2017 Auto Review programme: publication dates spread throughout the Year (Q1 = First Quarter of 2017)



131 Maserati Album

Now available!

132 Delage, Delahaye and Hotchkiss: part 1: Delahaye

Now available!

133 Scammell Album

Including Scammell trucks, mechanical horses, trailers, dumpers, and the story of Unipower Q3

134 Westland aircraft 

The Yeovil aircraft firm, from Great War contracts to modern helicopters, with the related story of the Petter family and English Electric, for whom Teddy Petter designed the Canberra, and Folland, for whom he designed the Gnat Q3

135 AEC Album Part 1

The story of AEC and related concersn including Associated-Daimler, up to the 1940s Q4

136 BMW Album

The stories of BfW, BMW, Dixi, Isetta, Glas, Goggomobil and more are all included here Q4



By Rod Ward

We will update this page from time to time with descriptions of recent and forthcoming Auto Review titles.

If you can supply any illustrations or other information for future Auto Review titles, please contact us with what you may have to offer. If any illustration is used you will get a picture credit and a free copy of the Auto Review book after publication.

A big thank-you to all those who have recently supplied photos and other material.


News update October 2016

Here is a little introduction to each of the new Auto Review titles just released:


Auto Review 125 Gloster Album

by Rod Ward

ar125The Gloucestershire Aircraft Co was set up in 1917 to assemble warplanes in the Great War. H P Folland began his career at the Royal Aircraft Factory in 1912, where he was responsible for the FE.2B, SE.4 and SE.5A. Nieuport & General Aircraft at Cricklewood had been set up in 1916 to licence-build the French Nieuport 17 fighter. When the 1917 Burbidge Report said that the RAE should cease designing and building aircraft, N&G snapped up Folland, and he designed the Nighthawk fighter. When Waring closed N&G in 1920, he moved to the Gloucestershire Aircraft Co Ltd, taking the Nighthawk design with him. He went on to produce the Bamel racers and Schneider Trophy seaplanes. In 1926 the firm’s name changed to the Gloster Aircraft Co. Folland designed the famous Gloster single-seater biplane fighters, Grebe, Gamecock, Gauntlet and Gladiator. In 1934 Gloster was taken over by Hawker, then Hawker merged with J D Siddeley’s empire in the Hawker Siddeley Group. In 1936 Folland left Gloster,. In 1939-42 Gloster built Hurricanes for Hawker, but in 1940 a contract was awarded to build Britain’s first jet, its engine designed by Frank Whittle. The E.28/39, which first flew in 1941, led to the twin-engined Meteor, the only jet used in combat by the Allies in the Second World War. The delta-wing Javelin of 1952 was the last Gloster aircraft to be built.

At this point we look at Saunders-Roe, formed in 1929, when A V Roe left Avro and with John Lord took a controlling interest in the famous Isle of Wight boat-builders S E Saunders (see Auto Review 44: Fast Boats). The firm was renamed Saunders-Roe (Saro) and produced flying boats in the 1930s, combining Sam Saunders’ hull technology with Roe’s aviation expertise. After a number of ill-fated designs, including the enormous Princess flying boat, in 1951 Saro took over the Cierva Autogiro Co and went on to produce the Skeeter helicopter. In 1959 Saro built the SR.N1, the first practical hovercraft, for the NRDC. Also in 1959 Westland took over Saro’s helicopter and hovercraft activities. Another abortive design was the SR.53 rocket-propelled fighter. After the Second World War, Saro had turned its Beaumaris flying boat factory to bus body manufacture. This became very successful, many buses were built there. In later years the plant was used by Cammell Laird to produce refuse collection vehicles, and to build more bus bodies. The Laird Centaur half-track Land Rover was built at Beaumaris, then the plant was acquired by the German Faun concern. Back in Gloucestershire, at the turn of the 1970s Hawker Siddeley Group merged Gloster with Saro, to make fire appliances and tanker bodies. Gloster-Saro was based at the Gloster Hucclecote plant. Most of their emergency tenders were built on Reynolds-Boughton chassis. In 1984 Gloster-Saro acquired Chubb’s fire appliance operation, then in 1987 the company merged with Simon Engineering to form Simon Gloster Saro. So in this publication we combine the stories of two pioneering British aircraft companies with bus and fire appliance manufacture.   ISBN 978-1-85482-124-2  £5.95


Auto Review 126 Optare Album 

by Tony Greaves

ar126In this publication Tony Greaves looks at the history of Optare of Leeds, for whom he worked in a design capacity in its first decade. Optare arose in 1984 as the rebirth of an old-established and respected Leeds coachbuilding company, Charles H Roe. The story of Roe is told here, as an overture to the Optare years. Optare led a chequered existence with various changes of owner and successive management buyouts.

In 1990 Optare joined the short-lived United Bus Group, along with DAF and Bova. In 2000 Optare had a new owner, Hungary-based North American Bus Industries, but it returned to independence in a management buyout in 2005. In 2008 Optare was acquired by the company which also owned East Lancashire Coachbuilders, whose heritage is also described in these pages. In 2010-2011 a majority stake in the newly combined company was taken by leading international bus manufacturer Ashok Leyland of India, whose background is also described in this publication.

The author

Tony Greaves, a life-long bus enthusiast and resident of Leeds, qualified as a graphic designer in 1971, (‘In those far-off days before the widespread use of computers, when the ability to draw was required’, he says). Tony then worked in graphic design in a freelance capacity from 1981 onwards. When Russell Richardson became managing director of the new Optare company, Tony contacted him to offer his services. This resulted in Tony Greaves supplying advertising material, designing company and vehicle logos, stationery, doing print, photography and (very unexpectedly) bus design for Optare. From 1985 to 1996 Tony was therefore in a unique position at Optare, working closely with Russell Richardson. Most of Tony’s photographs in these pages were intended for publicity purposes, some of them posed, or ‘action shots’ with the operator. Since ceasing his personal involvement with the company, Tony has watched more recent developments at Optare with close interest. ISBN 978-1-85482-125-9   £5.95


News update August 2016

Here is a little introduction to each of the new Auto Review titles just released:


Auto Review 123 Tiny Wheels

by Rod Ward

ar123What ‘microcars’ did we include in this publication? We could argue for hours about this, and many folk have done. Some people define a microcar by size, perhaps three metres (ten feet) in length. But that would include hundreds of ‘proper’ small cars, such as the original Mini and the Fiat 500. Others say the definition should be by engine size, perhaps setting the limit at 500cc. Again this would include the Fiat 500, as well as cars such as the original 325cc Citroën 2CV, not a ‘tiny’ car by any measure. Also not included, though regarded as microcars by some enthusiasts, are most of the early cyclecars, which were light in weight, with small engines, but did not necessarily have a small footprint. In those days it was not a priority to save space on the road, as there were fewer vehicles around. Many of the smallest cars and cyclecars produced by major manufacturers are described in other Auto Review publications, so we decided not to take up too much of our restricted space in these pages with them.  So, what ‘microcars’ are included?

For a car to be included here, we have mostly accepted the designer’s intention; to make a tiny car which is still practical in normal use, ie the designer could have made a larger vehicle, but instead set himself the goal of making a tiny car. Sometimes such small cars were developed to cope with a straitened economy, such as in France under wartime German occupation. Also, after the Second World War in most countries (and much longer in Spain under the Franco regime) buyers could only afford very small, very cheap cars. Sometimes external economic constraints forced buyers to consider tiny cars, such as the various oil crises, which spawned the bubble cars and many other microcars.

Other tiny cars were produced to comply with government regulation, such as the Kei-cars in Japan, and other quadricycles in countries where very small engines required no driving licence.

In more recent years, congestion in cities has led to development of city cars with a small footprint.

Smallness is relative, however, Some compact American cars sold poorly, because they were perceived by buyers as being far too small. Certain of those US cars are described in this publication, though they would not be regarded as ‘microcars’ anywhere else in the world.

Thanks to all who offered text and illustrations for this publication. We must thank our international network of contributors for their valuable input. Special thanks to Fabrizio Panico, Harvey Goranson, Bruno Boracco, Dave Turner, Maz Woolley, Hans-Georg Schmitt, and John Hanson & Peter Seaword of the H-S Transport Collection. Vehicles were photographed at many museums and collections, including the Louwmann Museum, the Lane Museum, the Weiner Microcar Museum (Harv got there on its very last day before the collection was sold), and at the Retromobile and Techno Classica shows from various years.  ISBN 978-1-85482-122-8  £5.95


Auto Review 122 Volvo Album 

by Rod Ward

ar124Volvo was founded in 1927 in Gothenburg by the Swedish ball bearing manufacturer SKF.

Volvo Cars was owned by AB Volvo until 1999, when it was sold to the Ford Motor Co, who only retained the brand for a decade before selling it to Geely of China in 2010. AB Volvo continued to make its world-renowned trucks, buses and construction equipment, taking over other companies, including White, Mack, UD, Euclid and many more. By the 21st century Volvo was the largest bus manufacturer in the world, with assembly plants in a number of countries.

In this publication we tell the story of the original company, the separation of the car division, and the parallel development of the car and commercial vehicle firms in subsequent decades.

It is a long and complex tale, in which not every individual model can be described in detail here.

The Volvo brand and logo continued to be used under a 50-50 ownership agreement between the Chinese-owned firm which made the cars, and AB Volvo, which made everything else.

The two firms also co-operated in running the Volvo Museum in Arendal, Sweden.

On a personal note, I have only owned a couple of Volvos, both 200-series estate cars, chosen as being suitable for our business in the 1980s. The 245 was robust and reliable, but short on power when heavily loaded and towing a caravan to outdoor shows, so we were persuaded to replace it with a 265. It was more luxurious and powerful, but it was also very unreliable. We had so much trouble persuading the PRV V6 engine to start every morning that we traded in the Volvo 265 for a Range Rover. Sorry, Volvo fans!  ISBN 978-1-85482-123-5   £5.95


News update June 2016


The latest two Auto Review titles, now available, are 121 Made in Spain and 122 Dennis Album. We have also reprinted Auto Review 80 Dinky Toys and other Meccano products, which is not really a ‘second edition’, as there are only minor changes to the text, but we sold out of the original print run, and demand for this title continues. It is our policy to produce new and revised editions, or reprints, of any Auto Review title on the verge of selling out. right now we are monitoring half a dozen titles where there is only a limited stock left. Unlike the Dinky Toy book, these will all probably need extensive revisions and additions, as they are all marque histories. watch this space!