Book Reviews, November 1965, November 1965



“The Bullnose Morris,” by Lytton P. Jarman and Robin Barraclough. 257 pp. 9.75 in. 6.75 in. (Macdonald & Co. Publishers) Ltd., Gulf Howe, 2, Portman Street, London, 45s.)

This is one of the more painstaking, informative and interesting one-make histories. In fact, it is more than just an intimate history of the famous bullnose Morris cars. because the joint authors, whose facts and figures have been gleaned over many years for the Bullnose Morris Club, deal also with the subsidiaries or the great Morris organisation, such as White and Poppe, Continental and Hotchkiss who supplied engines, with airs such as the Morris-Leon-bionics, the commercial Morris models, small cars which sought to imitate the original Morris-Oxford, and so on. There is a lot a data about the Ban, which Morris beat in the mass-production stakes, and generally ” The Bullnose Morris” is a really comprehensive history, dealing not only with the subject that forms its title but with a host of auxiliary matters as well.

Because the bullnose Morris was Britain’s biggest-output car for many years this book should become a best-seller of its kind, appealing to the hundreds of people who still recall these cars with warm affection and to the great many people in the Motor Trade who were associated with Lord Nuffield and his products. They should revel in the many and diverse illustrations which materially enhance the book, not only the nostalgic photographs but the excellent drawings by Helen L Stirling and Bray Webb of components, badges and similar bullnose items.

This book is, however, more than a history of the MorrisCowley, Morris-Oxford, Morris Commercials and related vehicles. It contains much Bullnose overhaul and servicing data from the amusing but instructive pen of Norman Routledge, reprinted from the magazine of the Bullnose Morris Club, together with fascinating descriptions of how Routledge discovered and restored his own bullnose Morrises. It includes copious quotes from early motoring journals, and a complete article by William Boddy of MOTOR SPORT covering racing versions of the Bullnose.

The rare 6-cylinder Bullnoses and the M.G. versions are sorted out, and this splendid book concludes with pages and pages of tabulated data dealing with specifications of all the vintage Morris models, production figures, engine and components details, and the Register, usual in these Macdonald Automobile Histories, of all known surviving cars with dates, chassis and Reg. Nos. and owners’ names.

” The Bullnose Morris” cannot fail to give pleasure to a great many readers, it is essential reading for past and present owners of these cars. and it would make an ideal Christmas present to anyone who used to work for Morris Motors or any of the subsidiary companies. It is dedicated to the late John Pollitt, whose archives contained much rare company data.

” The Flying Cathedral,” by Arthur Gould Lee. 272 pp. 8.75 in. x 5.75in. (Methuen & Co. Ltd., 11. New. Fetter Lane, London, E.C.4. 30s.)

For years the legendary figure of Cody, the flamboyant Texan who came to England, built early aeroplanes known to the public who assembled to watch them fly, on account of their size and profile, as “Flying Cathedrals,” has been wrapped in mystery.

This well-written and documented book throws light where previously little was clear. It shows that Samuel Franklin Cody really was a cowboy from the rough life of the prairie, then buffalo-hunter, bronco-buster, gold-miner and crack sharpshooter.

It goes into fascinating detail about Cody’s theatre performances of The Klondyke Nugget in which all his family took part and which gained for him an appreciable fortune. No less remarkable, and significant of what this book tells us of Cody’s character, is the way in which the girl Lela Davis, living a life of ease and luxury in London, fell in love with the gauche cow-hand, married him and lived for many years the uncomfortable life of the barnstorming show-family.

Cody’s very careful experimenting with man-lifting kites, which led him to build and fly the first powered aeroplane in this country, in 1908, are well described and his aeronautical achievements, up to his fatal accident in a seaplane in 1913, discussed in detail. The engines Cody used, the successful flight to London from Farnborough in the British Army Airship Nulli Secondus in 1907, a flight it is all but impossible to picture today, as this odd craft floated along following the London Road and later circled famous London buildings, “Col.” Cody sounding his klaxon and Col. Kapper saluting his superior officers who were watching from the roof of the War Office, and the ingenious aspects of Cody’s kites, stage turns, guns and aeroplanes, are admirably explained in this fascinating and important book, ” The Flying Cathedral.”

It is the story of a quite unique individual, whom the reader grows to love as the life-story unfolds, and the like of whom will never be seen again. Incidentally, Cody, after going out in the Hon. C. S. Rolls’ Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, bought a Simms-Welbeck car, from which he derived as much pleasure as he had from horses, Bergamo and Vichy. It is typical of the man that he drove his new possession home from the dealer in the Edgware Road from whom he had bought it, to Aldershot, without a single lesson. Incidentally, those living in the Aldershot, Farnborough and Fleet areas, will, with the aid of this enthralling book and the appropriate one-inch Ordnance Survey map, be able to trace the locations of some of Cody’s aeronautical adventures.

“A History of the World’s Racing Cars,” by Richard Hough & Michael Frostick. 190 pp. 10 in. x 7.5 in. (George Allen & Unwin Ltd., Ruskin House, 40. Museum Street, London, WC1 45s.)

There have been plenty of books about the history of the racing car, so that the need for another one scarcely arises. The text of this one is a clear guide to the subject but the real point is that this is a pictorial history, with some previously seen colour plates.

As a book to browse through it would be commendable, if it were not so expensive. The best item is a 13-page account of the 1914 French Grand Prix by H. Massac Buist, together with a detailed contemporary description of the all-conquering Mercedes cars built for that race. But as these have merely been reprinted from The Autocar of July 11th, 1914, and will be found in the bound volumes of that estimable journal, the authors can take very little credit for it.—W. B.

“Motor Car Lover’s Companion.” Edited by Richard Hough. 293pp. 9.75 in. x 6.25 in. (George Allen & Unwin Ltd., Ruskin Howe, 40, Museum Street, London, W.C.1. 30s.)

Anthologies are luxuries, in as much as they repeat previously-published material. This one is certainly very readable and amusingly illustrated, but extracts about Jaguar and the Jam Factory come from books by Lord Montagu so recently published as to be repetitive. Most of the other material is very enjoyable, like the accounts of early Motor Shows by well-known contemporary writers, specifications of early cars and Laurence Porneroy’s article “On Running a Royce,” together with other Rolls-Royce material. Lord Hovenden’s fictional motoring in his 30/98 Vauxhall, as written by Aldous Huxley, is recounted in some detail, and is also very readable. Even James Bond gets in.

But this, as another reviewer has observed, is the very last motoring anthology we want to see for at least a decade.—W. B.

“Best Motor Racing Stories.” Edited by Douglas Rutherford. 199 pp. 8.25 in. x 5.75 in. (Faber & Faber Ltd., 24, Russell Square, London, WC1 16s)

This is an unfortunate hotch-potch of poor fiction and dated reporting, and it is an insult to Denis Jenkinson—say I am biased if you like—to use a piece from “The Green Helmet” novel to cover the Mile Miglia, instead of his account of being in Moss’ winning Mercedes-Benz in the 1953 race.

That Rutherford believes that “motor racing has not yet produced an Antoine de Saint-Exupery ” is no excuse, I dislike collections of previously published material. You can save money by skipping this one!—W. B.