Book reviews

Ian Allan's Veteran and Vintage Series. 8 1/2 in. x 5 3/4 in. (Ian Allan, Craven House, Hampton Court, East Molesey, Surrey. 6s. each.)

This new series, indicative of the fact that this well-known publisher of transport books has entered the automobile-book field, contains the following titles: "British Cars—1896-1914," by P. D. Matthews; "European Cars—1896-1914," by T. R. Nicholson; "Commercial Vehicles," by E. L. Cornwall; "Tramcars," by J. H. Price and "British Aircraft," by Kenneth Munson. All are nicely-produced 64-page stiff-cover volumes, except for Nicholson's, which runs to 72 pages.

The information provided and the style adopted varies with the individual author. Nicholson, for instance, concentrates on rare makes, tackling them country by country—for example, Gräf und Stift and Puch from Austria-Hungary, Miesse and Vivinus amongst the Belgian makes, and many rare French cars. Small type is used, so that a great deal of material is included, and even if nothing very new emerges, it makes interesting reading. Munson, on the other hand, is obviously preservation conscious and includes in his aeroplane book plenty of information as to where the few remaining "vintage" aeroplanes are preserved.

Not important contributions to the now vast field of motoring literature, these slim volumes contain the basic information necessary to launch budding historians on their way, and some rather nice pictures.—W. B.

"The B.P. Book of World Land Speed Records." 74 pp., 8 3/4 in. x 9 3/4 in. (Herbert Jenkins Ltd., 3, Duke of York Street, London, S.W.1. 6d.)

On the face of it, this spirally-bound book is good value, consisting as it does of a big coloured drawing of every car that has held the "Land Speed Record," by Piet Olyslager, with a head and shoulders sketch of the driver, and a description of each of these cars, from the 39-m.p.h. Jeantaud of 1898 to Cobb's 394-m.p.h. Napier-Railton (or, more correctly, the Railton although this title would hardly be acceptable to B.P.!)

There is a great deal of "meat" in this book, but it is a pity the drawings are not more accurate. Olyslager has copied pictures in another book and was in consequence led into the error of depicting Delage II when he intended to show the V12 Delage of 1924! It was crude of the artist, too, merely to reverse the drawing of Vanderbilt's Mercedes when he had to depict the Mercedes of de Caters, so that the latter appears as a I.h.d. car!

The text is reasonably accurate, although the popular error that "Babs" crashed due to a broken driving chain is perpetuated, no mention is made of the fact that Lee Bible was killed in the Triplex, and although it may be true that no prize was awarded for beating the "Land Speed Record," Sir Charles Wakefield used to give £1,000 a year to the holder—who presumably used Castrol, not B.P., oil!

The book concludes with a lot about the modern gas-turbine "Bluebird," under the Question "Who Next?"

The Duke of Richmond and Gordon, in saying in the Foreword that this is the first book to assemble details of all these L.S.R. cars, does a grave injustice to Capt. George Eyston, whose "Fastest On Earth" was published by John Miles in 1939, and to William Boddy whose detailed "History of the World's Land Speed Record" was published by Motor Racing Publications in 1951.


Autobooks, 76, Bennett Road, Brighton, can supply copies of "British Competition Cars," that concentrated account of "wearers of the green" in sports-car and racing fields, copiously illustrated, originally issued by Batsford at 25s., for 15s. They also offer "Ford Specials," by John Mills, another Batsford publication originally priced at 18s., and of considerable interest to those contriving their own cars round Ford components, for 10s.