Book Reviews, May 1955, May 1955



“Veterans of the Road,” by Elizabeth Nagle, with Technical Data by Dennis Field, A.M.I.E.E. 239 pp., 5 1/2 in. by 8 1/2 in. (Arco Publishing Co., Ltd., 10, Fitzroy Street, London, W.1. 18s.)

Most of the big motoring undertakings have their story recorded and it is only right and proper that there should be a book devoted to the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain. “Veterans of the Road” is this book, written with characteristic thoroughness by Elizabeth Nagle, the Club Secretary.

The title is somewhat misleading in consequence, inasmuch as this is a book about the V.C.C. rather than about veteran cars. The treatment is that the body of the book is devoted to a history and commendation of the V.C.C., but a supplement is added, comprising a picture and potted history of 85 veteran cars, one to each art page, ranging from the 1815 Grenville steam carriage in Bristol Museum to a 1916 Saxon.

The supplement is likely to be studied first, for it is a fascinating pictorial presentation of veteran and Edwardian cars, although we would have liked each car to be associated with a V.C.C. member, whereas in some cases manufacturers’ hand-out pictures have been used, for instance of the 1911 Jowett and 1897 Lanchester.

Naturally, with such a wealth of material at her disposal Miss Nagle has had to pare down anecdotes and condense history. Even so, a fascinating story unfolds of the V.C.C.’s formation, early development and subsequent glorious career. One feels that if any criticism is justified it is that Miss Nagle is too close to the task to be entirely unbiased, so that her story is rather a catalogue of laudatory reminiscence, lacking data on those set-backs and minor storms without which few, if any, organisations of this sort attain stature and greatness. Moreover, Miss Nagle’s fairly recent association with the V.C.C., which she joined as Assistant Secretary about four years ago, is probably the reason why the book contains less on the earlier Club events than we had hoped, while considerations of space have no doubt led the authoress to catalogue the smaller post-war V.C.C. fixtures, instead of refreshing our minds as to their salient features. For the same reason many people who have operated veteran cars or helped to winkle out examples now in the Club will be disappointed that their names do not appear in “Veterans of the Road.”

Some interesting collections of veteran cars are described and most of the famous V.C.C. personalities come to life at the bidding of Miss Nagle’s pen, although the pioneer efforts of R.G.J. Nash and C.S. Burney in the horseless carriage field at Brooklands are left out. We would have expected a list of members and a tabulated record of awards won in V.C.C. events, but were disappointed.

That said and done, this book is recommended to anyone seeking to discover what the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain is all about and to re-read of its great achievements such as the Brighton Run, Coronation Rally, Continental tours and the re-run of the 1,000 Mile Trial of 1903 in the 1903 Cadillac in 1953 and the Club’s part in the filming of the successful film “Genevieve” will prove of absorbing interest.

The rebuilding of veteran cars to the exceedingly high standard which most members of the V.C.C. achieve is covered and a chapter, “Veteran Vernacular,” describes some of the technical points of typical veterans which would otherwise be mystic to those acquainted with modern and vintage machinery.—W. B.

“B.A.R.C. Year Book, 1955.” 182 pp., 5 1/2 in. by 8 1/2 in. (British Automobile Racing Club, 55, Park Lane, London, W.I. 5s.)

This useful annual work of reference is now in its third year. It packs a great deal of invaluable information to motor-racing enthusiasts between its covers, the front one of which features Stirling Moss in his Maserati. Besides the usual plans of famous circuits, routes to Continental venues, race results, B.A.R.C. race winners and speeds, speed tables for the three B.A.R.C. circuits, fixture lists, conversion tables and the like—much of which seems to have been reprinted from the 1954 edition, including an error in the lap-distance of Montlhery’s banked track—there are absorbing new articles by such authorities as John Cooper, S.C.H. Davis, David Brown, W. Boddy, Raymond Baxter and Stanley Sedgwick, as well as some excellent illustrations. Amongst annuals, this one is a “must.”

” A.B.C. of Sports Cars,” by Albert Douglas. 65 pp, 4 in. by 6 in. (Ian Allen Ltd. 2s.)

Uniform with other books in the Ian Allen “A.B.C.” series, the contents of this one are self-explanatory from the title. With a photograph of almost every car described, a “potted history” of each make, a specifications table, and including as it does such makes as Buckler, Connaught, Cooper, H.W.M., Kieft, Leonard. Lister and Lotus, as well as the more obvious makes, this is excellent value and just the job for the breast-pocket.

“The Motor Year Book-1955,” by Laurence Pomeroy, F.R.S.A. M.S.A.E., and R. L. de Burgh Walkerley. 256 pp., 7 1/2 in. by 10 in. (Temple Press Ltd., Bowling Green Lane, London, E.C.1. 15s.)

This annual is always welcome and this year is better than before, with a more handsome dust-jacket, less descriptive matter relating to new cars, but more spacious treatment of other aspects of last year’s motoring, including a long, illustrated description of the Anglo-American Vintage-Car Rally.

There are articles by various experts such as Philip Turner, Eric G. Cushion, D.B. Tubbs and Desmond Scannell, the last-named dealing with problems of race organisation.

Road-test figures secured by the Motor in 1954 are summarised (but we miss the text accompanying this particular summary), races and other competitions are dealt with at considerable length, the European Motor Shows of last year are described, and car radio has a chapter to itself. Formula I racing cars occupy a chapter, with a full-page drawing of the W196 Mercedes-Benz.

The Year Book is rendered useful by reason of World Specification Tables, tabulated race and rally results, with brief reports, and a record of how racing drivers fared in 1954. Brockbank’s best cartoons enliven the technical material and the frontispiece is a splendid photograph of Hawthorn after winning at Barcelona.

Tubbs covers motoring hooks, rather curiously omitting “The Racer,” by Hans Ruesch, from recent motor-racing fiction, in referring to the “Lightning Conductor,” he again makes the mistake of referring to one of the veterans therein as a Benz, whereas the V.C.C. has explained that it is an Orient Express. Racing circuits are listed, with data, and under “Obituary” it is nice to see only one entry this time—that of Onofre Marimon.

There is an absorbing new chapter on air-drag as revealed from the Motor road tests, from which it is emphasised that the only cars tested in 1954 which needed less than 18 h.p. to propel them at 60 m.p.h. were the Standard Ten (16.9 h.p.), Volkswagen (17.1 h.p.), D.K.W. (17.2 h.p.) and Triumph TR2 (17.9 h.p.—hood and sidescreens erect). These are claimed to be true test figures, not calculated figures. The Fords, Anglia and Zephyr, show very poor aerodynamic efficiency. [Which is why I prefer a tapered to a “square” motor car.—Ed.)

The Motor Year Book is printed on good-quality paper and abounds in pleasing photographs and illustrations: We would not readily be without it.—W. B.

“Motoring,” by Phil Drackett. 84 pp., 4 1/2 in. by 7 1/4 in. (W.G. Foyle, Ltd., 119/125, Charing Cross Road, London, W.C.2. 2s. 6d.)

This little book on the buying, driving and maintenance of a car in Foyle’s Handbooks series, is truly remarkable value. Drackett packs something about almost every aspect of motoring into the restricted space at his disposal. He deals with learning to drive. road safety, choosing a second-hand car, buying a new car, with brief details of the makes available, insurance, clubs, one-make, regional and national publications (of Motor Sport the author writes : “Popular features are it’s classified ad. columns and the outspoken comments of the Editor, W. Boddy” and other publications, from Austin Magazine to Vintage and Thoroughbred Car, are outlined and prices quoted), car repairs and hints on taking a car abroad.

This is a thoroughly worthwhile half-crown’s worth for the novice, at which the experts have no need to sneer.—W.B.

National Benzole have issued the second edition of their delightful work entitled “Our National Heritage,” which illustrates and describes 34 diverse beauty spots in Britain, with their map locations. Of a page size of 8 in. by 10 in., copies are available free of charge from the National Benzole Company, Ltd., Wellington house, Buckingham Gate, London, S.W.1, if you mention Motor Sport.