Cars in books, March 1973

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

I REMARKED last month that I could find very little of motoring interest in that splendidly written, socialist autobiography of Francis Williams, “Nothing So Strange” (Cassell, 1970). I have since found reference to his use of an Oldsmobile in America and emphasis on the speed-limit ridden roads of that vast country in the answer by Bill Hall of the Sunday Examiner when asked by Williams when did he have a chance to drive his Ford Thunderbird as fast as it would go? “Always in my dreams”! We are also reminded that the Aga Khan used a Rolls-Royce when in London for a BBC performance and that Lord Thomson of Fleet, the newspaper tycoon, eventually aspired to one.

From “We Wanted It Hot” by Ernest and Adair Heimann (Allen & Unwin, 1965) we find the joint authors ordering what was apparently a new Citroen 2CV to go with the house they went to live in, in Provence. There is, not surprisingly, reference to other 2CVs in their book and an amusing reference to French gipsies who, when they first called, came in “their ancient and dilapidated Peugeot 203”. A year later they called again, still hawking sheets and pillow cases, in “a considerably smarter black 403”. After that the same gipsies arrived in a “new, pale grey 404—they are obviously ardent Peugeotistes”. This accords with gipsy life in England, where so, often they own expensive caravans and seem to be able to tax and insure their vans and trucks, when the motoring enthusiast is probably wondering how he can find the next quarter’s licence fee!

Quite a lot about cars is to be found in David Niven’s rather lewd autobiography “The Moon’s a Balloon” (Hamish Hamilton, 1971). At Sandhurst, a friend of Niven’s, Jimmy Gresham, is mentioned as having a Hillman Huskie and the open Lagonda of Major Harry Ross-Skinner of the Highland Light Infantry, which he used in Malta is recalled, and later Niven describes his first car, bought for about £100 in the 1930s. In America shortly afterwards Niven was in a spectacular crash when riding in his friend Phil Armidown’s Pierce Arrow convertible, a new car being bought the same day for the continuation of their journey to Palm Beach. Niven, having sold his Morris, bought a 1927 3-litre Bentley which had done over 120,000 miles and had a bonnet strap, compass, altimeter, an exhaust cut-out, a three-tone horn, a pressurised fuel tank and the customary outside hand-brake. That was in 1932 and it is rather curious the licence fee is quoted as £25, so that it had to make do with a Guinness label, because in those days the annual fee was £16.00. This Bentley survived being rolled over on Salisbury Plain after a skid. Then, in America, Niven bought a very old Auburn at Culver City for 90 dollars. By the time this had collapsed Niven was a famous screen star and was able to go into the Ford showrooms on Hollywood Boulevard and drive out as the windows were rolled aside in a brand-new Ford priced at just under 500 dollars. Another new Ford was bought by a female film star so that she and Niven could drive from New York to California. The cars of the stars get some mention: Connie Bennett with a wicker-finished Rolls-Royce Phantom, spotlit inside its coupe de ville body, Marlene Dietrich’s black Cadillac driven by a chauffeur with two revolvers and a mink collar, and Tom Mix driving himself in a white Packard.

During the war Niven, having joined-up, acquired a Hillman Minx for £190, to conserve his petrol ration. I thought this a curious book, with its peppering of four-letter, or more correctly seven-letter, words, and that Stowe must have been an odd school before the war, with its Headmaster encountering a young pupil there, escorting a decidedly cockney prostitute, and doing absolutely nothing about it. I was also disappointed because I thought I remembered David Niven coming to Brooklands to act in a film in which a stand-in had to taxi about in a disguised Moth and the students from the College of Aeronautical Engineering were enrolled for the crowd scenes and somewhat over-played their parts, but I found no reference to this in “The Moon’s a Balloon”.—W.B.

You may also like

Related products