Citroen: The Complete Story Hardcover – 15 May 2014
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About the Author
Having begun training in car styling with an interest in writing about design, Lance Cole was the winner of the 1983 Sir William Lyons/Guild of Motoring Writers Award. He became a motoring journalist but retained a focus on design. His early training was at Autocar and he has since been a feature writer, columnist, editor and contributor to major newspaper and magazines all over the world. Citroen - The Complete Story is his fourth book for Crowood. Lance has been a dedicated owner of Citroens (and Saabs), and in 1994 present his idea for a new 2CV, which was featured in the motoring press.
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In literary terms, however, it manages to be both ponderous and insubstantial at the same time. The text reads like a fan club newsletter – all vague, gushing flummery; the author’s ability is no match for his apparent enthusiasm for the Citroen marque. His prose is inept, prolix and repetitive at the best of times, but when he attempts to explain the technicalities of the work of Citroen’s principal designers – Bertoni, Mages and, above all, Lefebvre - it descends into utter gibberish.
For starters, Cole correctly notes the reduction in induced drag (the drag paid to create lift) of the Spitfire aircraft’s wing, specifically its elliptical planform – i.e., its shape when viewed from directly above. But then he proceeds to contend that something shaped elliptically in side view will have reduced total drag. Having invested the ellipse with magical properties, the whole thing becomes farcical with this: “Of great note, the DS was curved, lozenge-shaped, ellipsoid in form, stemming from the triangular shapes and curved parabolas of car design between 1920 and 1940.” Whaa?
The author later turns his attention to the hydropneumatic suspension of the ID/DS and subsequent models, as here: “…the Citroen system is best briefly explained by stating that a set of pressurized metal spheres containing a mix of gas and fluid, are actuated from an engine-driven pump. This system has a ‘brain’ and is self-monitoring and self-adjusting. The mechanism – the actual working of the act of suspension – is defined by pre-set values and pre-set reactions from the mediums of the suspension itself in an act of hydro-pneumatic interaction.” Mr. Cole seems to lack internet access – five minutes online would yield a more cogent description.
As the author of a dozen books and several hundred magazine articles on automotive topics, I have amassed a personal library of several hundred volumes. I have never before had to throw out a newly purchased hardcover. I’d return it, but the shipping costs would equal the refund. As it is, I’m giving it to a poor guy who sells used books on a nearby street corner. I will never again purchase anything written by Lance Cole, nor anything published by The Crowood Press. Nice paper, though.
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