Bentley — The Silent Sports Car 1931-1941 by Michael Ellman-Brown. 452 pp. 9″x8W: Dalton Watson, 3 Harbour Exchange Square, Limeharbour, London, E14 9GE. £39.95
I must confess to more than a passing interest in this book. Not only am I a Derby Bentley owner, I am also a former director of the publishers, Dalton Watson in its old school glory days. The interest in the book, though, is even greater than that, for it is a member of my family, Johnnie Green, author of the standard reference book on Bentleys with Bentley, Fifty Years of the Marque who has written the Foreword. The review, let the reader be warned, is hardly going to be that of disinterest.
In the Bentley Drivers Club review for February, the book has been rather panned for the hundreds of silly spelling mistakes. This is not acceptable in any publication, but especially one costing £39.95. Extremely irritating though it is, it should not militate too much against this tome, for its 452 pages are packed with excellent information.
What has been particularly pleasing as an old boy is that Ellman-Brown has used as many contemporary photographs as possible. A number have been seen before, but how much more valid original photographs are, compared to pretty, glossy colour ones taken last year which show what purports to be an original but which, in the rebuild, has been subtly altered. It may only be different door handles or interior trim, but it may also be something more serious such as reprofiled wings. Contemporary photographs show the car as it was.
A number of pages are devoted to press comment of the day. Too many pages in my view and whereas they admirably capture the spirit of the times, I personally found them repetitious and boring. The layout is a mess, there seems to be no running order. How I wish I could get my hands on the layout and present the book as it should be!
To sum up: as a publisher, I would be angry with myself for producing a worthy book which had been sloppily handled in the production stage. As the author, I would be satisfied that I had fairly exhaustively covered the model, but as a Derby owner, I have to say it is essential reading. WPK