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Traction for Sale: the story of Ferguson Formula Four-Wheel Drive

by Bill Munro and Pat Turner

2019 review by Autolycus

This is a truly comprehensive history of the Ferguson Formula four-wheel drive.  It starts with a well-told and thorough story of the main protagonists: Harry Ferguson, Fred Dixon and Tony Rolt, and how their lives intertwined from before World War II through to the founding of Harry Ferguson Research.  Many excellent photographs are complemented by detailed engineering drawings that do a superb job of making clear the various iterations of the drive systems, their limitations, and the developments that improved them to the point where the Ferguson Formula was a cost-effective and viable system used by major manufacturers.

The book is split into three parts: Harry Ferguson Research (early history and the initial development of the FF system); FF in motor sport; and FF worldwide.  All parts are comprehensive and tell a fascinating story that has clearly been properly researched, with anecdotes from people who were there at the time.

The book does have one problem: the typeface is too small.  It makes reading the main text difficult.  Worse is the even smaller typeface of the illustration captions and by-lines.  It is as if the writers wanted to save money by packing enough for a 450-page book into fewer than 300.  This is a shame – because every part of the book has a rollicking good tale to tell.

There are some typos, but not enough to ruin the flow of the narrative. In general, the style of writing is tight and professional.  There are sections where the interest flags, but there is so much to read that elements of less interest to some can be passed over to reach particularly favourite topics: one person will want to read about the engineering, another about motor racing and yet another about the transition from ideas to mainstream production.

All in all, an excellent history at a fair price.  This is a book that needed to be written.  Just buy a magnifying glass!

Publisher: Earlswood Press.

Price: £54.99.  Available from Amazon.

Description: Hardback (285 x 210 mm), published without dust-jacket, 298 pages, illustrations in colour and black and white.

ISBN: 978-0-9931-0186-1

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