THE LAST OF THE PROFILES
CAR PROFILES are no more. These fascinating 2s. ” potted histories ” with colour pictures of the cars concerned, edited by Anthony Harding, apparently did not make enough money for their publishers and the last batch were issued in September.
As they may be in some demand by collectors, let us look at those not previously reviewed in these columns. Before we do so, it is worth speculating on the worth of these unusual publications as works of reference. They form a concise record of the makes and models covered, 96 in all, a balanced selection of modern, 30/40, vintage, Edwardian and veteran material, with the proviso that they were not always as accurate as they should have been and that inevitably, with cars already well documented, much repetition was inevitable. On the matter of technical and historic accuracy, George Oliver wrote rather pompously about this in Vol. VIII, No. 96 of Veteran Car, the Gazette of the Veteran C.C. of Great Britain, so it was a surprise to find the next issue of this journal stating that “Another point for which Profiles have an enviable record is accuracy, and serious errors of fact are almost non-existent.” They were very reasonably accurate, apart from some had errors in some of the drawings, but when a four-cylinder Minerva is mistaken for a single-cylinder de Dion Bouton and a Lyons Exhibition of about 1957 is referred to as the Paris Salon of 1902, errors Veteran Car itself exposes a few lines later, .sne wonders if the accuracy quite matches up to the high standards the V.C.C. advocates? Profiles Nos. 49-54 were reviewed in Mor OR SPORT last April. No. 55 is a very interesting discourse by Anthony Bird on ” The Stanley Steam Cars, 1897-1907,” with useful illustrated technicalities and
plenty of pictures of the frightening record-breakers, the last of which functioned at a boiler pressure of 1,300 lb./sq. in. and would have covered the f.s. mile at 150 m.p.h. if it hadn’t crashed—in 1907! Darell Berthon does a good concise job on ” The 3-litre Bentley ” in No. 56, although nothing new emerges. Touring as well as sporting versions are painted by Kenneth Rush and for 2s. the very complete. specification tables were notably good value.
No. 57 covered “The Model-A Duesenberg,” by Charles L. Betts, Jr. I found this an interesting introduction to a car about which not much was previously known in this country. It apparently pioneered hydraulic four-wheel-brakes on American production cars, in 1920, and it is interesting that in 1923 one of these straight-8 Duesenhergs did a 3,000-mile non-stop demonstration at Indianapolis, the engine being run throughout and the car refuelled and its oil changed by steering a supply-car alongside it at 40 m.p.h., rather as I Saw a Morris Minor refuelled in a similar long-duration run at Goodwood after the war. The pictures are an excellent selection and Rush has made a good job of the colour drawings. Presumably to humour American readers, carburetter is rendered in this PrOfile ass” carburetor.” The next Profile deals with “The ‘1500’ & ‘1100’ H.R.G.’s, 1935-1956″ and Ian Dussek was the obvious choice of author. He provides an account packed full of fascinating information, not only about the last of these true vintage-type H.R.G.s but about the company that made them, taking five months to build one, and making about 241 in all. I had forgotten, until I read Dussek, that Lord Selsdon and T.A.S.O. Mathieson were H.R.G. directors. The author has been taken to task by another reviewer for referring to the top speed of the first H.R.G.s as ” only average for a car of their class at that time ” but this at least shows that the Secretary of the H.R.G. Association, if he believes there is only one car worth owning (of which he owns two), is not exaggerating their merits. But the V.S,C.C. committee may raise an eyebrow at his opening remark: ” 1935 can fairly be described as the end of the vintage-era.”
Profile 59 covers ” The 16-cylinder (i.P. Auto-Union ” and as the author is Cyril Posthumus this is obviously an informative one, nostalgically recalling those great pre-war occasions when Stuck, Varzi, Rosemeyer, von Delius and Hasse won races in these Porschecreated cars. Walter Wright drawings of record-breaking :ts well as racing versions, with cockpit view, back up the text. Next comes a modern, in the form of No. 60, about ” The A.C. Cobra ” by Pritchard and Davey. This is a useful tie-up between the A.C. and subsequent Tojeirti developments. Cecil Glutton contributes Profile 61, on ” The 1907 & 1908 Racing Italas,” and although he has written a good deal previously about the latter cars, I found him (I mean his Profile) absolutely fascinating. The various pictures of these giant Italas as they appeared in this country in Edwardian times, at Brooklands, Saltburn and elsewhere, are well worth seeing, as are views of the Clutton/Williamson and Frank Cheverton cars together again for the first time for 50 years, the caption to the drawing of the latter, however, wrongly attributing ownership to Lord Montagu, to whOse Museum it is on loan.
T. R. Nicholson makes a very thorough job of the complications of covering “The 4-cylinder Amilcar, 1920-1929″ in No. 62 and has dug out some rare pictures with which to illustrate this complex range. I like particularly the ones of a CGS parked on a deserted Route Nationale 10, although I suspect in recent times, and Parry Thomas with his COS outside the ” Hermitage ” at Brooklands, with his alsatian in the cockpit. Those who cannot afford the great Macdonald history of the Bull-Nose Morris cars can comprise very nicely with Profile No. 63, “The Bullnose Morris Cowley” by Jarman and Barraclough, which packs in a very substantial amount of information, reminding us, incidentally, that a very smooth clutch running in oil, and metal universal joints, were amongst the points in which most Of these Cowleys scored over other light cars. The pictures include two Of the rare Sports Cowley and the Walter Wright drawings include five views of it.
The best Profile of all, in my opinion, is No. 64, ” The 1 i-litre Squire.” In it Jonathan Wood writes an absorbing account of a littledocumented but exciting pre-war sports car, by getting first-hand information and not just rehashing contemporarystories—of which, anyway, practically none exist. So this one is thoroughly worth reading. It contains live pictures of the single-seater Squire at Brooklands (but the Riley following it in one such scene was driven b? Rayson, not Rapson) and the colour centre-spread is of a 1934 model now in the Harrah Museum in America. The names of the firstowners of the few Squires_ sold add to the fascination of this account, which is so good that one hopes Wood will find a pubh her for the books he proposes to write about the more Off-beat car manuf acturers.
No. 65 captures nicely the allure of ” The Morgan Plus-Four,” the author being Eric Dymock. But it is a pity he did not keep to the subject instead of devoting the first two pages to earlier Morgans, because errors have crept in, like quoting a Ford engine for the early 4-wheelers and attributing the i.o.e. Coventry-Climax power unit to the special competition cars, when, in fact, this engine was only dropped for the production 4/4s when it became unavailable, a 1,267c.c. Standard engine replacing it. A very bad mistake is coupling Sir William Lyons with Avon Standards, instead of with Swallows. It is unfortunate, too, that the date when the Morgan Plus Four was drastically restyled is given as 1952, whereas the headlamps on the two-seaters were faired-in for the 1953 Show, a change applicable, therefore, to 1954 models.
The pictures recall Le Mans and other competition exploits of the Plus Four (Morgan has only once failed to finish at Le Mans, we are told), show the Jaguar-like Plus-Four-Plus Coupe of which only 60 were built, and the four-seater and coupe Plus-Fours, etc.
In Profile 66 Davey and Pritchard expound details of ” The CooperBristol F.2 ” history, from original 1952 prototype to all-enveloping sports/racing versions, and George Oliver does a good piece on ” The Single Sleeve-Valve Argylls ” in No. 67, which includes information about the unusual legal interpretations of the patent rights of McCollum’s sleeve valve, which makes me hope that this author will some day give us the whole of his findings on the subject. Much previously unavailable data are given about these Scottish cars; including those which broke records at Brooklands, although in this connection, the accident to W. G. Scott during one of these attempts isn’t mentioned. I regard this as one of the most worthwhile of Profiles (although he does not Spell Piccard-Pictet properly) and Oliver’s remark that ” sleeves and snags were never far apart ” is a classic. .
I prefer to say little about No. 68, ” The Chitty-Bang-Bangs,” because I wrote it myself. It provides in a compact form what I wrote in ” The History of Brooklands Motor Course” about the three ZboroWski cars of this nickname, together with some additional facts and pictures provided by Anthony Harding. Incidentally, the fate of Chitty III has never been revealed, to my knowledge, althourh I know that Chitty I was .definitely reduced to scrap.
Godfrey Eaton should know all about ” The Brescia Bugatti,” which is the subject of No. 69, so I will not even attempt to take this one to pieces, although, if any criticism is justified, it is that a Profile is too brief to do full justice to this famous car and its racing history. One page of colour drawing by Leech depicts Du Montant’s 1924 J.C.C. 200 Mile Race car. It is shown in blue, which a footnote suggests is correct, but I think these cars had been yellow and also black in their time and as the regulations for the race required the 1 i-litre cars to be painted yellow, one wonders if this rule was afterwards rescinded, if indeed the O’Day team of Brescias was blue; anyway, their numbers were on the scutdcs, not on the tails.
D. B. Tubbs sets out to be critical in No. 70, ” The Wolseley Hornet & Hornet Specials ” hut appears to pack a great deal of data about these sparcely-documented cars into the space available, with only superficial errors, although he is really rather rude about these somewhat unfortunate cars. ” The Healey Silverstone ” and its racing affrays are covered very well in No. 71, by Peter Browning, and the centre-spread of colour drawings includes an artist’s impression as well as the scale views, although in my copy the printing has suffered a horridly lurid calamity. This Profile recalls the fun I had when road-testing one of those solid, strong Riley-powered Healeys, taking it round Goodwood and getting ” the ton ” on country roads— oh, happy days of motoring freedom. Even then petrol was on ration, so I only just got it back to Warwick, on the last drop remaining in its tank. Sloniger gets down to the story of ” The Porsche Type 356 ” in No. 72, which contains some very complete specification tables for the years 1950-65, and No. 73 is a scholarly -study of ” The Racing Peugeots, 1912-1919 ” by William Court, who contrives to be very interesting and to offer a very great deal of ” inside ” information about cars which were already comprehensively covered. The author refuses to be drawn over the controversial retirement of Boillot in the 1914 French G.P. hut is not adverse to comparinp the advanced design nf the Peugeots with that of other makes of contemporary racing cars. This is a %lay good one! Next came No. 74, ” The Isotta Fraschmi Tipo 8 Series,” about .vnich ‘I’. R. Nicholson writes a worthy discourse, although it is two pages of a 12-page Profile before the Tipo 8 cars are discussed; they are compared sensibly with other luxury cars of the period, like the Hispano Suiza and ‘Rolls-Royce. There are s,;me rare pictures, even on of an 8A SS in the 1926 Targa Abruzzo. John Bolster contributes
a splendidly complete and rousing story in Profile No. 75, titled simply ” Bloody Mary.” I have always thought that no-one had more fun than John, racing his fearsome £25 130-m.p.h. home-built car and beating the best professionally-made racers in the early 1930s. This is the story of how he did this and how it all came about and worked out. I have read it before in Mo-roa Srowr and in Bolster’s book, yet it is so nice to have it to hand in this 2s. Profile, with some new (or forgotten) pictures Of ” Mary,” including artist’s and working drawings (the latter for those who want to have h ” Bloody ” of their own?). There are, too, specifications of the car as it was in 1929 (two-cylinders, 13 b.h.p.), through 1931 and 1933, to the four-cylinder 1934 model that packed 100-120 b.h.p. into the wooden frame. Modestly told, this is irresistible reading…. So much has been published about Rileys that George Oliver is left little new to say about ” The Touring Riley Nines ” in Profile 76. But he proceeds to sort them out reasonably satisfactorily, with a useful table of changes down the years (1927-1938); it is a pity that something went wrong with Crawley’s front-view of a 1934 Monaco and that the picture of a 1 i-litre Falcon has crept into the story. Another valuable one is No. 77 in which J. R. Buckley takes us through the development of ” The V8 and Straight-8 Jensens 1935-1949.” He specialises in writing about big high-grade motor cars and does the Jensen proud, dealing for a couple of pages with its origins from special-bodied Austin 7s onwards. The various big decked tourers are well illustrated and explained and even the V12 Lincoln-engined version creeps in. One wonders about the 120 b.h.p. from the Ford VS-powered models, nor does the author recall the reticence Jensens showed for naming the make of the engines they used. Reading this one is to make you want to find and run a straight-8 Jensen, even if one caption is incorrect, the 22 h.p. Ford V8 model has been omitted, and Meadows engines possibly confused with Nash in the latter part of the account. No. 78 is a masterpiece of how these Profiles should be written, being on ” The Maserati 250F Grand Prix Car ” by Denis Jenkinson. This one is packed with worthwhile information, even to tables giving specification, numbers and a potted history of 33 different 250Fs, including the now notorious 2513, and results of races in which these Maseratis figured, again with their numbers. You could hardly have a more complete and useful record than that
Posihumus was entrusted with ” The 1906-1908 Grand Prix Renaults,” No. 79, presumably because he now edits Renault’s British house-journal. With not very much left to say, this accomplished historian says it most effectively, and the colour drawings by Leech of the 1906 G.P. winner are excellent—but how do artists get the dimensions correct when the car they are painting has ceased to exist? I knew that ” The Trojan Utility Car,” which is the subject of Profile 80, would be great fun, for it is by Anthony Bird. It is, and the pictures, if not very well reproduced, are great fun also. But it has all been done, rerhaos better, in various places before, including MOTOR SPogr, and the Trojan O.C. is furious with Tony for saying incorrectly that there was a dog clutch on the flywheel and for committing other errors, including referring to the M.C.C. as the Midland Car Club! The Apollo sun-roof saloon, one of which I owned for a brief spell, isn’t mentioned but the fixed-head Achilles saloon is, with pictures. I enjoyed this one, errors and all—speaking of which, I see the Trojan 0.C. themselves got into a muddle recently over the matter of whether a Trojan’s track really fitted the tramlines, which ” Cassandra ” (see Book Reviews “) referred to as ” an albatross-ofa -joke.” . . ” The Miller Straight Eight ” is nicely sorted out by Griffith Borgeson in No. 81, which is greatly enhanced by many engine drawings and photographs. I.ockhart’s Miller 91 which claimed 171 m.p.h. from 11-litres in 1927 is illustrated, and Duray’s Miller is shown doing 148.1 m.p.h at the 23-mile banked Packard test-track (what became of this Brooklands-like course?), this being claimed as a” World’s closed-course record,” neither of which the F.1.A. would have recognised. The influence of Henry of Peugeot on the Miller racing engines and the subsequent copying by Bugatti of the American twin-cam power unit is covered and as one who has frequently campaigned for the survival of F.1 as the highest form of motor racing, I was interested to see that Borgeson regards 1929 as the ‘ast year of the golden-age in the U.S.A., after which ” A new, $o called ‘junk’ formula was introduced in an effort to lure mass-produe lion manufacturers into racing and to make it easy for heavy, cast-iron machinery to win.” May that never happen in Europe. This is another excellent Profile, slightly marred by saying that Zborowskt. with S. C. H. Davies as his mechanic, finished second to Divo in the
1923 Spanish G.P., thus paving his way to the Mercedes team; Zborowski was third in that race, but with 3 lislitre Aston Martin. The author may have been confused with the 1924 French G.P., from which Zborowski and Davies retired in the 2-litre Miller, and intended presumably to refer to a minor Sitges track race, in which the Miller did come in second to Divo. The colour centre-spread by Rush is of a 1928/9 Miller in the Los Angeles County Museum. No. 95 is Michael Sedgwick sorting out ” The ‘Traction Avant’ Citroens, 1934-1955 ” in characteristically thorough style. A very intriguing study—and don’t forget that pre-war Citroens of this
sort rank as V.S.C.C. post-vintage thoroughbreds ! These early application of pneumatic suspension to the back wheels of that so satisfying Citroen Big Six is suitably so called for appreciative readers. In No. 94 Henmstone Oliver writes of “The 8and 12-cylinder PackardS, 1923-42,” a formidable task in the wordage available, which may he why this Profile is about as confusing as the Packard book. But it will be useful to prospective Packsrsi fanciers, who may be relieved to /earn that ” all Pad:arch were easily operated.” The R & S Special, a Packard-powered f.w.d. 1937 I»dianarofis racing car, is illustrated, as is Duray’s Miller on the Packard test track (.although why the text goes out of its way to say the car carried the number12 when it took the lap record there; whereas in the picture it is clearly carrying number 4, only the Profile Editor knows!). We have a concise history of ” The V16 B.R.M.,” No. 96, by Hodges & Harry Mundy.
Profiles 82 and 83 are complementary, inasmuch as the first is by Sedgwick on ” The Meadows-engined Lea-Francis “and the Second by Teague on “The Tourist Trophy Replica Frazer Nash “—both are extremely good value. Sedgwiek deals with the early small LeaFrancis as well as with the exciting Hyper models, No. 84 is a Dave/Pritchard study of ” The Ferrari Tip.o 34(1 & 375. Sports Cars,” I have done my best, from personal experience, with ” The Alfonso Hispano-Suiza ” in No 85 (a pity the oil tank has fallen off the car I once owned, in Rush’s plan View of it!), and No. 86 is a truly erudite study of “The 18/80 M.G.” by Wilson McComb, who makes me want to go out and find one of these cars for restoration! This is history as it should be written. It goes without saying that Hull and Fusi on ” The P2 Grand Prix Alfa Romeo,” No. 87, and Jenkinson on ” The B.M.W. Type 328,” No. 89, are equally painstaking, although, inevitably, the former has little new to reveal. No. 88 is about “The Lincoln Continental 1940-1948 ” by W. S. Jackson, the many variants of ” The Ford GT ” are clarified by W. S. Stone in No. 90, and Bird does his customary masterly treatment Of “The Rolls-Royce ‘Silver Ghost'” in Ni). 91. Two exceedingly pleasing and informative Profiles are Nos. 92 and 93; they cover ” The 2-litre A.C. Six” by ‘Tubbs and “The 2-litre and 8-cylinder Ballots ” by Paul Frere. The former reminds us of the divers manifestations of the famous A.C. Six engine, which lasted 44 years, and of which several are used in existing vintage Specials cone hopes without the intrusion of post-war mods.) while Frere really digs out the intimate aspects of the rare Ballots, embellishing his story with some fine contemporary pictures.
Nos. 61 to 96 are available as a handsome bound volume, with a Foreword by the Rt. Hon. the Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, priced at 84s., from Profile Publications Ltd., P.O. Box 26, Leatherhead, Su trey.
And that was the, last of the Profiles.—W.B.