BOOK REVIEWS, October 1960, October 1960

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BOOK REVIEWS

“The Motorists’ Weekend Book.” Edited by Michael Frostick and Anthony Harding. 304 pp. 8Ir in. x 5A in. (B. T. Botsford Ltd., 4, Fitzltardinge Street, London; If . 25s.)

Batsford certainly contribute generously to the spate of books about motoring which continues to flood the market, but most of their titles are readable and all are beautifully and carefully produced. Their ” Weekend Book” goes further than that; it is a delightful change from the more solid, often dreary motor history hooks; indeed, it is enormous fun, skilfully written and compiled, and we hope sincerely that it will appear, if not annually, then every two years or so.

It is just a collection of articles by more than 25 authorities, lightheartedly composed, splendidly illustrated and spliced with a fine photographic section and many pithy quotes, oeins, cartoons, etc. In fact, this is the motoring equivalent of the” Saturday Book” only much inure fun.

For instance. Ronald Barker looks outspokenly and humorously at the differences between cars of the various nations, cleverly portraying what character is still to be found in the World’s automobiles. He refers to the Citroen DS as today’s bravest massproduced car but finds the ” funny old engine in that advanced shell as out of place as a cloche hat in a space ship.” He chides Britain’s designers, reminding them that we should now be producing cars to make the Citro6a look thoroughly dated, for it has been in production for over five years—but we are not. Barker calls for a British Combination Car, so that your Ausley-Mowog can wear its Og, Aus, Mo or Ley front as fashion or fancy dictates .-..

Anthony Bird explains the reasons for collecting and driving ancient cars, recalling how for a long time he found all he required from a 1912 Chevron Coupe, which recalled for hint all the virtues of a doctor’s coupe he had known in boyhood, even to the brass steering column. (His love didn’t endure for ever, for did he not sell this same Charlton At the Beaulieu A-uction for some £500?) Ile is quite correct when he remarks that as life goes on the veterans you can buy for a fiver are found only by rich men who already own a stableful of desirable cars !

Alan Reeve-Jones contributes a pungent and sexy piece on ” Love -on the Run.” I). B. Tubbs considers the speeds achieved at Le Mans and in the T.T. by the vintage giants and shows their performances to have been mediocre compared to those of today’s sports cars. Ile thinks that had Coatalen or W. 0. Bentley built a vintage sports car in the spirit of Duesenberg’s 1921 G.P.-winning racing car the outcome would have been different. There is a quote from ” Full-Throttle,” the book Sir Henry Birkin, Bt., didn’t write, an explanation of how motor journalists prevent the wool of publicity from being drawn over their scientific eyes when

THE BLIND EYE.—In his chapter in the Botsford ” Weekend Book ” about the public road sprints of the 1920s the Editor of MOToa Sewwr refers to the local policemen no doubt being a little deaf and unable to check the speeds of competitors at these carefree events. Two We/sh policemen raise no objection to this single-seater bull-nose Morris

competing at Caerphilly Hill in 1922.

conducting road-tests, by Joseph Lowrey, while William Bodily pours out some more nostalgia in contemplating the public-road sprint meetings of the carefree ‘twenties, reminding us of the powers, speeds and potential incidents of which the racing cars of the 19191925 era were capable.

Dorothy Levitt has been resurrected to give us a splendidly snobbish piece about tipping servants and chauffeurs (before the days of powerful Trade Unionism), and Cyril Posthumus drools of Nuvolari under the heading of ” The Farmer’s Son.”

David Scott-Moncrieff confesses quite openly of his close associations with the used-car trade and other sometimes delightfully dubious deals and regales readers of the “Weekend Book • with stories of debutantes, gay parties, Monte Carlo and -the Balkans.

Paul Frere looks at ” Half A Century of Dicing,” Robin Richards drives A microphone, S. C. H. Davis relives Le Mans, 1926, and W. G. S. Wike provides a grand article on Motor Shows in the tradition of the V.S.C.C. Bulletin as it once was. His discourse on the ability of cars from different countries and their drivers to avoid the old lady who steps off the kerb in their path is masterly; you will get the idea when we remark that of America Wike retorts : “Old ladies no longer step off the sidewalk in Fifth Avenue. They’re all dead !”

Not unnaturally, Denis Jenkinson pines for the open-road races or “Giros ” which died with the Mille Miglia, recalling such contests seen both as spectator and competitor. Sir Henry Segrave is returned to us to explain how to take corners in a fast car, and there is a line laugh (indeed, a succession of them) in Frostick’s day at the races, which Walkerley embellishes from the viewpoint Of a reporter confined to the Press box at a big International event.

On a more serious note, John Wyer weighs in with a compact but enlightening chapter on how the Aston Martin D114 was conceived and developed, and William Haynes, Technical Director of Jaguar Cars Ltd., writes about ” Designing for Sports-Car Boeing.” Cecil Clutton has chosen to write about Ettore Bugatti, commencing. ” If you want to grind-in the valves on a 5-litre Bugatti you start off by removing the back axle.”

George Monkhouse devotes his chapter to that marvellous day at Oulton Park When Tony Brooks and Peter Collins unleashed the pre-war G.P. Mercedes-Benz there and Lord Montagu has given us a very revealing and lighthearted look at what people do and say when visiting his museum—” What a pity ! You haven’t got one of the old twin-cam 20/85s here I ” or ‘ I was second motor-man to Lady Z When she bought her third Vinot-Deguingand,” etc. Lord Montagu stresses strongly that he cannot abide static museum exhibits and that cars at Beaulieu go into action as frequently as possible; he gives as one of several reason why he likes visiting other people’s museums the fact that ” nobody’s tiling to sell me anything.” Wot, no auctions ! There are chapters on Indianapolis, Rallies, Motoring Clothes, the Art of Driving, Health, and Pomeroy’s Picnic (£6 Is. 9d. for four, inclusive of -a i-bottle of Bual Madeira, bottle of non-vintage champagne and part-bottle of Cointreau). John Eason-.Gibson concludes with some episodes front history which prove the greatness of such racing drivers as Nuvolari, Salvadori, Tony Holt, and Fangio. With these great names he links those of Hawthorn and Scat-Brown. We like Barker’s verse about the American diplomat’s small who, through curiosity, was sucked into the bowel’s of his dad’s Powerflow Eight, and we note that, translated, regulations for a Continental event read : ” Competitors will defile themselves on he promenade at 11 a.m., and each car will have two drivers, who will relieve themselves at each other’s conveniences,”

In fact, we like Botsford’s ” Weekend Book” enormously. Boy it, browse through it, enjoy it. Here, thank St. Christopher, is motoring book that 18 different. ” hantbard Kingdom Brunel.” by L. T. C. Rolt. 345 pp. 9 in. X 6 in. (Longmans..Green and Co. Ltd., 6 & 7, Clifford Street, London, W.1. 300

Sometimes even the most rabid of motoring enthusiasts must feel the need for .a change and here is a book, • albeit by a well-known vintage motoring personality, which provides just the required’ change of mental exercise as you relax after a long drive or a spell in the garagegrappling with recalcitrant motoring machinery. Tom Bolt tells a fascinating talc of one of-the World’s great pioneer engineers, giving As as much an insight into lsambard Kingdom Brunel’s character and the difficulties under which he worked, as of his great feats of engineering, which include the Thames Tunnel, of which project he was engineer-in-charge when only 20 years of age,

the building of the Great Western Railway, the dramatic conquest of the Atlantic by steamship; and the fiasco of the steamship Great Britain which caused Bruners.ptemature death, in 1859, at the age of 52.

There are many facets to Roles excellent hook, which is, significantly., the first frill biography of Brunel to he published, but there will be few motorists who will fail to ndrnire lsambard’s tenacity in travelling so far and fast in an age of horse-drawn road transport, or who will not want to keep their eyes open for remains of Bruttel’s work and mennuments that stand firm today in his memory.

This is, then, a fascinating biography of a great man. bolt has been at great pains to ensure accuracy and to give in detail the story of Brunel’s swift rise to fame, lie has written two similar books dealing with the lives of George Robert Stevenson, covering the railway revolution, and with Thomas Telford, perhaps the greatest bridge builder and road maker the World has ever known. These hoeks are by the same publisher, priced respectively at 30s. and 255., and the three form a triolog,y which should be in every engineer’s bookcase.–W. B. ” The Calculus Affair,” by Ilerge. 62 pp. 10 in. x 9 in. (illethnen & Co. Ltd., 36, Essex .Street, London, W.C.2. Bs. 6d.)

This is-an adventure set out in cartoon form by the Belgian artist Iferge. Herge and his team are meticulous in their observation of detail and this lifts this book out of the mediocre and makes its study a unique pleasure. In this particular Tintin adventure many aecurately depicted (!al’s are seer, notably a 2 c.v. Citroen stopping in a hurry, so that its occupants’ heads are compressed into the fabric roof, and many other makes. front VW to Mercedes-Benz. There is a subtle touch of humour, too, in some mythical Soviet-Fascist State cars which use the moustache of the Dictator kurvi-Tasch as a styling gimmick.

The children may even forego T.v. to ” read ” Ilerge. so. especially if you have a big family, this tutimie book earl be a good investmend. W. B. ? -?

” Commercial Road Vehicles,” by E. I,. Cornish. 288 pp. in. x 6 in. (13. T. Bats/Ord Ltd., 4, Fitzhardinge Street, Lombon, W.I. 30s.) Here is another of Batsford’s ” study ” books, produced in their standard, high-class style. The author, who is the Technical Editor of Modern Transport, traces the history of the commereial road vehicle, petrol, Si cain and electric, from the dawn of road travel to the present day.

This is a worthy introduction to the sphere of the ” heavies ” for those motorists who wish to k-now about the vehieles they so often find themselves driving behind ! Naturally, in the space at his disposal, Mr. Cornish huts had to be somewhat brief. bnit he hos picked nit t the highlights of many famous commercial annl pantie service vehicles down the years, and illustrated a generous number of these, so that his book will delight student’s of vintage eommereial vehieles.

The hook also puts the reader no fait with modern commercial .vehicle design: and any eugineer will tell you that in the. World of the ” heavies ” vintage standards of perfection still prevail, while no one earn deny the fascination of turbocharging. forced-induction diesel engines, plastic bus bodies, multi-fuel engines and pneumatic sospension. There is a chapter devoted to the histories of existing and ” lost cause ” commercial and public service vehicle companies and fine pictures of such vehicles, ancient and modern. Mr. Cornish also deals with taxation, the origin of roads and their development and motor vehicle, laws as these affected commercial vehicle development.

Titi, hook 1,3, whetted our appetite for a more detailed vohnne about vintage commercial vehicles and, bearing in mind the spate of motor books pouring from the presses and the competitive spirit Drat appears to exist between experts-turned-authors, such a hook may not be far distant.—W. B.

“The Construction of Ford Specials,” by John Mills, 128 pp. 128 pp. 81 in. v 1-q, in. (B. T. Botsford Ltd.. Fitzhardinge Street, London, W. I. 141s.)

This book is excellent value for those interested in building a sports car of Ford components. whieh the excellent range of fibreglass body shells now on thin market encourages. Theauthor, who is Editor of Car Mechanics, estimates such a ” special ” can be built for about 1325-X400 and he sets out to tell you how to do it.

The l6 chapters cover all aspects of the task. including how to trim, tax and insure the completed vehiele, and appendiees give lists of suppliers of body shells, components and tools, lighting regulations and data about Ford Eight and Ten engines. “The Bugatti Story.” 115 pp. 8 in. X 51 in., soft covers. (Sports Car Press Ltd., 419, Fourth Avenue, [Vu-se York. N.Y. $1.9.)

Ettore’Bugatti and his engineering activities have been the subject Of many book and more articles, hut this latest book about the great artist/designer of Molsheinn adds something to the store of knotefedge on the subje.et. of Bugatti. It tells the general story of Ilugattes career and the ears he built, with a few personal aneenlotes of the author added fur good measore. In addition, ” The Bugatti Story ” contains, by courtesy of the Bugatti expert II. G. Conway and the Newcomen Society,. the complete illustrated text of the paper abbot Bugatti’s inventions (some truly remarkable. others’ bearing OD his automotive products) which Conway read before the Society last last year.

This is fascinating material, filling half the book, with some intriguing eonelosions drawn from study of these patents filed from 1901 to 1944. There is also a complete list of Bugatti victories in great races from 1926 to 1939; a useful list of Bugatti Types, with specifications,. and a table of Bugatti wins at Brooklamla from 1925 to 1939, quoting drivers and fastest lap speeds. There are also some refreshingly new pictures. Avid followers of I,e Patron will want to add this new material to their archives. In this country ” The Bugatti Story ” is handled by Autobooks of Brighton.

The British Motor Racing Marshals Club issues a printed quarterly magazine, Illarshallaneous NEWS. and a car badge, anti does work of inestimable value at race meetings. Those who want to play a useful part in the Sport but cannot afford tin race are well advised to join and learn to do useful work on behalf of race organisers. The Hon. Secretary is E. C. .Cornwell, 11, Ashley Road, Peno, Wolverhampton, who will doubtless be delighted to send detailsto readers of MoTOR SPORT.