“The Best of British Buses-No. 4, 75 Years of Aldershot and District” by Alan Townsin. 96 pp 111/2” x 8″. (The Transport Publishing Co, 128, Pikes Lane, Glossop, Derbyshire, £6.00)
This is another of Alan Townsin’s very enjoyable books about ‘buses out of history, seen in contemporary settings, carefully described in the text and very long picture-captions, the large pages positively packed with excellent pictures. I enjoyed this one especially, because I lived for some two decades in the Aldershot area and knew it intimately during several years of WW2. So the scenes depicted, of Aldershot & District ‘buses of so many kinds, on country roads, in local ‘bus stations, in Aldershot itself and in villages and towns on the radiating routes, are doubly nostalgic; I have said previously that old-time views of cars and other vehicles on our roads would make a good book in themselves. This book has much of this flavour about it.
It goes right back to 1906, when the Aldershot & Farnborough Motor Omnibus Co. started with a pair of 20 hp, 28-seat Milnes-Daimler double-deckers from Hastings, and it runs right up to 1980, the book marking the 75th Anniversary of Aldershot & District Traction. Space prevents reference to all the Dennis, Leyland, AEC, Morris, Tillings-Stevens and other makes that were used in this area down the years, not forgetting the Aldershot-London coach services, etc. In the road-scenes, one notes a Siddeley-Deasy passing a Y-type Daimler single-decker in Dorking in the 1920s and an Essex Coach and AC light-car, etc. parked in Victoria Road, Aldershot, down which a Dennis E-type ‘bus is proceeding. Those who study ‘bus history and in particular the progress of individual operating companies cannot fail, I suggest, to enjoy this book thoroughly, and one looks forward to the next in the series, covering 75 years of Crosville. The book can be ordered direct, on quoting Motor Sport, but postage costs £1. -WB.
“Triumph Sports” Compiled by Peter Garnier, FRSA. 160 pp, 12″ x 81/2”. (Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., Astronaut House, Hounslow Road, Feltham, Middlesex, TW14 9AR. £7.95)
This is another of those look-back books compiled from past issues of Autocar, in this case comprising descriptions, full road-test reports and photographs of Triumph cars in competition events. The reproduction is generally good and in this one volume the accounts run from a 1924 road-test report of a 10/20 hp sporting Triumph (top speed over the Brooklands half-mile 62 mph, but 40 mpg, and the price £425).to a much more complete report on the 1980 TR7 drophead (115 mph, 25.3 mpg, for £5,959). Along the way all the other important Triumph sports cars are included, not overlooking the Dolomites and Roadsters, the Spitfire, Stag and Vignale’s Italia, and with those exciting descriptions and a test-run of the much-debated straight-eight supercharged 2-litre Dolomite there for full measure. Some good colour plates add to the enjoyment and it is difficult to beat this form of documentation, because one gets the opinions expressed when the cars concerned were new. -WB.
“Action Stations -2. Military Airfields of Lincolnshire and the East Midlands” by Bruce Barrymore-Halpenny. 217 pp, 91/2” x 6″. (Patrick Stephens Ltd., Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB3 BEL. £8.95)
This is the second in a series of books about the airfields of the past and what remains of them today. It is a “must” for aeronautical e!lthusiasts and they will no doubt keep it in the car with them, for seeking out these nostalgic areas. The end-papers express the war-time action and within the information runs to maps, diagrams and masses of photographs of famous and lesser aerodromes then and now, each of the latter getting a heading to itself, with location details, etc. There is enough dramatic history interwoven with the site facts and figures to make a search for remaining relics of such places exciting, and the pictures run from some of pre-war RAF aeroplanes to the bombers and fighters that used the airfields concerned during the last war. Chapters cover airfield history, architecture and names, as well as the detailed descriptions of individual airfields and what has become of them. A book I found difficult to put down, and one looks forward to further promised titles about the airfields of Wales and the North-West, the Cotswolds and Central Midlands, the South-West, and those of Yorkshire and the North-East. -WB.
“Driving Ambition” by Alan Jones and Keith Botsford. (Stanley Paul and Co Ltd, 3 Fitzroy Square, London W1P 6JD. £6.95).
This comes over as an essentially honest account of the career of the 1980 World Champion driver, produced in quite sympathetic style by Sunday Times writer Keith Botsford. The influence of Alan’s father Stan Jones, whose Maserati 250F was featured in Motor Sport’s pages the month before last, comes over most strikingly in particular. The way in which Stan Jones lost his fortune during the credit squeeze of the late 1950s/early 1960s brought Alan, up to then a rather spoilt little boy, down to earth with a bang. And that misfortune imbued him with a burning desire to succeed in his chosen sport. He talks at some length about his early efforts to “make the grade” in Formula Three and F Atlantic, how he and his wife Beverley used to rent large London houses and then turn them into “bed and breakfast” hostels for wandering Antipodeans, how he clashed with the personalities of both Graham Hill and John Surtees when he drove for them in F1 and how he finally forged his winning partnership with Frank Williams.
Alan Jones has some stern crticism of Colin Chapman’s approach to motor racing and the way in which he deals with his drivers; I hope he never wants (or needs!) a Lotus drive! Keith Botsford steers Jones’s narrative with commendable sympathy towards his subjecf and a good understanding of a sport in which he obviously finds the characters much more important than the machinery. For that, this scribe deserves a good deal of praise. One thing, though, I wonder whether Alan Jones is cultivating his apparently aggressive, punchy image or whether that is in fact the real man. I’ve known him for six years and can’t come to a conclusion. Perhaps when you’ve read this excellent book you’ll be nearer the answer than I am! -AH.
Two more excellent books have come from PSL of Cambridge (address above) in their “World Trucks” series, No 11 about International and No 12 about Berliet. Both are from the experienced and accomplished pen of Pat Kennett and both contain a wonderful selection of rare to up-to-date pictures, those in the Berliet book including some of the early cars. Each of these fascinating history-books, of such interest to HCVC members and drivers of the modern commercial vehicles therein dealt with, costs a modest £4.50. Complementary to them is “Omnibus Gallery” by Mike Fenton, a picture collection mostly of more recent Public Service vehicles, many depicted in their fascinating “natural habitat”. Great stuff, for £4.95.
Bob Holiday’s “Norton Story” has gone into a third printing, from Patrick Stephens Ltd, of Cambridge, the price of which is £7.95. It covers the long history of this famous British motorcycle, touching on the P41 and the year, 1980, when for the first time there was no Norton in the TT.
Not to be outdone, Jeff Clew has greatly enlarged “The Douglas Motorcycle -The Best Twin”, which, published by Haynes at £7.95, now runs to 250 pages. It covers not only the famous flat-twin motorcycles and other Douglas machines, but also Douglas cars and aero-engines, although an omission is reference to but one racing Douglas car, whereas many were in action at Brooklands in the early 1920s. A page of rather faint drawings depicting how Douglas aero-engines were applied to six motor-gliders for the 1923 Lympne Light Aeroplane contests shows those chain-drives to propellers referred to recently in the AIR section of Motor Sport, and the Douglas dirt-track racing machines and the Dynasphere have a place in this book.
Many books have been published about Grand Prix racing but a very attractive one is “Grand Prix!” by Mike Lang, with a Foreword by Stirling Moss. It sets out the happenings in all the F1 World Championship races from 1950 to 1965, backed up by photographic coverage and while lap charts are missing and circuit diagrams are small, this is a good record of the World Championship, complete with starting-grids and results, in an 11″ x 8″ 283-page format. This Foulis motoring book sells for £9.95.
Continuing this theme, Harry Louis and Bob Currie have done an enlarged third edition of “The Story of Triumph Motor Cycles”, which Patrick Stephens Ltd. publish for £7.95. The illustrated breakdown of Triumph models year by year from 1902 to 1981 is typical of this useful and comprehensive coverage, in picture as well as text.
“In response to a two line advertisement in Motor Sport over 150 enquiries for the special were received. Naturally the car was quickly sold.”
So writes John Haynes in the 21st anniversary catalogue of the Haynes Publishing Group whose beginnings were directly related to the construction and subsequent sale of an Austin 7 Special back in the ‘fifties.
His step-by-step chronicle of the conversion of that Austin 7 were run off on a Gestetner duplicater and, after another small ad in Motor Sport, all 250 copies of the 35 page booklet were sold in ten days.
Nowadays Haynes has 500 book titles in its catalogue, the mainstay being a large collection of workshop manuals all produced in-house, from the stripping and rebuilding of cars and motor cylces in their own workshops to the final binding of the hard-backed volumes. The latest of these being number 718, the Mini Metro Owner’s Workshop Manual.
We have compared a Haynes manual with its factory produced counterpart and, even ignoring the difficult-to-follow factory jargon and use of tool numbers etc, found that the Haynes version was infinitely clearer. For instance, the manufacturer referred to the “narrow end” of a dished washer in the clutch master cylinder, whilst the Haynes writer used the more logical and comprehensible “concave and convex faces”.
If you have any mechanical knowledge at all, who knows what DIY jobs you can tackle, at considerable financial saving, until you try? Such a manual could well point you in the direction of cheaper and more self-satisfying motoring. A list of models covered by the manuals is available from Haynes & Co, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ.
John Bartholomew & Son Ltd. have recently published a revised and updated version of their road map of Britain. The pages are colour coded, and the maps are clear, even if the scale (five miles to the inch) gives a rather cramped appearance in comparison with other road atlases seen recently. A very useful feature is the block of over 100 town plans, which are clear, and certainly well up to date, incorporating some information about one-way streets which is very recent. Also of interest are the special topic maps giving geographical information on such subjects as climate, economy, population, and outstanding natural features. Available at booksellers at £5.50.
Mike Kettlewell, against all the odds, has produced another edition of his Motor Racing Directory, this time, however, with substantial backing from Pace Petroleum. Costing £7.95, this invaluable work of reference is available from branches of WH Smith, and all leading motoring bookshops. The neatly arranged book runs to nearly 600 pages, stuffed full of useful information, between card covers, and is more than a directory of names and addresses – although the scope and quantity of these alone is sufficient .to make the price cheap. Articles cover such subjects as the history of Aston Martin, and the role of the RAC, while there are profiles of the leading motor racing clubs, outlines giving the history of the various racing formulae, biographical details of some 300 drivers -the list is endless: excellent value!
Three more of Albion Scott’s little one-make pocket-histories, very well illustrated, including colour plates, have been issued, at the highly competitive price of £1.95 each. They cover Maserati, Triumph and Alfa Romeo.
Loose magazines present something of a storage problem if they are to be kept both accessible and tidy. Regular readers of Motor Sport will know about the binding service we offer at Standard House, where a year’s issues are bound and returned for the inclusive price of £9.50 (or £14.50 for those who prefer to split the year’s issues between two volumes). We also have self binders available at £2.50 (PVC) and £4.00 (Leatherette), postage included.
Club magazines and bulletins, on the other hand, are not so readily dealt with. A few clubs sell self-binders, but these are often clumsy to handle, leaving an obvious opening for a professional binder. One man who fills that gap is Malcolm Green of Highurst, Broad Laying, Woolton Hill, Newbury, Berkshire, who has bound VSCC Bulletins, Frazer Nash Gazettes and Light Car Section Newsletters for the Assistant Editor at very reasonable prices. The work is beautifully finished, of first class quality, and Green will undertake the binding of most club periodicals.
Cars In Books
When we referred to The Observer colour supplement’s remarks about racing driver Grover-Williams last July we qualified them by saying one would need to wait and see whether the book which the Observer was summarising, namely “Orpen, Mirror to an Age” by Bruce Arnold (Cape, 1981) added anything to our knowledge. We have now obtained a library copy, in lieu of being honoured with a review issue, and have the following follow-up comments to make. We agree with Hugh Conway, whose letter about Grover-Williams was published last month, that it seems unlikely that the Bugatti racing-driver who won Monaco in 1929 was ever a chauffeur. Yet Bruce Arnold says this quite definitely. Writing of Yvonne Abicq, Orpen’s mistress, he claims that when she left Orpen he was generous, giving her, among other things, his black Rolls-Royce and that in those days “it was quite normal for the chauffeur to go with the car … and Grover-Williams, who had been Orpen’s chauffeur during the 1920s (our italics), went to Yvonne along with the car.” He is said to have married her on 27th November, 1929. His name was Grover on the marriage certificate “but he changed it before the end of his life to Grover-Williams.” This seems wide of the mark, because when he won the Monaco GP for Bugatti on 14th April, 1929, he was known as Williams but maybe the book’s author is not allowing for the name under which Grover raced. Arnold describes Grover-Williams as becoming a racing driver (as if this happened after his marriage, not before) and says that “in the 1930s he worked for Bugatti, racing on the Paris circuits (sic!) and on one occasion winning the Monaco Grand Prix on behalf of the company”. He is said to have belonged to “an Anglo-French set in Paris, mainly concerned with motor racing”.
The book tells faithfully of Grover-Williams work for a small anti-German resistance movement, based south-west of Paris on the estates of the remarkably daring Robert Benoist, ending in his execution by the Gestapo … There is also interesting information about the subsequent life of Yvonne Williams, who was herself arrested by the Germans, (she had acted as courier for her husband), and who later ran dog kennels, becoming “a regular Judge at Crufts”, as an expert on Scottish terriers. Her marriage is described as “very happy”.
Otherwise, the book is barren of motoring items, except for a reference to Orpen (the famous artist) owning a Ford when he was living in Dublin, which he changed in the summer of 1914, when at Howth, for a Rolls-Royce, being envious of the one owned by Oliver St John Gogarty, one of Dublin’s leading throat surgeons, who had brought his in the autumn of 1910, the first Rolls-Royce apparently in Dublin. Gogarty’s chauffeur, 19-year-old Joshua Barr, had studied motor-engineering at Pembroke Technical School and was a Plymouth Brethren, said to read “The Pilgrim’s Progress” while waiting on the car for his Master! Orpen’s Rolls-Royce had a black and white boat-shaped body and Barr became its chauffeur, after being sent to the Rolls-Royce Chauffeur’s School at Derby – presumably three years looking after Gogarty’s (Barr had had another post between leaving Gogarty and being employed by Orpen) did not seem sufficient knowledge of a Rolls-Royce to Orpen! Orpen felt the loss of the car when he took a holiday at Howth, in Ireland, in August 1915; he had let it go, with Barr, to the Red Cross and after use in France it went on to Egypt. It figured in his painting “The Western Wedding”.
But if the book is sparse (in its 448 pages) about motoring, it is exceedingly interesting to artists and students of the 1914/18 war. Orpen went as a war-artist to the Western Front, flew with Maurice Baring, and painted flying-aces like AP Rhys-Davids, JB McCudden, etc, while living with the boys of the RFC. For this work Orpen had two cars, a new one to replace the first given to him at the Front, both in charge of driver Howlett. When Orpen returned to Dublin for a one-day visit in 1918 he found the Ford still running (it seems his father had taken it over) and he drove it up to Carrickmines to visit his brothers.
Rolls-Royces are mentioned briefly, too, in “The Weeping and the Laughter”, Viva King’s autobiography (Macdonald & Jane’s, 1976). One was owned by a young American woman who lived in the mid-1920s in the Avenue Henri Martin in Paris, and the other was the one Viva King’s husband, an official at the British Museum, bought when his parents’ Austin needed replacing. It was driven by a new chauffeur who had an R-R badge in his cap, so had presumably passed out successfully from the Rolls-Royce Chauffeurs’ School aforementioned, he spoke French and was paid £8 a week plus uniform and meals when on the road. That would have been in 1934. When the Kings went to France the car would be sent out the day before, so as to meet them at Dieppe or Le Bourget and take them to the Ritz in the Place Vendome. The Rolls was not taken to Ireland, as the lanes of County Clare were considered unsuitable for it; instead, a car was hired from a garage owned by the brother of the great tenor, John McCormick. When the Kings had been married, Croydon Airport was not fully completed, so they were checked in and weighed outside, before flying to Paris in a small aeroplane with wicker seats.
This book covers the 1920s, and there is mention of a car with a dickey-seat which caused a fatal accident one night near Alderney Manor in Hampshire, Lady Bonham-Carter, described as an erratic motor driver, learning to fly just before the war, and to drug-taking Elvira Mullins, who drove a large car, the first the authoress had seen with chromium plating, being successfully defended by Sir Patrick Hastings for shooting and killing a lover. – WB.
Scalextrix, makers of working race tracks and roadways, have increased the scope of their competitive motor-race games with a “Super Stox” set that emulates the action of real stock-car racing as run in this country, the two cars, “Stick Shifter” and “Fender Bender”, having bonnets that fly off on impact, as they negotiate jump obstacles, a chicane, or slide through 180° as they reverse direction to lose the opposition. The two-car Stox track measures 7′ x 3′, with over 17′ of clip-fit track, the price inclusive of all the equipment being in the order of £56. Scalextric have also introduced new track accessories, including a curved chicane costing about £1.10, a Le Mans turn-out and 17″ long starting grid (price about £7.50), and a trackside control,tower priced at £5.95. new cars have been made more exciting with the addition of working headlamps making “night” racing possible, these including a gold-painted Porsche and a two-tone brown Ford Escort carrying the name “Westwood Racing”, which should sell for around £9. 95 each. These new Scalextric cars are backed up by a Police Rover 3500, with siren, flashing-light, chrome effect wheels, wing mirrors and blue and yellow side flashes, just the job for chasing reckless cars on the Scalextric roadways, priced at £10.95, and a Triplex-team racing Rover 3500 saloon, at £8.50. But Motor Sport readers will perhaps prefer the new Saudia Williams Leyland FW07B F1 racing car, in the correct colours, at around £9.50 retail.
Hornby train sets are back, from a working model of the “Rocket”, a fine steam model in 3½”-gauge, to all manner of OO-gauge locos and rolling stock of the pre-Nationalisation and modern periods, including those GWR saddle-tank locos that I used to admire as a boy, when we motored to remote stations in South Wales.
Further car-model plastic kits have come from Revell (GB) Ltd, Cranborne Road, Potters Bar, Herts, and should now be available from good model-shops. They are for building car miniatures to 1/14th-scale and the makers suggest that anyone over nine years of age should have no difficulty. Kit No VH7325 is of a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II. Bonnet and boot open, the tyres are of real rubber, and the bumpers and radiator grille are silvered, making for a splendid model of this famous vee-eight version of the Silver Cloud. Another model to the same scale is of a Triumph TR3 sports car, with the body shell in blue. The one piece body shells form a good basis for beginning building these models. The Ref No for the TR3 is VH7326 and whereas the finished Rolls-Royce is 221/2 cm long, the TR3 comes out at 15.8 cm. A further car model in the Revell plastic kit series, kits the makers recommend for those of 10 years to adult age, is of the Mercedes Benz 300SL roadster.
We have commented on the new Scalextric model car race-tracks and road-ways, and enthusiasts for such may care to know that the Haynes Publishing Group has brought out, for £4.95, Roger Gillham’s guide to these layouts over the past 30 years, over 240 pictures and accompanying notes in this 134 page 11″ x 8″ book dealing with many if not all the 500+ models produced by Scalextric in that period. Track sections and trackside accessories are also included.-WB.