Cars in books, November 1964

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From “Summoned By Bells,” by John Betjemann (John Murray, 1960) we discover that Betjemann remembers a Delaunay-Belleville crawling up West Hill, Highgate in its noisy bottom gear, prior to World War One, that a school fellow of his at Marlborough read The Autocar, so that Fords, Lancias, a 6-ton Sentinel and a Frazer Nash (which Betjemann hyphenates, risking the wrath of Thirlbv!) were noted with pleasure, and that his father took him to Cornwall in an Arrol-Johnston. And, finally, so far as we materialists are concerned, that he borrowed an aunt’s Talbot-Darracq to drive a girl-friend to a dance:

“The Talbot- Darracq with its leather seats
And Biddy in beside me now!
I could show Double-declutching to perfection now.”

Betjemann even remembers, from his Oxford days, “…sports Bugattis roaring in my ears.”

There is not much of motoring in “Murgatroyd Started It!” by Baroness Elizabeth Beck (Country Life Ltd., 1964. 25s.), except for descriptions of animal transport problems in the family Rover too and how a pet Sloth (or Beck) bear took for granted rides in a Land-Royer (“Bear had the same feeling for cars as a 47-year-old —if she had to swap me for something it would surely have been for a car.”); the Rover, incidentally, contributes an awful warning about carbon monoxide fumes, which killed a white rat and a bush baby travelling across France in it when it developed a defect in its exhaust system. But I mention this very enjoyable animal book, written with brisk feminine logic and delightfully illustrated, because the authoress is the wife of Baron Rolf Beck, Chairman of the Slip Group of Companies, well-known to the Motor Industry and Donald Campbell is mentioned in it.

Finally, for this month, Mr. Tallett of Abingdon contributes the following from “The Crown of Night” by Pierre Audemars (John Long) : …They stopped by an open outhouse.
“What on earth,” said M. Pinaud, staring in amazement, “would that be?”
“That” was a vintage Panhard, as huge and as massive as a hearse, covered with wickerwork scroll and gleaming brass, resplendent with leather straps and enormous headlights. The paintwork shone with generations of loving care, the brasswork glittered even in the grey twilight, for by now the day was dying, and the oiled and waxed straps glistened as soft and supple as the day they had been stitched. M. Pinaud stared in openmouthed wonder. “This is the father and mother of all motor cars,” he declared reverently.
Robert laughed.
“This is the family automobile,” he replied. “It is older than I am and has never gone wrong, thanks to the man we had when I was a boy, who spent most of his time adjusting and tuning it on the bench, so that it was hardly ever used. You have to turn great brass cups every month to lubricate the chassis, but it can still pass most cars on the road.”
“I never knew they made an engine this size.”
“It was an experimental model—eight cylinders in line.”
“This I must drive,” declared M. Pinaud with conviction.
“Go on, get in.”
“No—no. Not now. You go home. I will see you tomorrow.”
Robert turned a huge tap, pumped the hand-lubricator, adjusted the ignition and set the hand-throttle, released the starting handle from its strap and gave it a quick and skilful pull. The huge engine whispered quietly and throbbed into life.
M. Pinaud waved good-bye and watched them go. Then he went back thoughtfully into the ‘garden of the inn.

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From the Montagu Motor Museum comes a booklet illustrating fifty old vehicles in colour, entitled: “Veteran and Vintage Cars at Beaulieu. Brighton and Measham.” The pictures are rather “postage stamp” in size but the accompanying descriptions of the cars contain much fascinating individual history of the cars depicted. The book retails at 3s. 6d. There is a number of printing errors which do no credit to the compositors and the publishers’ readers.

* * *

“The Design of Small-Car Engines,” referred to on page 919, is obtainable for 50s. from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1, Birdcage Walk, London, S.W.1.

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The American Classic Jaguar Association, which caters for pre-war S.S. and S.S.-Jaguar owners, wishes to make contact with owners of these cars in England and Europe. They are asked to contact R. T. Trenk, Technical Editor of the Association’s monthly journal, whose address is: 1450, Boeger Av., Westchester, Illinois, U.S.A.