Cars in books, May 1991

A little more about the cars used by Clare Sheridan, whose Sahara adventuress with a 1926 Renault we mentioned recently, emerge from a book about her tempestuous career, Cousin Clare by Anit Leslie (Hutchinson, 1976), whereas in her biography, To the Four Winds (Andre Deutsch, 1957), intriguing as this is, Clare does not refer to cars by make. In the former book the Renault is mentioned, and we learn that when in Paris in 1931 she drove about in a Citroën and that her son Dick later had a Ford V8, involved in many smashes, in which he drove from England to Africa and which Clare shipped across the Atlantic to continue her restless travelling in America. It was she who travelled about Europe in 1924 in the sidecar of her brother’s 1922 motorcycle, as we have described previously in Motor Sport, bid goodbye by Winston Churchill and getting as far as Russia. Before that their mother had ridden in the machine to Paris from England, and thought nothing of doing 175 miles in a day in the sidecar when in her seventies, once taking tea with Winston while a puncture was mended.


Peter Garnier sent a photostat from a novel by Ian Hay, Half A Sovereign, published in 1926, in which one of the characters expresses his dislike of a car which met him at St Pancras Station, which had truly sporting features, including “four enormous asbestos-covered exhaust pipes running down the side of the bonnet. . . . At Brooklands the car, for those who like that sort of thing, would have been well enough, but as a domestic conveyance it struck me as vulgar without being funny.”

So here is another mention of Brooklands in a non-motoring book and I seem to remember that Brooklands also comes into one of Ian Hay’s plays. As most of the production cars I can think of with outside exhaust pipes had only three emerging from the bonnet, one wonders what Hay had in mind, if indeed the car really existed. A Duesenburg, perhaps? or a Frazer Nash. — WB