Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

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Carabosse
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Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Carabosse »

Hi guys. Newbie on here. Former Citroen Xantia owner but no longer - still miss that car!

I have what may seem like a strange query. Many years ago - and I mean decades! - I read a novel about luxury French car manufacturers in the 1950s... it was very much about the personal lives of the bosses of the firms, probably more so than about the cars. I have been racking my brains but I cannot think of the title or author of the book.

Some clues:

(1) I don't think genuine names of the marques are given in the book, but it was clearly based on Delahaye/Delage/Talbot-Lago/Hotchkiss etc and the declining fortunes of the makers.

(2) The cover of the book was a colour drawing of a man, from the back, with an outstretched arm holding a car in the palm of his hand.

(3) I think the novel must have been written in the 1960s.

If anyone can identify this book from the info above I would be extremely grateful. 🙂
Dormouse
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Dormouse »

Hi and welcome to FCF. Don't worry, the little gnomes here love a challenge. Someone will come up with something. I will start my ferreting and see what I can find. If you have any other clues/memories that occur to you, pop them up. cheers, and welcome.
Carabosse
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Carabosse »

Thanks for the welcome. I look forward to seeing if the gnomes can come up with anything. 🙂

It was a good read as I recall and the book itself could be of interest to French car enthusiasts - which I still consider myself to be. I have 10 scale model French classics. More than models of any other nationality.
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NewcastleFalcon
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

Few questions first being was it written in French or English?

Was it literally a novel (er yes it was just re read your post!) or a non-fiction account with biographies of the various car firms and leading players, and was it more of a "picture book" in colour/black and white with more pictures than prose, and what was it a paperback or a hard back and what size was it.

Sketchy information to go on but every little helps. :-D

Regards Neil
Carabosse
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Carabosse »

Hi Neil. It was fictional.... but very clearly based on fact as regards French luxury car manufacturers in their 1950s decline; which as we know was due to vehicle taxation and suchlike. The book was also about the owners of the firms battling each other over a dying market including their personal lives (very personal!)

It was a normal size for a novel. No pictures in it that I can recall. Just text. But with the distinctive cover as I have already described.

I think it may have been a hardback but not totally sure. I never owned the book, I just borrowed it from a mobile library.

CB
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NewcastleFalcon
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

Well this isn't it, its the wrong period, its non-fiction and costs a fortune, and unlikely to have been in stock in a mobile library in the 60's :-D

https://www.daltonwatson.com/The-Kellne ... dition.htm

One box ticked though
The Kellner Affair tells the fascinating story of some of the most influential people in the French luxury car business before the War and how they came together and fought bravely against the Nazi occupation force in Paris. It tells how they formed a resistance group and gathered intelligence ̶ how they were betrayed by double agents, and how they were executed in 1942.

These people included the famous coachbuilder Jacques Kellner, the designer Georges Paulin, and Walter Sleator, the director of Rolls-Royce France, who survived. The book goes deeply into their talent, their work, their lives, their cars, their loved ones and relies on newly discovered archive material as well as private documents that have never previously been published.

The Kellner Affair is the first factual account of these tragic and gripping events: what happened, how it happened, who was to blame, who was punished, and who was not.

Volumes I and II also include an in-depth discussion of aerodynamic cars, the famous streamlined designs of Georges Paulin, and the duplicitous way in which Walter Sleator assumed control of Rolls-Royce France after the Liberation. In addition, Volume III contains a large portfolio of period images of Kellner-bodied cars such as Hispano-Suiza, Renault, Rolls-Royce, Bugatti, Farman, and many more, along with period articles and a wealth of design drawings as well as facsimile reprints of Kellner brochures. The USB flashdrive in Volume III links to 401 pages of scanned source and reference material that document the book.
Regards Neil
Carabosse
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Carabosse »

Not the book but sounds interesting! :mrgreen:
Dormouse
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Dormouse »

I now see what your problem is. Spent a fair time searching different sources and, so far, no luck. However, round 2 tomorrow. Fingers crossed. I take it the book was in English?
Carabosse
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Carabosse »

Thank you for the trouble you have taken - much appreciated.🙂👍

The book was definitely in English but I cannot honestly recall whether the author was British.

I do think it is a book members of this particular forum would find interesting and enjoyable. So if we can track it down, it would be worthwhile.
Dormouse
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Dormouse »

Round 2 over for the day. Still struggling. Oh for a sniff of a clue, so if anyone wants a real challenge, this could be the one for you. Tomorrow I am going to research author's book lists one by one! I suspect it is a French author translated into English. Time will tell.
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mickthemaverick
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by mickthemaverick »

Well I have given it a couple of hours in total now with no direct results. However I did come across this site which may give an idea of a new train of thought! Good luck!: :-D
https://www.nypl.org/blog/2017/11/22/fi ... tten-title
Dormouse
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Dormouse »

I have gone through this list of french author's books before breakfast this morning
Web capture_9-12-2021_83944_en.wikipedia.org.jpeg

Now I am going to start on Motoring Writers

I may be some time!
Dormouse
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Dormouse »

Having read the synopsis for the Kellner Affair I have been trying to research it's source materials. The war time exploits of the French Car Makers and Resistance Fighters are linked so it may be possible your book is based on the machinations of that period and it's Post War fallout.
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NewcastleFalcon
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

I like how a random post can seep into real life energy and activity. Curiosity and the "thrill of the chase" (yes a bit OTT but true non the less) has had me spend probably far too much time framing queries to see if they will spit out the cover drawing as described as a satisfying reward. I'll probably try a few more, but I don't think that route will produce the goods. Not without more remembered information from original poster Carabosse.

I think if an answer is found it will be by serendipity.

Where would such a book reside now? Very possibly still on a library shelf somewhere, guess it was never a best seller, not many copies printed. If it was published in the UK the British Library will have a copy.

I guess with a drawing of a car on the front albeit in the palm of the hand, the second hand book purveyors/ charity booksellers/shops if they organise their stock would stick it in the motoring section. Will it turn up in a pure chance event, as inexplicably the motoring section will get a scan through at every second hand bookstore/charity shop now visited with a irresistible search for the obscure book just in case its on the shelf :-D

REgards Neil
Carabosse
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Re: Book (novel) about French car makers in the 1950s

Post by Carabosse »

Thanks all for the efforts so far! 🙂

I think it could never have been anything like approaching a best seller. The book was as much about the personal lives of the bosses of the declining car firms as about the cars.