Important One-Make Histories

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One-make histories are among the more fascinating of the floods of motoring titles pouring from the presses, and we have reviewed most of them as they have appeared. However, it may not be appreciated that some extremely-comprehensive and magnificently-illustrated books are available covering some of the great French marques. One such history is that about the Peugeot Freres, covering almost every car the Peugeot brothers have ever made, including the racing cars. One of the “Collection Prestige de l’Automobile” series, the title is simply “Peugeot sous le Signe de Lion”. Pierre Dumont is the author and he seems to have combed the Peugeot archives and other sources for a picture of every model of this famous make. The racing jobs, both pre and post-war, obviously are of great appeal, but as one delves more deeply into this remarkable 426-page history one sees that it is extremely informative, whatever period of history the reader is concerned with. The pre-WW1 “Bebe” gets excellent coverage, but then so do all the different Peugeot models, from 1891 primitive to the Types 104 and 304. Military vehicles, tractors and diesel commercials are not overlooked and the small post-WW1 7 h.p. (or 5cv.) Peugeots get full coverage, like all the others, even to pictures of the sports editions of the tiny 7/12 and 7/17. If you have forgotten the three-wheeled electric VLV it is there in full colour, a treatment used for many of the more significant Peugeots. There are scenes from Le Mans, many pictures of those elegant sleeve-valve models, old advertisements, factory shots, drawings of body-styling, chassis plans, reproductions of publicity leaflets etc. etc., the whole moulded by an informative text and numerous specification details. Why, there is even a breakdown of Peugeot production year by year and model by model — and they had made more than 10-million vehicles by 1975. Some of the engine-pictures are almost life-size, or so it seems but in many cases, why I wonder, radiator hoses are lacking.

It is all there, in this “Dalton-Watson” style high-class production, with those colour pages as a bonus. The text is entirely in French but the picture-captions are also given in English. Apart from the technical facts and historic revelations, there are many pleasing asides, such as the fact that in 1926 the proud Frenchman who was still using a 1903 Peugeot drove it from the Jura to Paris, where it was met by a current 18 h.p. saloon. For any serious historian or Peugeot fanatic this great work is essential, and so very enjoyable.

A similar book, “Panhard, La Doyenne d’Advant Garde”, covers the entire history of Panhard, the oldest can maker in the World. It is in the same series and in exactly the same exciting format as the Peugeot book, this one running to 493 pages and carrying pictures too innumerable to count! Whereas Serge Pozzoli wrote a Preface to the Peugeot history, this one has a Preface by Jean Panhard. The Panhard author is Benoit Perot and he takes his story up to present-day Panhard military-vehicle production. Racing is very reasonably covered, so that we are reminded of how very fast specialised small cars can be. The DB-Panhards are seen at Le Mans and elsewhere, including one doing 125.44 miles in the hour at Montlhery. From an earlier period come the big sports and racing Panhards, with the two different bodies used on George Eyston’s 8-litre single-seater hour-record car properly illustrated, for instance. (Eyston told me this car was very hard to steer round Montlhery because its steering was set for straight-line sprints and there is confirmation of this in an interesting photograph of Dore driving the car at Arpajon, at 138 m.p.h. along the straight but narrow, tree-lined road. There are also excellent pictures, among the hundreds of photographs and drawings, of the 4.9-litre racing Panhards and new ones, to me, of the 1 1/2-litre and 5-litre “razor-blade” racers in which the steering wheel, or ring, encircled the driver. Panhards in rallies are not forgotten and in fact the book is absolutely comprehensive, down to Panhard-Levassor aero engines, tanks, commercial-vehicles’, buses, an explanation of the Panhard sans soupapes power unit, and a very fine picture of how torsion bars were used instead of conventional valve springs for the air-cooled flat-twin Dyna-Panhard engine, all this unfolding from the formative pioneer times literally of carriages without horses.

Having these Peugeot and Panhard books together, it is fascinating to see how the two great Companies competed one with the other along the years, and who among the famous used one make of car or the other, if they were not in Renaults! These two volumes give a simply tremendous amount of information on two great French makes and other books in the same series do this for Citroen and Bugatti.

Rather different is Jean-Pierre Delville’s great (in all senses of the word) book “Toutes les Renault”, by Rene Bellu. Whereas the two books just mentioned have big pages measuring 9 1/4″ x 7″, this Renault history has 314 13 1/2″ x 9 1/4″ pages. It is more of a catalogue than the other two volumes, taking the story of all the Renault models year by year, from 1898 to 1980, with pictures of every conceivable model, shown mostly in colour side elevations, with accompanying technical data. Having done that, ending with the Renault 30, the remaining pages are devoted to pictorial coverage of Renaults in competition events from 1899 to 1909, special bodywork on these cars after 1920, the Colonial six-wheeled Renault transports, Renault record-breakers, rally cars, prototypes, Presidential Renaults, Renault in war, the Renault turbine cars, Alpine-Renaults — the mind boggles at where all the fine pictures were found — concluding, as if the treat has not been sufficient already, with colour studies of some of the racing Renaults and 25 pages of Renault publicity material over the years. It is a stupendous achievement and in this “Toutes les . . .” series are similar volumes covering Citroen, Peugeot, Panhard-Levassor, Delage, Fiat, Ford and Mercedes — an almost inexhaustible guide to everything that happened under those makers’ banners.

There is a wealth of intriguing photographs of racing Renaults of every period when this marque was active on the circuits, most of these obviously from the Company’s own archives.

This Renault book is all in French but all these titles, these quite outstanding books, are available in this country from Albion Scott Ltd., Bercourt House, York Road, Brentford, Middlesex TW8 0QP. The Peugeot book costs £19.95, the Panhard-Levassor book £22.50, and “Toutes les Renaults” £39.95. They will not only enthral those who relish reading about the past but will be invaluable to those restoring the makes concerned, those looking at such cars in museums, or those who just enjoy fine pictures of cars; and the number of illustrations in any one of these works is, I assure you, quite fantastic! – W.B.

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Commercial-vehicle followers will find much to hold their interest in the “Motoring History Book No. 5” from Australia, because it illustrates many such vehicles, of the 1905 to 1931 period, which, in their time used the roads of Southern Australia. The book has been edited by George Brooks, which is endorsement of its authenticity, and is produced by the South Australian Sporting Car Club, Inc., of 260, Portrush Road, Beulah Park, S. Australia, 5067. The big art-pages contain some rare pictures, collated under makes. A 1913 Model-T Ford is seen with a platform-truck body by Duncan & Fraser of Adelaide, in which the luckless driver apparently sat on the floor of the body, with no backrest. Nothing could be more simple, and the bulb horn and oil lamps testify to that policy. A Reo Speed-Wagon has much the same body, but does possess a simple driver’s seat. Those one-time proud fleet line-ups of a Company’s commercial vehicles is recalled by a photograph of six Associated Daimlers belonging to W. Gibb & Sims Ltd. taken around 1928, as do the 14 International trucks with which John Dring replaced 40 horse-teams in 1930. An automatic bag-loader on an Associated Daimler catches the eye and altogether this book is full of interest, including as it does hire cars, long-distance motor services, taxis, even a Huck’s-Starter plugged in to a RAAF SE5a biplane, and a rare Ruggles truck, etc. — W.B.

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Presumably to meet the likelihood of Citizens Band Radio becoming legal, if not in the most useful form, The Cherwell Press, Unit 2, Station Field Industrial Estate, Kidlington, Oxford, OX5 1JD has just published a little booklet of CB call-language compiled by Steve Braithwaite. It costs £2.20 and runs to lots of British as well as all the American lingo. Whether conducting a conversation while on the move, like: “Houndog, are you in a yellow Volkswagen Beetle?” “Yes I am Wildcat, I have just seen you. You are in the Mercedes truck with the cab over the engine, towing a refrigeration unit”, is conducive to road safety is a matter for conjecture, as is the matter of whether the Police like being described in these radio exchanges as “Porky Bears”. . . — W.B.

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Very few steam wagons and tractors were built by Naylor of Hereford, a company that survives to this day as Watkins Naylor Ltd., making tractor-mounted grass-cutters, but a very good copy of their catalogue about these early vehicles is available from The Road Locomotive Society, Oak Lea, Moss Lane, Mobberley, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 7BU, for £1.50 post-free.

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Elsewhere we refer to three important one-make histories about French cars, available from Albion Scott Ltd. of Brentford. This Company also offers a book about Wanderer cars, including their sports models, starting with Wanderer motorcycles and light-cars, and with lots of technical information about these rare German cars. The book is by Gerhard Mirsching and is un-translated. The price is £16.95.

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The Guild of Motoring Writers announces that its Year Book, which is packed with useful information about the contacts in the Motor Industry, etc., is available to non-members, libraries, etc. for £17.50. The 1980/81 edition is a 400-page informative, illustrated “Who’s Who” of the British Motor Industry. Orders to The General Secretary, GMW, Fairfield, Pyrford Woods, Woking, Surrey, GU22 8QT. — W.B.

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