Book reviews, November 1983, November 1983

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“On The Road” by Jackie Stewart. 120 pp. 10″ x 7″ (Collins Willow, 8 Grafton Street, London, W1X 3LA £7.95).

The reason this book gets into the full-review section of this book reviews’ page is on account of the fame of its author rather than the breathtakingly thrilling content of his book. Jackie Stewart needs no introduction to our readers, although they may hold the view that apologies are due for some of his views, and his influence on the way modern motor racing has developed. Be that as it may, Stewart is widely known as a safety-first advocate and it is this theme he pursues throughout this somewhat superficial offering. Despite this, it has a certain charm, mainly that of being quickly read, for the semi-fictional examples the great ex-World Championship racing driver gives, of safety transgressions the world over, are short and sharp. The drawings that indicate the theme are by David Smith and John Montgomery and it comes as no surprise — if this is the right word to choose — that the great advocate of belting-up, Jackie Stewart, is an Overseas Director of BSG / Britax, the seat-belt manufacturers. . . . — W.B.

“The Story of Volvo Cars” by Graham Robson. 216 pp. 9 3/8” x 6 5/8” (Patrick Stephens Ltd, Barr Hill, Cambridge, CB3 8EL. £9.95).

We have become accustomed to Graham Robson writing erudite books and many articles on motoring subjects, with a quite remarkable prolificacy. But the books have usually been about the products of the British Companies with which Graham was closely associated before driving a typewriter, and of which he consequently has accurate, exhaustive, and often “inside” knowledge, cars such as Rover, Jaguar, Austin-Healey and the like. So it is something of a change to have Robson on Volvo. But welcome nevertheless, for this is a not very fully-documented make and thus another gap in one-make history has been closed. As an aside, not much is now left undone in this field, apart from books on Humber, Wolseley, Armstrong Siddeley and a few others. Back to Volvo. Robson starts with the birth of these cars and runs in detail through the 1930’s six-cylinder Volvos, the well-remembered PV544, the Amazon, and so to the P1900 and P1800 sports-coupes, and on to the more recent Volvo models, with a chapter on each of these subjects, Volvo’s competition history, the Swedish company’s world penetration, starting in the 1970s, and its DAF and Renault orientated factories. The appendices cover technicalities of the individual models, production statistics from 1927 to 1981, Volvo prototypes and specials that never went on the market, and the renowned Volvo truck, ‘bus, tractor, aero-engine and marine-engine products. Quite a catalogue! Hakan Frisinger, President of the Volvo Car Corporation, donates the Foreword.

The many pictures are rather drab, surprisingly from the “Land of the Midnight Sun”, which should surely help photography? But, apart from the fact that Pomeroy’s visit to Sweden for Motor is quoted but not Boddy’s for Motor Sport (when we did much on Volvo), I liked this one. — W.B.

“Wheels of the RAF” by Brace Robertson, 185 pp., 9 ¼ in x 6 ¾ in (Patrick Stephens Ltd., Barr Hill, Cambridge, CB3 8EL. £9.95).

This is an enormously interesting book, giving the detailed story of RAF transport vehicles, from those used by the RFC and RNAS to the inter-war, war-time, and post-war vehicles of all kinds employed by the RAF, up to date. As one would expect of aeronautical historian Bruce Robertson, the book is authoritative and detailed — even to such data as the paint, grease and cleaning materials allocated to an RAF push-cycle! I found the contents enthralling and although plenty of mostly “new” pictures are provided, could have done with many more. Commercial vehicle addicts must buy this one, and it should also be of the greatest interest to military disciples and old-motor enthusiasts. All the expected vehicles are there, and some unexpected ones, like the American armoured Seabrooks that rushed dangerously about our country lanes hoping to intercept Zepps. Private cars in the service of the flying corps, and appropriate armoured vehicles, are included, so Rolls-Royce folk and others will find much of especial interest. Drawings show vehicle markings, rank insignia, etc. and there are tables of numbers of vehicles and how allocated, locations, and so on. Don’t miss this one. — W.B.

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Keeping company with earlier period-history books by Michael Sedgwick, Newnes Books ‘Temple Press, 84-88, The Centre, Feltharn, Middlesex, TW13 4BH, have come up with an enormous volume, copiously illustrated with line drawings and colour pictures of “Cars of the Fifties and Sixties”. It runs to 240 12 in x 10½ in pages and costs a modest £11.95. — W.B.

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Those who still have an interest in, or even use, the old side-valve almost indestructible small Fords will be interested in a new book from the Ford Side Valve OC called “The 100E Side Valve Saloons” by Melvin D. Smith. It follows a similar soft-cover book “A History of Small Side Valve Fords” published by the Club in 1981 to celebrate its 10th anniversary and will at first be sold to Club members, but will later be available to non-members at £2.50. Apply to Bruce Palmer, 13 St Bernardi, Chichester Road, Croydon CRO 5UL. Some material from Motor Sport has been included and there are 79 pages and eight pictures.

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Those who crave an Ulster Austin 7 are obliged to build a replica will find invaluable information and data in “A Guide To Building Reproduction Austin Ulsters” by C. S. W. Gould. This is the third edition of this large 61-page book. It is packed with excellent photographs, drawings, measurements, lists of component suppliers, and everything anyone should need to know to get such a car on the road. Send £6 to the author at 8 Georgia Avenue, Worthing, Sussex BN14 8AZ; this includes UK postage. Light Car’s 1931 road-test report on a non-blown £185 Ulster is included.

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Another splendid public-service-vehicle history has been published by the Transport Publishing Co of Glossop, this one being the first part of the story of Barton Transport, who operated buses and coaches in the East Midlands and further afield. The glossy-paper 136 page (8¼” x 9¾”) book is by Alan Oxley and as is usual with this publishing house, it is packed with grand pictures and information. The period covered is 1908 to 1948. I know it is easier to document aviation and public-service vehicle history than mere motoring history, because aeroplanes and omnibuses have numbered identifications. But, even so, I never fail to marvel at how comprehensive is the photographic and textual coverage collected by Editor Alan Townsin and the keen authors he is so skilled at finding. If the subject does not appeal to you the pictures should, and you might well recommend the title to your friends who like ‘buses. The price is £9.50, or £11.75 in case covers.

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A rather superficial introduction to “The Motor Car”, but with the authority of Cambridge University Press behind it this little soft-cover publication, at £2.15, might be useful for giving to youngsters who want to know what our interest in the horseless-carriage is about.

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James Leasor’s fictional thriller “Open Secret”, published by Collins in 1982, is now available as a 322 page Fontana paperback for £1.75. As might be expected of a writer who owns four cars, including a FWD Cord, the story has a motoring undertone. — W. B .