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AUTO REVIEW NEWS

By Rod Ward

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Latest Publications July 2018

AR 142  JEEP ALBUM: The story from Bantam to Fiat-Chrysler  By Rod Ward

The name of ‘Jeep’ is synonymous with a willing go-anywhere vehicle used by the armed forces of the world, and popular with thousands of civilian buyers. The concept originated in a 1940 US Army requirement, for which a number of companies submitted designs. The best design was by the gifted Karl Probst for a tiny car maker called American Bantam, which was judged to be too small to produce the vehicles in quantity. Willys-Overland, which had been successfully making small cars for some time and had the best engine, its ‘Go-Devil’ unit, was awarded the main contract. Ford’s front end design was adopted, and the firm produced Jeeps in quantity under licence from Willys, which registered the ‘Jeep’ nickname, and went on to build large quantities of Jeep-badged vehicles for the world market. Kaiser Corporation took over Jeep in 1953, only ceasing production in 1970 after the death of Henry J Kaiser. The Jeep brand was sold to American Motors (AMC), which was then controlled by Renault for a short period. Chrysler acquired AMC, including Jeep, in 1987. Chrysler merged with Daimler-Benz in 1998 as DaimlerChrysler, but the German partner realised their mistake, and in 2007 they parted company with Chrysler, which was floated as a separate company.
The new entity was unprofitable, in spite of earnings from the Jeep part of the business, and Chrysler LLC was declared bankrupt.
As part of a rescue plan, the US government invited Fiat to take control of Chrysler, with Jeep as the most valuable part of the package. In 2013 Fiat-Chrysler was created, with Jeep as one of its flagship brands. In spite of this chequered history, as described in this publication, Jeep has retained its popularity among owners and operators, and the brand is stronger than ever in the 21st century.

AR 141 FERRARI ALBUM  Part One: The road cars  By Rod Ward

Auto Review has often managed to cover an entire marque history in one volume which at first sight seemed too big for a single publication. At other times the task has been too difficult, so if there is a logical division we try to split a story over two or more volumes. That is the case here; Ferrari has been divided over two Albums, this one devoted to road cars, AR151 to competition cars. As any enthusiast can tell you, this is not a totally clean and clear division. Yes, monoposto Formula cars obviously fall on to one side, and luxury road cars on to the other. But many Ferrari Grand Touring road cars were produced in quantity purely to qualify for GT sports car races, and on the other hand, many Ferraris intended to be road-going sports cars were subsequently raced. This means that the line between road cars and competition cars is more blurred than we might like, so some car models will feature in both Albums. The story runs from Enzo Ferrari’s early days as a mule farrier in the Great War, to Scuderia Ferrari, racing Alfa Romeos between the wars, and running his own firm after the Second World War. Enzo wanted to race his cars in his own team, but he was a businessman who realised that in order to finance his dream he needed to sell cars to others. Initially these were competition cars supplied to other entrants, then road-going cars. Ferrari always made as much as possible in-house, so that he had control of quality standards. This meant the firm producing its own chassis, engines, gearboxes and bodies, though many touring cars were subsequently bodied by the leading coachbuilders of the day. The Ferrari name grew in prestige, and though Enzo died in 1988, the marque he created continued to thrive into the 21st century. There have been hundreds of books on Ferrari; most enthusiasts will have some on the shelf, such as La Ferrari by Rogliatti, and Enzo’s 1964 auto-biography. One of the most treasured books in the author’s collection is Piloti Che Gente by Enzo Ferrari. We have not tried to compete with any of these superb works; instead we just hope to offer a concise introduction to this fascinating subject.

AR140 FODEN ALBUM By Rod Ward

Edwin Foden was a gifted young engineer in Sandbach, Cheshire, producing steam engines in the 19th century. He had two sons, who both later came into the business, and two daughters, both of whose husbands also worked at Fodens. Edwin developed the design of his famous steam wagons, which brought wealth to the family. When his first wife died, Edwin married again, to a much younger woman, who also bore him two sons and two daughters. The two sons from his first marriage, Billy and ER, were running the firm efficiently by the time Edwin died in 1911. His widow, Annie Foden, like Queen Victoria, always wore black after the death of her husband, earning her the nickname Black Annie, and not just for her style of dress. She was the biggest shareholder in Fodens, so she and her spendthrift daughters enjoyed the benefits of large dividends. In the slump after the Great War all firms suffered, and Fodens was no exception, but Annie, who bore a vindictive dislike for all four children from her late husband’s first marriage, blamed them for her drop in income and made their lives unbearable. Billy emigrated to Australia, and ER was forced to retire early. Under Annie’s control the company lost its edge. Dennis, ER’s son, left Fodens to set up in competition as ERF, making diesel lorries, making his father head of the new firm. Foden was on the verge of collapse when Billy returned from Australia to the rescue. His sons and sons-in-law took up senior positions and they steered the company back into profit. As makers of diesel lorries, Fodens played their part in the Second World War, and saw many years of profit thereafter. The decline of the British truck industry in the 1970s, however, saw Fodens taken over by the American Paccar concern in 1980. From that point onwards Fodens lost much of their individuality, the last Foden-badged lorries being little more than rebadged DAFs, built at the Leyland Assembly Plant. 2006 saw the last lorry produced with a Foden badge; after that the marque disappeared.

Latest Publications March 2018

AR139 AMERICAN MOTORS Hudson • Essex • Terraplane • Nash • Rambler • Metropolitan • AMC By Rod Ward – Q2

This is the story of two American car marques, Hudson and Nash, which united to form American Motors (AMC). Roy Chapin and his colleagues had founded Hudson in 1909, taking the name from their main financial backer, a department store owner in Detroit. It has been claimed that Hudson introduced more ‘firsts’ to the auto industry than any other car maker.
Jeffery was another US auto industry pioneer, which made Rambler cars, and then Quad army trucks in the Great War. Charlie Nash left General Motors in 1916 to start up in competition against his ex-employer. He acquired Jeffery’s large plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and began his own range of Nash cars. Both firms prospered between the wars, Hudson introducing its world-beating Essex and Terraplane lines, and Charles Mason taking control of Nash in 1936. After the Second World War it was obvious that the smaller car makers could no longer compete with the Big Three (GM, Ford and Chrysler), so Mason hatched a plan to combine the four second-tier marques, Nash, Hudson, Studebaker and Packard. Mason only got as far as combining Hudson with Nash in 1954, to form AMC, when he suddenly died, leaving his protégé George Romney in charge of AMC. The merger with Studebaker and Packard was abandoned, but Romney continued Mason’s plan to concentrate on smaller cars, not trying to compete with the Big Three model for model. He discontinued the large Hudson and Nash cars, to concentrate on the Rambler and the even smaller Metropolitan. The Rambler carved out its own niche in the US market, until the Big Three began to produce their own ‘compact’ cars. In 1962 Romney left for the world of politics, and his successor changed the direction of AMC, trying to make every size and type of car. This strategy failed, leaving AMC needing urgently to recover profitability, achieved for a while by the acquisition of Jeep in 1967. As AMC grew weaker, Jeep became its only attractive division, encouraging Renault to take control of AMC in 1982. Renault never quite got to grips with AMC, however, and in 1987 they sold out to Chrysler, who also only wanted Jeep. Thereafter all AMC badging disappeared, bringing this story to an end.


AR140 FODEN ALBUM By Rod Ward – Q2

Edwin Foden was a gifted young engineer in Sandbach, Cheshire, producing steam engines in the 19th century. He had two sons, who both later came into the business, and two daughters, both of whose husbands also worked at Fodens. Edwin developed the design of his famous steam wagons, which brought wealth to the family. When his first wife died, Edwin married again, to a much younger woman, who also bore him two sons and two daughters. The two sons from his first marriage, Billy and ER, were running the firm efficiently by the time Edwin died in 1911. His widow, Annie Foden, like Queen Victoria, always wore black after the death of her husband, earning her the nickname Black Annie, and not just for her style of dress. She was the biggest shareholder in Fodens, so she and her spendthrift daughters enjoyed the benefits of large dividends. In the slump after the Great War all firms suffered, and Fodens was no exception, but Annie, who bore a vindictive dislike for all four children from her late husband’s first marriage, blamed them for her drop in income and made their lives unbearable. Billy emigrated to Australia, and ER was forced to retire early. Under Annie’s control the company lost its edge. Dennis, ER’s son, left Fodens to set up in competition as ERF, making diesel lorries, making his father head of the new firm. Foden was on the verge of collapse when Billy returned from Australia to the rescue. His sons and sons-in-law took up senior positions and they steered the company back into profit. As makers of diesel lorries, Fodens played their part in the Second World War, and saw many years of profit thereafter. The decline of the British truck industry in the 1970s, however, saw Fodens taken over by the American Paccar concern in 1980. From that point onwards Fodens lost much of their individuality, the last Foden-badged lorries being little more than rebadged DAFs, built at the Leyland Assembly Plant. 2006 saw the last lorry produced with a Foden badge; after that the marque disappeared.


AR50a The Rootes Group series HUMBER Second edition By Rod Ward – Q2

Humber is now remembered for comfortable, well-made quality cars. They built stately carriages, perhaps lacking in performance, for lower-ranking ambassadors and provincial mayors. Unlike most other British car firms, there are few notable characters with leading roles in this story. There is no William Morris, Cecil Kimber or Bill Swallow here. Even Thomas Humber himself, who established the marque’s high standards of quality, faded away into obscurity before the 20th century. The Rootes brothers, who owned the firm for over 35 years, were dynamic operators, but Humber was only one of their many marques. Humber employed some great engineers, but they moved on to other companies, such as Sunbeam, Bentley and Jaguar, where they would do their best work. In the early years Humber jumped (often with success) on to every current bandwagon; the cycling craze of the 1890s, the taxi boom of 1907, aviation from 1909, and of course the motor car. Humber military vehicles made a substantial contribution in the Second World War and the following years. Then Humber subsided into its role in the Rootes Group as the makers of staid and solid saloon cars and limousines. The last period as a badge-engineered Hillman Hunter under Chrysler ownership was a sad anti-climax. This tale relates to solid virtues and well-made products, delivered discreetly to buyers who probably preferred their Humbers served that way. This edition has a new cover and revised layout.


Latest Publications released February 2018

Auto Review 137 Delage Album
by Rod Ward

Here we have the story of ‘one of France’s fine cars’, to quote William Boddy. Louis Delage had an unpromising start in life, losing the sight of one eye at a young age, but he turned out to be a clever engineer and young entrepreneur, setting up his own company to build dependable, if unadventurous, light cars. He promoted his business by racing specially built cars, mostly in ‘Voiturette’ events, and by 1912 he was selling 1,000 road cars per year. After the Great War Delage produced some exciting racing cars and ever more expensive and exotic road cars. Sales of prestige luxury cars fell in the early 1930s, and two divorces cost him his personal fortune. Louis Delage turned to religion and the ascetic life, and in 1935 his company was taken over by Delahaye, previously a competitor. Both car ranges, Delage and Delahaye, struggled on in the later 1930s, and tried to recover their lost market position in the postwar years, hobbled by the French government’s punitive taxes on large cars. The last desperate move for survival was when Delahaye merged with Hotchkiss in 1954, but by 1957 the combined firm, and all three car marques, had been taken over by a white goods manufacturer, and had ceased making motor vehicles.


Auto Review 138 AEC Album: Part two: after 1945
by Rod Ward

Auto Review 135 told the story of AEC from the beginning up to 1945. This publication completes the history of the Southall company to 1977, when the brand name was discontinued. The 1940s saw postwar expansion by AEC, with the acquisition in 1948 of two competing makers of buses and goods vehicles, Crossley and Maudslay. Park Royal Vehicles of London and its subsidiary Charles Roe of Leeds were also taken over, making up a large section of the British bus body building industry, when Crossley’s share was added. The combined firms were gathered under one sales organisation, called Associated Commercial Vehicles (ACV). After 1945 the prewar bus and coach range was relaunched and improved, Regent double-deckers and Regal single-deckers. For London Transport these vehicles were classed as RT and RF, followed by the integral-construction Routemaster (RM). In 1962 ACV acquired Thornycroft, another British vehicle manufacturer. AEC goods vehicles were popular with British hauliers and export customers, though after the takeover of ACV by Leyland, which also happened in 1962, much of AEC’s individuality was lost. Lorries in the Mammoth, Marshal and Militant families, along with Reliance, Swift and Merlin single-decker chassis and Bridgemaster and Renown double-deckers, were produced until 1977, and the factory finally closed in 1979.

Book Review November 2017

From time to time we may print reviews of others books that we have read and enjoyed. These books are not stocked by Auto Review unless they appear on our Other Items for Sale page. If we do not stock them then contact details are provided below for those who are interested in them.

Wolseley Six-Ninety: a Super Profile by Jeffrey Bridges and Bernie Peal 

Revised and extended to include the Riley Pathfinder and Two-Point-Six
Published by the Wolseley Register, 363 Old Birmingham Road, Rednal, Birmingham B45 8EU. email: regalia@thewolseley register.com
ISBN: 978-0-9569676-3-3
100 pages A4 size softbound £14.99
Here is everything you need to know about the larger saloon cars designed by Gerald Palmer for the Nuffield Organisation.
Some years ago I reviewed a much smaller publication devoted to the Six-Ninety, written by Jeffrey Bridges and also published by the Wolseley Register. This is a much larger publication, which logically now includes the Riley cars which shared so much with the Wolseley Six-Ninety. The story of Gerald Palmer and the genesis of his car designs is followed by a comprehensive coverage of all three models and their sub-series. Palmer designed a series of cars for Nuffield’s MG, Riley and Wolseley divisions. The Wolseley marque was perceived as being more ‘staid’, favouring luxury rather than sporting panache, so the Six-Ninety body sat two inches higher than that of the Riley Pathfinder. The Riley Two-Point-Six, which replaced the Pathfinder, was based on the Wolseley Six-Ninety, but was actually styled by Don Hayter, later responsible for the MGB. This book is extensively illustrated and has a very detailed text. It will be an essential addition to the bookshelf of any Wolseley or Riley enthusiast.

Rod Ward 


2018 Auto Review programme Announcement: publication dates spread throughout the Year (Q1 = First Quarter of 2017)

AR137 Delage Album Q1
AR138 AEC Album part 2 after 1945 Q1
AR139 American Motors Q2
AR140 Foden Album Q2
AR141 Ferrari Album Q3
AR142 Jeep Album Q3
AR143 Mercedes-Benz cars Q4
AR144 Studebaker Album Q4