Forgotten Motoring, A Miscellany on the Open Road

by Peter Ashley


Imagine my delight in opening a package from England’s Lake District, from a good friend, to find this polished little gem of a book. It’s size, roughly 5 x 8 inches, agrees nicely with its content; if it were a coffee-table book, its charm would be diminished. 

What we have here, between the covers, is a very British, sentimental, evocative motor trip down the byways of Peter Ashley’s cleansed, youthful remembrances. Road maps, mileposts, filling stations; automotive books, magazines and documents; transportation posters and brochures; Dinky toys; automotive portraits and detail shots; and even a vintage stereoscopic photograph card featuring a motoring trio posing proudly with their 1928 Sunbeam. Ashley’s selection of motorcars is well chosen—MGs, Rileys, Singers, Jaguars and more. These are presented through photographs, ink and wash advertisements, period illustrations, cigarette cards and cartoons.  

Although the pages are small, they never seem crowded or pressed. White space is used freely, judiciously. A few of the pages are taken up with a single image uninterrupted with text; the caption for each is found on its facing page. Most images are in color; the few black-and-white photos are clear and sharp. 

Born in 1948, Ashley sits now at the right age to have assembled this book. Elaborate changes have taken place in the last few decades, and the digital revolution has made, especially for the younger set, much of what he remembers, of what is meaningful to him—of what he believes are “oily-ragged, hand-stitched alternatives” to our contemporary world—seem irrelevant. But let us not lose faith; there will always be those among the automotive enthusiasts of Generations Y, Z and Alpha who will find in Ashley an appreciative awareness and respect for his yesteryears of “forgotten motoring”.      

Forgotten Motoring, A Miscellany on the Open Road
by Peter Ashley
ACC Art Books, 2021
96 pages, 143 color & 16 b/w illustrations, hardcover
List Price: $17.50 / £12
ISBN-13: 978-1788840934

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