Pity the Unhappy Historian!



The historian who busies himself with motor-racing history is largely dependent on contemporary race reports in the motoring journals. Thus he is open to be hopelessly confused by the fallibility of reporters, or rendered hopelessly inaccurate if he gleans information from one source only. To illustrate the pitfalls that await him, let us consider how the recent Italian Grand Prix will appear to the scribe of, say, 1977. Because Britain gained her greatest Grand Prix victory of all time in this race and Vanwall won the first British Continental Grande Epreuve since Segrave and the Sunbeam came home first at Tours 34 years ago, great interest centres about what took place at Monza, and will do so as long as motoring history is written. Let us, then, see what different contemporary reports have to say about some leading aspects of this great race (see table below) :—

Perhaps sufficient evidence has been provided to fill you with sympathy for future writers of motor-racing history? There were plenty of other discrepancies amongst the motor scribes at Monza! One paper retired Godia instead of Piotti, later to award him ninth place, one report says a chunk of rubber came out of Brooks’ tyre, another that this happened to Lewis-Evans, while some reports put the Italian cars on nitro-benzine fuel, others put it into the tanks of the Vanwalls, and only one reporter said the Ferraris were using nitro-methane. Some journals referred to axle changes in practice for the Vanwalls, others ignored this, and no one told us whether they were raised or lowered if they were altered at all. One journalist became excited about the deflector shield on the top of the V12 Maserati engine, forgetting it was in use at Rouen, and lots of editors used “Vanwall Hat Trick” for headlines, overlooking the fact that this would have been true had Vanwall won at Nurburg but wasn’t so after Monza. And, by 1977, no one will ever know how Harry S(c)hell spelt his name!  I repeat, pity the unhappy historian in years to come! — W. B.

VW News

In the Australian Mobilgas Economy Trial the first six places were taken by Volkswagens.


At the Plaistow Repair Depot of the British Volkswagen concern a modern paintshop has just been added, in which complete VWs can be expeditiously spray-painted.


Apart from the revised appearance of the saloon VW, the Karman-Ghia coupe, already one of the most handsome production cars on the road, is to be slightly altered in respect of the roof-line and the appearance of the tail.