Book Reviews, September 1983, September 1983

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“Ferrari four-seaters” by David Owen. 134 pp, 81/2″ x 7″. “Saab turbo” by Graham Robson. 135pp, 81/2″ x 7″. “Mercedes Benz 300SL” by William Boddy, 135pp, 81/2″ x 7″. (Osprey Publishing  Ltd, 12-14 Long Acre, London WC2E 9EP. “6.95)

This is the latest trio of books in Osprey’s well known Auto History series, well illustrated, decently documented, with specifications tables and clour centre-spreads. David Owen deals with the rather neglected, book wise, Pinninfar 2+2 Ferrari models from 1960 onwards. Graham Rodson covers in his book the birth of the pioneering Saab turbo in some detail, including many original pictures, the claim being that this is the first book on the subject. WB writes of the introduction and development of the Mercedes Benz 300SL, first for competition purposes, then as a very desirable 3-litre, six-cylinder production model in both classic Gull-Wing and roadster, putting in memories of drivng Gull-Wings on test for Motor Sport.

“Prelude to Overlord”, by Humphrey Wynn and Susan Young. 154pp. 83/4″ x 7″.  “Great interuption” by Laurence Irving, 225pp, 81/2″ x 51/2″. (Airlife Publishing Ltd, 7 St John’s Hill,Shrewsbury, Salop, SY1 1JE)

It seems to be that this is judged to be the time of looking back on how we overcame the German invasion of Europe in WW2, and we are reviewing these two informative works together because hey are both about this subject, for the air-cover aspect. The first is full of data, photographs of personalities, and detailed tables of air and bomber commands as they were drawn up prior to the great and mercifully succesful, Overlord landings. The second is an autobiography, of 1939-54, about seving in RAF Intelligence Department, with responsibility for censorship of press coverage, and then reconoitring of V-1 missile sites in France, and above all its sevices to the 1st Canadian Army in this difficult campaign. The story is told from a personal angle, wheras the former is more documentory. Together these books provide a facinating, astonishing insight into the vital and dramatic part of Britain’s military history.  WB.

“24 Heures du Mans”, published by Publi-Inter SA, Levallois, (UK distribution by Menoshire Limited, 49 Churchfield Road West, Acton W3, Price £18.95)

As a complete record of the 24hr event at Le Mans each year, the volume produced by Publi-Inter has no rival. The text is entirely in French, but this is primarily a picture book with excellant colour and black and white photographs throughout, all well printed on art paper.

It is pity the book is published more than a year after the event, other annuals and publications managing to apper by the year-end usually. However the book of Le Mans ’82 is fully tabulated, recording the progress of every car that appeared, so that it is a worthwhile record of the event which the Porsche 956s so thoroughly dominated. The main feature of the book is a 14-page section devoted to Colin Chapman and Lotus’ fortunes at Le Mans year by year from 1955 and 1967.  MLC 

Two more of those very big omnibus histories so acceptable to those avid transport enthusiasts have come from the Transport Publishing Co Ltd. 128 Pikes Lane, Glossop, under the editorship of Alan Townsin. The first is “British Bus Systems, No1: Cumberland”, by Harry Postlewaite. The second simply “The Western”, by Neil Macdonald. Each is packed with fine pictures from the early days onwards, and the route maps alone are of great interest. The respective prices in soft covers are £7.00 and £14.00 casebound, £8.50 and £18.00 respectively, which is very good value indeed.

Another very welcome one-make history from Haynes, done in landscape style, is “Ginetta” by John Rose, running to 136 information and picture-packed pages measuring 61/4 in x 81/2 in and costing £9.95. The racing cars are included in the 15 chapters and Bob Walldett of Ginetta Cars Ltd has done the Foreword.

It never ceases to amaze this reviewer that books on identical subjects come out in close proximity. Thus, having referred to Lang-north’s coverage of the 1953-1984 Chevrolet Corvette sports-cars in the July Motor Sport, there now comes Haynes’ big picture book, “Corvette” by Barry Coleman, also running to the 1984 models, even beyond. Of 96 121/2 in x 91/2 in pages with all the pictures in colour, it costs £6.95. 

Following introduction of their “Ordnance Survey Road Atlas of Great Britain”, which we reviewed in the May issue, Newnes have introduced a less-expensive (£3.35) “Ordnance Survey Motoring Atlas”, a large publication containing maps of the whole country at the large scale of three miles to the inch, except for the Scottish Highlands and islands, which are at seven miles to the inch. Town centre maps, through routes in London and much other useful data is included. 

Ward Lock Ltd, 82 Gower Street, London WC1E 6QE, have put a Rolls-Royce book into their nicely-produced little “Source” series, done by Lt-Col Eric Barrass of the R-R EC. In his Foreword he uses some of the R-R legends, published recently in R-R advertisements, which reminds me that I must ask someone to show me the “balanced penny-trick”, at full throttle, with a Rolls-Royce, assuming we can find an old penny and that it will first stand on its edge on the famous radiator. . ! That apart, this isn’t a bad attempt to cram into 128 pages measuring only 41/2 in x 61/2 in all the R-R car, engine, aviation, personalities, and specifications stuff, with good pictures. So, although we have to many R-R books, the saving grace here is that this one sells for only £3.95. 

Osprey have also brought out a 176 page, 10 in x 71/2 in book by Evan Wilson about the “Alfa Romeo Giulietta”, dealing with the 750 and 101 series of such cars from 1954 to 1965, in Giulietta and Giulia forms. The full coverage in picture and text should delight enthusiasts for those cars. 

The Road Locomotive Society, Oak Lea, Moss Lane, Mobberley, Knutsford WA16 7BU, following its reproduction of an early Wallis catalogue, has now come up with one on Foster traction engines, road locomotives, and waggons, available for £1.80, post free.

Haynes has entered the aviation-book field with a series of Super Profiles. The first three of these cover respectively the Harrier, the B-29 Superfortresses, and the Boeing 707, under the Series Editor Christopher Chant. Not too long or elaborate, these are excellent introductions or references to the very illustrious aeroplanes concerned, at the right price -£4.95 each.

Gordon Riley, Editor of Vintage Aircraft, has compiled another edition of his “British Aircraft Museums Directory”, available for 90p from Bourne End House, Harvest Hill, Bourne End, Bucks.

We have received from John Murray “Spitfire, A Test Pilot’s Story”, which will be reviewed next month. W.B.