by James Taylor


One James Taylor had Carolina in his mind and sold millions of records. Another James Taylor, the author of this Shire book, is a respected Rolls-Royce and Bentley scholar. His Coachwork On Derby Bentleys, 1933–1940 and his Bentley Since 1965 have been well received. They are well researched and handsomely done. So is this book. But the problem is that unlike the two mentioned, this one is not a large hardback book. Because it is slightly smaller than 7.5 x 10 inches, quite thin and being bound in paper, it may not be taken seriously by those amassing books on the Rolls-Royce and Bentley marques. It easily could get ignored or even lost on their shelves. This is realistic, but unfair. Unfair because of its high quality.

This book is up to date, mentioning the Phantom VII, and Taylor tells the story of Rolls-Royce motorcars accurately and succinctly. His prose is always clear and he smoothly incorporates statistics and specifications into the text. Obviously he is a seasoned and literate writer.

What makes this book significantly better than other small paperbacks on this subject is both an attractive layout and a very good selection of photographs. The pages never feel cramped or rushed, and the font is well chosen. Many of the photographs are from the manufacturer and auction houses. This means they were shot by professionals using the best equipment—and it shows. Photos from the author’s collection and from other enthusiasts are also attractive and clear. For those who have read most of the important books on the marque some of the photographs may be familiar, but there are more than enough new photos so as to not compromise the book’s integrity.

Considering his background, and also the audience these little Shire books target, I assume that Taylor’s leaving out chassis numbers was intentional which elsewhere is de rigeur in the Rolls-Royce/Bentley world. Truth be told, non-specialist readers will find it refreshing not to get bogged down with such minutia. Those who need their chassis number fix can find, in other books, enough lists to sate. Or did his decision have to do with the unavailability of chassis numbers or VINs for many of the factory supplied images? But I am getting bogged down here in another way—or going off subject. This book would be a fine, suitable introduction for those new to an interest in Rolls-Royce motorcars. Recommended.

by James Taylor
Shire Publications, 2017
64 pages, b/w & color illustrations, softcover
List Price: $14
ISBN-13: 978-1784422202

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