REVIEWS, November 1994



Mini Mania! DD Video, £12.99.

Don’t be shocked to be faced with World War II when you slot this one in; it turns out to be a trailer for military videos. But the programme itself also surprised me, beginning in fake grainy B&W with actors and a Sixties plotline, before bursting into colour on Mini matters. It’s an unusual compilation, moving from Paddy Hopkirk demonstrating his Pirelli Marathon-winning Cooper to a mysterious interlude at a garage in the Mid-West USA (about an Arizona family who own 16 Minis), back to John Cooper and on to a recent “Italian Job” charity run. Unusually there is no voiceover, just the participants talking; instead rolling text on-screen feeds us facts. A good thing too, because the pace is slow in places, though Mini lovers will revel in the leisurely scenes. Uneven, but interestingly different from the usual breathless marque histories. GC

Top Gear Classic Cars. BBC Video, £10.99

You probably saw these first time round on the programme, but here Top Gear’s Quentin Willson collates his classic pieces, in, as he says, no special order or merit. After a rather sententious intro concerning scrapyards, he gets into the Stag, Daimler SP250,and Ferrari Dino, raves about Gordon-Keebles, curls his lip at a Facel-Vega, drools over E-type and Mk II, and writhes with delight over a long-awaited run in a 427 Cobra. They’re obviously Willson’s personal favourites, as his animation shows; the only linking factor, Dino and E apart, is the woofle of a big V8 even the token “affordable”, the MGB, scrapes in here in one variant. To quote the man himself, this is “an indulgent trawl through some old cars”. G C

Completely Morgan Four-wheelers, 1936 to 1968, by Ken Hill. Veloce, £35.00.

I have lost count of how many books Morgans, both three-wheelers and four wheelers, have inspired, including my own MOTOR SPORT vintage history of the former.

This one makes a real effort to provide about everything anyone could want to know about the four-wheelers of 1926 to 1968 in its 372 large art pages. History of course, but also restoration and repair advice, maintenance tips and a mass of data sheets, wiring diagrams, specification tables, club addresses round the world, etc. The pictures are good, the information truly comprehensive. W B

Cobra The Real Thing! by Trevor Legate. Veloce, £45.00.

Photographer Legate has filled this book with very splendid pictures of Cobras, mostly in colour, supported by an informative text, reprints of road-test reports, etc. It’s all there the AC origins, the Shelby story, development of the 289, 427 and AC289 Cobras in racing, and lots of useful data. And. as said, marvellous pictures. W B

SMTS Aston Martins.

Scale Model Technical Sevices has just added the Aston Martin Project racers to its range. Project 212 (car 11 in the photograph) was driven at Le Mans in 1962 by Graham Hill/Ritchie Ginther, while P214 (number 8) and P215 (18) were handled the following year by Bruce McLaren/Innes Ireland and Phil Hill/Lucien Bianchi respectively. The sister P214 (Jo Schlesser/Bill Kimberley) is also available. They cost £27 each in kit form, £62 ready-built.

The MG Collection — The Pre-War Models by Richard Monk. PSL, £19.99.

Another book of outstanding photography, although it is a pity that some great stills of the older MG models, on the very large pages that should show them to perfection, are run over two of these, thus bisecting them. But don’t mind too much: if you favour MGs the coverage will make up for this, because every conceivable type, from what most writers still insist on calling “Old No 1” to the TB Midget, are dealt with in much detail, both smaller picture-wise and in the text — here you find this coverage of not only the D12 as well as the lesser M-types but of the replica MG Midget Abingdon Works High Speed Service van, and specialist bodywork on various models, etc. The picture quality is excellent, thus embellishing the informative text. So, 187 pages from photographer Richard Monk, who manages the MGOC, owns a 1973 MGB GTV8 he has driven for 200,000 miles and a 1933 MG LI Magna. Foreword by Rivers Fletcher. W B

The Motor for the Million, 1922-1939, by R I Wyatt. Roadmaster Publishing, £19.95.

This was the first serious history of the Austin 7, and was published by Macdonald in 1968. It went into a second edition, done by David & Charles in 1972, and it required a second and third impression, and a new edition, in 1982, before it went out of print. It is good news for A7 enthusiasts that this tribute to “The Motor for the Million”, has now been re-published, with amendments. W B

Competition Car Suspension, by Allan Staniforth. Haynes, £19.99.

Allan Staniforth, ex-RAF navigator and Daily Mirror reporter, who has been associated with many specials, tackled a book on the erudite subject of car suspension and how to set it up for competition work, which was published in 1988 and was reprinted in 1991. It has now been up-dated, and contains the author’s explanation and views on current FIA banning of electronic controls and the damage this may cause to racing. W B

The 1949-59 VW Beetle, by Bob Wilson. TPR, $22.95.

It would be interesting to know which car has had the most books written about it! The VW Beetle must be in the running, and now another on it has emerged, from TPR Inc, of Indianapolis, USA. This 114 page, 458-picture book is, we are told, “not a factory history or ‘How To’ book”, but one that describes the detailed changes made to the Beetle between 1949 and 1959. Lots of information for Beetle fans from TPR, 7510 Allisonville Road, Indianapolis, IN46250, against Visa and Mastercards. W B

Bugatti radiator clocks.

These Type 35B radiator grille replica timepieces are now available from Kevin Mason Precision and Fine Art Castings, although the production run is limited to 250. Hand cast and finished in pewter, with a bronze cap, they cost £86 each. Contact 091 438 5585 for full details.