This book is an obvious labor of love, being as it is the third, largest, and best edition of this landmark history of these two great marques in the post World War II era. It encompasses an additional hundred pages of material and photographs (all of which are beautifully printed on glossy coated paper) over the second edition, to which it is identical in format (which I also own and consider a cornerstone of my R-R and Bentley library). It is perhaps best described as a technical history. The major events of the company's history and the development of new features and models are discussed in the context of the cars themselves. Covering the period from 1945 to 2003, there's a lot of territory involved. The description of the development of each model and their features are handled in a straightforward yet enjoyingly readable manner, which is something not always found in a book that is intended to be a illustrated technical reference work. Every major model and its derivatives has its own chapter, beginning with several pages of text followed by the real "meat and potatoes" of the book-the wonderful illustrations. Most of those are beautifully reproduced photographs of excellent quality, with plenty of clear, sharp detail. Coachbuilder's layouts and other line drawings comprise a good portion of the illustrations, and add significantly to the overall presentation. Most of the photos are historical in nature, in the sense they depict the cars as new, freshly finished vehicles ready for the road. Very few, if any, photos appear to have been taken specifically for inclusion in this third edition. The vast majority of the photos are black and white, though color is interspersed throughout the book. Unfortunately, many of the color photos dating from the 1950's and even the 1960's appear to be washed out or faded, but since they are historical in nature, that fault is easier to accept. The chapter on Styling and Coachbuilding has particular interest, showing as it does many cars in the process of being built; fascinating photos not often seen elsewhere.
A major disappointment to me, and the reason for only four stars, it the almost perfunctory manner in which the last five tumultuous years are covered. The sale of Rolls-Royce to BMW and Bentley to VW is only cursorily discussed and the development of the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph and the Bentley Arnage models, the first new models to be introduced in almost twenty years, and the last Rolls-Royce motor cars to be built at Crewe, receive only scant mention-a mere three and a half pages of text and only seven photos spread out over three pages-hardly their fair share of attention. Perhaps this will be rectified in the Fourth Edition, if and whenever it is published. Despite these faults, it is well worth the price and should be included in every serious Rolls-Royce and Bentley enthusiast's library.