The Advanced Driver’s Handbook, by Margaret Stacey. Kogan Page, £8.99.
Since around 95% of crashes are due to human error, perhaps the concept of ‘advanced’ driving should be renamed ‘essential’ driving. Those who want to improve on the minimum skills the driving test requires might do worse than to absorb the safety messages in this new paperback, which runs through the hidden risks at every hazard and how to minimise them. Chapters on ‘Good Driving Practices’ and ‘Defensive Driving Techniques’ combine the IAM and ROSPA approaches, and the various advanced tests are described too.
Perhaps the theory sections, while all good sense, are rather laboured — analysing ‘perceptual motor skills’ tends to make the book look heavy-going, but the large number of illustrations reinforces the message in each sample situation and should help the memory as you try to absorb some life-saving advice.
Bubblecars & Microcars — the family album, by Andrea and David Sparrow. Veloce, £12.99.
Bubble cars are history now, but for those who cannot forget them Veloce have come up with the facts about some of the faintly remembered Bubble cars and Microcars, which are written up and painstakingly depicted in startling colour, using Leica cameras and Kodachrome film. They are concerned with Heinkel & Trojan, Janus, Isetta, Ladybird, Messerschmitt, Peel Trident, Shelter and Velorex bubbles.
The Rolls-Royce Crew, by Nahum, Foster-Pegg and Birch. R-R Heritage Trust, £7.50.
Another Rolls-Royce book, equally valuable to aeroengine folk, is No 21 in the R-R Heritage Trust series, a very detailed 135 page history of this remarkable engine in all its variants, well illustrated and appendixed. Did you realise that after Capt G E T Eyston had used a Kestrel engine in his record-breaking “Speed of the Wind” he used a diesel version in the car, renamed “Flying Spray”, the sleeve valve power unit detuned by Ricardo from 350 to 250 bhp to lift diesel records to 159 mph in 1936 and that Castrol paid for this engine. It still exists. R-R HT members can enjoy this highly informative look-back to R-R aero-engine history for £5, non-members for £7.50, from Richard Haigh, R-R HT, PO Box 31, Derby DE24 8B1.
The British Motorcar. DD Video, £10.99.
Although the bland title suggests a dull run-through of family saloons, this proved to be much more entertaining. It’s an assemblage of Pattie newsreel footage covering everything motoring which has a UK flavour, from the record exploits of Parry Thomas and Goldie Gardner to wacky ideas for uncrashable cars; industrial unrest to Cooper’s rear-engined racing revolution. The tone is archetypally Pathe with many mentions of Empire and pretty ‘gels’, and as such sets the context of the period. 55 minutes of entertainment.
Raymond Mays of Bourne, by Michael McGregor. Bourne Civic Satiety, 117 North Road, Bourne, Lincs PE10 9RR, £6.50 post-free.
This book, published to aid the hoped-for Raymond Mays Exhibition in Bourne, contains 130 well reproduced pictures on its A4-size art pages, depicting Mays’s long competition career. They range from his days with the Hillman “Quick Silver” to the advent of the ERA and V16 BRM. Some are old familiars, some are new to me, such as Mays in amateur dramatics, with civic dignitaries, his Bedford van in the ERA days, in his father’s early cars, racing a GP Bugatti (yes!) at Skegness, as a Guards Officer Cadet, etc. It is an excellent record of a great British driver and at the notably modest price, and in a good cause, what more can you need? Order before the supply is exhausted, is my advice.
Wolves in Sheens Clothing, by George F Winguard. Grand Prix Press, 2323 Fairmount Blvd, Eugene, Oregon, 0403 USA, $39.95.
This is a large landscape format book about the more exciting old motor-cars with which the author has come in contact, or has been reminded of, when working on some of them in his restoration business. Thus we find intriguing pictures of the big Mercedes, Fiat, Isotta-Fraschini, Austro-Daimler and Mercer cars of long ago. The seven chapters cover 60 hp Mercedes, with many references to the car Roger Collings drove so very effectively here until recently, 1904 75 hp Fiat, S6I Fiat, KM lsotta-Fraschini, the 37/90 and 38/95 hp Mercedes, the Edwardian Austro-Daimler and the Mercer Raceabout. It is essentially a fun book, but the fresh pictures, not only of these great cars but of their components and historic matter relating to them, are instructive. These 111 pages are redolent of an age long gone and of some of the exciting motor-cars saved therefrom.
The Complete Mini, by Chris Rees. MRP, £16.99.
The well-deserved popularity of the Mini has prompted authors to write lots of hooks about it. Here is another one, compact but describing them all, the year-by-year model changes, their specifications and their performance, including the Cooper versions and the Austin, Morris, Riley and Wolseley-badged cars, not forgetting the Mini Moke. Useful, and up to date.
Land Rover — The Unbeatable 4×4, by K & J Slavin. Haynes, £19.99.
As with the Mini, so with the Land Rover — lots and lots of books. The well-proven work from Haynes has gone into this fourth edition (it was first published in 1981), with the G N Mackie and Col D McDine additions extending the informative book to 360 pages.
>strong>By Brooks Too Broad For Leaping, by Denise McCluggage. Motor Books, London WC2, £15.00.
This collection of 51 short pieces, mostly from Autoweek, by the well-known American journalist, parachute-jumper, skier, racing-driver, rally-competitor, photographer and socialite, as she tells you, is available here from Motor Books in St Martin’s Lane. At first I thought it was awful. Why do so many of the more intelligent Americans come over as so fond of themselves and so very confident? Why do they have such an obsession with death? Ten drivers who are no longer with us are part of the McCluggage “leaps”. I did not understand the book’s title, anyway.
But after the Foreword by Phil Hill, who does not write journalese, and who recommends that we read and enjoy it, I did. And found it was difficult to put the little 284-page softback down. It’s journalese alright; but that kind of writing is infernally clever. So, although I prefer “straight” writing these “leaps”, or is it “brooks” Denise crosses or fails to cross, are compelling, easy reading, sometimes enlightening. Some of her stories you will have heard elsewhere. Never mind! The memories of so many great racing drivers, whom she has interviewed, from Fangio downwards, circuits she recalls, ordinary cars and roads rediscovered — entertaining.
I wish she had not recalled the sorrow of Peter Collins’ last race, or a very personal recollection of her late husband — but journalists cannot resist such stuff. So I was not surprised that the 1955 Le Mans holocaust is there, and that the piece about Ken Purdy involves Zen. If you like such racy reading, this is definitely some of the very best and the book is extremely good value. The pictures are awful.
I hear that a newly published little map of London’s Underground, with ingenious advice about how to make the best use of the Tube and save time while doing so, is in much demand by commuters in the Metropolis. Try it and see! It costs £1.50, from Drumhouse Ltd, 60 Charlotte Road, London, EC2A 301 — or WHSmiths, or your newsagent.
Two for the motorcyclists: The Velocette Saga, by C E “Titch” Allen, BEM, edited by Cyril Ayton (Amulree Publications), and a jolly picture book The Golden Years edited by Rupert Prior (CLB Publishing, £16.95).