This page gathers together all the announcements and product updates from the past. For the latest news please visit the Future Auto Review Programme page


News Update August 2017

Here is a little introduction to four recently published titles.

Auto Review 131 Maserati Album
by Rod Ward

The Maserati brothers, Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore and Ernesto set up their own car marque in Bologna in 1926. A sixth brother, Mario, designed their trident emblem. They built highly successful racing cars, but in 1937 they sold out to the Orsi family, who moved the firm to Modena in 1940. Maserati built racing and sports cars after the Second World War. but the three surviving Maserati brothers left in 1947 after a ten-year service contract with Orsi expired, and they set up OSCA to make competition cars. Maserati race successes continued until the firm retired from racing after the 1957 Mille Miglia tragedy, to concentrate on roadgoing sports cars, including the legendary 3500GT. Although much admired, the sports cars did not produce sufficient profits and in 1967 60% of Maserati was sold to Citroën, who took full control in 1971. New Maserati sports cars gained production methods and technology from Citroën. In return Citroën used Maserati engines and componentry in the SM and other cars. Maseratis from this period include the Bora, Merak, Khamsin and the Quattroporte II. The 1970s oil crisis hit Maserati hard; when Peugeot took over Citroën they put Maserati into administration, but it was subsidised by emergency Italian government funding until it was taken over in 1975 by Alejandro de Tomaso.
In 1993 Maserati was sold to Fiat, who placed Maserati under the control of their Ferrari subsidiary. In 2005 Fiat Auto separated Maserati from Ferrari, instead merging it with Alfa Romeo. In its new 21st century role Maserati gained a secure future within Fiat Auto, producing luxury cars and high-performance sports cars. ISBN 978-1-85482-130-3 £5.95

Auto Review 132 Delahaye Album
by Rod Ward

This Auto Review mini-series describes three French car marques whose names resonate with style and quality: Delahaye, Delage and Hotchkiss. They were competitors for many years, but they were thrown together by
economic adversity. Delage was taken over by Delahaye in 1935, and Delahaye eventually would merge with Hotchkiss in the 1950s, shortly before all three marques disappeared into oblivion. There will be three titles in this Auto Review mini-series of publications, each devoted to one of these companies.
Emile Delahaye produced his first car in 1894, but by 1901 he had sold his shareholding in the company he founded, and he died in 1905. Charles Weiffenbach took effective control of the firm, with Amadée Varlet looking after design and engineering. They established Delahaye as a profitable maker of cars, commercial vehicles and fire appliances, though by the 1930s the company was finding it hard to turn a profit from sales of its rather dull, if dependable, vehicles. In a dramatic change of direction, Delahaye became makers of prestige cars with exotic bodywork from all the great coachbuilders of the period. The firm also enjoyed competition successes, thanks to an injection of capital from Lucy O’Reilly Schell, a millionaire racing enthusiast. The postwar years were difficult for all makers of expensive cars; Delahaye was no exception, so in another attempted change of direction, Delahaye produced the VLRD field car for the French armed forces. It was too complex, however, and production was terminated before fewer than 10,000 had been delivered. The last desperate move was a 1954 merger with Hotchkiss, but by 1957 the combined firm had been taken over by a white goods manufacturer, and had ceased making vehicles. ISBN 978-1-85482-131-0 £5.95

Auto Review 133 Scammell Album
by Rod Ward

In the 19th century George Scammell was a wheelwright in Spitalfields, London. His firm became G Scammell and Nephew, building and repairing horse-drawn vehicles, then working on steam wagons. They moved on to building motor trucks, the ‘articulated six-wheeler’ going into production in 1920. In 1926 the world’s first frameless tanker was patented. In 1927 the Pioneer 6×4 off-road truck was launched, and in 1929 the 100-ton heavy haulage Scammell appeared. In 1933 Scammell bought from Napier the patent for a three-wheel tractor, the Mechanical Horse, which sold phenomenally well. The firm had financial problems in the 1930s, however, and Shell-Mex had to inject capital. Rigid Sixes and Eights were popular, and in wartime the Pioneer became a tank transporter tractor. After the war the Showtrac was produced for showmen, and other models included the 6×6 Explorer, 4×4 Mountaineer and the Constructor. The Rolls-Royce-powered Super Constructor topped the range. When Scammell was acquired by Leyland in 1955, some smaller Leyland-powered trucks included the normal control two-axle Highwayman, the forward control four-axle Routeman, and the forward control two-axle Handyman. Two-axle Sherpa and three-axle Himalayan dumptrucks were added to the range.
In the 1960s Michelotti designed a GRP cab for the Routeman, Handyman, and the twin-steer Trunker. 1964 saw the new Contractor prime-mover, and in 1969 the Crusader was launched. In 1972 British Leyland closed Thornycroft, transferring to Scammell’s Watford plant production of their Bush Tractors and Nubian crash tenders. Updated versions of the Routeman, Handyman and Trunker were followed by the Contractor Mark 2 and the Commander tank transporter. The S24 (the Contractor successor) used the same cab as the Leyland Landtrain, which was also developed by Scammell. The S26 was a four-axle heavy haulage version of the Roadtrain. When DAF took over Leyland in 1987, they closed the Scammell Watford plant. ISBN 978-1-85482-132-7 £5.95

Auto Review 134 Westland Album
by Rod Ward

During the Great War the British Government involved hundreds of small companies in a network to build aircraft components, which were assembled into complete flying machines at other factories. Most of the firms were small engineering, woodworking or furniture manufacturers, who returned to their original trade once hostilities had ceased. A small firm based in Yeovil, Somerset was an exception, however. After being awarded a number of aircraft construction contracts, industrial engine manufacturers Petters got the taste for the world of aviation. They were responsible for the redesign of the DH-9 bomber to become the much more successful Liberty-engined DH-9A ‘Nine-Ack’, of which hundreds would be built at Petters’ new ‘Westland Aircraft Works’. In the 1920s this work led to the Wapiti, Wallace and other designs, culminating in the Lysander and Whirlwind, both from the pen of a gifted designer in the family firm, W E W Petter BA. When his proposal for a twin-jet bomber was rejected by the Westland board, Teddy Petter took it to English Electric, where it became the Canberra. His later career included the design of the Folland Gnat lightweight fighter and trainer, as used by the Red Arrows. The Westland company continued on a new path, in 1946 taking out a licence to build Sikorsky helicopters in the UK. This led to Westland becoming world-renowned producers of rotary-wing aircraft for decades thereafter, often in conjunction with other companies, including Aérospatiale of France and Agusta of Italy. The Westland name survived as part of the combined AgustaWestland concern, until it was finally axed by Italian owners Leonardo in 2016. ISBN 978-1-85482-133-4 £5.95

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!