Sorry, I have to go fix my Hippo

Posted on February 10th, 2009 in AutoSpeed,classics,Opinion by Julian Edgar

Regular readers will know that I am a voracious consumer of second hand books.

eBay, the Lifeline BookFest (no less than a million second-hand books for sale, and all proceeds benefitting charity!), bookshops (both new and used), garage sales – the sources are endless.

The other day one of the books that lobbed into my post office box was an orphan – a single volume of one of the Newnes Motor Repair sets of the 1950s – and perhaps the early 1960s. The book – Volume 3 of probably a 6 volume set – covers commercial vehicles, tractors and general car repairs (but the latter only the subject titles from ‘B’ to ‘E’).

I was browsing it, looking at the different designs of the (mostly) British vehicles when something suddenly hit me.

The names!

These commercial vehicles – trucks, vans, tractors – had the most wonderful, evocative names.


Well, how about the Karrier Bantam? No, well get your head around the Karrier Gamecock.

All right, perhaps the Leyland Comet – or the Super Comet?

Not happy? Well step into my Leyland Hippo! No, I am not kidding.

Also from Leyland there’s the Beaver, Hippo, Octopus, Titan – or Tiger Cub. I think I’d much rather drive a Titan than a Tiger Cub.

Or, God forbid, a Hippo….

But it doesn’t stop there.

From Scammell there’s the Highwayman, Mountaineer and Constructor. I guess at least these names make sense (unlike the bloody Tiger Cub!).

But wait.

Did you hear about the Scarab Mechanical Horse?  (In fact, it’s a very interesting vehicle with a front suspension design of its single wheel like nothing I have seen before.)

Finally, I’ll leave you with the Thornycraft Sturdy Star.

Um, how can a star be sturdy? A bit like the ‘Strong Planet’, isn’t it? Or maybe the ‘Mega Universe’?

Clearly I was born too late – in the ’50s I could have got a job making up names with Leyland or Karrier or…..

3 Responses to 'Sorry, I have to go fix my Hippo'

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  1. John Kirkham said,

    on February 10th, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Julian, I’ve been tempted to send you a set of hardcover (set of 5) books Dad used as a trainee mechanic/apprentice back in 1955.

    The books are the fifth edition reprinted in April 1955. Called “The Modern Motor Engineer” by Arthur W.Judge from The Caxton Publishing Company, London. It’s quite interesting to see back then and now how much hasn’t changed in technique.

    The fact that the last two books cover electrical systems/diagrams whereas today, a series of this size would be the other way around. Then again, with the separation in workshops today of electrical anything being palmed off to the auto leccy’s, I wonder how much of the basics of automotive circuitry would a modern mechanic have to know now.

  2. Julian Edgar said,

    on February 10th, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Any donations welcome!

  3. Brendan said,

    on February 16th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    A book i found interesting was Janes Fighting Aircraft of WW2. The back section of the book has detailed information on the engines used in aircraft of that era and is very interesting.

    4 valves per cylinder, DOHC, water-meth injection and a supercharger on a V12 anyone?