Cars in Books, November 1974

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I am indebted to two readers for this month’s contribution. Mr. Wallace Mason of Cumberland, R.I., who has recently been touring in England and Wales and who visited the National Motor Museum before returning to America, refers to a book in which the famous Mrs. Emily Post describes a motor tour across the breadth of America. This is “By Motor to the Golden Gate” published around 1916 by D. Appleton & Co. The tour was undertaken by Mrs. Post, her son, and another member of the Post family, in an imported car—the son says that if they did it again they would use an American car. The book, our correspondent says, runs to 281 pages and contains 27 hand-drawn maps but never once refers to the car by make. Only 200 miles from home a bearing ran and as there was no agent in the town for this “unusual and special car” the garage to which it had been towed proposed to make a new bearing. Eventually a proper one was sent from the New York agent by train and the journey was delayed only one-and-a-half days. The usual adventures are recounted, of burst tyres, getting bogged down, etc., and in Iowa some Germans refused to show the travellers the way to Cedar Rapids, taking them to be British because they had put an RAC badge on the car when on tour in Britain in 1914. However, they eventually made San Francisco. From four pictures of the car it is seen to be a big touring car with three outside exhaust pipes protruding through the n/s of the bonnet, disc wheels, and detachable rims. It could well be 3 Mercedes, perhaps with a Gordon Watney body.

The other reader, Mr. Peter Wright of Freelands, refers to a book by a ballooning aeronaut, the Rev. John M. Bacon, called “BY Land and Sky” and published by Isbister and Co. Ltd. in 1903. Wishing to go from Oxford to Blenheim Park to carry out sound-wave experiments, the balloonist accepts a lift in a friend’s car, which made record time on the journey, although hats, guns and so on refused to stay put and in Oxford the police had to cleara way for the motorists through a herd of Barnam’s circus elephants. Again, unfortunately, the make of this early car isn’t disclosed.—W.B.