Book reviews, November 1963, November 1963

“Monza 1963.” The Official Year Book of the Autodrome Nazionale di Monza. 143 pp., 11 1/5 in. x 8 1/2 in. (Monza Autodrome Italy.)

This beautifully-produced annual, with its fine photographs and colour plates, and many pages of high-class advertising in keeping with the quality of the editorial contents, should be eagerly awaited by discerning English purchasers.

Intended primarily as a guide to the Monza Autodrome and as a very complete record of the previous racing season, with very full pictorial coverage, the Year Book also describes improvements and additions to the Track, rules and regulations, as the Brooklands Year Books of 1924-1939 used to do, and contains elaborate maps of Monza, where ten different circuits of from 4 1/2 to 10 kilometres have been used since 1922, timing charts to the nearest 1/5 sec. for the existing circuits, and, in addition, continues the Monza history which started in earlier volumes.

This 1963 Year Book, from the historical angle, deals with the exciting period 1934-39, when the powerful German G.P. cars were unleashed round the Monza track. The pictures of these cars alone makes it well worthwhile for serious historians to acquire a copy of this excellent publication, which is both a tribute to Monza and to Italian publishing. As in previous editions, text and captions are in English as well as in Italian, and the many photographs and big colour plates are supported by fine line and engineering drawings. Motorcycle racing, both past and of the 1962 season, is covered as well as the automobile side.—W. B.


“Cars of the World,” by J. D. Schell. 216 pp., 8 7/8 in. x 6 1/4 in. (Methuen & Co. Ltd., 36, Essex Street, London, W.C.2. 30s.)

There have already been too many annuals, reference books and suchlike acting as a record of the World’s automobiles, many of them but thinly-disguised cribs of makers’ catalogues and “hand-out” material. This particular volume breaks new ground, inasmuch as it covers a very large number of ears, historic and modern, up to 1962, arranged by countries that embrace Brazil, Denmark, Japan, Poland, China and the Soviet Union, as well as the obvious ones. The cars are illustrated by small, very reasonably accurate, colour drawings, grouped as makes, so that the history of individual companies is easily referred to.

For example, under Morris we have illustrations of 1914 Oxford, 1924 Cowley, 1929 Minor, 1948 Minor, 1960 Mini-Minor, 1956 Morris-Oxford and 1961 Oxford. The captions to each may be superficial but an enormous amount of history is contained in this unique and colourful book, quite apart from that incorporated in the long historical survey that covers the development of vehicles from pre-history to the present-day.

Returning to the numerous illustrations, over 850 in all, just flicking the pages at random brings to light colour pictures of 6 c.v. Vivinus, 1925/6 sports F.N., 1932 B.M.W. backbone chassis, 1938 Koln, 1950 Veritas, 1951 FG Ifa, 1906 20/24 Hispano-Suiza, 1925 18 c.v. Peugeot, etc., etc. By using drawings instead of photographs the illustrator, Verner Hancke, avoids copyright snags, but we recognise many of his drawings which might be tracings of pictures out of back numbers of Motor Sport.

The result is infinitely fascinating and more leisurely reviewers will no doubt have a field day correcting any dating errors and mis-stated facts. I am not going to quarrel with a book that even illustrates different pre-1915 Thrige models and a 1915 Jan, and shows me what sort of a driving position and forward view Nicolas Cugnot enjoyed from his 1770 steam carriage! The translation is by D. Cook-Radmore.—W. B.


“Strike to Defend,” by Nigel F. Walker, D.S.O., D.F.C. 128 pp., 8 3/4 in. x 5 1/2 in. (Neville Spearman Ltd., 112, Whitfield Street, London, W. 1. 16s.)

A war book making a belated appearance, “Strike to Defend” is an account of what it was like to serve in R.A.F. Bomber Command during World War Two, probably the last war in which piloted aircraft will be flown in anger. The author describes not only sorties over enemy territory but gives a background account of how Bomber Command and a Pathfinder Squadron looked to a member of an air-crew. He tells his story rather stuffily, but isn’t afraid to be severely critical of R.A.F. procedure where this is judged to be necessary.

Apart from its aeronautical aspect, the book covers the author’s experiences in preand post-war M.C.C. trials with such unlikely cars as an old 24-h.p. Chrysler saloon (1939 Edinburgh) and a Riley Nine saloon (1947 Land’s End), while there are pictures of the Brough-Superior coupe used for the 1954 Whitsun Rally and the open Chrysler 75 driven in the Daily Express 1,000-Mile Rally and a Land’s End Trial, although I can find no reference in the text to the latter cars. Could the book have been written, and completed, in something of a hurry?—W. B.


“Veteran and Vintage Cars,” by Peter Roberts. 160 pp., 11 1/8 in. x 8 1/4 in. (Paul Hamlyn, Westbrook House, 583, Fulham Road, London, S.W.6. 12s. 6d.)

This book, although on a rather too oft-encountered theme, is highly recommended, if only because it is such extremely good value for money.

It covers the whole era of road transport history in picture and text—steam coaches and carriages, early competitions, motoring laws, radiators of early makes, Royal cars, pioneer horseless carriages, Mercedes models, road racing, Brooklands, steering wheels and controls, the Brighton Run, restoration, Punch and the motor car, early American automobiles, components, early advertising layout, verse, fashions, coachwork, lamps, Clubs, discoveries of veteran cars, landmarks in history, lady pioneers, “Genevieve,” record-breaking, mascots and badges, famous marathon competitions, men and marques, models, a quiz—it is all here, in text and vivid picture.

On account of its many full-page colour plates alone this book makes publishing history—these range from contemporary studies to pictures of vintage cars racing at Oulton Park and the Fiat “Mephistopheles” leaving the line at Brighton.

Naturally, this doesn’t compare with serious histories of given aspects of motoring or makes of car, but it does cover an enormous amount of ground in the pleasantest possible manner, and a quick perusal suggests that the author has attained a high degree of accuracy.

At 12s. 6d. this vintage and veteran picture book leaves all previous works on these lines, especially the lavish American annuals, a long, long way behind.—W.B.


“The World’s Automobiles—1862-1962,” by G. R. Doyle and G. N. Georgano. 180 pp., 8 3/4 in x 5 3/5 in. (Temple Press Books, Bowling Green Lane, London, E.C.1. 21s.)

Here is that remarkable work of the late G. R. Doyle, first published in 1932, in its fourth edition, thoroughly revised by his friend G. N. Georgano, so that nearly 1,000 additional makes of car are included compared to earlier editions. This means that the time-span and addresses of over 5,000 motor-car manufacturers are included, literally from A.A.A. (of which, the book tells us, there were two) to Zwicka.

The original early short chapters devoted in Doyle’s inimitable style to origins, motoring oddities, and registration schemes have been retained, and the many informative footnotes expanded. This is not really automobile history so much as a directory, yet it has been said that most motor historians start their researches between the covers of Doyle.

If you have missed this unique book in its earlier editions, here is the opportunity to acquire it now. I am interested to note that a similar work covering motorcycle manufacture from 1894-1963 is to be published by Temple Press in due course.—W. B.


“First and Fastest.” Edited by Richard Hough. 151 pp., 8 3/4 in. x 5 1/2 in. (George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 40, Museum Street, London, W.C.1. 21s.)

This book may not have been strictly necessary, tracing as it does the wheel tracks of history already written, but it follows an undeniably attractive theme, for Hough has put between covers accounts of the fastest motor races the World has even seen.

For example, Charles Jarrott’s account of the 1903 Paris-Madrid, “the fastest across France,” opens a book which has chapters on the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race, “Fastest on Long Island,” Fastest Bentley at Le Mans, being an extract from the late Dr. J. A. Benjafield’s book, Fastest in Africa, which is Barré Lyndon’s account of the 1934 Tripoli G.P., and Fastest in the World, wherein S. C. H. Davis describes John Cobb’s Land Speed Record. The 1937 Avusrennen is included, as the fastest race ever run in Europe (strictly the fastest by road-racing type cars), and a chapter is devoted to the fastest solo run at Le Mans (Pierre Levegh, Talbot, 1952). If you consider that inclusion of such races makes the book a bit of a fiddle, it is at all events a very enjoyable bit of fiddling.

Moreover, those who want to read Denis Jenkinson’s account of his ride to victory with Moss in the 1955 Mille Miglia, when their Mercedes-Benz 300SLR won the fastest race round Italy, can do so without recourse to our photostat department. What’s more, they can also read this author’s account of the “fastest race ever,” the 1958 Miglia di Monza (won at 166.72 m.p.h. by Rathman’s Zink Leader Card Special), also lifted from Motor Sport. And William Boddy has written specially a chapter on the fastest of the Brooklands long-distance races, the 1937 B.R.D.C. “500,” which the Napier-Railton won at 127.05 m.p.h.


S. C. H. Davis has written a little book, under the oddly-worded title “Teaching to Drive,” which is aimed at “those who have the responsibility of teaching others how to drive.” (Foulis, 6d.)


Autobooks of Brighton offer that very detailed account of Mike Couper’s experiences as a competitor in the more recent Monte Carlo Rallies at the reduced price of 6s. 6d.


National Benzole have issued a new road atlas, which covers Great Britain to a scale of 5 miles to the inch, has a separate section of approaches to London to a scale of 3/4-of-a-mile to the inch, and which includes Motorways, major and minor roads, principal canals, car ferries, civil airports, National parks, National Trust property, interesting buildings and motor-racing circuits. In book form with a protective cover, this Road Atlas has a gazetteer index. It is obtainable, price 12s. 6d., from most National Benzole service stations or direct from the Company’s Advertising Dept., Mercury House, 195, Knightsbridge, London, S.W.7.