Cars in Books, September 1968

There is not very much this month, although I cannot think that this feature which has run for so many years is about to fade away. “Voyage in a Bowler Hat” by Hugh Malet (Hutchinson, 1960) is worth mentioning, because it is a very readable account of travels on the inland waterways of England and Ireland in a 16 ft. x 5 ft. 6 in. dory, bought for £35 and driven by a 1932 Austin 7 engine, supplemented at times by a brand new Seagull outboard motor. There is nothing else relevant in this book, except that the traveller meets a Dr. Braidwood in Ireland who is sailing a yacht called Morning Star and I wonder if this could be the Braidwood who for a time edited Motor Sport, because he left to open a garage, qualified as a doctor, and I last heard of him in Ireland.

Having for a long time been ass appreciative reader of the late T. H. White, I am delighted that the “The White/Garnett Letters”, edited by David Garnett, have now been published by Cape (50s.). This correspondence makes excellent reading, although there is not much about motoring in it. But there is a little. For instance, we are reminded that Garnett had his half-share Klemm monoplane which he landed “in fields anywhere” in 1936. He told White that his account of learning to fly (in that fine book, “England Have My Bones”) amused him and that White should have spun Blackburn Bluebirds which “dropped like stones”. The fact is confirmed that White, after his vintage Bentley and Austin 12/4 days were over, did run an S.S. Jaguar, which he took to Ireland in 1939. Garnett recalls it with a wooden perch across the back seats for the two hooded peregrine falcons. In 1945 Tim White still had the S.S. Jaguar and was still in Ireland but he wanted to sell the car. He describes it as a 1936 20-h.p. model, re-bored, having run 50,000 miles. With new tyres and re-plated battery, which had been laid up throughout the war. He thought it worth £400-£500 in England at that time, and about £200 in Ireland. (He was some time before having the car sent out to Doolistown, fearing, Garnett believes, that it might provoke the I.R.A. into attacking him!) In reply to questions about selling it, Garnett told White that it would fetch more than £200 in 1945 “as Austin 10s are fetching £300” but reminded him that its high h.p. was a disadvantage until petrol rationing came off. It was not sold easily and in September 1945 White drove it from Holyhead to stay with Garnett at Hilton Hall in Huntingdonshire. It appears to have developed some trouble but just as Tim was again fretting to sell it, because his finances were in a serious state, his book “Mistress Masham’s Repose” was chosen as Book of the Month in America and he came into some £15,000 overnight. The S.S. isn’t mentioned again and is-probably still lying behind some remote garage near Hilton.

Boats come into the book but there is nothing more about cars, except that Garnett refers to being “driven by a hired chauffeur in an immense Buick” in France in 1954 and he apparently had a Rolls-Royce in 1956, and also a “big Lea-Francis shooting-brake which I own 50/50 with William”, in which Garnett and his son got to Forli beyond Bologna from Dover, nearly 900 miles, in three days. That’s it, so far as Motor Sport is concerned, except to say that this is a book which might well be much enjoyed by many of our readers.—W. B.