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The Motoring Age: The Automobile and Britain 1896-1939

In the forty odd years between 1896 — the year the Locomotives on Highways Act came into effect and the Second World War, Britain was changed for ever by the automobile. This rich, evocative and entertaining book charts that fascinating chapter of social history.

At first motoring was a sport, the car a plaything of the rich — from King Edward to Mr Toad. But soon motor transport by car, bus, motorcycle and lorry — their value confirmed many times over in the Great War — became central to the economy.

The huge growth in ownership of private cars rejuvenated countryside, towns and villages left derelict by agricultural depression and the railways. The car was also individually liberating — and glamorous too.


'A witty and engrossing ride... this book will make you glad you hopped on board.’

Good Book Guide

'Thorold's impressively well-grounded yet enormously enjoyable history reveals the remarkable impact the automobile had on our country and our lives.'

The Scotsman

'Amusing, informative and beautifully illustrated.'

Classic Cars

'A well-constructed and often amusing journey through the history of the car.'


“The advent of the automobile certainly brought about many societal changes. It was interesting reading about England's adventures with cars. This book will be enjoyed by anyone who is in love with cars. Fun read!”

Catherine Hankins (Reviewer)

Buy Peter Thorold