The Complete Catalogue of British Cars 1895-1975, cover

Few books out of print for twenty years get a second chance. Fortunately Culshaw and Horrobin has; Veloce are to be commended for republishing such an important work.

A Review of The Definitive Guide by David Culshaw and Peter Horrobin

The Complete Catalogue of British Cars 1895-1975 is a resurrection of the 1974 classic by David Culshaw and Peter Horrobin. It is major work mostly illustrated with contemporary photographs and therefore is entirely in black and white; that does not detract from its value.

Start to Finish of British Car Manufacturing

The end date is based on two important points. One is that the definition of what constitutes a “classic” car is generally agreed to include anything twenty-five or more years old.

The second point is that in the last thirty years or so it has becoming increasingly difficult to determine a car’s nationality with the globalisation of car manufacturing. Since 1974 when the original Catalogue was published it has become impossible, at least for major series production models, to decide what constitutes a British car.

Even limited production models are likely to source major components such as engines or gearboxes from suppliers in Germany, Japan or America; or chassis and body work from South Africa.

This book therefore covers the period from the earliest day of the motor industry up to the end of nationally based manufacturing.

A Definitive Catalogue of British Automotive Marques

It is divided into two major sections. The first makes up three-quarters of the books and list in alphabetical order all major manufacturers of series production vehicles. Major in this context is a wide ranging term covering as it does such giants as Ford, Vauxhall or British Leyland as well as niche manufacturers including Morgan, Ginetta or Bristol. There are also many long-vanished manufacturers such as BSA, Enfield or Star.

The second section covers much more esoteric vehicles, most of which only had a short period of production, many from the earliest days of motoring but also including specialist manufacturers such as Davrian, Clan and even Lola, better known for their racing cars.

For each manufacturers there are tables of each of the models they produced which set out the key characteristics: engine type and size, dimensions and the years in which they were produced. This confirms the importance of this book for any car enthusiast or historian

The Esoteric and Forgotten

The Appendices fill in many gaps covering as they do:

  • Light Cars, Cyclecars and Non-series Production
  • Three-Wheeled Cars
  • Steam cars
  • Electric cars

The coverage is so extensive that it even includes for example, Celer, who made just four cars in 1904 with the one remaining example in the Industrial Museum at Wollaton Hall near Nottingham.

An appendix explains the many body styles that have been used over the eighty years the Catalogue covers and the final appendix provides the names and addresses of manufacturers; although this latter information will be of limited use as it will have dated.

An Important Work

This is a book that should be on the bookshelf of every classic car enthusiast and motoring historian. It will be in constant use for reference and will be vital for settling arguments. Unlike most reference books it will not date.

The Complete Catalogue of British Cars 1895-1975 (ISBN:978-1-874105-93-0) by Culshaw and Horrobin is published at £30 by Veloce Publishing (tel: 44 (0) 1202 665 432).


First appeared on Suite101


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