Jaguar from the Shop Floor

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Jaguar from the Shop Floor By Brian James MartinJaguar from the Shop Floor By Brian James Martin

Normally, a book of 192 pages would have my attention during random hours over a two-week period; in the case of Brian Martin’s tales of Foleshill Road and Browns Lane 1949-1978, every evening for five days it kept this reviewer totally absorbed. Without giving too much away, this semi-autobiography begins post war when fresh from school Brian joins Jaguar as a general ‘dogs body’ desperate for a future apprenticeship. Many of those early adventures are remembered with a free-flowing wit that continues throughout the book; a Jaguar trip to the Earls Court Motor Show in 1950 and the authors first encounter with a hotdog. His various tasks in those early days included time spent in the trim shop with Gladys and Dorothy whose names can still be found behind the instrument panels assembled during this period.

A promise of a return to Jaguar once National Service within the RAF was completed resulted in trying to avoid the so-called production line ‘dirty jobs’ like fitting sound deadening. His electrical/electronic skills acquired in-service continually improved once ‘de-mobbed’ allowing the author to work his way to the forefront of Jaguar development, including new models. A passion for motor sport flourished, especially around Le Mans 24 hours; he was there during the race in 1955 and the tragic accident that shocked the world.

Another moment Brian may well have preferred to avoid was the Browns Lane fire of 1957 but he witnessed the destruction and subsequent survival of the marque. Many of the characters (now famous names from Jaguar history) were work mates and colleagues and the pranks played in a time before ‘health & safety’ will make the reader laugh and wince at the same time. Racing, experimental development and ‘where did it all go wrong’? All get room within the chapters which continue smoothly through the decades, encouraging the reader to enjoy just a few more pages before calling it a night. The book is a personal view on the days when Jaguar ruled, a great read for any classic car enthusiast and a must for those with a certain motif on their bonnet. 100 photographs and images accompany Mr Martins memories, from a time when the cars really were the stars, including famous registrations such as NUB 120 (Alpine Gold Cup Winning XK120) or the E Types that raced and crashed to glory such as CUT 7. In conclusion; well written, witty and honest. An education in British car manufacturing from decades passed. I recommend acquiring a copy and enjoy a week off from the TV. Grant Ford

Published by
Veloce Publishing Limited
ISBN 978-1-787112-79-7 UPC 6-36847-01279-3
BIC: WGCB + TBX Hardback 192 pages 232mm 155mm
Jaguar from the Shop Floor by Brian Martin £30 UK/ $50 USA
t: @VeloceBooks