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The Bluffer's Guide to Cars (Bluffer's Guides) Paperback – 15 Sep 2013
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Martin's knowledge of cars is both extensive and peculiar nobody knows so much weird stuff. This is a must-read book for anyone who claims to be a car expert and is guaranteed to keep you smiling over every page --Quentinn Wilson, TV presenter and Motoring Expert
If universities offered courses in cars, Martin Gurdon would be the Regius Professor at a delightfully eccentric Oxbridge college. Enlightening and funny, yet savagely critical and perceptive. --Jon Bentley, The Gadget Show, Presenter
Martin enjoys writing about cars more than driving them, so fully appreciates that you won t be remotely interested unless he can make cars interesting, supply you with surprising facts with which to win a pub quiz, or even snippets to recount over the dinner table without driving your fellow diners to drink. --Honest John, Motoring Agony Uncle, The Daily Telegraph
About the Author
Motoring writer Martin Gurdon s first car cost 5p, but then it was a present from his dad. He s since owned about 80 more in various states of dilapidation. In the 1960s and early 1970s he grew up in a household where bits of car that had started off under a bonnet often ended up on his mother s kitchen table, and where the luggage for one family holiday included a spare gearbox, which was fitted to the car before they came home. As the years passed, Martin decided that writing about cars would be more fun than fixing them, so he became a motoring journalist. He s written for The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, Octane, and Classic Cars magazine, where he spent six years as a columnist. He also writes road tests for the Evening Standard. He currently owns a 1951 Bristol 401 which doesn t go, and a 12-year-old Toyota Avensis estate, which is achingly dull but never goes wrong.
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Although described as a guide for bluffers I saw this more as a light hearted look at the history of motoring from earliest times and even a glance into the future. I liked the style of writing and quite a bit made me chuckle if not laugh out load. However all of the information given is accurate and if you know nothing about motoring you will learn a lot from this.
The weakness for me was the length, it is not a long book only 66 pages, and as such much is missing I would have liked to see it much longer and containing more. As couple of small example it explains manual and automatic transmissions but no mention of pre-selector gearboxes, which were great fun to put it mildly. Also the development of Ford was covered but I was surprised that the quote "People can have it in any color so long as it is black" was missing, it is an inaccurate statement as the Ford T was available in many colours initially.
Despite what seems like a criticism above I really liked it and although I know a fair bit about cars, I am probably one of those "mechanics" described in the book that could fix a solenoid with a hammer (yes it did work), I still learnt a lot from it.
The book is split into 15 sections and covers topics such as the history of cars, famous motoring personalities, the characteristics of cars from different countries, safety innovations, workings of the combustion engine, buying and selling cars, accessories, motorsport, types of driver and a really useful glossary. I found the section on automotive history rather good and it includes reference to the demise of Isadora Duncan when her scarf became trapped in the wheel of a car. Another key ingredient in the mix is the sense of humour throughout the book, for example, it recalls the 1980s fad for bumper stickers proclaiming "my other car is a Porsche" but wryly comments that Porsche owners did not feel compelled to invest in stickers proclaiming "My other car's a Lada". However, despite this theme of humour do not dismiss this book as frivolous, there are lots of interesting facts such as the story behind various safety innovations, a plain explanation of how an engine works and explanation of the "badge engineering" concept, where, for example, a car can come out of the factory and be badged as a Toyota, Citroen or Peugeot. The text also covers things like EBD, ESC, PAS, EMU etc. This 2013 edition is bang up to date and refers to many very recent models of cars.
The writing style is light-hearted, but there are plenty of facts which I think would interest even someone who already knew a bit about cars. As I've said about other Bluffer's Guides they provoke thought from people who are familiar with the subject concerned by making them think what they'd have said about a particular issue, and, whether or not they agree with what's being said. Overall a very neat, factual book which would make a great little gift for anyone wanting to know about cars (or increase their credibility by "bluffing their way") or, someone who already knows quite a bit. Very likeable, amusing, insightful and recommended.
Like all the Bluffers guides, the delivery is quite witty and enough to make you smile quite regularly. For example in the section on buying and selling cars, the author bemoans the retreat to acronyms in many advertisements and, indeed, comes up with his own DTIWAB - or don't touch it with a bargepole. Priceless! The history of cars is discussed, together with iconic moments such as the introduction of the Model T Ford, and the first ever speeding ticket. The unfortunate culprit was doing 8mph in a 2mph area!
There is an excellent section on the reliability of cars. It is certainly true that they are not what they used to be. They don't break down nearly so often! The workings of a car have hitherto, I must admit, been a closed book to me. However, I now have a fair idea of how an internal combustion engine works. Add to all this racing cars, future cars, accessories for cars, types of drivers etc etc and you will realise just what a large remit this little book has.
This is one of the best Bluffers Guides I have read in a very good series. There is no doubt that having read through this, and it will not take you long as its not a large book, you will be much better equipped to hold your own in any car related conversation. Highly recommended!
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