Bentley Special & Special Bentleys, by Ray Roberts. 440pp. 11″x 8″. GT Foulis & Co Ltd, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, 8A22 7JJ. £75.00.
First impressions could be so wrong in respect of yet another impressive book about Bentleys. The idea of Bentley Specials conjures up thoughts of Mk VI saloons cut down into Specials when perhaps they should have been restored to their original state.
While Ray Roberts’ book covers such Bentley Specials, indeed deals with a great many of them and their amateur and professional constructors, these are by no means the only non-standard Bentleys to be described, and illustrated with some of the clearest black-and-white photographic reproductions I have seen for some time.
There is some repetition, of how WO Bentley raced his DFPs and built the great Cricklewood cars, and each edition of the illustrious make is described in basic form, down to the Derby cars. Indeed, there is interesting information about all manner of Bentley matters, such as model Bentleys, including the pedal cars, mascots and badges, badge colours, experimental cars, even details of marine Bentley Specials and how the Bentley name has been used. Then dashboard layouts get six pages to themselves, showing 19 well-stocked examples, and here the clear photographs are seen to great effect. However, in the main it is the Bentley Specials which are detailed and illustrated, and how the author, who is Chairman of the Midland Region of the BDC and a bookseller of out-of-print transport titles, was able to gather all the data together is quite remarkable. It is an incredible feat, each Bentley dealt with under its Reg No, with statistics of engine and chassis numbers, engine size, and date of first registration, followed by descriptions of each car’s modifications and history — I can only use again the description “formidable,” so fully justified in this case.
The Special Bentleys side of the book brings in such cars as the Forrest Lycett 8-litre, “Bluebelle” and suchlike, masses of them, all entirely fascinating and informative. Even comparatively standard cars used in competition are not overlooked, Bevan’s 4-1/2-litre for example, which was raced at Brooklands and is mentioned in my Brooklands History — I am taken to task for not identifying the car, apart from saying it was a 4-1/2–litre, but, sorry Mr Roberts, no engine or chassis numbers were available to me in the BARC records.
Space precludes listing the vast number of Special Bentleys and Bentley Specials which Ray has laid bare for our edification, but the book’s scope can be appreciated when I say that the index lists no fewer than 740 personalities! In addition there are chapters on guide-lines for Club racing, notes on the BDC, a brief illustrated racing history of the Bentley, a chronology of Bentley happenings, an amusing miscellany of accidents and incidents, a table of the 100 mph 3-litre cars, and Bentley references listed by chassis numbers, etc. Did I say formidable? It’s almost too much to absorb at one sitting. The drawings and photographs exceed 750 and there are fine colour plates to embellish each section. One of the most satisfying Bentley books ever, with so much hitherto unpublished information to explore. The price must be regarded in that context. The BDC’s Patron, Stanley Sedgwick has written an appreciative forward. — WB
The Memoirs of a Motorsporting Clergyman, by Rupert Jones. 123pp. 7-1/4″ x 9-3/8″. Richard Netherwood Limited. £17.95
The interest in classic rallying would not be what it is in Britain today were it not for the likes of people like Marcus Chambers, Peter Riley, Pat Moss, Les Leston and Peter Jopp who pioneered the sport in the Fifties when it was in danger of going into terminal decline. Of all these, there is one name which will not be familiar to many but who typified the gentlemanly approach to the sport in that era –Rupert Jones.
‘The Bishop’ as he soon became known because of his religious beliefs and his avowed intention of joining the Church, was born into the sport. Even as a youngster he was embroiled in competitive motoring, acting as ballast in his father’s three-wheeled attempts in early post-war MCC trials before joining the army and forming a motorcycle trials team.
Although his subsequent career in motor sport activities was not particularly distinguished, it was obvious that he took to it like a duck to water. While at Cambridge University he became involved with students who had a similar passion for motor racing and this encouraged him to go even further.
It was a phone call from Peter Riley which propelled him into international rallying and a long association with Austin Healeys and then Minis in various rallies which today are honoured as classic re-runs. This book is written in a light-hearted style and imbues the text with the spirit of bonhomie which was so evidently abroad in international rallying in the Fifties and Sixties. — WPK
Academy Books are a new motoring publisher and are producing the type of books that will be of serious interest to many Motor Sport readers.
Two such recent titles are Lanchester Cars 1895-1956 by Tony Freeman and Daimler and Lanchester — An illustrated History also by Tony Freeman. The former is an A4 softback book which sells for £11.95 while the latter is a hardback book of the same dimensions which retails for £19.95.
Since the books seem to overlap in content, one may be tempted that the books interlock too much and might be tempted to go for one and not the other, particularly if Lanchester is the preferred marque, but to do so would be missing out on a great deal of well presented research. Each publication contains a number of reprints from contemporary magazines which give a view of the cars at the time while Freeman’s knowledge in this sphere comes through in the rest of the text. The publishers have been clever in acquiring a good number of contemporary photographs which are liberally printed throughout the book. Both books should appeal to all motoring historians as well as enthusiasts of the Daimler and Lanchester marques. — WPK
Autocourse, Edited by Alan Henry. 288pp. 9″x 12-1/4″. Hazleton Publishing, 3 Richmond Hill, Richmond, Surrey TW10 6RE. £22.95
This is the motor racing annual which blows every other one in the same field out of the water because it is so concise, analytical and interesting. Apart from the valuable race by race report, illustrated with some of the best colour photographs around, there are a good number of timeless interesting features to read including the Editor’s top 10 drivers.
What I personally found particularly fascinating were the Technical Files by Giorgio Piola which neatly explains each car’s modifications as the season progresses. It may be the aerodynamics, a suspension set-up alteration or the use of a new designation engine, everything is recorded for posterity down to the minutest detail and explained so that even those with minimal knowledge can understand.
The book finishes with a review of the United States scene, including an IndyCar top 10, and reviews of Formula 3000, the World-Sports Prototype Championship, European Touring Cars and Formula 3.
1990 Esso British Touring Car Championship, MCEG Virgin Vision. 180 mins. £9.99
Presented by Steve Rider and with commentary by Murray Walker, this three hour video is every bit as exciting as 78/71 . . . A Clear Decision!
Although the Esso British Touring Car Championship only had two winners last year, the racing was always exciting and close. One of the many strengths of the video is the fact that it does not concentrate on the leading group, but highlights the fascinating battles that took place for the 2-litre championship. Frank Sytner in his BMW M3 is always in the thick of the action up against his main adversary John Cleland in the 2-litre Vauxhall Cavalier.
The in-car footage is fabulous, both from the rear facing camera as well as from the front, and it has been perfectly edited to match outside shots.
At £9.99 this video is almost at a giveaway price and should be a must for all fans. — WPK