Book reviews

Van blik naar pomp

Hoe benzine en auto elkaar vonden: een fascinerende zoektocht over benzineverkoop van 1885 tot 1940

Rutger Booy & Bas de Voogd

Hoe kwamen de eerste automobilisten aan benzine? Want er was een tijd dat een auto nog zeldzaam was en de benzinepomp nog moest worden uitgevonden.

Check below for English translation

van blik naar pomp

Dit boek beschrijft de opmerkelijke ontwikkeling van de benzineverkoop van eind 19e eeuw tot 1940. Het verhaal begint op het moment dat benzine voor de eerste auto’s alleen bij de apotheker te koop was. Via de levering van benzine in blik en de uitvinding van de benzinepomp wordt de verdere ontwikkeling geschetst. Het boek eindigt met de opkomst van benzinestations in de jaren twintig en dertig van de vorige eeuw, benzinestations zoals wij die nu nog steeds kennen en gebruiken.

De geschiedenis van benzinedistributie wordt gekenmerkt door het gebruikmaken van nieuwe technologie, maar ook door felle protesten van tegenstanders. Ingrijpende economische veranderingen brengen onverwachte problemen en oplossingen met zich mee.

Dit onbekende verhaal wordt op een zeer toegankelijke wijze weergegeven. Met anekdotes, bijzondere ‘weetjes’, veel historische zwart/wit foto’s en prachtige kleurenfoto’s van een unieke verzameling benzineblikken.

Iedereen met interesse voor klassieke auto’s, transport en logistiek zal met plezier dit boek lezen.

Voor Bas de Voogd (1952) begon het verzamelen van benzineblikken toen hij in 1972 tijdens een stage periode in Engeland een benzineblik cadeau kreeg. Nadat hij het blik op de treeplank van zijn T-Ford had gemonteerd en meereed in een optocht, kreeg hij van een enthousiaste toeschouwer een tweede blik cadeau. Dat was een Nederlands blik en pas toen hij het naast het Engelse blik zette, ontdekte hij dat het Nederlandse blik er ietsje bovenuit stak: tien liter in plaats van twee gallon. ‘Tsja, en dan is je interesse gewekt en ga je je er in verdiepen.’

De belangstelling van Rutger Booy (1949) voor auto’s en alles wat daarmee samenhangt, was er al vanaf zijn vroege jeugdjaren. Waarschijnlijk een familietrekje. Zijn grootvader was een echte autoliefhebber en ook zijn moeder was al jong een enthousiaste chauffeuse. Altijd auto-enthousiast gebleven, schrijver van vele artikelen over antieke en klassieke auto’s én als vriend van Bas was de combinatie snel gemaakt: dat boek over benzineblikken en benzineverkoop moest er komen.

1e druk, 144 blz.


Genaaid gebrocheerd, 20 x 26 cm

Prijs € 27,50

ISBN 978 90 6100 688 6

NUR 462

  • Verkrijgbaar bij elke boekwinkel of online via (bijvoorbeeld)


A book by Rutger Booy & Bas de Voogd describing how petrol and automobile found each other: a fascinating quest on petrol sales from 1885 to 1940

How did the first motorists get their petrol? There was a time when a car was still rare and the petrol pump had yet to be invented. This book describes the remarkable development of the petrol sales from the late 19th century until 1940. The story begins when the petrol was only sold at drugstores. From the supply of petrol in cans to the invention of the petrol pump its further development is outlined in detail.

Although the book is written in Dutch and deals mainly with the Dutch situation, there are many references to the development in surrounding countries, like Belgium, Germany, France and the UK. The book contains many historic black/white photos and stunning color photos of a unique collection of petrol cans.

Anyone with an interest in classic cars, transport and logistics will enjoy reading this book.

1st edition, 144 pages.


Stitch bound, 20 x 26 cm

Price € 27.50

ISBN 978 90 6100 688 6

NUR 462

• Available at (Dutch) bookstores or online, for example at (Holland and Belgium); Amazon UK; Amazon FranceAmazon Germany and even in Japan.


Below are some of the book reviews I wrote:


Review: BIL aktie BOL

Bil Aktie BolA very intriguing title, but when translated from Swedish it just means 'Car Company Incorporated'. However the image itself is quite startling although it looks more like anti-driving propaganda. The 1907 advertising poster for this company was made by Akseli Gallen-Kallela and I saw it in a new book by Norman Clark. He explains: "Certainly the graphic is almost demented. It is about the Kalevala folk story of the snatching of Kyllikki, although transformed: the sledge becomes a red car and Lemminkäinen -the hero- is a besuited motor-car fanatic. Bil-Bol is perhaps one of the earliest advertisements (click main pic!) to overtly endow a product with a value which is symbolic. Here is the promise of sexual fulfillment, a value which has been a mainstay of advertising in the twentieth century."

Norman Clark has a passion for Old Cars, but also for advertising and posters. His book is titled "Vintage Advertising – Old Automobiles" and it literally contains more than 900 fantastic motoring posters and advertisements covering the years 1880-1970, all of them with a comment by Norman. He analyses the posters and places them in historical and social context, thus creating both a Social History Book as well as an Art Book. It includes many of the well-known poster artists like Cassandre, Alex Kow and René Vincent, but the lesser known artists are certainly not forgotten as they created unbelievable works of art. Normans own comment on the book is: "100 years of resource material, 50 years of experience and 5 years in the construction".

And I agree, it certainly is an incredible book, which I absorbed from cover to cover. The book is heavy... 3 kg! It is A4 format and has 530 pages. It comes in a handsome slipcase and the book is -as Norman says- unashamedly expensive as it costs $US 186.00 plus shipping. I say it's worth it's price!

The book can be ordered though the publisher Mosaic Books. Click the link for an impression of the contents.

June 2010


Review: Around the world in 15 days


photos courtesy Album Yacco / Citroen Communications / Veloce Publishing

Before the Wall Street Crash Gabriel Voisin was already financially in bad shape, yet he was determined to be the first manufacturer to set a world record over 50.000 km. He received backing from the French Oil Company Yacco, but not enough to develop a complete new record machine. Gabriel Voisin entrusted the testing and preparation of the car to André Lefebvre, who was his right hand at that time. André chose a production C18 chassis with a slightly modified V12 and fitted it with a “Chatelaine” series two-seater body, without the mudguards and running boards. Two enormous barrel-shaped fuel tanks were fitted in place of the luggage trunk. The attempt took place between September 7 and 25. Four drivers, César and Eduard Marchand, Leroy de Presale and Co van Doorninck took turns in driving the big car around Montlhéry track and in 15 days they had covered 43.737km, the equivalent of a trip around the world. Two days later, on the 17th day the big Voisin took the 50.000km mark with an average speed of 119.948 km/h. Mission accomplished!

This is just one of the great stories from a well-written new book by Veloce Publishing about the life of André Lefebvre. Although practically unknown today, he was an aeronautical engineer who built racing cars for Gabriel Voisin and later created the revolutionary Traction Avant for André Citroën. He was also involved with the development of the 2CV and the DS. The book was written by Gijsbert-Paul Berk, in 1955 technical editor of the Dutch magazine ‘Autovisie’ and the first Dutch journalist to road test the DS. Later he became PR manager for Renault and was also a member of the jury at the International Concours d’Elegance at Paleis ‘t Loo in the Netherlands.

The book can be ordered from Veloce Publishing ltd. and any bookshop or hobby/automotive book mail order company. The ISBN number is 978-1-845842-44-4 and it’s priced at £ 19.99 UK, $ 39.95 USA and (appr.) € 22.75. Click here for more details about the book.

November 2009


Review: Juan Gaudino and the Fuerza Libre


Do you remember our Quiz #189 from October 2006? We showed the Chrysler of Juan Gaudino, but didn’t know much about either driver or car. A new book by Guillermo Sánchez changed all that. It’s titled Fuerza Libre and deals with the history of racing in Argentina under the Fuerza Libre formula. The book contains stories about many unsung racing drivers, but also has lots of details about the cars and circuits of the Argentine Pampas and Patagonia. on the subject of Juan Antonio Gaudino we read that he made his motor racing debut in 1924, but soon after the Argentinean importers of Chrysler asked him to drive for them. Gaudino preferred road-races, but also performed well on the circuits. He won several important races in 1926, 1927 and 1928 with his simple, almost standard Chrysler Imperial 80. He had his share of crashes and injuries too, and once his wounds had to be stitched with guitar strings! In 1932 Gaudino was invited to participate in the Indianapolis 500 Miles race, which he did with his newly built Chrysler Insignia de Oro (Golden Seal) and finished 26th. After winning some more races in Argentina, Gaudino retired from racing in 1937.

The 370-page book is beautifully executed with more than 400 clear, previously unpublished b&w photos of Alfa’s, Bugatti’s, Mercedes’, Hudson’s and plenty of others in action. The writer describes every race and every participating car in minute detail. The text is in both Spanish and English, which makes it exceptional interesting to read.

Book details:

Title: Fuerza Libre 1919-1942, Grand Prix, Sports Cars & Specials Racing in The Pampas
Author: Guillermo Sanchez
Format: Hardcover 30.2 x 21.4 cm
Weight: 1.625 Kg
Pages: 370
Photos: More than 400 images
ISBN: 978-987-05-4882-9
Language: English/Spanish

The book can be ordered directly from the publisher: Bonvivant Editions.

April 2009


Review: The private life of the Freikaiserwagen


Surely "Freikaiserwagen" or "Freik" for short is an odd name for a Hill Climb & Sprint Special. The real origin of the name has been lost in the mist of time, but it is generally believed that it's a "pseudo-Teutonic" adaptation of the name of its builder, David Fry and Dick Ceasar who came up with the idea of modelling the car's rear-engined layout after Auto-Union's P-Wagen. Strangely co-constructor Hugh Dunsterville is not mentioned in the name, although in May 1936 he went with David Fry to a local scrap yard to purchase a GN cyclecar and a V-twin Anzani engine, all for a few pounds. The rest is history as the newly-constructed Freikaiserwagen went on to win many Speed trials and Hill Climbs. Hugh Dunsterville has, together with his son Rob, written a really enjoyable book about the subsequent development of Freik, its achievements and about the people who drove it. Interested? Then visit the website of the Freikaiserwagen, through which you can also buy the book.

March 2009


Review: Since 1555!


Coachbuilding is an art that is almost extinct these days. Nowadays it's hard to imagine how these men laboured in ill-lit factories, yet producing intricate bodywork. This picture was taken at Rippon, without doubt Britain's oldest coachbuilder, in business since 1555! Sadly the firm -like many other coachbuilders- did not survive the post-WW II mass-production years. Rippon's bodyshop graces the front-cover of a new book by Jonathan Wood, who we know as a great writer of all kinds of motoring subject and regularly publishes in The Automobile. In his book Jonathan tells the history of coachbuilding, going back from the days of horse-drawn coaches to the first motor cars and on to the stylish bodies of the thirties. The book is filled with lots of period photographs explaining the different techniques of coachbuilding. Take for instance this picture of Enrico (Harry) Bertelli, working on a saloon body on an Enfield-Allday chassis designed by his brother Augustus (Bert) Bertelli). These are the kind of images we love to see!

Written by Jonathan Wood, the book is titled: Coachbuilding, the hand-crafted car body

paperback, 56 pages

price: ₤ 5.99 or $ 12.95

ISBN: 978 0 7478 0688 2

Available from any good bookshop or alternatively it can be ordered directly from the publisher: Shirebooks in the UK.

February 2009


Review: The Fate of the Sleeping Beauties


Who doesn't remember the "Sleeping Beauties"? Those astonishing photographs from the book by Hesselmann... rows of former glorious thirties and forties automobiles awaiting better days in the courtyard of a French farm. Thick with dust, some seventy Bugatti's, Lancia's, Cord's and others eager to set one's imagination in racing mode. Many have tried to figure out what had happened to that collection. Decayed? Destroyed? Sold? Nobody knew. Not until two Dutchmen and one German enthusiast kept on searching where others gave up and wrote an intriguing book about their hunt. Their story starts in 1948 when the owner, Michel Dovaz began his collection. In 1983 when the photo book was published, Dovaz was scorned for neglecting his precious automobiles, however in this new book the writers set the record straight. Instead of neglect, Michel Dovaz treasured his cars and made sure that almost all were saved for the future.

For anyone interested in the fate of these Sleeping Beauties, this book titled Het lot van de Slapende Schoonheden is a great read and contains hundreds of period and present day pictures of the cars including all their details. Unfortunately at this moment the book is only available in the Dutch language, but there are plans for English and German publications.

Authors: Ard op de Weegh - Kay Hottendorff - Arnoud op de Weegh

Price: 32,50 euro

Published by De Alk

ISBN: 978 90 6013 302 6

Available at any well-stocked (Dutch) bookshop or direct from the publisher

November 2008


Review: All great inventions are unorthodox

Granville_Bradshaw_500RBGranville Bradshaw was an engineer and inventor with a vision that few could match. He became well-know for his designs of early aeroplanes and aero engines, but he was also involved with motorcars like the ABC and later the Belsize-Bradshaw. In many ways Granville Bradshaw was way ahead of his time, sprouting ideas that were sometimes limited by the engineering capabilities of his day. One of his many patents was this tamper-proof screw. By making the screw and special screwdriver as one, a far greater positive driving force was possible; eliminating the need to bore a pilot hole and there was no risk of the driver slipping and damaging the surrounding material. This and the many other achievements of Granville Bradshaw have been researched by Barry Jones and published in a very detailed biography that not only describes Bradshaw's life, but also places his engineering genius into the context of his time.

The book can be ordered from Panther Publishing ltd. and all good booksellers. The ISBN number is 978-0-9556595-4-6 and it's priced at £ 19.95, (appr.) € 25.

November 2008


Review: The Last Convertible

Packard_myrer_500RBOccasionally we do a book review of newly published books, but of course there are books that have been published years ago and are still of interest. One such book is "The Last Convertible", written in 1978 by Anton Myrer. It's a gripping story about five young men at Harvard in the 1930s, their growing up during World War II and their life from then on. However, to us the star of the novel is a Packard Super 8 Convertible Sedan owned by one of the young men. Nicknamed the "Empress", it plays a huge part in the story while the main characters fight out their love affairs, rivalries, betrayal and loyalty. Of course the Empress also serves as a metaphor for all the cars we have always wanted to drive. The Packard survives all the troubles almost unscratched and is later kept under a tarpaulin by one of the guys. Second hand copies of the book are still widely available from numerous booksellers around the world.

February 2008


Review: Who buys a Fiacre?

Ettore Bugatti loved horses and in later years he intended to build a stagecoach with which he wanted to cross the Alps, Hannibal style. Unfortunately the carriage was never finished. Instead Ettore's ambition resulted in several versions of the Fiacre style built on his automobiles. Fiacre translates to Hansom Cab in English and this body style clearly shows its horse-drawn origins.






Back to the question: what kind of customer buys a Fiacre? How about Mademoiselle Hellé-Nice... she owns this two-seater version with a dickey-seat. Although it appears she has been a bit careless, judging by the damaged rear-wing.





These pictures come from a new book that has just been released by Veloce and exclusively deals with the Bugatti 8-cylinder Touring Cars built between 1920 and 1934. Written by Barrie Price and John Louis Arby, this book is an addition to the three Veloce series covering the Type 40, Types 46/50 and Types 57/57S. It is truly a book for the Bugatti connoisseur and it contains over 200 black/white photos and drawings we haven't seen before. We especially liked this shot of the chassis assembly shop, showing both Types 44 and 49 in the course of the build, presumably at the point of changeover to the 3.3-litre car in late 1930/early 1931.




The book can be ordered from Veloce Publishing ltd. and any bookshop or hobby/automotive book mail order company. The ISBN number is 978-1-901295-95-5 and it's priced at £ 30, $ 59.95 and (appr.) € 43. Photo captions are in English and French. (photos courtesy Bugatti Trust, Veloce Publishing and A Raffaëlli/Maeght ed.)

November 2007