Book Reviews, March 1976, March 1976

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“Jaguar Sports Cars” by Paul Skilleter. 360 pp. 9 1/2in. x 8 1/2 in. (G. T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, 1M22 791. £9.95.)

The depression does nothing to stem the flood of new motoring books! From Foulis, following on their rather disastrous Rolls-Royce tome, comes this volume of similar format, devoted to all the sports Jaguars that ever were. Lord Montagu/Michael Sedgwick must take the credit for having written the standard work of reference about Jaguar Limited, published by Cassell and suitably revised since the original publication. Now Skilleter has embarked on the more specialised task of writing in detail about the sports cars of this illustrious make, adding much to the learned “Profile” on the same subject.

The author has the decided advantage that he likes these motor cars, indeed, has raced his own XK120 in recent Historic Sports Car events. He goes through the development, career, and successes and shortcomings of each model, from the early SS to the E-types, XJ13 and present XJ-S, after sifting all the evidence, as it were, and interviewing personalities closely associated with the cars, notably Bill Haynes, who will forever be remembered as the designer of what must be the greatest and most successful commercial in-line twin-cam six-cylinder car engine of all time. The result is a book both irresistible to Jaguar followers and of great value as a work of reference. Skilleter includes many Press comments from contemporary issues of the motor papers—ours included—apart from his own findings and observations; it is always interesting to re-read what one wrote in a road-test report years ago and I am reminded, among other things, of the total brake-fade I experienced in one of the early XK120s.

This book is packed with good, if somewhat dark, photographic reproductions of the cars the detailed text is concerned with and the great “names” associated with them—the latter too numerous to list, of course, but including, naturally, Bill Lyons, Tommy Wisdom, Sammy Newsom, Bert Hadley, Leslie Johnson, Peter Clark, Moss, Claes, Hawthorn, even Nuvolari. The cars and private owners who used Jaguars come in for equally generous attention, so this really is a book full of Jaguar facts and nostalgia. One wonders whether there will soon be any history left to reveal—certainly Jaguar devotees have nothing to complain about, and are strongly recommended to sit down and enjoy Skilleter’s contribution and the great collection of pictures he has amassed, of famous and oneoff Jaguars, mechanical components and Jaguar personnel.

The Foreword is, rightly, by W. M. Haynes, CBE, and the Appendices cover specifications and performance data down the years, production figures (with dates of production-runs, prices, and commencing chassis numbers, etc.), and details of the Clubs catering for Jaguar owners. The Index is particularly detailed and useful.—W.B.

“Maserati Sports, Racing & GT Cars, 1926-1975”, by Richard Crump and Rob de la Rive Box. 298 pp. 9i 7/8 in. x 8 1/2 in. (G. 7′. Foulis C9′ Co. Ltd., Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, BA22 717. £8.50.)

Another one-make book, this is far more “pictorial” than the Jaguar Sports Car book reviewed above; but what fascinating pictures it reveals! Not necessarily more in number, but the photographs are larger than in the other book and are reproduced on high-grade art paper.

Maserati Club Secretary Richard Crump and Swiss-residing Dutchman Rive Box have assembled more than 400 Maserati portraits, of well-known and rare models, not forgetting to depict the motorcycles, hydroplanes, even the machine-tools for which Maserati are renowned. The electric cars are not forgotten, either. The result is a great treat for any Maserati or fast-car fan, the reference value of the volume being enhanced by technical specifications, notes, and production figures for all the famous Maserati models. Foulis are confident that the majority of the un-touched-up pictures will be new to their readers. Stirling Moss adds to the enjoyment of the book with a Foreword in which he contributes his own intelligent opinions of the many and famous (and so-fascinating) Maserati cars.—W.B.

“Rolling Sculpture—A Designer And His Work”, by Gordon M. Bushrig, with William S. Jackson. 192 pp. 11 1/4 in. x 8 3/4 in. (PSL, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB3 8EL. £10.50.)

PSL are distributors of this big Haessner publication about the bodywork of Bushrig, which graced such fine American automobiles as the Stutz, Model-J Duesenberg, the Auburn boat-tailed Speedsters of 1935/36, and the Model 810 and 812 Cords. Bushrig learned his craft at Willys St. Clair, later working on bodywork for Jewett, Peerless, Packard, and General Motors. After the 1930s this great stylist worked for Studebaker and he was with Lincoln-Mercury, concerned with the Continental Mk. II, during the 1950s.

It is unusual to get the story of such a designer, with his failures as well as his notable successes recorded, and much Company history of the concerns who employed him comes out in the telling. The book is a typical American product but will be of intense interest to those to whom its specialised subject appeals, both from the point of view of the text and the many rare pictures, the latter embracing colour plates, body drawings and styling sketches. This book might with advantage be read by anyone who hopes to become a stylist in the Motor Industry. The Foreword is by Richard A. Teague, VicePresident of Styling at the American Motors Corporation in Detroit.—W.B.

The Olyslager Auto Library has introduced another of its pictorial histories, this one concerned with “Fire & Crash Vehicles, from 1950”. The Editor is Bart Vanderveen and if the subject has a slightly sinister connotation, this book, with the other 25 in this publisher’s Transport Series, makes up a very complete, compact, illustrated history of the motor vehicle. Priced at a modest £3.95, this book is distributed by Frederick Warne, 40, Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3HE.

News of Forthcoming Books

We should be able to enjoy later this year Brian Smith’s “Royal Daimlers” with which, as President of the Daimler & Lanchester OC, he is following his earlier book “The Daimler Tradition”. Another forthcoming title will be Roger Clark’s rallying book, especially exciting as he has written it while absolutely at the top of his splendid form. Motor Racing Publications have earmarked that one. David & Charles have a Land-Rover History by Graham Robson on the way, to meet the millionth Land-Rover to leave the Solihull assembly lines, expected in the summer. There is also said to be an Allard history and/or a pictorial publication on this sporting make— maybe both—in the pipeline.—W.B.