Book Reviews, September 1986, September 1986

Classic Sports Cars by Graham Robson, (publ. Patrick Stephens Ltd., Denington Estate, Wellingborough, Northants NN8 200, 136 pp, 5″ x 8″, illustrated, paperback, £3.99)

The term “classic car” is an infuriating one for it has no clear definition.  A reader recently sent us a classified ad for a  Morrris Marina which was described as  “Italian classic”, and pausing by a road sign which said “Classic Car for Sale” we were surprised to find it was a Ford Anglia 105E. In Classic Sports Cars  Graham Robson makes a good fist of gathering together a representative selection of “classic” sports cars.

Each car is described with Robson’s typical authority, there are charts listing numbers built, derivations, main specifications and performance figures when new. Naturally, everyone can debate which cars should be included and I was surprised to see the new Pontiac Fiero in, but the original Ford Thunderbird out. Equally, I’m not sure that the Healey/MG “Spridget” is a “Classic” (it’s included) but I am sure that any two litre Bristol is (excluded).

If nothing else, the selection provokes argument!  One thing Mr Robson does not do and that is include marginal old cars as “classics” and, besides, he includes a cogent argument for the basis of his selection.

This is both an ideal introduction to the subiect and a useful reference work for the classic car buff, and the text is very readable. At just £3.99, it represents a bargain of a sort too rarely found in motor books these days. —ML


Grand Prix  by Stuart Sykes and Roger Moody (BBC Publications, 35 Marylebone High Street, London W1M 4AA, 173pp, 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2, illus.. paperback, £4.95).

Another reasonably priced paperback. Its introduction states its audience: “Not an exhaustive catalogue, this — that is the province of the full-time writers who follow the Formula One circus round the world and are as much part of the scene as the best-known driver or team manager.  More of an informed appetiser for the casual and enthusiastic ‘wheels nut’ who sometimes wonders what this mechanised mayhem is all about.”

It’s interesting that the publisher is the BBC. The British Grand Prix was the third most popular programme on BBC 2 during the week that it took place, with an audience of 4.25 million and this book is essentially trying to service an audience which television has created. The tone of the body of the book is a lot less frantic than the piece quoted from the Introduction (thank Heavens) and it achieves its aim of providing its intended market with some background information to what is, after all, a complex sport.

There are lots of pictures, in both monochrome and colour, together with photographs and biographical details of all the drivers known to be competing in Formula One at the beginning of the season. There’s a brief history of Grand Prix racing and chapters on, among other things, pitwork, practice sessions and qualifying. Since it’s aimed at the armchair enthusiast there is also a section on televising races.

The more committed enthusiast will still find things to interest him in this book at £4.95.


Alain Prost by Alan Henry (publ. Kimberley’s, 4 Church Close, London N20 OJU. 64 pp, 8″ x 11″, illustrated, £5.95).

This is the latest in the series of Kimberley’s profiles.  Like the others in the series, it is well produced on good quality paper and consists of a review of the man’s career backed by dozens of monochrome and colour photographs and a chart listing all his Formula One races. The text is more detailed than the average magazine profile but still a long way short of a full biography, and it concentrates on Prost’s racing career rather than attempting to paint a portrait of the private man. — M.L.


Uncle’s War In The Fleet Air Arm by Lt. Comdr. Cyril Pountney, RNVR  (published by United Writers of Cornwall at £5.95)

Lt. Comdr’s nickname in the Service was ‘Uncle” on account of his age when serving throughout WW2.  This book tells of the author’s career in the Fleet Air Arm, after learning to fly in Calcutta in Gipsy Moths, and of his memories of motor-racing at Brooklands, where he was taken round in Le Champion’s Isotta-Maybach and up in that driver’s Sopwith Pup. There are pictures of Parry Thomas’ Leyland Eight wearing twin rear tyres and of Chitty I. The Foreword is by The Lord Hill-Norton, GCB.  Members of the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Navy, Burma Star, Croquet Association or the All-England Lawn Tennis Club, which may well embrace some of our readers, can obtain the book from the author post-free; his address is Seacrest, Seagrove Farm Road, Seaview, IoW.—W.B


BSA Competition History by Norman Vanhouse, 345 pp. 9 in x 7 in (Haynes Publishing Group, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ. £14.95).

This big book from Haynes is more for readers of Motorcycle Sport  than the four-wheeler fraternity yet so many people rode BSAs at one time or another, the name is so famous, and any competition history useful, that we welcome this complete coverage of Vanhouse’s chosen subject, he having been 35 years in the Motorcycle Industry joining BSA as sales-representative in 1952. The book reminds the reader of all the many BSA models, from 1911 3-1/2 hp to the well-remembered “Star” models, etc and looks at how they performed in competition, with masses of evocative pictures. The major BSA successes are listed, from the 1929 success of Bert Perrigo in the British Experts Solo contest onwards. All BSA followers will enthuse. — W.B.


Aston Martin Golden Portfolio — Brooklands Books of Cobham, £10.95 post-free from the publishers.

Comes with reproductions of Aston Martin and Lagonda material from the leading motor papers, for the years 1972 to 1985, including Motor Sport’s  report on a visit to the Newport Pagnall factory in 1976 and our road-test reports on the 1978 Vantage and the 1982 Lagonda. The book has test reports on all the then-current AMs and Lagondas. — W.B


British Bus Systems by Paul Kelly (obtainable from the Transport Publishing Cp., 128 Pikes Lane, Glossop)

Liverpool’s Buses have been magnificently covered in No 9 of “British Bus Systems” — WB


The current issue of The Stationary Engine contains a letter about restoring a 1907 Renault car that had been used as a stationary power plant and some olden-days pictures of engines then in use.–W.B.


The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation  “Historical Series”, Nos 7 and 8.    £2.50, from Rolls-Royce Ltd, PO Box 31, Derby, DE2 8BJ, cheques payable to the RR Heritage Trust, Stirling.

The latest in this ever interesting series. One on “Hives — The Quiet Tiger”, already referred to in Motor Sport, and the other Lord Montagu’s account of his family’s association with the early days of Rolls-Royce, which is really the lecture he gave the R-R Trust in 1982, on the 75th anniversary of the 40/50 hp car, but now available in this form, with many good photographs, and, alone worth the price, the speeches made by the Hon. C. S. Rolls and Lord Montagu’s father at the opening, in 1908, of the Rolls-Royce works at Derby.