Book Reviews, May 1957, May 1957

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“Motor Racing.” Edited by S. C. H. Davis. 319 pp. 8¾ in. by 52/in. (Seeley, Service and Co., Ltd., 196, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W.C.2. 35s.)

This is a revised edition of volume 33 in the Lonsdale Library series, but the title is rather confusing as it is the second book of this title by Sammy Davis.

This is a thoroughly worth-while book because it does go deeply into the subject of motor-racing, covering many aspects. Stirling Moss writes on Grand Prix Racing, Continental Circuits and British Racing Circuits. The late Ken Wharton contributes a chapter on Hill-climbing and the Duke of Richmond and Gordon one on Race Promotion. The technical side is well covered. Dr. F. Nallinger of Mercedes-Benz writes on Policy of Design, erudite Harry Mundy deals with the Design and Development of Racing Engines, Harry Weslake writes of Cylinder Heads, Carburetters and Supercharging, and the late J. A. Cooper on Suspension. Interesting contributions are Sir William Lyons’ chapter on Racing from the Manufacturer’s Point of View, and his chief engineer, W. M. Heynes, comments on Sports-Car Racing from the Designer’s viewpoint.

Specialists in other fields, such as G. Baird of Girling Ltd., Ivan M. Waller of Lockheed, J. S. Webber of Ferodo, Norman Freeman of Dunlop, W. B. Rowntree of Shell, F. A. Wadsworth of Shell and H. Irving of Champion write, respectively, about disc brakes for racing cars, braking, brake linings, tyres, racing fuels, lubrication and sparking plugs; and John Wyer of David Brown deals with the preparation of sports/racing cars. John Cooper covers 500-c.c. racers and S. C. H. Davis has had a busy time writing chapters on history, famous racing cars, post-1939 developments, fuel injection, design for a “500,” racing in the rain and dress for racing.

So there is practically nothing missing from this book and as it has 140 good illustrations it constitutes an excellent reference or introductory work. Alas, errors have crept in. The Connaught on p. 49 won at Syracuse, not Tripoli, and wasn’t the streamlined car anyway, while the Auto-Union on p. 105 is the original car with transverse leaf-spring suspension but is captioned as a 1936 model, which had torsion-bars. The D-type Jaguar is carelessly captioned, implying it has won three times at Le Mans, whereas earlier victories were with C-types, and the picture on p. 232 of Uhlenhaut and Moss was taken in 1956, not in 1955.

It is unfortunate, too, that not all the mistakes in the original edition have been eliminated. Thus it is unfair to say that only the Duesenbergs were fit and ready for the 1921 French G.P. and the Ballots “not at their best” when Chassagne’s Ballot led the field until a broken petrol pipe caused its retirement. The 1913 Peugeot in plate 18 cannot be a 4½-litre as no such car was built that year, so it is presumably the 5.6-litre, while the valves of the 7.6-litre Peugeot were not “operated through small inverted pistons.” The 1924 G.P. Bugatti did not exactly use “plates bolted to the block to form the outer walls of the jacket,” although there was a small inspection plate at the top of the block, while these engines were not supercharged until 1926, whereas Davis quotes 1925. However, no work of this length is likely to escape errors entirely, and this new, nicely-produced and profusely-illustrated edition of “Motor Racing” should meet many needs. — W. B.

“Automobile Year-1956/57.” Edited by Arni Guichard. 208 pp. 12 ¾ in. by 9 ¼ in. (Edita S.A., 7, rue de Geneve, Lausanne, Switzerland.)

This is the fourth of the eagerly-awaited “Annual Automobile Reviews,” that luxury publication from Switzerland, which is available in English from G. T. Foulis, price 50s. 0d. The 1956/57 edition, as usual full of lavish photographic reproductions and colour plates, garnished with luxury advertising, is full of good things, although the proof-reading of the English edition has had too little care lavished on it and the book seems to become slimmer down the years. The results of last season’s races, rallies and record-attacks are neatly set out, George Wansborough, the economist, writes briefly on Economics of the Automobile Industry, the main layout of coloured plates this time deals with special-bodied dream cars from 320-h.p. Buick Centurion to Abarth Bertone 750, and, to be in the fashion, there is long and comprehensive coverage of jet and turbine propulsion for road vehicles by Jacques Gamier, beautifully illustrated with more colour-plates. Further colour-plates support Gordon Wilkins’ article on the Rolls-Royce Tradition, in which he drags from obscurity some typical R.-R. legends, the same British author surveying the Cars of the Year in pleasing fashion, backed by an illustrated tabulated record of the new cars, not overlooking those from Japan and Russia.

There are full-page head-and-shoulder pictures of Fangio, Behra, Moss and Collins which would be better hung at a distance, and a fully-illustrated review of the 1956 World Championship and other races. This section benefits from fine full-page pictures, several in colour, and lap-charts which steal some of the thunder of a certain English monthly. Competition cars and the main rallies are similarly reviewed and by investing in “Automobile Year” you can save space and money on magazines. — W. B.

“Tim Baker — Motor Mechanic,” by Bruce Carter. 135 pp. 72/5 in. by 42/5 in. (Chatto and Windus Ltd., 40/42, William IV Street, London, W.C.2. 8s. 6d.)

This is a book in Chatto and Windus’ Career Books for Boys which will delight youngsters whose aim is to become racing drivers or sports-car designers, and it will also provide light entertainment for some grown-ups. There is some nice satire at the expense of the used-car trade.

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A new soft-cover “half-crown” in the Ian Allan series is “Historic Cars,” by John Lloyd, which, ranging from 1896 Lutzmann to 1956 Rover T3, provides brief descriptions, specifications and photographs which in many cases are published for the first time. One rather glaring error gives the twin-cam vintage Aston-Martin a detachable head, whereas it had an integral block and head like that of the Ballot engine it resembled.

*

The R.A.C. has issued its “Continental Handbook 1957” to aid those about to embark on Continental motoring. It costs 7s. 6d.

*

The latest “R.A.C. Guide and Handbook, 1957,” is excellent value, running as it does to 692 pages (8¼ in. by 51/8 in.), not counting maps and advertisements, costing as it does 8s. 6d. to R.A.C. members and 10s. to non-members. Primarily an hotel guide with useful street plans of many towns, this handbook also contains information on all manner of motoring matters, sporting and otherwise. It is obtainable from the R.A.C., Pall Mall, London, S.W.1. The atlas alone occupies 64 pages and town plans have been increased in this edition from 76 to 100.

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C. C. Wakefield & Co., Ltd. has issued its annual booklet, “Achievements,” illustrating cars and motor-cycles which achieved competition successes last year using Castrol, the oil your Editor always uses in his (more humble) cars. Many enthusiasts collect “Achievements” each year and thus obtain an excellent free pictorial record of motor racing. Write for your copy now, mentioning Motor Sport, to 46, Grosvenor Street, London, W.1.