Book reviews, March 1962, March 1962



“The Fighter Aircraft Pocketbook,” by Roy Cross. 256 pp. 5 3/5 in. x 4 1/16 in. (B. T. Batsford, 4, Fitzhardinge Street, Portman Square, London, W. 1. 9s. 6d.)

There are a number of aircraft reference books of recent issue which are altogether outstanding in the comprehensive data and illustrations they provide; these include Owen Thetford’s “Aircraft of the R.A.F., 1914/18,” J. M. Bruce’s “British Aeroplanes, 1914/18” and Francis K. Mason’s “Hawker Aircraft Since 1920,” published by Putnam, and the excellent Harborough books about Spitfire, Fokker and other 1912-1961 aircraft. It could be said, therefore, that nothing further on the same subject is called for. This would be true if it were not that the aforementioned books are unavoidably costly, although excellent value, whereas Roy Cross’ “Fighter Aircraft Pocketbook” packs in a lot of information for a mere 9s. 6d.

Running from the Sopwith Tabloid of 1913-14 to the Hawker P.1127 of 1961, this intriguing little work follows the lines of Batsford’s successful Vintage Car and Sports Car Pocketbooks in illustrating each of the types described and appending a specification (which in this case includes performance figures—some of them quite staggering, like the maximum speed of 1,500 m.p.h. of the English Electric Lightning F Mk. I). Unusual for a small book of this sort, a comprehensive index, under both nationalities and makes, concludes a very useful little reference work. 

“The Special Builders’ Guide.” Compiled by the 750 M.C. 199 pp. 8 3/5 in. x 6 3/16 in. Soft covers. (The 750 M.C., Fernlea, Westerham Hill, Biggin Hill, Kent. 14s. post free.)

This useful publication consists of articles that have appeared in past issues of the 750 Bulletin over a period of 5 1/2 years, clearly reproduced by photo-litho. The book is in two sections, one devoted to Austin Seven Specials, the other to 1,172-c.c. Specials, races for both categories being one of the main purposes of the 750 M.C., which was formed before the war following a suggestion by the Editor of Motor Sport.

These articles, by such authorities as Birkett, Moon, French, Colin Chapman, Mallock, Broadley and many others, form an invaluable source of reference for those engaged in the construction of 750 and 1172 Specials, as well as being a useful guide to persons who only want to improve the controllability of, for instance, an Austin Seven Chummy or mildly tickle-up a Ford Ten engine. Indeed, wiring diagrams and body construction drawings are amongst the illustrations, which include the occasional photograph.

This book is a far better guide to the subject than the professional publications and it is available to 750 Club members for 10s., the others for 12s. 6d., plus is. 6d. for postage and packing.

“Sports Cars Today,” by Rodney Walkerley. 120 pp. 9 in. x 5 4/5 in. (Arthur Barker Limited, 20, New Bond Street, London, W. 1 . 13s. 6d.)

This is a quick reference to sports cars, in the same “Sports Today” series as Innes Ireland’s “Motor Racing Today.” It introduces many sports cars from various countries (even to the rare Enzmann), giving in some cases rather superficial specifications, and the different categories of sports cars are discussed. It is a pity that newcomers to the subject and youngsters who might find this book amongst their birthday presents should be misled by inexcusable errors, such as a picture of a Big Six Bentley at Le Mans captioned as a 4-cylinder 4 1/2-litre, while Walkerley seems wedded to the idea that Le Mans was won in 1935 by a V12 Lagonda, whereas this model did not appear for several years, the 1935 4 1/2-litre having the Meadows 6-cylinder engine, also employed for marine work, about which an erudite article on its origin, development and tuning appeared in Motor Sport not so long ago. One wonders, too, whether the Cooper-Monaco was quite the happiest choice for a picture of Britain’s fastest catalogued car, or why cyclecars and the Monte Carlo Rally are included in a book about sports cars.

Superficial, not entirely accurate, for young students only, sums up this latest Walkerley offering

“The Porsche and Volkswagen Companion,” by Kenneth Ullyett. 164 pp. 8 1/2 in. 5 1/2 in. (Stanley Paul & Co., Ltd., 178-202, Great Portland Street, London, W.1. 15s.)

This another of Kenneth Ullyett’s comprehensive publications which combine history, specification, servicing data and tuning notes in one volume; his previous “Companions” dealt with M.G. and Jaguar cars.

Although the Volkswagen story has been told previously (notably in “Beyond Expectations” by Hopfinger, which, surprisingly, does not figure in Ullyett’s bibliography) and there is a comprehensive book about Porsche by Richard von Frankenberg, Ullyett manages to get some fresh facts into his book and unfolds an account of two of the World’s most famous and sought-after cars in a manner which should interest, fascinate and instruct all who own, or hope to own, one or the other.

We are reminded of just how anti-Nazi was Dr. Nordhoff, chief of Volkswagenwerk, and that due to strikes and disputes VW in this country were obliged to give up importing VWs through the London Docks and have since brought them into Ramsgate. There is an interesting fragment of history in the mention of the late Dr. Porsche ordering an air-cooled Rover engine from England for study at the period when he was engaged in designing his Project 12 small car in 1931—presumably this would have been a Rover Scarab, although it is described as the “Coventry-built Rover Eight,” suggesting the 1919 flat-twin, which stemmed from a Singer design but was surely built in Birmingham, if originating in Singer’s Coventry drawing office.

Most of the illustrations in this useful “Companion” are hand-out pictures, the index is superficial and there are errors of proof-reading but at the price this is not serious criticism. There are many pages of data ranging from VW and Porsche production statistics and an English/German glossary to performance figures, mods. lists and addresses of VW depots and suppliers of “souping” equipment. Yes, definitely useful, to interested parties.

“International Auto-Parade, 1962,” is a big volume in which all the World’s cars are illustrated, the sports cars and many others in colour, and their specifications given in four languages. Special bodywork versions are included and Japanese, Russian and other cars rare to us are included, mainly alphabetically. The blocks of Lancia Flavia and Appia have become inadvertently transposed. In addition there are colour plates and descriptions of “dream” cars, historical articles, a discourse on suspension, another on sports cars, a short account of a year’s rallies (ending, however, in June 1961), road-test reports (including one on the Jaguar E-type by Stirling Moss) and a comparative analysis of small cars by the A.T.A.S. of London. This Swiss publication is distinctly attractive to prospective new-car buyers. It is available for 50s. from the publisher, Arthur Barker Ltd., 20, New Bond Street, London, W.1, or from Autobooks of Brighton.


There is a number of fascinating references to cars in “Edwardian Daughter,” by Sonia Keppel (Hamish Hamilton, 1958), a book which so aptly captures the atmosphere of the late Edwardian era and the early twenties, with its descriptions of life in great country houses at Melbury, Guidenham, Critchel and at Portman Square. This mode of life the author sums up as “. . smooth lawns running down to a lake, on which swans were majestically sailing. Inside the house . . . mellow family portraits and the furniture . . . a handing-down through the reigns of Queen Anne and the Georges to the last solid bits of Regency furniture in the bedrooms. . . plenty of retrievers and an odd cocker spaniel or two and, away in the background, some large, well-fed horses in the stable. . . . the sound of the gardener’s rake raking over the gravel in the drive and rooks cawing in the tree tops as the sun went down.”

The cars of this golden age of the English aristocracy which figure in the book commence with an electric brougham, make unspecified, in which the author and her sister, with Nannie, used to squeeze and “ping through Hyde Park behind much the same alluring sound which now heralds Wall’s ice-cream van … all thoughts of car-sickness banished from my mind by Mamma’s convincing remark : ‘ No one has ever been sick in an electric brougham ‘.”

Later, the author and her sister shared a Studebaker, Sonia Keppel driving this herself. It went to Ascot in 1919 with the family chauffeur, Hyde, in attendance. When the author became engaged to Roland Cubitt and it became necessary to go down to the family seat, Denbies near Dorking, to meet his family, her fiance drove her there in “an old-fashioned limousine Panhard, very high off the ground. . . . Jock Gilmour sat beside Rolie on the box while he drove us.” This Panhard had been handed over by the boy’s father, and, as this was 1920, it was pretty obviously an Edwardian (still in the Denbies’ motor house?). Incidentally, the reference to the front seats of the car as “the box” occurs again when mention is made of the Rolls-Royce in which Mrs. Ronald Grenville had driven the two miles between Denbies and Polesden in the summer of 1920 to tell Lord Ashcombe that she did not consider his son good enough for her granddaughter—she refused to go into the house and this painful interview took place beside the car ” . . . chauffeur and footman on the box of the Rolls, and Maggie inside it, formally dressed for the occasion.”

There are also, in “Edwardian Daughter,” descriptions of bob-sleigh races in 1919 (“a well-driven bob-sleigh could achieve a speed of 70 miles an hour . . . a good boblet speed reached about sixty”) and of an accident involving the author which is a reminder that motor racing is not the only risky sport.

Having become accustomed to encountering cars referred to by make in books of all kinds, I suppose I should not have been as surprised as I was to find two so mentioned on the very first page of Denisa, Lady Newborough’s frank, sexy “Fire In My Blood” (Elek Books, 1958). These are a Packard roadster given to the authoress for services rendered to Ivar Kreuger, the match millionaire, and the real silver-topped Citroen (Reg. No. 2857 RD2) which she received from M. Andre Citroen and subsequently bought for use around Paris. Later in this outspoken book we encountered a white Mercedes coupe “with silver exhausts snouting out from its long bonnet” belonging to a sabre-scarred German boy-friend, the “huge black Lorraine-Dietrich” of Paul Schwing, a director of Houbigants the perfumers,” which broke its back axle in the Black Forest when its owner was driving from Paris to Budapest, spares taking such a long time to come from France, and the Delage that Denisa bought herself while that gentleman was keeping her, afterwards replaced by a Peugeot. Opel, the car king, is a friend, who had a chalet near St. Moritz, bob-sleigh racing is described more racily but less satisfyingly than in ” Edwardian Daughter,” and in an old taxi, make not mentioned, Denisa sets out at a moment’s notice to ride 400 miles from Paris to Biarritz. Then there is a spy recruiter in Vienna who had a Mercedes, “which is usually sufficient guarantee of a man’s means if not his morals,” the aforesaid Citroen, made with its roof of burnished silver some time in the mid-‘thirties, and “the long cream Delahaye ” belonging to Mikael Grunwald—that was in 1938.

In literature, verily, cars are everywhere.


Maintaining tyres at correct pressures is important to ordinary motorists because this attention prolongs tyre life and it is additionally important to fast drivers, because correct and equalised pressures ensure efficient road-holding. Consequently, Motor Sport approached many of the leading manufacturers of tyre pumps and jacks with the idea of preparing an article on these vital accessories.

We received a great many catalogues, price lists and sales literature but only one of the makers had sufficient faith in their products to submit a sample. As paperwork does not enable us to carry out tests, the article has been abandoned. But if you are looking for a really good foot-pump we can recommend the Dunlop FP/5 “Champion.” This powerful foot-pump, of which a test sample was sent to us, has a precision drawn brass barrel and a black and oxydised finish, and measures 13 in. x 3 1/2 in. x 2 3/4 in. folded. The hose is 24 in. long and has a lever-type connector. The Dunlop “Champion” costs £1 18s. 6d. and if you still pant over the finnicky hand-pump that is part of your car’s toolkit, why not invest in this efficient foot-pump tomorrow?