Cars in books, May 1959

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Not very much this time—and in any case, isn’t it time literary-minded readers helped me out?

In that extremely readable book “From Pillar to Post,” by Anne Sinclair Mehdevi (Victor Gollanez, 1956), one comes upon reference to a taxi-owner in Piriares who, referred to his two cars as an Oakland and a Pontiac, respectively, but the Oakland “ran on Dodge wheels, an Essex engine, had a Fiat steering-wheel and a Renault spare. It also had a locally manufactured contrivance for burning almond shells as fuel.”

In “Boo to My Friends,” by Evelyn Laye (Hurst & Blackett, 1958), there appears a picture of a Chrysler of the ‘thirties. against which Miss Laye poses, captioned as the second car to be fitted with a wireless set in this country  — presumably a built-in radio is implied, because Daimler, Bean and Calthorpe cars carried wireless sets in 1924/5. In the text Miss Laye, who was earning the equivalent today of £300 a week in 1921, refers to being able to afford to buy a car!   What puzzles me is that she chose a Lagonda, which Sonnie Hale drove for her, because it was the “smartest one of the time.”  Now I think even the Lagonda Club will agree that the 11.9 Lagonda of 1923 wasn’t especially handsome. Had Evelyn Laye implied a few years later she could have a 2-litre Speed Model, but she says 1923 and the year named I have checked against her age, and it is correct. Strange!  —  W.B.