Book Reviews

 

With the fast approaching 50 year celebration of the Bluebird CN7 at Beaulieu July 17th, a recent meeting with Speed Records authority Geoff Holden was perfect timing to lay my hands on a pre-production copy of the new David de Lara book. I cannot imagine a more detailed and comprehensive coverage of the Campbell’s, their machines and competitors, with images and drawings it must have taken years to source; this really is an amazing piece of work. Beginning with Malcolm’s very earliest years and school days onto his First World War exploits as a Royal Flying Corp ferry pilot. Details of the speed record attempts at the turn of the twentieth century through the decades with photography of most in action with their pilots hanging on for dear life. Malcolm Campbell raced a Bugatti Type 39 to victory in the Boulogne GP in 1928 and his account of that event for me is one of the highlights of the book and for him of his racing career. The first Bluebird, the Sunbeam 350hp recently re started at Beaulieu was the launch pad from where the book heads into record breaking and the characters who were brave enough to drive these ever more powerful beast; whether on banked tracks, sandy beaches or across deserts. The long journey to Daytona Beach aboard the Mauretania to New York and down the east coast on the ‘Dixie Flyer’ is well covered with images of the family at play before breaking the existing record at 276mph. Campbell remarked it was ‘ok, but still not fast enough’. The magic 300mph was his target and the book follows his journey to the ‘Salt Flats’, a venue that offered the prospect of achieving his goal. Water speed records and the duel of Miss America and Miss England; glory and tragedy and inevitably into the fray Malcolm Campbell in the Bluebird K4 on Coniston Lake smashing the existing record. My pre-production copy concludes back on the water with Donald and reminds us that in 1964 he held both land and water speed records with the Bluebird K7 at 276mph on the water and Bluebird CN7 at 403mph on land. At the time of reading the final chapters on Donald’s bid to continue his father’s achievements were being added, no doubt the in depth detail and quality will remain with plenty of images from his 1964 triumphs. The final result will be in hard back format, sewn not glued and accompanied by a unique DVD featuring rare footage and interviews with Donald and team members. These will be available in very limited numbers, for further publication details email geoff.holden@gofast.co.uk.

 

Verdict: A superb in-depth look at the lives of men that really did live on the edge; a must for the enthusiast and a worthy read for everyone, with images of the finest quality.

 

Published by: Being finalised at this time

 

Price: Estimate £45-£55

The Unobtainable-A Story of Blue

 

 

Maserati 250F

by Haynes 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Haynes manual to me is the book you reach for when ones mechanical knowledge comes up short; kept in the corner of the garage and normally with pages covered in black finger prints. Although some may disagree, these manuals are rarely bedtime reading but the publishing house also produces a series of books in the same format that are detailed and specific on a wide variety of subjects. Just released is the story of the 250F, written by Ian Wagstaff and upfront I must confess it is a fascinating read. The author has a writing style that is informative but relaxed and it is almost as if you are listening to him talking over a pint; that I like. His research and resources do not just cover the Italian masterpiece, earlier Maserati’s from the 1930s lead the reader to the mid-1950s and the 250F debut on the world scene. The modifications made good and bad, a theme that runs through the iconic cars competitive years, no stone left unturned. One point that comes across is the drivers love for the 250F, views from the likes of Chris Amon, Willie Green and of course Stirling Moss there was a driving style that got the most from the car, praised for its handling as Moss states ‘You have to have the sensitivity in your bum to know when the rear wheels are sliding and hold it’. I found the drivers opinions of the car one of the books highlights and details of their race schedules surprise and impress; Moss competing in over 50 races per season all over the world. The mechanics get to have their say, not just about working on the 250F but a racing life that was long days and even longer nights. Ken Gregory was for well over a decade the manager of Stirling Moss and gives his view on the effect the 250F had on the Englishman’s great career. The author brings the story right up to date with the current historic racing scene, more popular than ever these machines being used as they were designed and what it costs to own and run a 250F. Finally, the images are more than worth the books price alone, pictures from all eras and of the highest quality, no doubt a herculean effort went in to source such a selection.

The Maserati 250F by Haynes Books

Author Ian Wagstaff

Cost Price £21.99

Verdict worth every penny

 

The Chequered

is Flying

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prior to my rebellious teenage years, every Sunday I was loaded into the family Cortina and endured the trip from home in West London to my grandparents to the North, Finchley to be exact. Via Chiswick High Rd and passing The Chequered Flag sports car dealership with neon sign glowing outside, paint and chrome shining through the glass, it always lit up the journey. The garage was just one part of an amazing story in the book ‘A Chequered Life’, about Graham Warner, a man who really has lived life to the full. A blast as a passenger in a Type 59 Bugatti as a young man unlocked a passion for motorsport, whilst an early career in the RAF in the infancy of jet power allowed Graham to pilot the fastest war birds of the time. The book is easy to read, gently laid out and superbly written by Richard Heseltine; complimented by some very rare and fascinating images through the decades. Aside from his impressive racing career, Warner (eloquently described as a ‘seasoned multi-tasker’) was not just principle of his car dealerships but he also gave the world Gemini race cars. Many young talented drivers were given the opportunity to shine under the Chequered Flag banner and went on to become household names; Jim Clark and Geoff Duke in the early days onto Jackie Stewart and Jackie Ickx to name but a few.  This book takes you on a motorsport rollercoaster from sprints and hill climbs to Formula 1 and international rallying, with informed detail from just about every event. Taking in the huge highs and the deep lows of his life, business and racing, this book is both detailed and sympathetic, you get the full story not just the glory. Finally, the man that has seen it all returned to his first love, aviation and put everything on the line to carry out the restoration of a Blenhiem bomber. For those of us with a life less interesting I recommend a large brandy and a comfortable chair when you start this book, you may find you are going to be there a while, unable to put it down.

A Chequered Life; Graham Warner and the Chequered Flag by Richard Heseltine

Veloce Publishing

www.velocebooks.com

 

 

 

Touch Wood

Autobiography of

Duncan Hamilton

 

 

 

 

 

I must admit I was a little sceptical of this books proud boast that Chris Evans proclaimed this ‘maybe the best book ever’. Quite a statement; I found this story had one major disappointment the fact it had a final page. I normally have to be in the right frame of mind to sit down and plough through several hundred pages, not the case with Mr Hamilton’s amazing story. It had me laughing out loud mid-flight from Stansted at 7.00am in the morning and sat up way passed bedtime ignoring the early start the following day. Duncan Hamilton was followed by danger all of his life, he was an accident waiting to happen; how he survived when so many of his friends and competitors didn’t was one of life’s great mysteries. Born in Cork, Duncan was as my mum would say ‘trouble from the word go’; he makes no excuses for his behaviour and from an early age escapes serious injury whether self-inflicted or avoiding the gun-man’s bullets in what he refers to as ‘Irelands troubles’. At six the family fled to West London and a new life; post school and Brooklands called his two passions in one place, aircraft and motor racing. A distinguished military flying career during WW2 in which he confirms surviving when so many didn’t, may well have changed the way he looked at life. A business life in the motor trade and a racing career that reached its pinnacle in 1953, when partnered by Tony Rolt he took a C Type Jaguar to victory at Le Mans 24 Hours. This era of motor sport is well documented as being ridiculously dangerous and death was common place; Duncan witnessed the terrible Le Mans crash of 1955 from the pit area whilst getting into the car for his stint. His own life put at risk so many times, you can only imagine the ‘Grim Reaper’ chasing Duncan around the race tracks of Europe and Africa, never quite able to catch up. The schedule for drivers of this time was ridicules, constantly travelling from track to track often driving through the night to jump in another car in another country. Written as if he is telling you the story over a pie and a pint, a real in-sight into top class motor sport in the 50’s and a ‘matter of fact’ approach to his post-race ‘shenanigans’ that will make you giggle like a school boy. One crash too many and the death of so many friends meant Duncan Hamilton retired from racing the same time as his great pal and equally naughty side-kick Mike Hawthorn; who died on the A3 shortly after. Whilst some very sad moments took place during the era covered, the writer does not portray this in a depressing fashion; it’s just the way it was. A life packed with countless funny moments; being stopped for speeding in Central London whilst on route to make a TV programme about road safety, just one of dozens. First published in 1960, a second edition followed thirty years later; this man’s story is timeless. Re-released for 2014, ten years after his death at aged 74, it is a must have book, petrol head or not.

Touch Wood

The Autobiography of the 1953 Le Mans Winner Duncan Hamilton

Published by John Blake Publishing Ltd

Paperback and Ebook

Foreword by Earl Howe 1960

Adrian J Hamilton (Duncan’s son) 1990

Chris Evans 2014

 

Images;

1: Duncan with his great friend Mike Hawthorn, they got into trouble together and quit racing at the same time.

: Total elation after winning Le Mans with Tony Rolt in 1953, Duncan has a broken nose after a bird smashed through his windscreen.

 

Austerity Motoring

‘from Armistice to

the Mid Fifties’

 

By Malcom Bobbit

This book may not be new to the shelves having been first published a decade ago but it is soon to be released on the ‘e book’ platform, which will also be a first for me. Having worked out the ‘google play’ system I must confess I still prefer the paper way; I understand that, like me, this is the old way but if digital enables a new group of readers to enjoy this book then so be it. As for the advantages, one does stand out with a publication of this type; the images can be examined in detail as can the numerous motor industry advertisements of the decade covered. The author tells of the pre WW2 build up in munitions and the decisions made by the UK government to ensure the country was ready for war and its dramatic effect on the average motorist. Using many great photographs from those years helps the reader understand just how tough times were with very limited private mileage allowances (if any). During 1940 new car sales were banned by Government with few exceptions.  As a result of fuel rationing (although most could not afford it anyway) and a lack of parts availability many people left their chariots in the garage on blocks of wood for many years whilst others buried them in their gardens to be used as air raid shelters. The ingenuity of some to by-pass all these obstacles with alternate fuels such as mains gas filled bags fitted on the roof of the average saloon would cause a health and safety scandal nowadays. In war time this was accepted as just another danger and not as serious as driving during ‘blackout’ with little or no lighting; the author details the huge increase in road deaths of both drivers and pedestrians. Evidently it was not uncommon to have survived the bombing to then meet ones end driving into an unlit bomb crater; something that had not even occurred to me. Once post war the country adopted the ‘export or die’ philosophy; not easy with manufacturers that have not been allowed to up-date their car ranges for ten years. Even so an amazing fact (of which the book has many) is that Britain was the world’s biggest exporter of motor vehicles in 1950. Brand new cars were leaving these shores in their thousands whilst the UK motorist who had yet to see showrooms stocked would have to pay more after the war for a second hand pre-war car than it cost when new! A time of Citroens assembled in Slough and Renaults in Acton, the book contains all of the advertisements of the day from all manufactures; mostly from the authors own collection. Austerity Motoring explains many mysteries such as three wheelers and micro cars, there just was not the money or materials available for alternatives. The huge export drive including luxury marques such as Bentley, Rolls Royce and Daimler brought much needed foreign currency so that by the mid-1950s things were looking up, just in time for the Suez Crisis.

‘Austerity Motoring’ Author Malcolm Bobbit published by Veloce

Verdict: Very interesting and well written; may well make you think before complaining about the plight of todays motorist.

The Bugatti Queen

 

Although not new to the book shelves, Miranda Seymour’s comprehensive insight into early Grand Prix racing and detailing the life of an incredible driver was new to me. Released a decade ago I found a copy quite by accident, a Pocket Books biography that follows the life of Helene Delangle. Born in 1900 in a tiny French village the story of her life on and off track is both shocking and impressive. By the 1920s with a name change to Helene Nice and a dancing career underway (both with and without clothes), a single minded women with many male admirers turned her talents to racing and did whatever it took to achieve stardom behind the wheel. As we are constantly reminded, motorsport is dangerous but between the wars it was positively deadly, accidents were common and usually disastrous. Helene Nice proved herself to be the fastest woman of the times and went on to challenge the male dominated sport, driving for great marques such as Bugatti and Alfa Romeo. She set new land speed records on the giant bowl ovals, raced and rallied across Europe and North Africa and went across the pond to stun the Americans with her talents. Competitors, friends and lovers paid the ultimate price but nothing subdued Helene Nice and her desire to race and win until finally a horrendous crash nearly took her life. When WW2 came and the ‘Swastika’ replaced the ‘Tricolor’ across France her life became about survival and after the war her reputation was nearly ruined having been unfairly accused of collaboration. An extraordinary life story was almost lost as a sad and lonely figure just disappeared, living out her final days in poor accommodation and penny-less. The author has gone to extreme lengths to collect letters and images lost for decades and piece together a fantastic biography, providing a great read.

Published by Simon & Schuster

The Essential Buyers Guide:

Mercedes-Benz SLK R170

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although I am not a great fan of the phrase modern classic there are two machines from around millennium year that certainly offer future classic potential. Jaguar’s XK8 turns heads for sure whilst the R170 SLK Mercedes ticks so many boxes (both available in Veloce guides) and the market place offers plenty of choice at sensible money. So, putting cash on the table we acquired a nice 230 SLK from 1999, a low mileage car with great history, only then did we obtain a copy of ‘The Essential Buyers Guide’ for the R170 from Veloce Publishing. The wrong way around maybe but this book would seriously benefit those facing the auctions or scouring through the small ads. Over 100 vehicles both motor bikes and cars have been covered in a series of books small enough for Veloce to claim they offer an expert in your pocket. Author Chris Bass shares his knowledge over 64 pages, covering model choice with their strengths and weaknesses plus inherent problems, what to look for and how to find them. No marque makes a perfect car and whilst Mercedes have produced many of the world’s finest machines buying a bad one can happen. Chris edits the Mercedes Benz Club Gazette and wrote Veloce’s Guide to the SL Pagoda range, he has a strong technical background which he shares with readers in understandable terms. Our SLK lives with my father in law Henry Farrell, retired from the motor trade and after a lifetime owning and running main dealerships he knows how to spot a bargain. The idea was to let him compare his knowledge against the book using his own car as reference; could the expert teach him anything new?  Never shy of offering an opinion he said ‘It’s an inside pocket book, an ideal companion if you are looking to purchase a specific car, written in a straight forward manner and not too technical; that’s how it should be’. This is a good point, as the author leaves very little unsaid and will often explain various mechanical fixes in detail, catering for all mechanical skill levels. The book is also easy to navigate through; divided into 17 sections, covering model choice and evaluating the car that it being considered for purchased. The clever folding roof and the SLK’s running gear is also looked at in enough detail for any potential buyer to feel confident in making a wiser decision. Also corrosion, something that surprised me was the level at which rust can take hold if not dealt with; the images show where and how bad it can become.

Conclusion: For around a dozen UK pounds any buyer gets the information that can save their bank balance not to mention the disappointment of purchasing ‘a bad one’. Henry confirmed, ‘yes a worthy book that points out known faults affecting the SLK and how to find them’. That is the point, knowing ‘what to look for and where to look for it’ this means even the most inexperienced can obtain enough knowledge to buy this future classic with confidence.

 

Mercedes-Benz SLK R170 Series 1996-2004

By Chris Bass    £12.99 UK    $25.00 USA

Paperback 195mm x 139mm 64 pages 90 images

ISBN 978-1-845848-08-8/UPC6-36847-04808-2

Veloce Publishing Ltd    www.veloce.co.uk

Motor Racing Heroes

The stories of 100 greats by Robert Newman

 

 

100 great heroes covering 100 years in 384 pages without a single photograph or diagram, sounds like a long read doesn’t it? Fear not, I doubt you will want to take a break from Robert Newman’s fascinating work; if a desperate situation occurs and you must, then by stopping at the next driver you can’t lose the gist of the story, each heroic driver has their own. With detailed and in depth backgrounds covering the early gentlemen Grand Prix racers through to the new millenniums super-fit F1 pilots, this book is an education. What will shock the reader is the loss of life that has always surrounded the sport especially in its infancy, with their lives and backgrounds filled in it’s not so easy to read on overlooking the fact that each of these young characters were real, many too brave for their own good. What the author is able to achieve is to engage the reader in each of these heroes stories, their lives prior to their racing days, their career and if lucky post motor racing. Detailed explanations of races and the machines, the opposition and the results all achieved with great writing. Never boring with plenty of wit Robert Newman takes you on a racing journey through each individual driver’s eyes; often these names appear in another hero’s story as you move back and forth through the decades. Newman has been around motorsport at the highest level most of his life.  His introduction is impressive, not many people got to ‘hang-out’ with Fangio in Monte Carlo and then translate the Argentinians speech at his 80th birthday celebrations at London’s Dorchester in front of the massed ranks of the great and good of motor sport. His research and attention to detail is a most important aspect of his writing; no matter how much you think you know about certain drivers from the past, you will learn plenty more in this book. A typical example is the brilliant yet precise story of Sir Henry Seagrave; WW1 wounded in the trenches, first Britain to finish a Grand Prix, first Britain to win a Grand Prix, Land Speed Record holder, killed setting the Water Speed Record at just 33. Seagrave follows the story of Richard Seaman, multiple GP winner in less competitive machines earned him a call from Alfred Neubauer, then annoyed the Nazi’s by winning their GP at the ‘Ring’ in a Mercedes. Married the daughter of the boss at BMW then sadly killed at Spa aged just 26. These and 98 other heroes’ stories are detailed with consideration and precision. This book is not a belly laugh or a ‘rom-com’. If your interests lie exclusively in the current F1 scene then educate yourself and for those of us who appreciate motorsport history, Robert Newman has put together a great read.

 

Pros: Superbly written, also impress your mates with your vast knowledge of racing drivers from every decade and win every motorsport pub quiz for the next 10 years.

 

Cons: Images of pre-war Grand Prix racers such as Helene Nice sideways in her Bugatti Type 35 or ‘our Nige’ passing Nelson Piquet at Silverstone in 87 would have made a great addition.

 

Highly Recommended

 

Motor Racing Heroes-The stories of 100 greats by Robert J Newman

 

Veloce Publishing Ltd

www.veloce.co.uk

ISBN 978-1-845847-48-7

Price £19.99

Book Vouchers for Xmas?

Steven Parissien; The Life of the Automobile

 

 

If you have yet to use those Yule Tide credits I can only suggest a great book by Steven Parissien; The Life of the Automobile, a new history of the motor car. A very long title yes, but worthy certainly, a fascinating trip through time from the very dawn of motoring. Written in a very relaxed style the author covers virtually every aspect of motor manufacture from the early pioneers to the current multinationals and the race to provide Eco friendly machines. The early years are just riveting with so many interesting facts about the personalities and their fledgling car companies both at home and abroad. Parissien spares no punches and his accounts of Henry Ford’s difficult personality and William Durant’s (GM) thirst for power lead you through the First World War and onto the depression of the late 20s. The big companies consuming the smaller ones at a bank breaking rate until only a few remained, General Motors being the guiltiest party although none were blameless. Who cozied up to the Nazi’s before and during WW2? Two of the major French manufactures along with several American and British household names are brought to book in a style of writing that is easy to read but detailed and informative. Insight into the lives of such famous names as Louis Chevrolet, William Morris and Walter Chrysler, their personalities and failings examined. Every manufacturer from Stutz and Lanchester to Rolls Royce, no one is missed out. No doubt years of research have gone into this 438 page hard back, a brilliant read published by Atlantic Books.         

                                                                  ISBN 9781848877054          £25.00

Say ‘Bonjour’ to Classic Car Events

 

France: The Essential Guide for Car Enthusiasts’ written by Julian Parish has 200 events, shows, museums and circuits for you to ponder, all helpfully split into regions of the country, so planning your trip couldn’t be easier. The author was born in Southport but has lived in France for 20 years and appreciates all things classic and has managed to collate not just the well-known events such as Le Mans and Angouleme but more interestingly many you will never have heard of. Whilst planning my trips this year I have found getting information difficult with most of the websites not responding to my Google requests and of course there is the language problem. This book carries all of that information including contacts, websites plus a detailed description of every venue, maps and even sat nav coordinates; many are within a couple of hours of the channel ports and whilst the cost of a ferry crossing has to be taken into account most are free to attend and only a few will require a Goodwood sized bank loan on entry. I was lucky enough to speak to Julian from his Paris home and he told me the original idea came to him about 5 years ago and his research and writing took 2 ½ years to complete. He drew up a list of all the events he could and divided them into areas before setting out to see just what they offered. Most UK visitors will look first at the area of north east France which goes from the Belgium border down to Le Havre and across by passing Paris (which has its own section) to Germany and Switzerland. Julian also pointed out the museum displays can vary from original private collections in rustic outbuildings to perfect rare machines in stately surroundings. One thing the French are very good at is a Concours d’Elegance competition. By incorporating period attire and music with light shows they can be enjoyed by all the family and are quite a spectacle. This year I am looking at the Western region, from Dieppe to Bordeaux and inland to Le Mans, all drivable in one day if the overnight is used from the south coast ports. I had already planned my visits prior to the release of this book; I wish I had waited as Julian Parish has detailed several events and museums I had never heard about. Still there is always next year.

 

France: The Essential Guide for Car Enthusiasts is compulsory reading for those adventurous types that enjoy fine wines and great

food with their diet of all things classic car. My advice is purchase the book and make your plans; board that ferry you really won’t regret it.

Published by: Veloce Publishing Ltd.

www.veloce.co.uk Priced at £14.99

ISBN 978-1-845847-42-5

Paperback 248 pages 503 pictures

The Prince & I

My Life with Prince Bira of Siam

by Princess Ceril Birabongse

 

If you share my passion for Pre War motor racing, when manufactures the likes of ERA, Delage and Bugatti were common place on Europe’s circuits, piloted by legends such as Nuvolari, Seaman and Ascari, then this book is the perfect read. It must therefore be a motor racing book? Well no, it is a superbly written insight into life in and around the world of early GP and TT races, by the wife of one driver who was the most unlikely race driver but took on the best; often beating them. First published in 1992 as a paperback, the E book version became available twenty years later courtesy of Veloce and includes over 100 images. Being slightly ‘old school’ it has taken me time to become accustomed to the E Book but it has one bonus; being able to offer a quality and fascinating read for less than a packet of cigarettes. Bira spent most of his younger life in the UK, brought up by his elder cousin Chula after his parents died.  Originally from Siam (modern day Thailand) his education took place in Southern England where at the age of twenty he befriended the author; the lady destined to become his wife. Meticulous records of every car, events and victories were kept by Ceril Birabongse and the story is told through her eyes. The distances covered by race drivers through the 20s and 30s were incredible; racing through the streets in Italy one weekend then over to the Isle of Man or Ulster the following. With little understanding of all things financial, it seems Bira just grabbed life by the horns and did what took his fancy; minus any arrogance, the life he led was all he knew. This book offers an insider’s view into motorsports golden age; races were long and exceptionally dangerous with death and injury commonplace. Naturally gifted B Bira competed with the era’s best this was the more impressive minus any factory backing in the pre-war years. Turn up, race and then move on to the next event which meant being away for months at a time leaving a worried young wife with at home. Correspondence letters, race reports from across Europe and beyond re tell the triumphs and failures, mostly the latter but in the UK success came frequently. The Prince lived a ‘Boys Own’ adventure becoming a renowned pilot and Olympic sailor, as well as the only Thai driver ever to compete in Formula 1 where he piloted marques such as Maserati, Gordini and Connaught until the mid-50s. The Prince and I, an excellent read, written with wit and honesty; a life story with motor sport, this book is not just for the vintage ‘petrol head’.

 

eV4557

230 pages

105 pictures

Base price £7.49

ISBN: 978-1-845845-57-5

UPC: 6-36847-04557-9

www.veloce.co.uk

 

Veloce Publishing Ltd 

Veloce House, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, 

Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR

The Big Bugatti’s

Type's 46 & 50

 

 

 

 

The press release advised this Veloce Classic has been reprinted after several years’ absence; a concise illustrated history? Yes, but this book is so much more. If you share a passion for the offerings the famous French marque brought to the motoring world you may well already have this amazing work from Barrie Price on your bookshelf. For those who are unfortunate not to have enjoyed the stunning collection of images, in period advertising and Bugatti’s engineering excellence explained, this reprint is a must. The author’s impressive knowledge is backed-up by over 200 pictures, mostly in period, which detail not just the era and the personalities who could enjoy these luxury machines but also the variety and splendour of various coachbuilders. Whilst the Molsheim works (the home of Bugatti) could dress their chassis in the finest of craftsman built bodies, many of the Type 46/50 cars were wrapped in a bespoke finish of the owners choosing. Gathering this collection of images from across the globe was certainly an achievement and Barrie Price notes this would not have been possible without assistance from various enthusiasts; The Bugatti Trust and others. Bugatti is motorsport and these models although carrying plenty of size both in cubic capacity and in sheer bulk lined up at Le Mans amongst other circuits and the book features a very interesting section on this. With period sales records listed by chassis the author can advise were many of the individual cars were delivered around the planet and considering the era the expensive Bugatti’s sold well. With a Type 46 Mulliner bodied sports saloon costing a third more than a 4.5 litre Bentley, the desire to own what many consider to be the world’s finest was still strong enough for over 450 customers during the Great Depression. Price’s research shows 24 of those were sold through the companies London Depot. For fans of motoring memorabilia the book features 4 pages from Bugatti’s 1932 UK sales catalogue via their Head Office in Brixton Road SW9 including a superb ‘foreword’ bearing the name of Ettore Bugatti himself. It only remains for me to recommend a delve into the magnificent world of Bugatti genius, where even their straight 8 engine block is pure art and combined with the T46/50 chassis offered the perfect platform for coachbuilders world-wide to provide their very best.

 

Bugatti Type 46 & 50 author Barrie Price

ISBN 978-1-845848-72-9     Hardback copies £37.50   Over 200 period images

Veloce Publishing Ltd    01305 260068

www.veloce.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

The Final French Bugatti

Type 57

Veloce have again teamed up with author Barrie Price to produce a really fantastic, in depth look at the Type 57 in all its guises; a machine that Malcolm Campbell himself classified as the best all round super sports car he had enjoyed. From 1934 until the outbreak of WW2 the Type 57 offered many variants from luxury tourer to Grand Prix racer, all are included in this homage to one of Bugatti’s bestselling machines. Engineering excellence and the sheer beauty of coachbuilders creations can be admired as a collection of superb images from the late 1930s fill every page. Whilst the factory still chased GP success with the Type 59 the pre-war period was dominated by the huge state backed entries from Mercedes and Auto Union. Post war and the first motor race to take place was the GP du Bois de Boulogne in Paris which the pre-war Type 59 won. 1937 and again in 1939 saw the Type 57C Tank win the Le Mans 24 hours and the books coverage and images of the event are amazing. The 57 with the Atalante body is surely one of the finest looking cars ever constructed. A styling revelation from Jean Bugatti, the eldest son of Ettore; incredible considering he was only in his mid-twenties at the time and it would be testing the 57C Tank that would take his young life at just 30. One most interesting page gives details of the UK based Bugatti Trust in Gloucestershire and the home of the Prescott hill climb. The author has donated the royalties from the book to the trust and is a trustee himself; this has planted the seed in my head for a definite visit and a must for any lover of the Bugatti marque. To conclude ‘The Last French Bugatti, Type 57’ is not only  an informative and detailed read but the collection of black and white period photos will surprise and delight all followers of a time when engineering and style came together in perfect harmony.

 

 

Bugatti 57-The Last French Bugatti by Barrie Price

The concise history of Bugatti type 57, 57S, 64 & 101

Featuring over 300 superb images/ Hardback with 240 pages    £45.00

ISBN 978-1-845848-71-2 / UPC 6-36847-04871-6

Veloce Publishing Ltd - www.veloce.co.uk

My Life in 140 Cars

Keith Stewart

 

Writing any book is a challenge and you have to admire the brave souls willing to put their literary skills onto paper for others to digest, dislike and often disregard. Many fail to win over the masses even with giant publishing house support, whilst a few take on the task solo and just for themselves, because they feel the calling. Keith Stewart has achieved his goal and over 110 pages takes the reader on a nostalgia trip with some great period images, in depth knowledge and Scouse humour. Produced on quality parchment, the author is obviously not chasing J K Rowling’s millions for this little gem costs less than a packet of fags. At only £9.00 delivered, the story begins with a 60s teenager chasing ‘Liver birds’ and classic cars and over the following decades his fascination for automobiles fails to diminish. Honest enough to admit buying many a ‘duffen’ and regretful, certainly, when selling on that all too rare ‘corker’, those cars that should have remained in his garage. No doubt this will remind many readers of similar clangers dropped, that XK or E Type that cost a few pounds in the 70s would now cover a holiday home in Spain; let go whilst chasing a profit. The author had barely left high school when the trading bug bit and by the age of twenty had already enjoyed the delights of DKW and a Renault Dauphine amongst his collection. The 140 cars certainly include many to raise the eyebrows, losing his way with a Lada and Le Mans in a Marina contrasts with the auto aristocracy of Allard or the gallant Ginetta’s he has enjoyed. Every era of motoring has at some time passed though Keith’s fingers from elegant Edwardians for the London to Brighton through to modern Mercs and the daily driver. If you have never endured the Veteran Car Run to Madeira Drive the explanation of ‘earning every mile’ is perfect, the event becomes another bug that bites and Keith offers a precise explanation of why people return to suffer every November. My Life in 140 Cars is a read where you find yourself saying ‘my dad had one of those’ or a friend, uncle etc. Entertaining and relevant to any classic car enthusiast at a great price, all you need is the Ebay page;

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/My-Life-In-140-Cars-/252556193393

My Life in 140 Cars – Author Keith Stewart

ISBN 978-1-5272-0183-5         £9.00 including delivery

www.grantford.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praying at the Alter of Speed

300+ A Speed Odyssey by David de Lara

 

 

Donald Campbell was born into the fastest of motoring environments; one week after his birth at Canbury House in Surrey in March 1921 the Easter meeting at Brooklands saw Kenelm Lee Guinness achieve 140mph in the 350hp Sunbeam. Two years later his father Malcolm purchased that very car, repainted it blue and attempt his first Land Speed Record; a decision that would influence both their lives. Referring to David de Lara’s book 300+ A Speed Odyssey, Donald recollected a childhood where he grew up in ‘an electric atmosphere of the unceasing striving for higher speeds and greater speed records’. Many opinions have been expressed over the relationship between father and son, no doubt Sir Malcolm was strict and of a selfish character; history shows, to achieve great things ‘especially behind the wheel’ requires a single minded attitude. In many ways they were peas from the same pod. In his father, Donald certainly saw ‘greatness’ and his determination to not only match but exceed Sir Malcolm’s record would result in a similar personality and conclude in tragedy. One person who influenced both their lives was Chief Engineer Leo Villa, a calm and brilliant technician who was at the forefront of Sir Malcolm’s speed records and offered a workshop of sanctuary for young Donald; a place where he wouldn’t annoy his father and could stay out of trouble. Even so, Donald would normally be found accompanying his father at record attempts, even at the age of six he remembered Pendine Sands in 1927 when ‘The Skipper’ (as he was known) broke the Land Speed record for a third time at 174mph. Trips to South Africa and Utah followed as Malcolm pushed the boundaries on land to over 300mph in 1935. Records on water would now fall in Switzerland in 1937 and 38 and again at Coniston Lake just prior to WW2 breaking out; Blue Bird K4 would reach 141.74mph and as always Donald was by his father’s side. Post-war, the aging and poorly Malcolm took one last attempt on water with a modified K4. A jet engine had been installed but the craft was dangerously unstable over 90mph and combined with the ill health and failing eyesight of its pilot the attempt was doomed to failure. Young Donald had joined Kline Engineering Company at Horley and received a call just before Christmas 1948 to say his father had endured a stroke. Sir Malcolm Campbell passed away just before midnight on New Year’s Eve. His father’s estate would be sold for auction, although the family were permitted to purchase anything of sentimental value prior to the sale. Donald acquired the 1935 (Utah) 301mph Bluebird car and the K4 hydroplane that had failed just 2 years before, one wonders why they weren’t willed to him automatically? It was just after the funeral that Donald learnt American money would sponsor band leader Guy Lombardo to attempt the water speed record in an all-aluminium craft. He immediately found Leo Villa in the workshops and exclaimed ‘they are going to take dads record back to America and I am going to do something about it! Are you with me? After explaining why this was not a good idea, Leo confirmed he was on board. At the time Donald recollects this would be a short term ‘bash at it’ never considering it would become a threat to his marriage or a life changing decision. It’s fair to comment Donald ‘rode his luck’ with his K4 attempts (converted back to propeller thrust) initially, just shy of his father’s speed by 2 mph, he persevered and saw 170mph on the speedo before colliding with debris on the water; K4 was holed and sunk 20 yards from shore at Coniston in 1951. His marriage had failed, mainly due to Donald’s addiction to speed attempts but after the loss of K4 he purchased an old cottage and remarried, just prior to the death of another record chaser John Cobb at 220mph on Loch Ness in September 1952. This re ignited the desire that culminated in Bluebird K7 finally bringing success in July 1955 at 202.3mph at Ullswater in the Lake District. Incredibly, K7 broke the record again in November and then every year until 1959, achieving 260.35mph on Coniston in May of that year; the cost, a re-mortgaged house, debts and his second marriage. He would however tie the knot again with Belgium cabaret star Tonia Bern on Christmas Eve 1958 after a whirlwind romance of just three weeks. Work had begun on Campbell Norris Bluebird project 7 (CN7) car whilst Donald was chasing water speed records and was completed in 1960. It went straight into runs on the Bonneville Salt Flats where a crash at 370mph caused a fractured skull and broken ribs following a 6G terror ride for Donald. Rebuilt and redesigned CN7 was ready to attempt Lake Eyre in South Australia in March 1963 but was the pilot? Campbell did hit 403mph proving he still retained his nerve but on a reduced track over 5 miles as the elements had conspired against the team. Three months ‘down-under’ and over £1 million in the red the team knew CN7 could go faster but that would wait until their return the following year. On 17th July 1964 Donald Campbell set a new Land Speed Record 403.10 mph then on New Year’s Eve at Lake Dumbleyung the dependable K7 would claim a new water record at 276.30 mph; Campbell now had both records taken in the same year, a feat unlikely to be repeated again and achieved on the anniversary of Sir Malcolm’s death 16 years prior. Surely now there was nothing left to prove? To quote from David de Lara’s book Donald himself had sacrificed everything at the ‘altar of speed’, his final offering was made 4th January 1967 when K7 attacked one attempt too many on Coniston Lake. A British motoring hero taken in just a few violent seconds within a massive plume of spray, is very much remembered half a century on. Donald Campbell like his father certainly lived life ‘flat out in the fastest lane’. Special thanks to author David de Lara for allowing us to include a few images from his superb book Donald Campbell 300+ A Speed Odyssey. The ultimate portrait of the man, his team and family, with contributions from many involved with his life; when the fastest machines in the world carried a Union Jack on blue bodywork.

Donald Campbell 300+ A Speed Odyssey – His Life with Bluebird £30.00

Published by The History Press: thehistorypress.co.uk

Available from all major book stores or contact geoff.holden@gofast.co.uk

ISBN: 9780750970082

Jaguar Mark 1 & 2

Nigel Thorley

A celebration of Jaguar’s classic sporting saloons

Released July 2017 (UK) £40.00 & August 2017 (USA) $60.00

Whilst I always look to the Veloce website for their latest offerings, rarely does a book grab my attention such as this one; a selfish reason in this case, as I am lucky enough to own a Mark 2. The author has most likely forgotten more about William Lyons creations than I will ever know, but with this particular Jaguar saloon I feel justified in offering an opinion. Nigel Thorley is a Director of the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club and an acknowledged historian of the marque; he has also owned 16 Mark 2’s. Originally released in 2005, the first thing the reader will notice is that this book is 248mm x 248mm square and not following the A4 format works well; by increasing page area the text and images appear less cramped improving the readers experience. The initial pages feature pre-production 2.4’s from the mid-50s and it is fascinating to see the designs alter until the shell finally met up with its running gear on the Browns Lane production line. At just £895 plus tax in 1955, the early 2.4 was a fine looking machine, uncluttered with minimal trimming and spats enclosing the rear wheels.

Great detail accompanies the images from 1957 including the Browns Lane fire and arrival of the 3.4 litre version. Period advertising features heavily on the pages, this enhances the reader’s ability to travel back in time and appreciate Jaguars influence on car buyers of the day. The rear bumper of my Mark 2 features a brake warning symbol, advising drum braked vehicles that I enjoy discs all round and can stop much quicker than they would be able; their introduction in 1957 as an option is explained with costings. Dunlop’s braking system was certainly a worthy addition as the detailed spec of the 3.4 also shows it was a 9 second car to 60mph, not slow today, let alone prior to the swinging sixties.

The Mark 2 hit the race track pretty much as it did Britain’s highways and its immediate success is well covered with a very dramatic image of Colin Chapman crossing the line at Silverstone; an equally great picture shows him driving his road version away from a Henlys dealership. Daimlers V8 version enjoys plenty of page space, the author pointing out the differences between the two models; many of which are obvious plus plenty that are less noticeable. The research undertaken to produce such detail must have taken years, I now know my Mark 2 enjoyed the later oil pressure gauge, updated during production; it also benefitted from the early seat belts marked with a leaping Jaguar on the buckle. The differences between the earlier model and the Mark 2 may visually seem a case of multiple adjustments rather than the totally bespoke version that began leaving the showrooms in 1959. Nigel details the differences and explains the benefits the all new design brought to the brand and some of the improvements carried out over its decade in production. For those who are fortunate enough to be custodians of such a fine British saloon, the celebration of the Mark 1 & 2 is compulsory reading and fans of classic transport will find it a worthy addition to any library. Just like Jaguar’s saloon itself this book is beautifully produced, it is easy to absorb with a mix of superb in-period and studio images and adverts; one read I found very difficult to put down.

Details: Hardback Presentation with 160 pages and 269 images

ISBN: 978-1-787110-24-3    

UPC: 6-36847-01024-9

Website: www.veloce.co.uk   

email: sales@veloce.co.uk

Tel: 01305 260068      Fax: 01305 250479

The Last Real Austins

1946-1959

 

Publisher Veloce produces a series of ‘Those where the days’ books on a variety of transport themes; I recently enjoyed another in the range titled Austerity Motoring by Malcolm Bobbit so I was delighted to follow on that theme with Colin Peck’s The Last Real Austins. This style of publication is easy and incredibly informative reading and the era covered in terrific detail is one of the most interesting in UK transport history. The visionary Leonard Lord and the ability of the workforce to adapt and produce world leading cars at this time in history is quite inspiring. Peck explains how chances were taken with the overseas markets; by following the Government’s instructions the giant Longbridge juggernaut had just one aim, export. Purchasing a new Austin in the late 1940’s was far easier if you resided in America or Australia rather than Alton or Aylesbury but the export drive undertaken by Austin put food on British tables. The book explains why certain models were successful and others less so and unravels one of life’s greatest mysteries; why was the A90 Atlantic not one of the biggest selling cars of all time? Other facts of note the A40 was built under licence in Japan by Nissan in the early 50’s and Austin ditched the common place RAC horse power used in the naming of their cars in 1947 adopting todays BHP for their models. The Aussie’s loved a ‘Ute’ and Austin supplied them in different versions (A40 & A70) as they did for the Canadian consumer. Factories opened around the world and the author explains why some flourished and others didn’t. From ‘Woodies’ to save on steel, commercial derivatives of family cars,  military including the Champ & Gipsy to the Healey sports cars, all are covered in detail. If you are an Austin fan this book is a must and if you are a classic car enthusiast who prefers their transport prior to the swinging sixties you will appreciate Mr Peck’s efforts. As for the images they are superb and certainly wouldn’t look out of place in a publication of five times the cost; a brilliant mix of older black and white with stunningly clear up to date pictures of machines over half a century old. Luckily the book stops way short of the ‘where did it all go wrong’ years so the reader can reflect on the craftsmanship, engineering excellence and brave management. At a time when the country needed the UK motor industry to expand worldwide Austin went further than any other manufacturer, especially with the A40 model, the sales figures into the US were an incredible achievement. Verdict: The Last Real Austins 1946-1959 by Colin Peck. I really liked this book, helped maybe because I appreciate cars of this era but also it is pleasant to read, not heavy going at all, although still contains plenty of facts and detail. With 89 pages filled with great photographs it is a lot of book for not a lot of money.

Victorian & Edwardian Motor Cars

By David Scott-Moncrieff

 

This is another of my internet finds, one of those books that have found their way via a charity shop or house clearance onto the final seller, usually one auction site or another. There are bargains to be located in such places and this book certainly was at under £5.00 delivered and it offers an insight into veteran cars written in what we would now consider a bit of a vintage era. Published by Batsford in 1955 it covers the period of the true pioneers from 1904-1914, real dawn of motoring stuff and cleverly moves from year to year explaining the advances in motoring from all angles; how the French and American embraced the automobile, whilst at home early enthusiasts were a real unloved breed, considered the scourge of society in some cases; the birth of motorsport and the brave pilots who chased glory and speed records but detailed with a lot more information than many modern books on the subject. The author Scott-Moncrieff who enjoyed a typically ‘in-period’ nickname of ‘Bunty’ was an engineer educated at Cambridge and spent much of his life in and around the motor trade, mainly to be around motor cars. He raced during the pre-war era and went on to write several motoring books including ‘The Three Pointed Star’ the story of Mercedes Benz, then Escape from Peace, around the same time.

A review of this very book was written on release by The Spectator and seems more relevant now than during the mid-50s… ‘Mr. Scott- Moncrieff has the advantage of a consistent approach; he writes about pre-1914 motors very much in the vein of the people who write about period furniture; to him, they are works of art. This will seem quaint to that section of the public who automatically laugh at old motor-cars, and refer to the London-Brighton run as the old crocks' race; but Mr. Scott- Moncrieff makes his attitude seem valid even after the book is closed’.

Rare black and white images make the purchase worthy on their own but once 1914 has been reached the book then continues with an in depth listing of every manufacturer of the era; what the cars cost to buy and then run in the UK, plus motoring fashion and accessories, this market being particularly buoyant during the Vintage period. In 1904 Autocar magazine produced a detailed listing of every car available in Britain for that year both home built and imported, this was reproduced and included within the book. No matter how well versed the reader maybe in the history of motoring for this period, there will certainly come a point where the phrase ‘I didn’t know that’ will cross your mind; I found plenty of such examples.

Before 1896 UK motorists not only had to deal with the red flag but also paid a £10 licence for each county they visited and crossing any bridge required written permission.

The first pneumatic tyres were seen on French racing cars as early as 1897.

The majority of cars featured ‘hot-tube’ ignition until the late 1800s. Using a platinum tube with one end inside the combustion chamber the other would be heated via paraffin burner. Electric ignition although far superior was totally unreliable until after the turn of the century.

By 1904 shaft drive was becoming more popular than chains and motorists enjoying a modest 10hp car found running costs had dropped to 3 pence per mile over 7k miles driven with tyres, the costliest outlay. This was still cheaper than running a horse and trap during the period.

The first bumpers were patented by engineer F R Simms and in 1905 were made of rubber whilst the same year the American market was booming with 24k cars built and to ease sales, hire purchase was offered.

Although I think this book was produced pre ISBN number, the ASIN number is B0000CJ8M9 and it runs to 256 pages. Copies are available from several well-known auction sites and Amazon offer used versions for sale at around £5.00. Recommended reading, incorporating some diverse facts alongside the authors interesting view of motoring history.

Russian Motor Vehicles

The Czarist Period 1784-1917

 

By Maurice A. Kelly

 

 

 

Pre-revolution Russian motor vehicles, were there such things? The question that forced me to acquire this in depth and heavily researched book.  The answer I was looking for is yes and very impressive machines they were too. You see, Russian vehicles were as advanced as most European or American marques before the Czar found the Winter Palace his last refuge. First seen in 2009, this Veloce book was produced in association with The Michael Sedgewick Trust which was set up to commemorate the motoring researcher and author Michael Sedgwick (1926–1983) and encourages the publishing of new motoring research. It’s also just been reduced to half price, which offers brilliant value as the detail accumulated by Maurice Kelly is extraordinary and combined with illustrations courtesy of Alexandr Zakarov it’s all very absorbing. A real step into the unknown certainly and the rare black and white images transport the reader, not just to another time, but to a mysterious and uncharted motoring world. The western nations were certainly aware of the engineering excellence available in Russia and when Andrei Nagel took victory in the 1912 Monte Carlo Rally this was confirmed; especially as their Monako S24/50 Torpedo Roadster started its journey overland from St Petersburg. The Russians first car with internal combustion engine had arrived in 1896 and by 1913 they were producing land speed challengers and Grand Prix racers of five litre capacity. World leading suspensions and superb tyre technology are all details the book delves into, plus motor cycles, military and the mighty trucks built for the harshest of environments. Russian coachbuilders didn’t always conform to fashion with an ability to pen the strangest of designs; function over flair maybe. Well, who else would put tracks on a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost! One of the many half tracked vehicles using the “Systeme Kégresse” developed by Frenchman Adolphe Kégresse who had been in charge of the Czar’s garage. The Rolls was taken over post 1917, as were all the Czar collection and was used by Lenin himself. The authors very matter of fact writing style is initially very exact but seems to loosen as the book progresses and becomes a relaxing but still precise read that I really enjoyed. Both his public school education and engineering background come through in his writing but his research that led him to Russia in completing this works must be applauded. A massive variety of machines that extend from the finest this era offered to ridiculous contraptions that take some explaining; this book deals with its subject comprehensively.

 

 

Russian Motor Vehicles-The Czarist Period 1784-1917

Author: Maurice A Kelly

Hardback. Height 250mm. Width 207mm

112 pages with 90 illustrations

Published by Veloce Publishing Ltd

List price: £12.49 plus P&P

ISBN 13: 978-1845842130

www.veloce.co.uk   email: sales@veloce.co.uk