Richard Dredge

Richard Dredge

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Richard Dredge

Richard Dredge

Excess All Areas – book review

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Few books feature as many cars that are as below the radar as this one

The problem with reviewing books like this one, is that it's packed with so much Below The Radar brilliance, that I want to tempt you into buying it by highlighting absolutely everything that's crammed within its pages. I'm lucky enough to know most of the anoraks within the motoring journalism world, but if there's one person who you don't want to try to out-geek it's Richard Heseltine, who knows his onions like nobody else when it comes to the truly obscure.

It's not just his onions that Richard knows; he's also pretty clued up on left-field cars, and Excess All Areas is full of 'em. This book charts the earliest days of the kit car industry, starting – believe it or not – at the turn of the last century, even if only fleetingly. Things really get going once WW2 is out of the way, although before this there's a quick lesson on the earliest days of plastics and composites.

Although the 1950s and '60s saw an explosion in the number of specialist and low-volume car manufacturers, which included a raft of kit car companies, things moved into overdrive in the '70s, and Excess All Areas claims to feature every kit car produced in the UK throughout that decade, using an A-Z format.

All of the kit cars that you'd expect to be there are included, such as the Davrian, Caterham Seven, various Duttons and Spartan. So too are slightly less obvious contenders including the Magenta, Hustler, Nova and the Imp-based Voodoo. But while those better-known kits get more space than the more obscure models, it's the really weird stuff that dominates the pages of this book.

You need to be a grade-A anorak to have come across the Dial Buccaneer, the Fellpoint Futura and the Sarcon Scarab, along with the the Dougal Bug. If you're something of an expert on those so you're wondering what all the fuss is about, how about the Powerspeed Powerbug, the Boler T-Bone or the Dicky Bird Specials? Alongside these glorious contraptions are many dozens more, with facts and anecdotes at every stage.

Every page is a voyage of discovery that's filled with great period imagery, which is why the £27 RRP is a bargain. You can order your copy direct from – support this venture and further volumes will be released, which will chart the entire history of the British specialist car industry. That might sound ambitious, but if there's one person cut out for such a job it's Richard Heseltine.

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