“The Other Battle,” by Donovan M. Ward (B.S.A. Ltd.).
This is another full-length (180 page) professionally-produced book about the part played by a great British industrial organisation during the 1939-45 war. It is extremely well presented, with some magnificent colour-plate illustrations, and tells well a story of preparation, blitz and difficulties overcome. Much of Donovan Ward’s story concerns happenings during the raids on Coventry and the subsequent high-priority dispersal of the vital B.S.A. plant, a most absorbing “inside story.” However much one dislikes glorification of war and the organisation of individuals until they become little more than unidentifiable pieces in a vast jig-saw puzzle, one cannot lay down this book on these accounts. The story is so vivid, so fascinating, that personal prejudice succumbs to an interest-factor maintained at a high level throughout. The heroism of the common man in time of need — we thought then that we were fighting for freedom, of course — is neither over- nor under-emphasised, as is sometimes the case in such books, nor is mention of occasional clashes between management and workers omitted. Apart from data about B.S.A. motorcycles and Daimler Scout cars, there is an immense amount of technical matter that will interest armament enthusiasts. The early history of the B.S.A. organisation is also covered, with reference to testing of B.S.A. motorcycles at Bwlch and Brooklands. Nice work, Donovan Ward.
“Floyd Clymer’s Independent Test Report and Investigation of Kaiser-Frazer Cars” (Clymer Motors, $1.50).
Only America could have produced such a book! In 45 large pages, copiously Illustrated with not-very-good photographs, Floyd Clymer tells of how he bought a 1947 26.3-h.p. Kaiser Sedan from a stranger in Detroit and tested it personally over 3,000 miles. In his preface he explains that he has approx. 100,000 customers for his motor books and therefore was able to publish an unbiased report on the Kaiser car and make a financial success of it without depending on revenue from any other source. He disclaims any connection with the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation, and says that he has never met Mr. Kaiser and met Mr. Frazer for perhaps ten minutes eight years ago. He bought a new Kaiser and drove it from Detroit to his home in Los Angeles. From Kansas City to Denver he attempted a record run, covering over 633 miles at an average speed of 62.3 m.p.h., beating the Union Pacific Streamliner by 45 minutes. Throughout the entire run Clymer dictated his impressions and experiences into a Sound-Scriber and four pages are devoted to this verbatim account. Clymer’s next escapade was a climb of Pike’s Peak in 21 m. 15 sec., a record for closed cars. Clymer then made for home, calling on various Kaiser-Frazer agents and owners and gleaning their opinions and enthusiasms for these cars. He seems to have taken photographs of every episode and reproduced them all, good, bad and indifferent. He concludes with a detailed, critical analysis of the car as he found it and includes a very detailed specification, as supplied by the makers to dealers and salesmen. Still not content that we shall be satisfied with his new car, Clymer publishes an immense statistical summary of 3,000 returned questionnaires out of 5,000 which he sent to individual Kaiser-Frazer owners, asking for candid views on their cars. This is typically American, and so is the reproduction in the book of everything relevant that could be reproduced — invoices, certificates, testimonials, extracts from the questionnaire replies, photographs of these replies and so on. Clymer has got out a de luxe edition of the book, at $2.50, and sells cine-films he took of his trip for $29.50, or $45 in colour. As we shall never own a Kaiser-Frazer automobile we hardly know why we read this book, but we did, probably because it is unique. Collectors will want copies.
“Everybody’s Book of British Racing Cars,” compiled by C. Posthumus (The Vitesse Publishing Co., 3s. 6d.).
This 18-page album-size publication deals briefly with the histories of sixteen famous makes of British racing cars. One excellent Autocar or Motor picture of each of the chosen makes is included and these photographs are beautifully reproduced on art paper pages. They are also of generous proportions, so that only about 300 words of text can be devoted to each grande marque. Indeed, the author writes his own criticism in his Preface, when he apologises for the brevity of each account. There is very little in this publication, but what there is reads extremely well and is a worthwhile testimonial (as well as constituting a quick reference) to the successes of British-built cars. A supplement-leaf deals with developments up to September, 1947, and the back cover lists major British race victories from 1902 to 1947. If one is hypercritical one might remark that there is no such thing as a 1 1/2-litre class World’s record and that Macdonald’s Napier was never recognised in Europe as having held the Land Speed Record, while Edge’s winning average in the 1902 Gordon Bennett race is rather optimistic. Apart from this, the author is scrupulously accurate, so that one would have liked a lot more.
“Spare Parts Wherever You Are”(Motor Vehicle Dismantlers’ Association, 2s. 6d.).
So frequently is Motor Sport asked for the addresses of breakers’ yards in a particular locality, and sometimes even for a comprehensive guide so that an enthusiast can hunt spares and old cars while on tour, that we are delighted to be able to announce a booklet that gives a comprehensive list of reputable dismantlers in all parts of England, Scotland and Wales. This list is divided for easy reference into twelve regions, telephone numbers are given, and each concern whose address is published is a member of the Motor Vehicle Dismantlers’ Association, of Clough Road, Hull, from whom this useful work is obtainable.
Miscellany, April 1999
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