius, with which this valuable book deals. If there is any excuse for our ignorance it is that Lanchester was far beyond being merely a talented automobile engineer, pioneer that he was in so many vital respects in this field and near-perfection as were the unorthodox veteran Lanchester cars.

Lanchester was a man of many parts, and extremely thorough in all his serious pursuits — the mark of the genius. He was scientist and poet, engineer and politician, mathematician and author, as Mr. Kingsford’s book makes clear. His hobbies were classical music and deep-sea sailing.

The measure of Lanchester’s scientific achievement, apart from his formidable reputation in the automobile world, is evident in his work as the founder of the science of aerodynamics applied to aeroplane flight, completed by 1897, which was ignored by the Royal Society for twenty years. In other fields Lanchester showed equal brilliance — whether the subject was perfecting the internal combustion engine or the motor car, simplifying the theory of relativity, lecturing on engineering production, the place of the aeroplane in war or civil engineering structures, or writing a monograph on the musical scale.

In 1939 he wrote authoritatively on exhaust efflux propulsion, showing that he understood the jet engine — he was then 72 years of age.

Lanchester was such a famous scientist that it seems a secondary consideration that he was one of the World’s greatest automobile engineers, yet we hear often of the versatility and genius of Ettore Bugatti, so seldom of Frederick Lanchester. Yet here was a man equally of many parts — poet, musician, politician and engineer. Lanchester took to gardening for food produce during the Second World War, when nearly 75, making a two-wheeled, self-steering wheelbarrow of his own design to assist him, just as, when using the concrete staircase of his house in Dyott End, Birmingham, as an air-raid shelter, he designed special narrow stretcher beds for use therein. Lanchester read and published many learned papers before great societies and institutions, but would leaven discussion with pithy comment and even verse — replying to Prof. F. Soddy about matters relating to skin friction over aerofoils in which the learned professor had drawn attention to an article in Nature entitled The Kiss Precise,” Lanchester replied: —

“The Kiss Precise, the maiden said
Is not a Lover’s portion,
For clearly at the contact point
There must be no distortion.
But when true lovers kiss we know
Body presses on body,
So take away your chilly kiss —
Professor Soddy.”

Lanchester was a practical engineer who enjoyed his workshop, and another relaxation was writing serious poetry under the pseudonym of Paul Netherton-Harries, poems such as “The Centenarian” and “A King’s Prayer,” etc.

He was equally at home with electrical engineering and problems of human vision as with aeronautical and automobile engineering, and his papers on dimensional theory, electrical dimensions and potted logs are standard sources of reference. From industrial economics Lanchester turned with equal facility to relativity and radiation, from sound acoustics and photographic problems to study of bird flight. All this is, understandably, rather beyond the scope of most of us who think of F. W. Lanchester in connection with his work on problems of engine balance, worm gearing, epicyclic transmission, ignition apparatus, motor-car suspension and cylinder cooling, etc., etc. Mr. Kingsford enables us to appreciate the full talent of Lanchester’s abilities, his forceful methods and personality, and perhaps the British Motor Industry, at present in the doldrums, might do worse than harken to this great engineer who, in 1938, during the second annual lecture of the Manchester Association of Engineers, said: “Some fifty years ago, when I first became connected with industry, I found myself associated with firms managed by the men who had founded them, and these men, on the whole, were full of vigour and enterprise; they had confidence in themselves and, more than that, many were anxious to exploit new ideas, not on the ‘get-rich-quick’ ticket, but to establish good, solid industrial undertakings that would be of lasting value and a credit to themselves and the country. Now things are totally different. The slump which began soon after the Armistice, and went from depth to depth, ruined many, and enterprise languished, so that today the whole character of the British industrial leaders has changed. Many even seem afraid of their own shadows.”

Lanchester’s early cars are well known but Mr. Kingsford’s book brings out some interesting lesser-known activities of this great man. After studying early aeroplanes in France, Lanchester co-operated with N. A. Thompson in building the twin (Gnome) engined White & Thompson aeroplane, of advanced light-alloy construction, flown from the foreshore near Bognor.

At this time Lanchester was Consultant to the Daimler Company and when war broke out in 1914 he continued in this capacity, served on the Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and assisted Capt. Henderson in trying to defeat Pemberton Billing in the East Herts election. Mr. Kingsford tells us how Billing used ” his powerful sports car” for electioneering, revving up its engine to drown his rival’s speeches. What sports car was this, I wonder, in 1916 ?

After the war Lanchester continued to advise the Daimler Company. We are told he advised them against the fluid flywheel and, unheeded, must have been amused when a prototype car with this transmission took charge of itself when waiting its turn at a Devon petrol station, mowing down two pumps and the cashier’s kiosk before it could be stopped! It was not an easy time for Lanchester. In 1927 he was accused of having undertyred the current Daimler and B.S.A. cars, although in 1926 he had opened a discussion on an I.A.E. paper on tyres for heavier loads, and he crossed swords with L. H. Pomeroy, Daimler’s Chief Engineer, over the amount of damping required to cure steering shimmy and was driven nearly to distraction trying to cure the ills (caused by excessive smoking?) of the sleeve-valve engine. But Lanchester found time to design diesel engines for William Beardmore and from January 1924 to February 1925 he acted as part-time consultant to Wolseley Motors, then controlled by Vickers, while he also investigated the possibilities of rubber for suspension systems (then used on London ‘buses as Renault use it today on the Dauphine). Two typical retorts of Lanchester’s at this time are worth quoting — “When all is said and done it is sad to reflect that if a spring maker were to produce a beautifully-lubricated spring with fluid friction only, the first thing many would do would be to fit a frictional shock-absorber, such is the tendency to relapse into barbarism” and, at a meeting to discuss the optical indicator for assessing the i.e. engine, Lanchester likened it to being handed a carpenter’s screw clamp when he had called for a micrometer!

On detail matters — always interesting — the author tells us that Lanchester’s work for Wolseley included reporting on the new 16-h.p. model for the 1924 Motor Show (this took him less than ten days) for which he recommended a four-speed gearbox and alterations to the clutch and position of the gear-lever. He inspected the 11.4 Humber cylinder head for suspected patent infringement and looked at the Armstrong Siddeley Fourteen, Buick Six and 10/15 Fiat, noting such worthwhile features as the Buick’s machined cylinder head and Fiat’s starter relay-switch. Renault’s improved cone clutch was investigated. He approved, once a week, design revisions to the to, 12, 14, 16/35 and 20/45 Wolseley cars, changing accelerator-pedal position, improving timing-chain tensioning and discussing an all-steel dash with Rubery Owen.

The Wolseley tends to be neglected as a vintage make but if any of these 1924/5 models are still in use their owners may care to know that the great F. W. Lanchester was associated with them. Certainly in October 1924 the designations were changed to 11/22, 16/35 and 24/55 for the three current Wolseley models and several alterations, such as self-priming oil pump, exhaust-jacketed inlet manifold, and wider track on the 11 /22 and monobloc head, improved distribution drives by chain, and better gearbox casing and brake drums on the 16/35, were announced, and later front brakes were applied to this model in spite of its ¼-elliptic front springs, Lanchester’s ingenuity no doubt solving this conumdrum. A transversely-driven magneto was also introduced on the 11/22 or restyled o.h.c. Ten, which is interesting because the contemporary Lanchester Twenty-one, although the concern of George rather than Fred Lanchester, also had a transversely-mounted magneto, in this case unusual in its location aft of the cylinder block and in its drive by both chain and worm wheel. Later F. W. Lanchester devoted much time to the perfection of coil ignition.

For this work Lanchester received £1,000 for 52 consultations and Vickers were prepared to double this had he been able to spare them two days a week. Daimler paid him £3,000 a year in 1926. But his war work received no proper recognition; when the Air Ministry offered Lanchester £5 per meeting for work done voluntarily during hostilities he refused in terse terms, calling the offer “a piece of buffoonery.” He rated his services in 1914 at 25 gns. a day and in 1919 refused a fee of 50-100 gns. a day to go to Paris. Yet Lanchester died a poor man.

It may not be generally known that he formed his own business (L.L. Ltd.) for making Lanchester loud-speakers, transformers and radios. Do any of these, including his Euterperphone-speaker, still exist? This venture lost money but if Lanchester died, in 1946, at the age of 78, near to poverty, by then all the learned bodies, from the Royal Society downwards, had recognised and paid homage to him. His last award, the James Watt Medal of the Institution of Civil Engineers, accepted on his behalf by his brother George, he valued “more highly than if I had been offered the crown of England with an O.M. thrown in.”

Today there is a Lanchester House at Southampton University, a Lanchester Hall in the College of Aeronautics, Coventry has its Lanchester College of Technology, and the Royal Aeronautical Society has a day each year on which to remember the great scientist, whom the Royal Society was glad to elect a Fellow in 1921 after scorning his early work. But it seems wrong that the Government didn’t reward Lanchester for his war-time services, especially as Granville Bradshaw told us last month that he was paid £43,000 for his A.B.C. aero-engine designs. And Sir Harry Ricardo did not understate the position when he wrote that “The Motor Industry, who owed him so much, seems to have treated him rather shabbily.” The S.M.M.T. allowed him £200 a year and £1,450 was collected to buy him an annuity but a Civil List pension was never granted.

It is right that we should know about Lanchester, one of Britain’s greatest engineers and scientists. Mr. Kingsford’s book touches on much of Lanchester’s busy life, and, if tending to repeat itself, lacking an intimate technical detail and badly needing an index, it repays thoughtful study. — W. B.

Cars in Books

I never fail to be surprised at the fascinating references to motoring matters to be found in the most unlikely books. For instance, in the autobiography of C. Day Lewis, “The Buried Day” (Chatto & Windus, 1960) in which this poet recalls his days at prep. school, Sherbourne and Oxford and of his excursion into the Communist Party, we find mention of how he learnt to drive on his parson father’s secondhand Calcott in 1920, while there are splendidly accurate references to his father’s later secondhand cars, which included an unsatisfactory Humberette, a Renault two-seater with brass lamps and a quadrant gearchange, the dickey seat of which fell out on the Edwinstone-Mansfield road with the Bishop of Southwell in situ. These “rickety secondhand” vehicles were used to cover the parishes of Chipstone and Carburton in the late period of the First World War. Later we learn that Day Lewis’ wife had an Austin Seven in which they were wont to move house, the wheel spokes giving way under the weight of baggage on such a journey between Glasgow and Cheltenham, an experience which has befallen other owners of early Sevens!

There is also mention of playing with toy cars in Edwardian times and a picture of the author’s small sons with a typical Lines Bros. pedal car of the nineteen-twenties.

I most certainly did not expect to find any reference to motor racing in that scholarly work “On the Track of Unknown Animals,” by Bernard Heuvelmans, D.S.C., with a model introduction by Gerald Durrell (Rupert Hart-Davies, 1958) yet in scornfully disposing of Charles Miller’s claim to have seen a dinosaur or row while spending his honeymoon in the Sterren mountains in New Guinea, Heuvelmans describes him as “a professional racing driver of cars, motorcycles and hydroplanes ” who, having learnt to fly in the 1914-18 war, “turned to stunt flying for a circus.” I must confess I cannot “place” this particular racing motorist and his wife, Leona Miller, for the moment but I expect my readers will enlighten me.

A reader weighs in with this quotation from Henry Rendall’s autobiography “I Remember Romanos”: “I managed to do quite nicely on my £20 salary and actually saved enough to buy my first car, a strange two-seater job made apparently of tin and called an “Eric-Campbell.” And in “Half-Term Report,” by William Douglas Home (Longmans, Green, 1954), which contains delightful accounts of life at Eton and Oxford in the ‘twenties, I came across references to the illicit Morris-Cowleys hired by lawless undergraduates and to a Humber Snipe that took the author and its owner, George Mercer Nairne, to Munich, Venice, Madrid, Gibraltar and, by Casablanca, as far as Fez, where it broke down in the middle of the desert outside Fez. There is also mention of Home’s “ancient hooded Lagonda” which he bought while playing at the Theatre Royal in Brighton. It was hit by a lorry and overturned in Shoreham; we are told that the insurance company “forked out its full market value,” which was £5. Later there is mention of the author’s pre-war Fiat 500 “Mickey Mouse” in which he and a friend paid a political visit to Germany on the eve of the Second World War.

In “The Walnut Tree” (Hodder and Stoughton, 1951) Mrs. Monica Hutchings refers to an old Clyno, in the dickey seat of which she was taken for rides out of London to Box Hill, Staines, etc., and once to Brighton, as a schoolgirl, its owner a chauffeur who drove a fine Packard, but, although she describes later rides on her Hercules bicycle which leave one tired and breathless, she doesn’t quote the make of the car she owned in recent years. Finally, another reader has come to my support and quotes the following extract from “Period Piece,” by Gwen Ravent (Faber):

“Presently he bought a motor car! A White steam car, which he named ‘Betsey.’ In this we had wonderful fun in the holidays. . . . Sometimes we drove what seemed immense distances then — over thirty miles! Once we drove from a place on the borders of Wales to London in three days, sleeping at Hereford and Oxford on the way; a tremendous effort; we were quite exhausted. The car was always breaking down and having to be given drinks of water with a teacup out of the nearest ditch. Sometimes it blew up and spattered us with orange spray out of the boiler; and at any steep hill it was no better than Aunt Sara’s horses; it stopped and we all had to get out and push behind; while someone carried a large stone to scotch the wheel when we were out of breath.

“Mr. Hoskins, the chauffeur, was a gruff sort of character . . . he had the length of his master’s foot . . . ‘Betsey’ had to be painted every year and it took two months every time; Mr. Hoskins insisted that it must be done; he needed a holiday, I suppose.” — W. B.

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Miniatures’ News

Last month Corgi introduced an ingenious Jeep tower wagon as part of a gift set with lamp standard for the attendant vehicle to clean (No. 14, 8s. 6d.), a fine Ford Zephyr estate car in the catalogued two-tone blue finish, with red interior trim and full load of moulded “luggage” (No. 424, 3s 11d.), and a Bedford military ambulance, with clear and frosted windows, Red Cross markings, etc. (No. 414, 3s.).

Lesney’s March models consist of a “King Size” 00-scale (K-5) Foden tipper truck, beautifully finished in lead-free paint, with such details as chassis cross-members, outside column and steering box, twin rear wheels, etc., priced at 3s. 11d. — just the job in which to keep paper clips and pins on an enthusiast’s desk! — a “Matchbox”-series (No. 7) Ford New Anglia to 1:62 scale and a Magirus-Deutz six-wheel crane truck (No. 30) to 1:128 scale, these last two costing 1s. 8d. each. Lesney have also introduced a motor-race circuit in oo-scale (R-4) to amuse juniors and their fathers, this three-dimensional cut-out with pits, stands, bridges and score-boards, etc., costing 1s. 11d.

Corrections

Some writers and papers prefer not to correct errors, although we all commit mistakes from time to time and owe it to future historians to amend matters. The Editor is therefore pleased to state that when he praised the spot-lamps on the Humber Super Snipe tested last year he gave credit for their excellent illumination to Lucas, whereas the lamps Rootes had specified for this Press-car were, in fact, Lumax. Then, on page 88 last month our printers contrived to make the Editor look like a mis-informed illiterate by omitting a line from his description of the induction system of the 1930 35/120-h.p. Daimler. This should have read:

“. . . a ribbed exhaust manifold possessed a muff the hot breath from which actually passed through a tunnel across the crankcase to benefit the otherwise unwarmed inlet tract.”