We will let you into a secret. Although the conscientious motoring writer goes from stand to stand at Earls Court with his notebook and pencil, to prepare his Show Guide he has to work from Press releases and catalogues. This is a time of year when P.R.O.s leave their lofty thrones and mix freely with we mere journalists, at least to the extent of sending us letters beginning, “Dear sir, we have pleasure in enclosing . . .”
Out of the envelopes, which carry such a battery of stamps that it surprises us to learn that the G.P.O. is approaching insolvency, cascade the catalogues.
Catalogues are always fun. Centuries ago, when we were young and Segrave was racing Sunbeams, we used to go first, on entering the Motor Show, to the Trojan stand, not to peruse the technics of the odd two-stroke cars thereon, but to collect our “Trojan carton” with which to start a feverish hunt for literature, photographs and catalogues. Paper was freer then and gold-braided commissionaires did not need to guard piles of catalogues hidden behind the counter. Novelties were numerous and a rousing time was had by all schoolboys. It is different since Hitler was defeated, but catalogues are still fun.
This year, what have we? You will adore the Sunbeam-Talbot folder in full colour, depicting ladies in sun-tops, a lucky youth arriving with his blonde at a Continental G.P., and must get this one, if only for the magnificent colour photograph it contains of the Alpine Rally cars and their trophies—even if the supreme S.T. on the cover seems somehow to have been elongated by its lady driver.
Naturally the catalogue-ladies catch the eye. Those riding in the new Humber Hawk are fashionably dressed middle-class types, but mere man is depicted delving deeply into the under-bonnet mechanism, from which a radiator tank and air-cleaner coyly peep.
The bigger Fords contain man alone but such hordes of humanity are issuing from the Anglias and Prefects that one fears for the safety of their transverse leaf-springs. We note that, appropriately, an old-fashioned tripod camera and dark-cloth are being used to photograph an obviously self-conscious pair of Anglia-cum-Prefect — nothing so modern as a Leica or Contax!
The boy tightly clasping the girl beside his Nash Golden Airflytes is blissfully unaware that someone has painted “Nash Concessionaires Ltd., Nash Street, Albany, W.1” along the other side of his car or that the girl’s father is watching his antics with obvious displeasure. (We like the panorama of Nashes from 1902 to 1951 on the back of this colour-folder.)
Two sporty boys in caps adorn a rather swollen Morgan Plus Four, we wouldn’t at all mind going to Spain with the Spanish lasses in the 201 Pegaso, but the lady in the Hotchkiss-Gregoire seems to have landed in a field, and as all is seen through a haze we don’t feel exactly happy about this. Indeed, the Hotchkiss owner seems to be having a thoroughly bad time, for here he is with his girl friend sitting triumphantly alone on the back seat, and later his daughter seems to have collapsed onto his wife’s knee while he again tries to laugh it off from his lonely driving seat.
The 2-litre Renault, “the car you always hoped someone would make,” has cut itself open to reveal “every virtue of the automobile engineer’s art “—so it’s a pity they distract you with a picture of four ravishing beauties in the pocket at the back! Quite hair-raising is the armless gloved-hand which haunts various parts of the little Renault 750, which is probably why the couple on the cover have stopped theirs and are leaning against it looking decidedly dubious about this unexpected visitation.
Austin sent us unimaginative specification-sheets, while the girl driving the Oldsmobile is giving a hasty “stop” signal, having been overtaken at close quarters by a guided-missile.
Our children loved cutting-out the almost larger-than-life Chevrolet Styleline Sedan and so will yours!
The Jaguar books are like a breath of “prewar” and Alvis also do a high-class catalogue.
Rolls-Royce haughtily state that they cannot issue photographs as “all our cars are individually built and will not be completed until the opening of the Exhibition,” but Hudson have no such problems and give a sort of “still” from a Laurel and Hardy film, showing two cars going along side by side in which the seats have somehow become reversed and the backs have fallen off. The point of all this is to indicate that the Hudson-girl is happier about being with her boy-friends than she is in the much greater intimacy of other cars! Why, just look at her changed expression!
One of the best open-air pictures is that of a Hillman Minx convertible on the bridge at Bourton-on-the-Water, while as for the Sunbeatn-Talbot “model,” if this catches her eye our telephone number is on the first editorial page of this issue! Very glamorous girls adorn the beautifully coloured Studebaker catalogue.
If all this seems like a lot of drivel, go get those catalogues and you will see what we mean. “Oh, and James, it’s getting chilly; kindly make up the fire.”—W. B.