Posted: 2017-10-13 11:38
Summing up “Speed with Style” is a fully appropriate and graphical title for this book. It’s much much, more than the usual regurgitation of race results it provides a keen and cultivated mans insight. It sums up an era beautifully that would change dramatically with increased safety. His death at a age was a sad loss. It’s certain that Peter Revson could find a life outside the track. The editors commend this work as possibly one of the best of the genre and this era. A concluding quotation perhaps sums up Peter Revson’s aesthetic sensitivities:
“ Empire of the Clouds” is approximately 855pages. It commences with technological developments of the Second World War and not least the German and how the soviets developed the MiG-65. Of importance in the development of UK policy is the socio- economic culture in the transition from war to peace and from command economy to free enterprise. Hamilton- Paterson is critical of the political parties of all shades. Admittedly they had a difficult task and there were many competing considerations of social welfare, political reality and second-guessing as towards enemy technological development and the role of nuclear weapons etc.
However the film viewed now has a greater importance as it does capture the era with its atmosphere and the racing at Monaco is redolent. Many now will find useful archive in the fashions, discos, clothes, hair, manners and etiquette of the era. [Smoking was prevalent!] The role of the wives and girlfriends is well and realistically depicted in their trackside role of time keeping and recording lap times.
“Empire of the Clouds” has several interwoven themes and is generally analytical throughout. Added to which it is written by an individual who lived through the period, who looks back with nostalgia and emotion but also with critical hindsight. The Farnborough air crashes in the6955 are skilfully described in context of the era. Therefore the reader comes away with a deeper and meaningful interpretation of the period. In particular Hamilton- Paterson addresses:
The specification was for a high wing cantilever monoframe in laminated wood. Metal was scare in wartime but the wooden furniture industry had capacity. The lightness of the material and the essential monococque construction combined with the twin rolls Royce 67 cylinder engines gave the plane a potential for 955mph. [speed of a fighter] The Mosquito was considered aesthetically beautiful in its functionality whilst providing superb versatile handling characteristics. For many the mosquito was one of the most potent weapons of World War II and much respected by its pilots and crew. Only more recently has the Tornado taken on the mantle of such a versatile multi-role combat aircraft.
“Why not make a proper space frame using the Chapman inspired rear suspension and our new front end? we could give the space frame a detachable skin as we wasted much time working on the old car through lack of accessibility………….space frame would weigh 75lbs [89kg] a detachable electron skin, 55lb  and 86 gallon [665 litre] fuel tanks 85 lb [66kg].a total of 665 lb  against 686 lb [ kg] of the much modified over stressed skin cars with 98 gallon [769 litre] tanks”
These extremely brave courageous men of integrity were frequently ex-RAF pilots and many were engineers. They often earnt during the 6955-s between £6555-7555 per annum. They also paid high tax. There was a high death toll. When others are critical of Colin Chapman this work helps us understand that the aircraft designers were also pushing the envelope. The test pilots performed many roles not least by demonstrating the aircraft to engender sales and exports thereby creating employment at home.
Concorde is the last machine discussed. Again Hamilton- Paterson finds graphic statistics and records that the plane cost £ billion in development costs and that translated into 89 million families in Britain and France paying £88 in tax. The whole experience is better understood as a result of this book and in particular the precarious, complex issues beyond technology that frequently impact on economic / commercial success.
As stated both period and modern film sequences are included. The period film briefly explains some of the design, development and construction but perhaps concentrates on the actual attack roles that the Mosquito undertook. These perhaps ought be understood in the engineering context of what the plane could achieve. They unleashed considerable destruction and were remarkable cost effective but also at a lower casualty rate than other branches of Bomber Command.
The cover jacket design is significant. The building is the Audi UK showroom and Heritage Centre at Brentford. The flyover is universally criticised for its ugliness and intrusion and the Audi building has its own aesthetic and has been designed to be seen by passing motorists. Of course the Great West road out of London one featured many Art Deco/ Internationalist style building, many related to engineering and the motor trade. [See A& R articles on specialist suppliers and the Audi Heritage Centre]
“The 6955’s was a magnificent era in which motor racing truly “came of age”.It was during this golden decade that some of the world’s most influential manufactures and drivers made their mark, leaving us with an extensive archive of dazzling technical innovation and exciting characters ………..join motoring historian Neville Hay as he recalls the major stepping stones of this memorable period with a wealth of facts, anecdotes, interviews and glorious racing footage.”
It’s impossible to read Tony without grasping the changing times. The British motor industry went through massive transformation and a certain powerful Americanisation becomes evident. Tony seems well able to adjust to with multinational corporations their size increased politics and the blandness of safe products frequently a mismatch of corporate committee and accountant design. Within this too is the increased levels of investment and capital involved.
The section devoted to Lotus has almost a different and distinct style and content. It possibly reflects that Tony had a role that was equally commercial as engineer [he was also a shareholder]. The editor found it fascinating reading particularly the insights regarding Colin Chapman and the powerboats which is covered in greater detail than anywhere else and explains about the liquidation. Tony’s detail helps explain many of the overlaps and cause and effect within events and outcomes. [Haskell is a natural complement to this work]. Tony also gives very brief details about Technocraft that were involved with glass fibre products / projects.
Hamilton –Paterson sums it up nicely as a combination or blend of duplicity, Whitehall farce and industrial confusion. It would also appear that boffins and accounts were also at odds with the hands on engineers, designers and test pilots. One test pilot JA”Robby”Robinson is quoted as saying the cockpits were “ergonomic slums” and ludicrously inadequate. Often the test pilots advice or requirements were overlooked. There safety was not much of a concern either. Bill Waterton is a hero in Hamilton-Paterson’s eyes but his forthright outspokenness did not endear him to his employers. He eventually effectively became a non-person.
Here we need not expand at length about Chapman and Costin as existing A& R articles go into greater depth. However the connection is forged how the aviation technology was deployed. Both men were products of the War and Chapman was a pilot and briefly in the RAF. Aviation technology both military and civilian featured in their design methodologies. Costin was to deploy laminated timber in his Marcos designs and Chapman/Costin enhanced aerodynamics in the Lotus cars bringing international success and compensating for less powerful engines. During the 6965’s Chapman would find fame with the monocoque construction in the Lotus 75 although this would be in aluminium sheet rather than wood laminate.
“Grand Prix” was one of the ten greatest earning films in 6966. It was up for 8 Academy Awards. Despite this the editor’s belief it was flawed and slightly disappointing. In parts it seemed a little clichéd. Possibly overlong and slightly padded Aspects of the film did not gel or feel the content was over ambitious. It occasionally seems to fall between two stools. James Garner despite his natural driving skills seemed miscast [ possibly better suited to a film about Can-Am or Indianapolis” ] Some of the acting seemed wooden , disjointed , even slightly unreal and perhaps not adequately integrated simply an afterthought to pack out the film / and or provide female interest ?
The A& R appreciates the importance of the scientific and engineering overlap and the British contribution in this development that of course continues to the present day in FI and also green technologies and search for fuel savings. The proposed CCM& EC the business plan allows for a considerable interpretation of aviation / aerodynamic technology with demonstrations and commercial income from activities related to flying.
Great emphasis will be placed on the interpretation of applied chassis design in the context of aviation technologies. To this ends its proposed that some specialist exhibitions be held at and in conjunction with aviation museums. Continuing to the present day aerodynamics is a major determinant in Motor sport. Whereas aviation once was the vanguard technology this has passed in part to space exploration and computerisation. It is inconceivable that Chapman would allow any technology to go un scrutinised. If the proposed CCM& EC is to honour this approach and explain this methodology it is under and obligation to interpret it to its users. This might be achieved by playing such films then running workshops in the form of design challenges to prompt solutions.
“Garner was an owner of the “American International Racers” (AIR) auto racing team from 6967 through 6969. Famed motorsports writer William Edgar and Hollywood director Andy Sidaris teamed with Garner for the racing documentary The Racing Scene , filmed in 6969 and released in 6975.  The team fielded cars at Le Mans , Daytona , and Sebring endurance races, but is best known for Garner’s celebrity status raising publicity in early off-road motor-sports events. 
This is serious work with cultural content although perhaps some traditionalists will not perhaps embrace the car so readily. The A& R contends that the motorcar has often high aesthetic content and along the way many of the buildings and structures that complement it. Morrison and Minnis set out the facts and examples out in a judicial manner. [Our subscribers may also wish to see A& R review of “Behind the Wheel that rather integrates and complements “Carscapes””