Books for the Autumn
"The Engines Were Rolls-Royce" by Ronald W. Harker, OBE. 202 pp. 9 1/2" x 6". (Collier Macmillan Ltd., Stockley Close, Stockley Road, West Drayton, Middlesex, UB7 9BE £7.95).
It has been said, perhaps optimistically, that everyone has at least one book in them. Ronald Harker, brother of W. E. Harker of Harker Special memory (he still has his V8 racing car), who was test pilot, Export Sales Manager, Military and Industrial Liaison Officer and Military Adviser to Rolls-Royce, has managed two. This may have been why, when I began to read "The Engines Were Rolls-Royce", sub-titled "An Informal History of that Famous Company", I had the impression that I had heard it somewhere before. However, this is unfair, because there is much in this book not to be found In Harker's earlier "Rolls-Royce From the Wings" which we reviewed at the time of its publication.
While advanced students of Rolls-Royce engineering history may not learn much that was previously unknown to them from this book, it has some personal stories about life at the Company which are worth having. Harker points out that when he announced that he wanted an engineering career his father told him and his brother there was only one firm at which to be apprenticed — Rolls-Royce, the best — although the boys favoured Sunbeam's, because Segrave had just won the French Grand Prix in a Wolverhampton-built car. There is no doubt but that Mr. Harker, Senr., was right. But it would be nice if someone who was apprenticed to Sunbeam's, or to one of the other then-famous motor manufacturing firms, would set down what it was like, and even perhaps dispute that only at Derby, in those days, were true engineers moulded. Incidentally, I knew the comparatively high cost of being articled as a pupil to Rolls-Royce, or to Napier's at Acton for that matter, when my war-widowed mother investigated, at about the same time as the Harkers began at Derby. . . .
Some of this book is quite superficial, padding, using long-familiar scraps of Rolls-Royce history. I believe it was intended for American readers and I note that even American printers can let through the occasional error. That apart, avid R-R know-it-alls will want to add this one to their collection, for the personal anecdotes and inside stories, especialy about "Hs" (Lord Hives) that the author puts in. But be prepared for a lot of pictures you will have seen before. — W. B.
"Flying and Ballooning From Old Photographs" by John Fabb, 120 pp. 10" X 71/2" (B. T. Batsford Ltd., 4, Fitzhardinge Street, London, W1H 0AH. £6.95).
A varied and fascinating collection of pictures here, which must appeal to many of our readers, even if the range is rather too general and spread-over for specialised study. The book is divided into eight sections, about Ballooning, Airships, Lady Aeronauts, Fatalities, Navy and Army Flying, Personalities, Kites and Gliders and Heavier-than-Air Power Machines. All this is very much of the pioneering years, prior to WWI, with pictures from the author's collection, supplemented by others from various expedited sources, including the Tonbridge Historical Society. There is a very brief introduction and each picture has a short caption. The ballooning photographs are many and well selected, and later in the book we see a photograph of the traction engine and trailer used by the Royal Engineers Balloon Division at Aldershot in 1908. Those who know Farnborough should enjoy the several views of Laffans Plain as it was in the early flying period and machines are seen at Hendon before the war, one shot being of policemen at the inaugural meeting there in July 1911 being refreshed with Crossman & Paulin's beer.
The fatalities are rather gruesome and could have been omitted. The book is one of a series on various ancient epics. Reproduction of the 116 illustrations is only mediocre. — W.B.
"An Encyclopaedia of European Sports & GT Cars from 1961" by Graham Robson, 471 pp. 10" x 7". (Haynes Publishing Group Ltd., Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, BA22 7JJ, £15.50).
This thick volume is a useful guide to the cars it encompasses and who better to compile it than the industrious Graham. It gives the sort of information many students require, backed up with good photographs and tabulated specifications, for cars ranging from the AC Ace to the VW-Porsche, these being placed in different categories, with additional brief introductions by the author. The book is a weighty tome, with some pictures in colour and a good index. A companion volume, covering such cars, but from 1945 to 1960 is on the stocks of this prolific publisher of motoring titles. — W.B.
"Down The Hatch" by Mark Kahn, 160 pp 8 3/4" x 5 1/2" (Carole Pengelly, 14, St. Albans Street, The Haymarket, London SW1 . £6.95)
Here is another title to add to the now decently comprehensive list of books about individual racing drivers. This one is concerned with the life and fast times of the popular Tony Lanfranchi, - "motor racing's last cavalier" (how do they know?), to quote the sub-title. Lanfranchi may not be a F1 runner but he has in 21 years won over 400 awards in 1,200 races, crashing 14 times, so the book's publisher tells us, and Kahn has done a racy story about the hero of many a Brands Hatch battle. Tony is sponsored by Mayfair, for whom he had 48 wins in three seasons in their Opel Commodore, which may or may not be why the opening pages of his biography are punctuated by his early sexual adventures. This is, indeed, a light-hearted book that pairs-up well with the biography of Gerry Marshall, by Jeremy Walton. Because Lanfranchi has driven a great variety of cars, in rallies as well as races, and because he knows so many participants, the story holds one's interest and is, of course, about' modern and comparatively recent racing.
In fact, if any vintagent expects to read a bit about how Tony acquired his taste for the game from a dad who raced an upright Alfa Romeo at Brooklands he will be disappointed, because there is no connection — I know, because I once asked Tony about this, thinking he might respond, but he just gave me a puzzled look. His father was a caterer, which is why Tony, when a 2nd.-Lt. in the Royal Artillery, asked for a transfer to the Catering Corp., and got it. But there is a picture of the Austin Seven Chummy Tony drove in 1960, and his first car was a Dellow, in 1955, and he did his first race in a Healey Silverstone and he has even raced a supercharged Ford Thames van, at Rufforth. But mostly this book is of faster things, and very readable. — W.B.
"Car Repairs Properly Explained" and "Car Doctor A-Z" by B.C. Macdonald. 192 pp each. 7" x 4 1/4", paperback. (Elliot Right Way Books, Kingswood, Surrey KT20 6TD. 75p + 15p P&P)
These companion paperback volumes have been updated on several occasions since their first publication in 1966, but have now been completely revised. The former deals with routine simple repair jobs which the car owner may wish to carry out himself. There are chapters covering all the major assemblies, and the advice given is sensible, if very general and rather basic. The chapter on the engine covers only the task of decarbonising the cylinder head, and the chapter on bodywork runs only to six pages, while that on M.o.T. Test preparation is but two pages, despite being mentioned on the front cover as a special feature. One piece of advice contained in the book is worth quoting — it comes from the chapter entitled "Methodical Working and What to do when Things go Wrong":— "Do not dismantle anything you have no knowledge of without having some written instructions and preferably illustrations of the component . .". Wise words, which effectively advise the reader to buy a manual for his particular car, rendering the book superfluous. On the other hand, "Car Doctor, A-Z" will be found to be very used by the home mechanic who is baffled by any strange malady apparent in his car. The volume is divided into thirty chapters, each starting with a resume of symptoms and followed by descriptions of the causes and cures. Also included is a section of questions and answers on each topic. The experienced mechanic will not learn much, but to the novice, this book would be of great value.
"Bath As It Was" by Reece Winston, FRPS. 76 PP. 10" x 7" (Reece Winstone, 23 Hyland Grove, Henbury Hill, Bristol 9. £5.70 post free).
This is another of the prolific Reece Winstone pictorial books, with self-explanatory title. It will not only be of nostalgic appeal to those who knew the City of Bath and ith environs before the war changed so much of town and countryside, but, it is quite a feast of photographic memory for omnibus and tramcar enthusiasts. For my part, I like looking at old road scenes, for the vehicles one sees in their natural habitat, as distinct from looking self-conscious at some rally or motor-show. Mr. Winstone has began to quote the makes of vehicles in the captions to many of his pictures and in this book alone we have an unidentifiable veteran or Edwardian in Plate 18, a Ford 8 saloon in Plate 22, and a brass-radiator Model-T Ford tourer, hood-up, passing a horse-drawn four-wheeler in Bridge Street, Bath, in 1910, with one of the familiar Charron "blue taxis" in the background.
A 1937 shot of Milsom Street shows a Standard turning into it and a Ruby Austin parked at the kerb, there is what looks like a Chrysler and an Armstrong Siddeley 14 in Plate 31, showing the High Street in 1930, while Plate 41 includes a Trojan tourer (on pneumatic tyres), an MG Magna, and what I think is a Triumph Super Seven coupe. Other pictures provide glimpses of Jowett, Ruby Austin, bull-nose Morris and an American tourer, and there is a fine 1934 picture of a vintage Austin 12 tourer about to pass a tram at narrow New Bridge. Nor is that all of motoring interest, because Mr. Reece names the makes of the 'buses he includes, such as the AECs and the chain-driven Commer used on the Sham Castle to Golf Links Service from 1913-19, equipped with a double-deck body that had once graced a Milnes-Daimler or a Straker-Squire, now cut-down to a single-decker. This Commer is seen later, gas-equipped, during WW1. And what of the abandoned LGOC NS type 'bus offered for £15 as a two-roomed home, in 1935?
If you thought cars mingling with horse-drawn vehicles belonged only to the WWI and earlier period, there is a picture which refutes this; a Sunbeam or Star saloon is seen in Pulteney Street in 1934 with Bath's last horse-cab passing by. We see that by 1934 white lines have begun to appear on the roads in Bath. A mini-roundabout has obliterated the pleasantly rural scene depicted in the book's Plate 55, where 'bus and tram services met at Rathford Road in 1910, nor will the New Bridge "Trams Converge" AA sign have survived. A ROP petrol-pump globe appears in one picture, the Vauxhall Register should like the photograph of the ornate seven-seater Vauxhall used in 1938 to bring visitors to the Grand Pump Room Hotel, and we note that as late as 1937 the 8-m.p.h.speed-limit sign could be seen in Bath's Royal Victoria Park. A Lagonda Tricar snapped in 1904, a Commer solid-tyred char-a-banc outside the Guildhall in 1913 (known as the "Green Torpedo Motor-Car" and off for a tour of Cheddar, Glastonbury and Wells), and a posed picture of what I think is a Buick tourer and three sidecar-outfits at Castle Combe in 1913 (where we went for the motor-racing after WW2) are other fascinating pictures, as is the shot of WWI motor-ambulances (Model T Ford and what is possibly a Talbot). WW2 pictures show traffic-lights reduced to slits of light in 1939, with a Standard Eight in the background. Standard and Rover saloons in war-time white-edging, and other cars seen in New Bond Street, Bath, during the war include Ruby Austin, Riley and Standard-Morris cars seem to have been scarcer in the West than they are in London pictures of the period. Finally, from our point of view, there is a picture of the smart Bedford van, disc-wheeled and its driver in livery, used by Colmer's of Bath in 1938 — they would have sold you a lawn mower with grass-box for the equivalent of 85p, which makes one query whether wages have truly kept pace with Inflation!
While this book is aimed at those interested in Bath as a City, I think there must be a place for general road scenes of different periods, if not overdone — London Passenger Transport have a big collection of London scenes, for example. If anyone is fed up with his present job and has a camera, the idea should be considered — after all, Mr. Winstone has sold more than 150,000 of his books on Bristol alone, and a turnover of some £600,000 can't be bad! Incidentally, he used a Standard Ten saloon for his pre-war photographic expeditions. —W.B.
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Mrs. Daphne Bampton has had another stab at a motoring title. Her earlier "Rare and Exciting Cars" was unexpectedly readable, from a then-unknown author, and she has now given her attention to "Rare and Interesting Commercial Vehicles", a book published by Venton Educational Ltd., of Melksham, Wiltshire, priced at £8.95. Members of the HCVC, in spite of their specialised knowledge, may find this little book a pleasant surprise. It covers briefly the histories and purpose behind 19 individual commercials, including the Lacre road-sweeper, Foden steam-waggons, and a 1903 tramcar.
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A great many books about trucks and other commercial and public-service vehicles have been coming from the Presses, some of specialised one-make interest. A more general approach will be found in "'Trucks" by Alan Thomas, a colourful 160 page 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" book by The Hamlyn Group of Astronaut House, Hounslow Road, Feltham, Middlesex, TW14 9AR, selling at the reasonable price of £6.95.
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Paul Huggett has produced for Foulis a picture-book about what he calls short-circuit racing, that is to say, racing by stock cars, old and modern, hot rods, midgets, bangers and even worse, and on autograss and other circuits. The book runs to 191 (11" x 8") pages, is packed with rather dark shots of racing of these sorts, accidents included, and lists World Champions and circuits in these fields. The price is modest for these inflationary times —£4.95.
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Not exhausted, apparently by his BMCRC History reviewed above, Peter Hartley has given us a very full account of the Ariel motorcycle, in his book "The Ariel Story", a soft-cover publication running to 316 pages, with index, the page size being 9 1/2" x 5 1/2". The competition activities of the make are not neglected, and the indexed story covers the period 1845 (with push-bicycles) to the post-war Hartley Ariels, those machines tuned so effectively by the author's late father. A mammoth task well done, this is another one by Argus of Watford, and priced at £6.95, and of course the author isn't in Borstall, merely lives there!
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The Goose and Son title "Always In The Picture — A history of the Velocette motorcycle", by R. W. Burgess and J. R. Clew, which they published in 1971, has been revised and enlarged and this 285-page, 10" x 7" work, telling in picture and story, with a Foreword by Alec Bennett. the complete history of the famous Velocette, is now available from the Foulis imprint, by the Haynes Publishing Group of Yeovil. for £8.95. — W.B.
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The Airlife Publishing Company of 7, St. John's Hill, Shrewsbury, Salop. have republished Edward Bishop's book "The Wooden Wonder", about the DH Mosquito. It costs £6.95.
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A very large-format book has arrived from the Megden Publishing Company of Huntington Beach, California (PO Box 217), about American racing motorcycles. The page size is 12" x 11", there are 260 of them, and each contains usually one large picture, sometimes a number of excellent photographs, of racing motor-bicycles from 1900 to the end of the vintage years in 1940. The early pictures are mostly of those legendary Indians, like the vee-twins made famous by riders of the calibre of Jake de Rosier and others, board-track racing is dealt with, including the photographs shown to the Grand Jury when it was considering the accident at New Jersey Motordrome in 1912 that cost eight lives, and racing over the 1/8-mile and 1/4-mile banked-tracks, on the boards, at dirt-tracks, up freak hills, etc. is all there, while Dr. Joseph Bayley (who better?), gives us another look at motorcycle racing at Brooklands, from the viewpoint of the American machines used there, although some of his pictures have naturally appeared elsewhere. Mainly, though, it is the big photographs and reproduced advertisements, etc., of the period, that make this book look so attractive, pictures of machines like the eight-valve Harley-Davidsons, the o.h.c. Reading Standards and American Excelsiors, the Super-Xs and Hendersons, and even hybrid Anglo-American machines concocted by British riders competing in the States. The author is Stephen Wright and the price is £11.00 post-free by US Funds or International Money-Order only.
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These days one-make car books are matched by those about motorcycles. The famous BSA is covered in the Haynes Publishing Group's book "The Giants of Small Heath" by Barry Ryerson, which includes the two-cylinder BSA cases and the BSA Scout, and costs £7.95. The publisher's address is Sparkford, Yeovil. Somerset, BA22 7JJ.
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The Motorcycle World Championship is the subject of a big picture book from Hamlyn, the text by Lynne Chown, and the price a realistic £5.00. — W.B.
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THE MOTORISTS' Atlas of Western Europe, published by the Automobile Association and available through book shops as well as AA offices, will be a useful addition to the map-shelf for those who enjoy planning continental journeys. Its 11 x 8 1/2" pages give clear maps of primary, and secondary roads at a scale of 16 miles to the inch, with distances between small towns on primary, routes being shown in blue in kilometres. The format can be rather annoying in that the atlas deals with each country separately, with a brief description of the land as an introduction to each section. This becomes aggravating when, for instance, wishing to plan a route from Marseille to Graz, as one has to consult widely different sections of the map with no indication on the edge of one page to show which page to go to next. However, within each country, there is generous overlap from page to page, and there are little arrows to show which page to drive onto next. The index is good, with town plans for the capital cities (but not for other large towns) although one or two of the towns are spelt non-English fashion, which seems rather strange for a book intended for the home market: how many potential customers will be in the habit of spelling Vienna "Wien"? The price is very reasonable at £3.95. - P.H.J.W.