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John, George and the HWMs – The first racing team to fly the flag for Britain

by Simon Taylor

2019 review by Guy Loveridge

The HWM was a “special” developed at Hersham and Walton Motors, largely by John Heath, with the input of George Abecassis. They, along with Connaught and Cooper and Alta, were the first British constructors to engage with motor racing on a professional basis in the immediate aftermath of World War Two and grasped the issues of lack of spares and cost of new competition mounts and – essentially – Built Their Own! This wonderful, two volume set of books by well known ex Autosport man Simon Taylor sums up the remarkable story in the most meticulous of detail. Devoting one volume to the story of the company and team and the second to individual chassis histories is nothing new, but in this instance the treatment is a strong and successful one that brings Palawan Press levels of quality and presentation to a (slightly) more reasonable budget. The illustrations are well presented and annotated accurately; the issue Simon had was with culling the wealth of material he amassed over three years of active research, and who can tell what other gems of equal import were set aside?

Because my own passion for motor racing lies precisely in this era – like Simon I own a car of this period, his an HWM (of course) mine a Connaught – I pawed over this highly anticipated book with huge enthusiasm. It hardly disappoints in any area whatsoever. I have to admit my name appears in the “Author’s thanks” section, but, this is an honest review and, therefore, I can heartily recommend the title – it will sit on the shelf of any enthusiast alongside any other marque history. It is a rollickingly good read, with insights not just into motor sport but the social and economic context from which Great Britain emerged from the victory in warfare but the financial disaster of 1945 to produce racing automobiles that, within only 14 years, had conquered the world. My only quibble is the subtitle – Really? I would assert Napier; Bentley; Sunbeam and even perhaps Grover Williams as being the true standard bearers in Green.

Publisher: Evro Publishing,

Price: £130

Description: two hardback volumes in dustjackets and slipcase (280 x 235 mm), 448 pages, illustrations in colour and black and white.

ISBN: 978-1-9105-0532-8

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