“Blue Wings Over Bangkok,” by Prince Bira. 184 pp., 5 ½ in. by 8 ½ in. (Foulis, 7, Milford Lane, W.C.2. 18s. 6d.)
This is a book for flying enthusiasts. It tells how Prince Bira, the well-known racing motorist, flew with his wife and his terrier, Tichiboo, to whom the book is dedicated, from England home to Bangkok in his Miles Gemini with Cirrus engines.
The book is a little naive, but is very interesting, and very nicely produced and illustrated, with an attractive dust-jacket.
Bira made no attempt at record-breaking, but had excitement nevertheless, and his modest account does not quite succeed in disguising the fact that he is a very talented pilot and navigator. A few references to motor racing appear in this book, which must certainly be on the shelves of those who collect works about private flying. — W. B.
“Basic Road Statistics, 1954.” 59 pp., 5 ½ in. by 8 ½ in. (British Road Federation, 4a, Bloomsbury Square, W.C.1. 1s.)
This annual work of reference contains invaluable data for politicians, lecturers, writers and statisticians. From it, for example, we glean that Britain has over five million motor vehicles on 186,261 miles of road, the busiest in the world. Up to March this year motor taxation brought in £386,800,000, but the Government’s allocation to roadworks is only £33,131,000.
Goods vehicles continue to increase, numbering 995,562 last year, but trams have been declining since 1921 and now total only 3,006. 1953 saw fewer road casualties than 1934, the worst year. In 1952, 72 per cent. of all freight (by weight) went by road, 24 per cent, by rail, 3 per cent. by coastal shipping and 1 per cent, by inland waterways.
This little book really is worth having, even if the facts it presents fail to cheer you up as you sit in the midst of a traffic-jam. — W. B.
“Sports Car Bodywork,” by B. W. Locke, M.I.B.C.M., A.Inst.A.A. 71 pp., 5 ¼ in. by 7 ¾ in. (Craftsman Publications, 9, New Street, E.C.4. 21s.)
Judging by the large number of enquiries Motor Sport receives for a book on this subject, Mr. Locke should make a fortune
He opens his book in a practical manner by showing that low frontal area increases maximum speed and that it is easier to attain, for instance, than an extra 10 b.h.p. from a 2-litre engine already giving 120 b.h.p., this increase representing the same gain in maximum speed, 115 to 118 m.p.h., as a reduction of only 1 sq. ft. of frontal area.
The effect of suspension and chassis design on the proposed body are discussed, legal and F.I.A. sports-car requirements are borne in mind and the author bases some of his advice on a timber-frame body on that “flying bedstead” of a car, the H.R.G., used successfully in an Alpine rally on a non-standard sports body on a Healey made from ¾ in. o.d. 18 s.w.g. steel tubes, and a trials body on a Ford Ten chassis.
The book covers construction in timber, metal and plastics, includes bodywork drawings, fittings and paintings, and comes with plans for sports bodies in all three of the aforementioned materials. — W.B.