Book Reviews, November 1959, November 1959

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“North Flight,” by W. D. Pereira. 191 pp., 7½ in. by 5 in. (Robert Hale Ltd., 63, Old Brompton Road, London, S.W.7. 10s. 6d.)

This book, which is fiction, the story of political intrigue following failures of British jet fighters in the service of a foreign power, rates as exceedingly good entertainment. The author paints some very true-to-life pen-pictures of directors, publicity experts, a garrulous chauffeur, a particularly easy-to-visualise personal assistant to an aircraft industry V.I.P., and similar present-day personalities and his story which flows easily and intriguingly, a book’s best recommendation, revolves round a simple conscientious engineer involved in all this technical and political intrigue.

This is just the sort of story to dispel Motor Show blues and you will quickly reach page 191 and learn why “repair specialist” Bill Lane of Sprig Fuel Systems returns home to fling a vase through the screen of his T.V. set in his trim little house on the outskirts of Chessington. We have often felt like doing this, but for less exacting reasons! — W. B.

_

“Yellow Belly,” by John Newton Chance. 191 pp., 8¾ in. by 5½ in. (Robert Hale Ltd., 63, Old Brompton Road, London, S.W.7. 16s.)

Here is yet another book about the R.A.F. during World War II and with a difference, because this is the autobiography of an instructor who trained pilots in Training Command, in those yellow-bellied “learner’s aeroplanes.”

There is much of interest in this account of this aspect of the R.A.F. in war-time and the author captures the atmosphere of night-landings and other hazardous aspects of flying training during the last war. The story might have been even better told had Mr. Chance not delayed so long before writing it — one has an impression of hurried compilation and resort to “padding” and one tends to distrust those who only tick when they are plentifully supplied with “cans” of beer. — W.B.

“Parry Thomas,” by Hugh Tours. 176 pp. 8¾ in. by 5½ in. (B. T. Batsford, Ltd., 4, Fitzhardinge Street, London, W.1. 21s.)

 Hugh Tours presents a conscientiously-written story of as much as it has been possible to discover about that great designer-driver of the vintage era, the late J. G. Parry Thomas. His book traces the fascinating personality of the uncommunicative Welshman from Thomas’ early interest in engineering, race by race and almost record by record until he met his death trying to establish a new Land Speed Record at Pendine Sands in the Liberty-engined chain-drive monster “Babs.”

This sympathetic history is superbly handled and gains much from the high quality production and excellent illustrations, which are up to the expected Batsford standard. If the author has been unable to add much that is new about Parry Thomas and if he overlooks some factors of the great designer’s career, such as his liking for the Grand Sport Amilcar, the occasion when he raced an Invicta and the part Thomas took in the evolution of the “Brooklands” Riley Nine, he certainly clarifies a few previously obscure aspects of this sad but intriguing life and neatly recalls Thomas’ prowess both as designer and driver.

The book contains a charming Foreword about Thomas by Sir Henry Spurrier and an equally nice tribute from Reid Railton. There is a list of Thomas’ racing exploits and separate chapters on his record-breaking efforts, mainly in the Leyland-Thomas, and on the Thomas electrical transmission which set him on the road to engineering fame. There are drawings of typically “Thomas” items of the straight-eight Thomas Special and a plan showing how “Babs” crashed and took her creator with her. If the accounts of Thomas’ many Brooklands’ races make rather tedious reading they constitute an accurate record of Thomas’ racing career. Hugh Tours has done an excellent job in putting between two covers a history which ensures that the memory of Parry Thomas will never become erased from motor-racing history — which is important to those of us who love this period. — W.B.

11•••••?•••?••40 SUNBEAM S.T.D. REGISTER SANDHURST RALLY (Oct. 4th)

Twenty-eight entries contested this annual event, which is marshalled by the R.M.A. Motor Sports Club. An interesting newcoiner was the very smart 1929 14/45 Talbot drophead coupé driven by E. P. Appleby, whose wife drove a 1934 Talbot 65. South and Hampton brought Edwardian Sunbeams and Georges Roesch was an interested spectator. The Concours d’Elegance was judged by Capt. W. M. Allen, R.A.S.C. Results

Driving Tests o 1st A. Jones (1927 3-litre Twin.Catu Sunbeam).

2nd : P. Moores (1931 Talbot 10$).

3rd : K. Fidgen (1923 Sunbcani Fourteen).

Concours d’Eleganee s lot C. F. Smith (1913 12/16 Sunbeam). 2nd J. G. Hampton (1912 12/16 Sunbeam).

3rd 1. Foulkes (1933 Talbot 90).

FOR THE ” SPECIAL ” BUILDER

There is a first-rate mechanical flexible control cable of German origin now being manufactured in this country for large industrial purposes which gives a degree of finesse and accuracy equal to an hydraulic control. Although normally made in bulk quantity the ” special ” builders can now obtain lengths of this control cable, thanks to the good work of one of the R.A.C. Scrutineers. A standard length of 4 ft. 6 in. (or less) costs 4:3 3s. complete with attachments, yoke ends and spherical-joint flanges for attaching to a bulkhead, if used for a throttle control for example. The standard of finish is very high, and any lengths over standard can be made up for an additional three shillings per foot. The movement can be had with either two-inch or four-inch travel. For further details send a S.A.E. to Mr. F. C. Matthews, 94, Sarsfeld Road, Batham, London, S.W.12.

FAREWELL!

We join the motor racing fraternity in wishing good luck to Rodney Walkerley on his retirement front the post of Sports Editor of The Motor. Walkerley became ” Grand Vitesse ” of that paper thirty years ago when it was vacated by the late Humphrey Symons. He saw the rise of the most sensational period of Grand Prix racing. and was present at, those epic contests between Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union when cars had more power than was good for their roadholding, and corners were taken in horrific power-slides, with 600 h.p. spinning the rear wheels. All this appealed greatly to Rodney, who wrote-up the races sensationally and used to delivery a very pithy lecture on the subject.

Like the present Technical Editor of The Motor, Walkerley served his apprenticeship with MOTOR SPORT. As our Assistant Editor around 1928 his job included testing some of the more obscure small two-stroke motor-cycles of the vintage era, such as the 172-c.c. Baker, and Coventry Eagle D25. -W. B.

HIGHER STILL !

Last month we referred to a 1929 Bentley priced at £1,750. Now a 1924 Bentley blue label ” landaulette ” is offered (by a firm in Greenford) at .0.995.