by Anthony Harding, Warren Allport, David Hodges and John Davenport. 251pp. 10” x 8”. (Guinness Superlatives Ltd, 33 London Road, Enfield, Middlesex. £12.95.)
Trivia buffs need look no further – Guinness has turned its attention to the history of the automobile on road and track.
This is a very different exercise from Motor Racing – The Records, a results-and-tables compilation published by the same house last year. For here the myriad of facts of all shapes and sizes is presented by means of a commentary, which makes it a more intriguing volume to dip into on a rainy day.
Chronological chapters covering road transport, racing and rallying are joined by alphabetical sections on designers, drivers and marques. Each is packed with facts and dates (and occasionally lists), although in the case of the chronologies it is difficult to locate any particular snippet of information you require.
A more serious complaint, however, is a lack of proportion between the various sections when lumped together in one volume. For example, racing drivers need World Champion status (or its American or pre-1950 equivalent) merely to qualify for a brief career-outline, whereas much lesser lights from the field of rallying are deemed to merit a whole page; again, fine archive pictorial coverage is afforded to road-car and sporting chronologies, yet make-by-make histories are obliged to stand with the aid of precious few photographs.
The overriding impression this creates is that each of the illustrious authors has been given rather more editorial freedom within his section than is good for the book’s overall balance as an organ of record. A case of too many cooks?
The result is a teaser of a reference book. It contains an unquantifiable number of facts, many of which are either of central importance to the development of the automobile or simply of trivial interest to the casual enthusiast – and many of which you never knew you wanted to know and could never relocate if you did!