Book reviews, October 1962, October 1962

“Seven Year Twitch,” by Marcus Chambers. 225 pp. 8¾ in. x 5 5/8 in. (G. T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 1-5, Portpool Lane, Holborn, London, E.C.1 30s.)

This book, in which Marcus Chambers describes the seven years he spent as Competition Manager to the British Motor Corporation, will be both interesting and instructive to those who aspire to organising or driving in “works” rally teams. It also offers excellent entertainment to those who compete in rallies in their own cars and to everyone who takes any interest in motoring sport.

I have known Marcus Chambers for many years and am aware that his rather sleepy, outwardly disinterested approach can quickly be stimulated to warm-hearted enthusiasm and co-operation in connection with anything to do with motor cars—as I discovered when, knowing that a passing scrap-merchant had persuaded him to buy a big 1907 Renault of decidedly sporting propensities, I suggested that we should motor to Shelsley-Walsh in it and that Marcus should use it to open the course of a Bugatti O.C. Chalfont Hill-Climb.

After that I rather lost touch, as Marcus Chambers became associated with vintage Bentleys, a racing Austin 7, the Navy, marriage, H.R.G.s at Le Mans, ground-nuts and B.M.C. rally entries. In this book it is possible to live those last seven hectic rally seasons through the eyes of the Competition Manager of a big motor manufacturer.

“Seven Year Twitch” gives an excellent insight into the problems involved, the best deployment of cars and drivers, how spares and servicing facilities were laid on, and other relevant aspects of this exacting but fascinating task.

Chambers naturally got to know his drivers intimately and provides pen-portraits of them for those who enjoy that sort of thing—of Pat Moss: “Collects popular jazz records, and gadgets, anything, transistorized or not. Pat is immensely strong and very broad in the shoulders. Shows no sign of getting married at present; I suspect she loves horses more than men and cars.” Of Ann Wisdom: “She is nearly always car-sick on a rally . . . Her dress sense is excellent and she plans each stage of her wardrobe with the greatest care. She changes her hair styles frequently and likes to experiment with tints.” Obviously, a Competition Manager gets to know his drivers very well indeed.

This book explains clearly what rallies are all about, how the author organised his teams, who drove in them—with the aforesaid intimate details—and goes on to cover chapter by chapter the Monte Carlo, Tulip, Acropolis, Alpine, Liege, R.A.C. and other rallies, not forgetting some long-distance record runs at Montthery which Chambers enjoyed most of all. There are useful appendices, some of which are extracts from actual spares lists and instructions issued to B.M.C.’s drivers, including the fighting words of Team Leader John Gott, the famous rallvman who contributes the preface : “We have the toughest rally cars in the business (this was 1961) and the best support and preparation. We know what we are up against and how to cope. We have the firmest determination to repeat our 1960 showing—and we will! The best of luck. See you at Southend.” Fighting words indeed.

There have been several books about rallies recently. This is one of the best. — W. B.

“Plastic Model Cars,” by Cecil Gibson. 110 pp. 8 5/8 in. x 5 7/16 in. (Model Aeronautical Press Ltd., 38, Clarendon Road, Watford, Herts. 10s. 6d.)

There has been a number of books on motor-car modelling but this one is specialised, inasmuch as it covets working with the big variety of excellent plastic model-car kits now on the market. Every aspect of this fascinating hobby is covered, in practical fashion, and the book contains five double-pages of plans, of a 1/24-scale 1956 Lancia-Ferrari, of Vanwall details, of 1/32-scale Merit-kit B.R.M. with 1958 and 1959 variations, Lindberg Jaguar D and Strombacker Aston-Martin DBR 1/300 and Gordini and Lago-Talbot for finishing accurately the early 1/24-scale Merit kits. The foreword is by Stirling Moss. — W. B.

“Scientific Design of Exhaust & Intake Systems,” by Philip H. Smith. 212 pp. 81¾ in. .x 5 7/16 in. (G. T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 1-5, Portpool Lane, Holborn, London, E.C.1. 35s.)

The contents of this erudite book are evident from the title and, while it is the very opposite of popular reading, it fills a gap which tuning specialists, engine designers; and the “hot-up” boys have been aware of for a long time. Indeed, this is the first comprehensive text-book to be devoted solely to this important field of engine design and tuning.

The author is well qualified to embark on it and he had the wholehearted co-operation, we are told, of Dr. J. C. Morrison, an outstanding research engineer. The book provides for designing systems suitable for both silenced and unsilenced cars and covers the special problems of efficient “breathing” in motorcycle engines. Those people who believe much “buck-shee” power is to be had from improving inlet and exhaust flow (the Rover engineers are amongst them) should find this book a valuable investment. — W. B.

“Automobile Electrical Equipment,” by A. P. Young, 0.B.E., M.I.E.E., M.I.Mech.E., and L. Griffiths, M.I.Mech.E., A.M.I.E.E. 451 pp. 8¾ in.x 5½ in. (Iliffe .B.Rooks Ltd., Dorset House, Stamford Street, London, SE1. 55s.)

This is the seventh and considerably enlarged edition of a book which, since it was first published in 1933, has established itself as the standard work on the electrical equipment of cars, motorcycles, heavy vehicles and other applications of the automobile engine. The revisions have been extensive in order to bring the book right up-to-date with present-day practice and the latest developments relating to automobile electrical equipment. These revisions cover the present trend towards all-electric instrumentation; important changes in headlight and flashing light systems; the introduction of the high output rectified A.C. systems; battery improvements; and electronic piezo-electric ignition systems.

In view of the increasing application of solid state electronic devices on road vehicles, the theory underlying these devices it dealt with briefly in a new sub-section of Chapter One, in order to impart a useful working understanding of the subject to the uninitiated. The information on electrical control of transmission systems has been extended, and a separate chapter is now devoted to the subject. Finally, a chapter has been added dealing with eddy current brakes, which are now extensively used in Europe and America.

“Automobile Electrical Equipment  is not just a manual on current components. Starting with a lucid explanation of basic electrical theory, it goes on to cover the vehicle’s equipment as a whole, and then examines each item in detail, first explaining the fundamental principles underlying the operation and design of the piece of equipment concerned, and following this with practical details. Diagrams and photographs arc freely used.

Every aspect of generating, starting, lighting and ignition is dealt with, and information is given on a wide range of electrical accessories, on the suppression of radio and television interference, on battery charging and on workshop testing and adjustment.

Floyd Clymer’s latest titles are as follows : “Cast Iron Wonder,” the story of Chevrolet’s 6-cylinder model of 1929-53; a new edition of the ” VW Owners’ Handbook,” the “Chevrolet Corvair Complete Owners’ Hand-book” and the ” Corvette V8 Complete Owners’ Handbook ” covering the years 1955-1962. These useful manuals, paper-back and copiously illustrated, are available in England through the specialist motor bookshops which advertise in Motor Sport. “Cast Iron Wonder ” will intrigue many vintage-car enthusiasts and historians. This one is priced in America at 3 dollars,

Cars in books

Mr. A. W. Brodrick, of Preston, contributes the following:—

I cannot believe that I have been guilty of the sin of not reading my Motor Sport properly, but I cannot recall that your “Cars in Books ” articles have ever mentioned the splendid collection which appears in Henry Williamson’s “Philipp Maddison” series of novels.

From the steam buses and early cars and taxis which the hero, as a boy, watches in the early books, to the Swift and Humber cars he owns as a young infantry officer in the later novels, Williamson writes with accuracy and enthusiasm; the hero also owns a variety of motorcycles which include Rex and Indian machines. One of his last machines is a B.R.S. Norton, which is described with the loving fervour that can only come from past ownership on the part of the author, and there is a wonderful description of a run down the partially unmetalled A 30. from London to Devon, in winter, on this machine.

Since Motor Sport readers seem to be equally enthusiastic about vintage aeroplanes, can I mention Victor Ycatcs’ book “Winged Victory,” which deals with a Camel Squadron (Sopwith of course) in 1918? This is far and away the best-ever book on wartime flying; no wonder copies brought £5 apiece before the publishers reprinted the book.