Austerity Motoring ‘from Armistice to the Mid Fifties’ Malcom Bobbit (author)

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Austerity MotoringBook review by Grant Ford 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. Gas powered ingenuityThe 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’ the verdict. Author Malcolm Bobbit published by Veloce Very interesting and well written; may well make you think before complaining about the plight of todays motorist. Excellent images that work well on the digital format and although no price declared yet, similar ‘e books’ are great value, normally under £10.00Tags: