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RGS Atalantas: Dick Shattock’s Pioneering Sports Racing Cars

by Alan Shattock

2019 review by Anders Ditlev Clausager

The well-worn expression “labour of love” has rarely been more appropriate than for this book which is an incredibly detailed study of the cars that Dick Shattock, the author’s father, built or was involved with, mainly in the period from 1945 to 1960. In fact there are four groups of cars covered, since there is a chapter on the pre-war Atalantas: Shattock bought the remains of the pre-war company. This is followed by chapters on the post-war RGS-Atalantas, on cars which used fibreglass bodies made by Shattock, and finally John Griffith’s associated JAG cars. There is an afterword on the latter-day re-incarnation of the original Atalanta.

The book relies on documents, photos, and other archive material handed down from Dick to his son, but this is well supplemented by Alan’s further researches, which have tracked down all of the survivors. The story is well told, and since Alan took a keen interest in his father’s cars from early childhood, there are many personal memories. I would not presume to find fault with anything in the text; indeed I have learnt much from the book. Among few typos Weslake has become “Westlake”, and Anzani “Anzarni”.

The book is handsomely laid out, designed, and produced, but has some quirks. At the near-bargain price of £39, I am amazed that it comes in a slipcase, but I have not before come across a half dust jacket (a bolero jacket, perhaps?), which I found irritating. The text is set in 12 point type which is quite large for a book and means that there is about 20 per cent less text on each page than many other books of similar size. It is odd, then, that most of the photos are reproduced at somewhat small size, and many could have benefitted from being larger. More seriously, while the paper is satisfyingly heavyweight, it is semi-matt which does affect the quality of reproduction, especially of colour photos.

There are occasional footnotes, with a list of references or bibliography at the end, together with lists of chassis numbers, registration marks, and a general index. In conclusion, I think this is a worthwhile book, especially at the price. It is a fine example of an apparently narrow subject being made accessible and interesting by in-depth research and well-informed scholarship.

Publisher: Matador, Troubador Publishing, Leicester 2019.

Price: £39

Description: Hardback in half dustjacket and slipcase (285 x 225 mm), 226 pages, illustrations in colour and black and white.

ISBN: 978-1-7890-1668-0

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