Healey: The Men & The Machines

by John Nikas with Gerry Coker 2020 review by Anders Ditlev Clausager There have over the years been many...


by Phillip Bingham 2020 review by James Loveridge If you are going to inherit a large fortune then one...

Aspects of Motoring History # 16

Published June 2020. 94 pages, colour cover, nearly 60 black & white illustrations and charts and 28 full-colour images,...

Aspects of Motoring History # 15

Published June 2019. 118 pages, colour cover, over 85 black & white illustrations and charts, softbound, and 15 pages...

A Detailed History of the Straight-Eight Automobile Engine – and a novel format

We are delighted to announce a major work by motoring history enthusiast Stephen Moore.  As you can see, it is not printed but is a PDF on a USB stick.  More of that later.

Stephen is a chartered mechanical engineer working in New Zealand, in love with cars from a very young age.  He took five years to research and write this work, and some statistics give an idea of the scope of the book:

  • 846 pages
  • 300,000 words
  • Just under 300 makers covered and 434 reference works listed in the bibliography
  • 329 images
  • 45 charts, graphs and tables, 43 of which are original
  • 567 engine specification tables, plus specifications for all Continental, Lycoming, Gordini
    and S.C.A.P straight-eight engines.

Here is the opening page of the PDF:

We are working on a full review of the book, but Stephen has sent us the two-page entry for Lanchester which is well-written with an engaging style, and highly informative.  On three landscape pages there is a solid history of Lanchester’s straight-eight engines in the context of the history of the company and its competitors, with details of production numbers and some famous examples.  There are modern colour illustrations of the 1930 30 h.p. and the 1936 Special, alongside full engine specifications of each.

There has been much talk of the lack of interest of the younger generation in motoring history.  In our experience, this is not true – they are just as fascinated as those of us who have desire and the wherewithal to buy beautifully-produced printed tomes.  But the young face a major problem: the cost of those printed books.  We are beginning to see some publishing in both formats – printed and e-book – but printing an opus of this kind would represent far too great a financial risk.  We therefore commend Stephen for his approach.

Stephen has given us his own reasoning for this decision to publish this way:

“Its landscape format was chosen to facilitate reading on a desktop or laptop screen. It may be visible on a Tablet screen but definitely not on a cellphone screen. Reading the PDF using Adobe Reader has several advantages, including:

  • It is far cheaper than a printed book of the same page count,
  • The latest version of Adobe Reader software is downloadable from the Web for free,
  • I am advised that PDFs are readable on both PCs and Macs,
  • Adobe Reader allows users to magnify pages to suit their eyesight,
  • Adobe Reader includes a ‘Find’ function, which eliminates the need for an Index, and
  • Clicking on Adobe Reader’s bookmark feature in its left margin shows the full Chapter and heading structure, which is clickable and makes the document easy to navigate.”

And here is the table of contents:




Chapter 1: About this Book

Chapter 2: Historical Overview

Chapter 3: History by Country

Chapter 4: Competition Success

Chapter 5: Technical Development of the Straight-Eight Engine

Chapter 6: Makes and Models                                                              

Chapter 7: Not Straight-Eights

Chapter 8: Straight-Eight Firsts

Chapter 9: Glossary and Definitions


About the Author

And finally, the cost and how to obtain the book:

The price of the USB stick, including postage and packaging, is NZD 90.00 to the UK and Europe (around GBP 45.00 at today’s rates) or NZD 97.00 to North America. If you wish to buy the book, please contact Stephen at s8history762@gmail.com to order and check the payment details. Payment by PayPal is available: Stephen has set up a PayPal account with the email address s8history762@gmail.com and can receive payments that way.  Finally, copyright will be defended and copies must not be made for onward transfer or sale.

ISBN: 978-0-473-54810-0

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *