P.J. Stephens iconic account of his and a friend’s entrance into motor racing is entrancing reading. It is so down to earth that one believes it is all possible in exactly the same way as he accounts from the 1950s, doing a bit of testing en route to tea at his mother’s and so on. Fettling carburettors, reworking suspension and correcting elementary mistakes is clearly and succinctly described, as are the raids on his daily driver Chummy for propshaft, manifold and such like when in a bit of a bind.
His readings on tuning tips for V8s are interesting as he remarks that the little Austin 7 sidevalves are effectively half those considered in more serious vein elsewhere.
An Autosport Forum post here (on Stephens’ death in 2012 at age 86) give a bit more background to the sometimes intriguing narrative in the book – particularly the regular Colin Chapman namedropping and the ease of finding new sports parts in double quick time. Doug Nye remembered Pat Stephens as ‘early postwar luminary of the 750 Motor Club, author of the seminal book upon building and racing “My 750”, proprietor of Stonehams mobile bookshop which featured so prominently at many British events of the 1940s/early 50s, later advertising manager of ‘Iota’ and ‘Motor Racing’ magazines, then founder of the PSL publishing house which became part of the Haynes empire. Pat was hard nosed, tough, commercially-capable and successful’.
BUILDING AND RACING MY ‘750’
P J. Stephens. England: Foulis & Co, 1953 First Edition. 111 Pages. Hard Cover
This book is a story of achievement. An account of raw novice planning, constructing and racing successfully, on modest means, a racing car based on the homely Austin 7. The author describes the vital details of construction and cost with great thoroughness and his blunders with an engaging frankness.