"The Batsford Guide to Vintage Sports and Racing Cars"

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“The Batsford Guide to Vintage Sports and Racing Cars” by Anthony Harding. 200 pp. 7 1/2 in. x 4 3/4 in. (B.T. Batsford Ltd., 4, Fitzhardinge Street, London, WI OAH).

This is a very jolly little package, dedicated to the inimitable Sam Clutton, who started it all by his enthusiasm for vintage cars, and his writings about them in Motor Sport during the war years, after a fine beginning in the pre-war VSCC Bulletins, culminating in his standard work on the vintage sports car and the pocketbook which Anthony Harding; then of Batsford’s, later persuaded him to compile. Now Anthony himself has given us an enlargement on this theme, a reference book, nicely presented and illustrated, for, shall we say, larger pockets. Whereas Sam kept to road-goers, Tony has coupled these to the pure racing stuff of the period Which his survey covers.

Having been cited as one of Tony’s friends who read the typescript. I can hardly look for errors at this stage and if I did Wouldn’t find any—apart from those which have crept, as errors do, into a few headings and captions. For instance, the racing Calthorpe depicted isn’t, as it says, the very slim Whale car (surely it is the Woolf Barnato car ?), and the Zborowski Higham Special (later “Babs”) wasn’t made near Sevenoaks, but, in fact, at Bridge, which is near Canterbury, and has recently been by-passed.

One shudders occasionally on seeing photographs of .vintage cars taken in modern times but Harding more than makes up with this by putting in some rare contemporary ones—Nuvolari’s Alfa Romeo after winning the 1930 TT, a Beardmore at Aston Clinton, Miller’s Bianchi at Brooklands, a BNC at Amersham hill-climb (Driskell, surely ?), sports Clyno (but non-sports Marseel), a Targa Florio Gala and so on—and there is a good Motor picture of Gwenda Hawkes’ Derby-Miller in the Paddock at Brooklands. To widely-read students of the subject this little work may not reveal much that is new but as a splendid mind-refresher and a good “browser” it is highly recommended.

The author gives us an excellent note of explanation for the appearance of this little book, in which he excuses a sometimes light-hearted approach by saying he hopes this will “help the bores down the strokes”— or I suppose help stroke down the bores(!), and in which he recalls Cecil Clutton once Saying that “there is no historical fact about motoring history that cannot be proved wrong”. But he continues to quote top speeds of the racing and LSR cars and wheelbases, tyre sizes and final-drive ratios in many cases —brave man!—W.B.