Auto Review 2021 publishing programme

Here is a look ahead to the titles for 2021 many already completed and ready to be printed.

AR167 Cadillac and LaSalle  Available 
AR168 Voisin Album (and other cars made by aviators)  Available
AR169 Bristol buses and trucks  Available 
AR170 Italian Specialists (Cisitalia,  Abarth,  Autobianchi,  Moretti,  Nardi, Giannini,  Siata,  Stanguellini,  Viotti,  & more)   Available 
AR171 Thunderbird Album  Available 
AR172 Mitsubishi Album  Available 
AR173 Bus & Coach Album: 2  Available 
AR174 French Postwar Specialists (Facel-Vega, Alpine, Gordini etc)  Available 
AR175 Corvette Album  Available November 2021 – complete
AR176 Made in Belgium  Available November 2021 – complete

And here are details of most of the titles for 2021


AR167 Cadillac Album and the story of LaSalle – Available 

The Cadillac division of General Motors was the biggest producer of luxury cars in the USA, and held that position for a century. It was also one of the earliest US car marques, reconstructed in 1902 by Henry Leland from the Henry Ford Co, after Henry departed. The name came from the French founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, whose coat of arms formed the basis of the Cadillac crest. General Motors acquired the firm in 1909, retaining Henry Leland and his son Wilfred to run Cadillac. Their consistently high engineering standards and interchangeability of components enabled modern mass production techniques to evolve. The Lelands left in 1917 after a disagreement with Durant. Cadillac maintained its position as the top-selling American luxury car through the 1920s and 1930s, with V8, V12 and V16 models, and it gained a smaller brother, called LaSalle. After the Second World War, Cadillac re-established itself as the top US luxury car brand by volume, and began the road to excess which culminated in 1959 in a blizzard of chromework and towering fins. As styling subsided into a more sober and tasteful period in the 1960s and 1970s, Cadillac found itself under threat from imported luxury cars, and even from Ford’s resurgent Lincoln division. Some design mis-steps in the late 20th century saw Cadillac’s previously unassailable market position under threat, but a relaunch in the 21st century would mean a rebuilding of the quality image characterised by the Cadillac brand.



AR168 Voisin Album – Available 

For some years we have wanted to tell the story of Gabriel Voisin in Auto Review. A famous pioneer aviator (along with his brother Charles, who died young), Gabriel turned to car manufacture after the Great War, when contracts for aircraft came to an end. With Noel Noel, a friend from his days as a student of architecture, he designed stylish Art Deco Voisin cars, and the pair shared amorous adventures with Parisian ladies. Gabriel’s profligate spending and lack of business acumen meant that he lost control of his company, then regained it, before the Second World war brought an end to the luxury car market. After the War Gabriel produced the spartan Biscooter, which found a home in the car-starved Spanish market. Voisin was not the only aviator to change direction and go on to produce cars, and others are described in these pages. Some, like Voisin, were forced to find other activities for their workforce after the 1918 Armistice, such as Blériot, Farman, Rumpler, Avro and Gloster. Others switched to wheeled vehicles after (or during) the Second World War, such as Saab, Bréguet, Piaggio and Caproni. German aircraft firms were in a particularly difficult situation; Heinkel, Dornier and Messerschmitt all produced microcars. In the USA things were different; well-known names like Curtiss and Beech tried car manufacture with little success. Bill Stout designed aircraft, the most famous of which was the Ford Tri-Motor, before turning to futuristic car designs in the 1930s. The most recent aviation company to move into car production was Matra, famed for its competition cars and later for the Renault Espace. All of these stories are told here, and more…

AR169 Bristol buses and trucks – Available 

Bristol buses were sturdy, dependable, workmanlike pieces of engineering. Similarly, the bodywork by Eastern Coach Works (ECW), seen on so many Bristol chassis, was well-proportioned and well-constructed, without any frills or furbelows. Tens of thousands of Bristol buses and coaches saw service on British roads down the years without fuss or fanfare. Enthusiasts for other bus builders regarded the privileged position of Bristol and ECW as the in-house providers for the Tilling companies (and thus the nationalised undertakings) as an unfair advantage. Yes, Bristol-ECW had a guaranteed market, but there were more managers of municipal or independent bus companies who looked with envy at the Bristols in their local Tilling fleet than vice versa. In the 1950s I lived in an area where joint services were operated by the municipality and a BTC company. I remember people stepping back from the bus stop to let a Corporation lowbridge Leyland pass, if they saw a Bristol Lodekka approaching in the distance. Everybody preferred the Lodekka. The history of the company began when the Bristol Tramways & Carriage Co produced motor vehicles for its own use in 1907. Slow but steady development led to a well-engineered range of motor buses between the wars, which were now offered to other bus companies as well as Bristol Tramways. Just before the outbreak of the Second World War, Bristol produced two classic designs which would continue into the 1950s, the K-type double-decker and the L-type single-decker. More iconic designs followed, including the ground-breaking Lodekka, which by some sorcery offered the same internal headroom as a highbridge double-decker in the same overall height as a lowbridge bus. The last Bristol designs, including the RE single-decker and the VRT double-decker, ceased production in the early 1980s when the Brislington factory was closed by new owners Leyland. The last double-deckers built at the famous factory were Leyland Olympians, which had actually been designed at Bristol. In this publication we also have the stories of Eastern Coach Works (ECW) and Brislington Body Works (BBW), Bristols’s own coachbuilding department.

AR170 Italian Specialists (Cisitalia,  Abarth,  Autobianchi,  Moretti,  Nardi, Giannini,  Siata,  Stanguellini,  Viotti,  & more)   – Available 

Our title of Italian Specialists was suggested by a group of small car manufacturers called Gruppo Costruttori Vetture Speciali in the 1950s, which had among its membership Cistalia, Giannini, Moretti, Nardi, Siata and Stanguellini, all of which are described in this publication. In the Auto Review series we have covered many Italian car manufacturers, from Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo to Ferrari and Maserati, as well as Isotta Fraschini, Itala, Iso, Innocenti and others. There has always been another level of smaller firms in Italy, producing specialist cars. Some offered higher performance, while others preferred to make exciting or elegant bodywork, and a few tried to do both. These small-volume manufacturers often relied on adapting the products of the big car makers, and in Italy that usually meant Fiat.  Minor Italian makers who modified Fiats included Abarth, Autobianchi, Siata and Moretti, among others.

In this publication we pay tribute to the enthusiasm and skill of these companies, producing cars from the second half of the 20th century onwards. It may not be obvious from the individual stories, but in the close-knit Italian automotive community many of the principals of these companies were friends, offering close co-operation on projects. They were also on good terms with the heads of large concerns; Fiat, Lancia, Ferrari, Pirelli, and with the leading designers and stylists of the day. As that generation passed away and corporatism took over, most of the ‘specialists’ faded out.  If you think that a few names may be missing, ATS, ASA and Serenissima are in Auto Review 141 Ferrari, and Osca in Auto Review 131 Maserati. Other companies, such as Bizzarrini, LMX, OSI, Pagani and Rayton Fissore will be covered in a future Auto Review title mainly concerned with Italian stylists, concept cars and supercars.


AR171 Thunderbird Album  –  Available 

The Ford Thunderbird was originally conceived as a two-seater sports car, launched in 1955 to compete with the Chevrolet Corvette, but the Ford hierarchy was not thrilled by the limited sales they could get from sports car buyers.

The T’bird was soon repositioned as a ‘personal luxury car’ (something like the European grand touring car or GT), and in its second generation, from 1958 onwards, it became a four-seater. It grew in size, to become a clone of the Lincoln Continental, then shrank again, as successive fuel crises influenced buyers. The large Thunderbird coupe lost its appeal by the 1990s, and it ceased production in 1997. Ford decided that, after a hiatus of a few years, its successor should be a smaller retro-styled two-seater, but that had even less appeal to American car buyers, and it was only made from 2002 to 2005. The name of the car originated with the indigenous native Americans of the south-western states of the USA. The Thunderbird was a supernatural bird which protected humans from evil spirits. It flapped its enormous wings to create winds and thunderstorms, providing water for people in the arid deserts, ensuring their survival. Over the 50 years of its existence over 4.4 million Ford Thunderbirds were produced.

In these pages we see every evolution of the Thunderbird, over 11 generations.


AR172 Mitsubishi Album –  Available 

Mitsubishi is an important name in heavy engineering, its heritage of shipbuilding, railways and aviation encompassing products from the battleship Yamato to the iconic Zero-Sen fighter aircraft of the Second World War (our cover colour scheme echoes that of many Zero fighters). Production of Fuso lorries and buses in the 1930s was followed by tanks, but after the war Mitsubishi turned to civilian vehicles. Scooters and three-wheeler light commercials helped to get Japan rolling again, before Mitsubishi began building cars in the 1950s. The international reputation of Mitsubishi cars was built on successes in rallies with the Lancer Evo, and on rugged 4×4 vehicles, which began with licence-built Jeeps and ran through the Pajero-Shogun-Montero family up to the highly-successful Outlander PHEV, the leader in its field. A scandal over mis-reporting of fuel efficiency in Mitsubishi microcars resulted in Nissan taking a controlling shareholding, after which the company became a member of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. All of this complex history is told in these pages, along with the arrest of Alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn and his notorious escape from Japan to Lebanon in 2019.



AR173 Bus & Coach Album: 2  – Available 

A bus or coach is usually referred to as a Bedford, a Dennis, an AEC or whatever, but in most cases only a badge, or perhaps a radiator grille, identifies it externally in that way; that is the chassis and/or engine manufacturer. The largest part of what you see is the bodywork, and that has usually been made by another firm. Experts can (mostly) tell at a glance who made the body, but to others it is a mystery. The two Auto Review Bus & Coach Albums look at PSVs (now called PCVs) from the point of view of the coachbuilder. Auto Review 165 covers coachbuilding companies based in England. This volume describes firms based in Scotland, Ireland (north and south, because some companies predate partition) and Wales, plus some bus and coach operators who built their own bodies, chassis or complete buses.

Also described here are buses built by the railway companies (mainly pre-grouping) and a small selection of the many firms which converted van bodies or commercial vehicle chassis to produce minibuses and midibuses. There have been many dozens, probably hundreds, of such companies, so we do not claim that this is a complete survey of all such coachbuilders. We have, however, tried to include the more important or more interesting firms.


AR174 French Postwar Specialists (Facel-Vega, Alpine, Gordini etc) – Available 

Before the Second World War France had a very wide selection of home-grown marques from which a buyer could choose a new car. The large companies returned to car production postwar; Citroën, Peugeot, Panhard, Simca and Renault. Some others limped on for a limited period postwar; Bugatti, Delage, Delahaye, Hotchkiss and Talbot Lago. Makers of large cars suffered under a punitive tax regime applied to engines over 9CV, so all of the luxury car makers failed. A handful of ‘second division’ car manufacturers tried to compete postwar; Salmson, Georges Irat, Licorne and Mathis, but none survived for long. France had been the home of many automotive pioneers, however, and French inventive genius continued to produce new car designs in the postwar years. In spite of the restrictions on engine size, there were a few attempts to recreate the grand touring cars for which France had been famous prewar. These efforts included Facel Vega, Monica and Venturi. French competitive spirit ensured that there would be racing cars and sports-racers; Gordini, Rondeau, Ligier and more. Many small firms depended on supply of engines tuned by Gordini and others, and on the skills of freelance designers such as Phillippe Charbonneaux. Some makers hitched their wagon to a larger star; Alpine linked with Renault, DB with Panhard, CG with Simca and WM with Peugeot. Almost 30 potted histories in this publication afford an insight into the smaller motor manufacturers in postwar France.



AR175 Corvette Album  – Available November 2021 

One and three-quarter million Chevrolet Corvettes have been produced over eight decades, all two-door, two-seat sports cars, and in eight distinct generations. The generations are usually abbreviated to the concise C1 to C8, so we use those same classifications in this publication. The Corvette began as a little two-seat two-door sports car with a modest 150hp six-cylinder saloon car engine and a GRP body. The Corvette was not expected to have a long life, and indeed it was considered for extinction by General Motors more than once, as its production volumes were tiny compared with other GM products.  It survived, however, with ever-larger V8 engines and sometimes extravagant body styling.  It became a ‘proper’ high-performance sports car, though its evolution was hobbled to some extent by emissions regulations from the 1970s onwards.  The Corvette went on to establish itself as the performance flagship of the General Motors range, evolving into a 500hp mid-engined supercar in the 21st century. This is the second General Motors US-made car marque to be covered in the Auto Review series (the first was Cadillac). ‘Overseas’ GM brands have already been covered in Auto Review (Opel Vauxhall, Holden) and other North American GM marques will be described in future Auto Review publications.


AR176 Made in Belgium  – Available November 2021 

 Many fine cars have been made in Belgium. Abundant raw materials, technical expertise and capital supplied a car industry which flourished from the late 19th century until 1914, and again from 1919 into the 1930s. It is easily forgotten in the 21st century that Belgium was ‘noted for finely-engineered motor cars’ (T R Nicholson). Most Belgian firms relied on hand-crafting methods, however, which meant that they could not compete with cars mass-produced in other European countries and in the USA. Of more than 70 Belgian car manufacturers in the early years, most had amalgamated or closed down by the late 1930s. The few that remained mostly assembled cars originating in other countries, a sorry fate for illustrious marques. One or two names made a brief reappearance after the Second World War, but soon faded away again, their factories becoming assembly plants for foreign firms.This publication covers vehicles made in Belgium, first the grand marques: Minerva, Excelsior, Impéria, Métallurgique and FN.

Next we see those firms which were established by the early years of the 20th century, though many of them had closed by 1914.

Our next section covers firms that were set up between the wars, but which mostly died out by 1939, and there were also a few postwar Belgian car makers. There have been leading coachbuilders and commercial vehicle manufacturers in Belgium, a few of whom are described here, plus motorcycle manufacturer Saroléa, which made Mototraction three-wheeler vehicles. Most car production in more recent decades in Belgium has been assembly of the products of the big automotive groups, which are briefly described here as well.

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