Book reviews, March 1973, March 1973

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“Automobile Tyres” by L. J. K. Setright. 195 pp., 8 1/2 in. x 5 1/8 in. (Chapman & Hall Ltd., 11, New Fetter Lane, London, EC4P 4EE. £3.25.)

There has previously never been a complete and erudite layman’s guide to what automobile tyres are all about. This ommission has now been filled by the industrious Leonard Setright, which is not altogether surprising, the book following as it does some very long and involved magazine articles he wrote on this subject. He is pretty technical, and obtuse to those who are not prepared to follow the book’s many graphs and diagrams, although Setright explains in his customary entertaining language that this is not a book for experts in this unique tyre trade. As a novice’s approach to the now very complex and more artistic than scientific matter of making modern cars of widely differing types handle pleasantly and safely the book is heavy going, but it is one which is much needed, which should be invaluable to students of overall modern motor-car design and of which the great Tyre Industry should approve—or at all events the Companies which Setright says are the five really great names in the tyre business, Goodyear, Firestone, Dunlop, Pirelli and Michelin. Hard luck, Avon and others! He says that apart from the giants, even comparatively small tyre manufacturers in the second or third division might expect to produce 10,000 tyres per day.

This book makes a very important contribution to technical know-how on the motoring front, no matter which chapter you study. It is sub-divided into chapters about the carcass, the rubber, the tread, tyre manufacture, the road surface, motions and commotions, dimensions, and so on, and it includes a heading “Matching Car, Tyre and Driver”, which isn’t so personal as I feared (BMW/Michelin XAS/Boddy). The book is very reasonably up to date, for it includes the new Dunlop “Total Mobility” and Firestone LXX tyres and other futuristic trends, although the Michelin XWX tyre isn’t referred to. The author has met and discussed tyre design and construction with the technicians of the Avon Continental, Dunlop, Firestone, Goodyear, India, Michelin, Pirelli, Trelleborg and Vredestein companies and was undoubtedly the right person to write this treatise. He has not been able to compare one tyre with another (and unlike petrols, tyres of different makes and for different purposes vary greatly) or to recommend given products in his book quite as he could in magazine articles, but from it you can gain a fair idea of the best way to shoe your particular car. The matter of cars with suspension systems designed for particular tyres is covered, with reference to Citroen DS and Peugeot 404, Ferrari and Ford, with radial-ply tyres, and Mercedes-Benz 230L with the early belted bias-ply Continental and Firestone-Phoenix covers and the Pirelli CN36 for the Lamborghini Urraco. (Surely the Rover 2000 was designed to ride on Pirelli Cinturatos or Michelin “X”?).

There are such intriguing references as “. . . the (Dunlop) SP68 is perhaps less interesting than the Michelin ZX, possibly its closest rival in sipe endowment.” and “… the India Auto-Speed, an excellent high-speed nylon bias-ply tyre, which is a developed version of Dunlop’s RS5.” Tyre testing methods are well covered but if, as I had expected, you aim to learn about tyre history from this book, you will be disappointed and must leave Setright for the appropriate chapter in the “Badminton Library”. Nor is too much space devoted to modern racing-car tyres, maybe because they do not have much association with road tyres. Not exactly light reading but I think you will find this technical book more entertaining than its title might suggest.—W.B.

“The Ford Escort and Rallye Sport” by Jim Gavin. 151 pp., 8 1/2 in. x 5 1/2 in. (Pelham Books Ltd., 52, Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3EF. £2.80.)

The Ford Escort is deservedly popular for competition work, with amateurs anxious to follow in the wheel-tracks of the “works” cars. This book is written with the co-operation of Ford’s AVO Department and their Competition Department by a rally expert. It is concerned with modifying the Ford Escort for road and track competitions, using Rallye Sport parts, equipment and advice and it should save those eager to operate in this way both time and money.—W.B.

A new edition of the book which contains details of how to build the Mini-based Terrapin, claimed to be the cheapest 140-m.p.h. single-seater, has appeared in a new edition, with added material, including that on the Mk. 5 two-seater version. Since the original edition of “High Speed—Low Cost” by Allan Staniforth was published 18 of these homebuilt racers have been made and 37 more are said to be in course of construction round the World. Staniforth’s own Terrapin has gained 30 class wins and took three Class G records at Elvington. The book is published as a soft cover work by PSL, and costs £2.00.

The book about the cars used down the years by the Metropolitan Police, by Detective Chief Inspector K. Rivers, proceeds from the sales of which go to a Police Orphans Fund, aid which was sold from the MOTOR SPORT Stand at Earls Court, had made over £650 for this fund by the end of last year. In fact, very few copies are left. If anyone wants one they are advised to apply without delay to P/C Marrable, Room 1011, New Scotland Yard, London, SW1; the price is 32 1/2p, post paid. When reviewing the book we queried the Jowett ERA saloon said to have been used as a Police car: the author tells us that the Librarian of the Jowett CC has confirmed that this was a prototype saloon built by ERA on a Javelin chassis before the advent of the Jupiter.

Surplus revenue from sales of the programmes of the Vintage and Veteran Drive-into-Europe Rally is being donated to Cancer Research. Copies, price 20p each, are available, from Castlecombe Club, Castlecombe Road, Mottingham, London, SE9.

The 1973 Michelin Red Guide to Germany, on sale last month, contains an even larger selection of establishments as well as more comprehensive information. A total of 773 new establishments have been added to the list, while 601 have been withdrawn, and 23 new stars for good cuisine have been awarded this year, but 18 stars have been withdrawn. In addition to the total of 7,749 hotels and 2,132 restaurants recommended, this latest Michelin Guide contains such useful information as town plans and road maps, wine notes, the principal regional specialities, and where swimming pools, saunas, tennis courts and riding facilities can be found. The postal and telephone codes for each town listed are given, along with the number of inhabitants, altitude, main tourist attractions, golf courses, Tourist and Automobile Club offices and distances between principal towns. Additional details are given for the sports resorts, such as minimum and maximum altitudes, cable cars and ski lifts. A new symbol has been introduced to denote hotels with television in the rooms, and at the back of the guide are lists of public holidays, car registration number codes and the most important road signs.

The 1973 edition of the Michelin Red Guide to Italy is also in the shops. It contains a larger number of recommended establishments as well; 482 have been added and 271 withdrawn. In all, the 1973 Guide to Italy contains 4,489 hotels and 2,245 restaurants. Similar information to that in the German Guide is also included in the Guide to Italy, and will be incorporated in all the Michelin, Red Guides.