Bugatti Magnum

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Bugatti Magnum by Hugh Conway with Maurice Sauzay. 559 pp. 12%” x 9Y2″. G T Foulls & Co Ltd, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, BA22 £150.00

When a book costs £150, has 559 pages, 873 illustrations and weighs 81b 14oz in its slipcase, it merits a little more space than we devoted to the review of this Haynes/Foulis colossus last month. This work by the late Hugh Conway, CBE, in conjunction with Maurice Sauzay, has not had a 100% ecstatic reception. One reviewer feels that the design is lacklustre, not enough information is provided on the various Bugatti types and other aspects of the Ettore Bugatti story, and that too many of the splendidly presented pictures have appeared in Conway’s earlier books. Even Bugantics is not altogether enthusiastic.

However, surely what was in mind was to present, in a coffee table form, much Bugatti material between two covers and to enhance the pictures by the enlargement such a book size makes possible? Those who have read all Conway’s previous books and articles will find repetition, in his coverage of the Bugatti patents, his analysis of Molsheim engineering and design philosophy and the way of life of the Bugatti family, for example. But here all this is, in one vast tome. I admit to disappointment at the juxtaposition of black and white with colour pictures, unfilled spaces on some pages, and at the price one would have expected 100% foolproof proof reading, whereas some errors are apparent — Targo Florio twice, “Black Bess” described on one page as still in the Peter Hampton collection, a few pages further on as owned (as it is) by David Heimann, and DSJ’s first name given incorrectly. And the absence of the index is noted.

Having said that, let’s browse through it again and pick up some appealing aspects. We like the Baby Peugeot on a typical French road in 1913, the many shots of the rare chain-drive cars, and the engine photographs and drawings are excellent. Bugatti Motor Show stands add interest and one notes that at the 1926 Paris Salon the Lorraine Dietrich and Bugatti stands seem to converge. It was rather unkind to show the BOC President having a difficult moment at a Chalfont hillclimb! At that Salon a GP Bugatti is seen raised on a dais and appears to be covered in race victory plaques. The picture of M Lescure in military uniform showing off his T50 to Army personnel indicates that even in the 1930s the French were using Peugeot Army trucks with oil or gas headlamps. Kaye Don in the 154 in close company with Bertram’s 10 Y2-litre Delage on the Brooklands’ banking gets a full page — Dixon’s “fast Riley” in the background is actually the 9hp “Red Mongrel”. So a fine browsing book . . . With a replacement Bugatti front axle costing nearly 17 times as much, the book is not expensive by such standards. But buying the Bugatti video, also reviewed last month, another Conway commercial venture, you save over £90. WB Shire Publications Ltd of Princes Risborough have reprinted their little £1.75 book, Vintage Motor Cars, which is an admirable introduction to the subject, with a 30/98 chassis drawing and 44 rare and clear pictures which should please even the converted. WB The Mini is in the news, having celebrated its 30th birthday last year. So John Brigden’s book The Sporting Minis, in MRP of Croydon’s Collector’s Guide series is opportune. It is about the Mini-Cooper, Mini-Cooper S, and 1275 GT cars, with lots of clear pictures and the expected tables of specifications, production and performance figures, etc. A good buy, at £12.95, for those keen on quick Minis. WB Raymond Laurence Rimell has written The Airship VC, about Capt. Leefe Robinson who shot down a zeppelin. over London in 1915, basing this on his earlier fascinating book Zeppelin!. Much of this newer work, obtainable from Aston Publication of Bourne End, Bucks, is aimed at aviation historians but it does contain pictures of the RFC Crossley which took the hero from Windsor Castle after his VC investiture, the Prince Henry Vauxhall he bought with the donations made to him by a grateful public, and some of the cars that were driven to Cuffley to see the zeppelin’s remains (can you identify the makes?). Very intriguing period material but I would take issue with Rimell that Mytchett Camp is in Kent or that the R-R Falcon, RAF and Renault were in-line aero-engines. The Leefe family letters make much of the book, which costs £14.95. WB

PSL Ltd of Wellingborough have published an addition to motorists’ DIY books, The Car Restorer’s Workshop Companion by Geoff Purnes (160 pages, £9.95), which is essentially a book with a workshop background. Thus it covers screwcutting, with massive dimensional tables, riveting, the correct use of drills and reamers (more tables) and it deals with metals, working in wood, even bearing materials and a great deal more besides, such as welding, using glues, and lathes and fibreglass and handtools and so on. Useful! The author has been restoring cars, such as a single-seater A7 and an (unnamed) 1913 cyclecar, teaches at evening classes, and hails from Southport where the sand racing came from. Reassuring! WB Haynes/Foulis have come up with a big 192 page picture book Classic American Convertibles by Thierry Emptas and Francois Lemeunier. It is new, although the title seemed to suggest to me an earlier book. If you like this sort of thing, this is the book you will probably buy (at £24.95). When I read If automobiles fascinate you because of their performance and mechanical beauty, skip these pages”, I thought at first they applied to the book itself; but I now see that they relate only to the 1948 Chrysler Town & Country . . .! The huge colour illustrations are excellent, except that unfortunately they are all too often dissected, being too large even for the 12″ x 9″ page size. WB

Of appeal to commercial vehicle buffs, MRP of Croydon have come up with Classic Hauliers by Bob Tuck, covering the operation of 15 well-known haulage firms, three of them from yesteryear. It is priced at £12.95.

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