Classic Trials Books

It’s quite amazing that one hundred and twenty years of classic trialling has produced a total of only seven books devoted exclusively to the sport, and one of them (the MCC history) features non-trials motorsport as well. Here’s a brief list, in roughly chronological order and arranged by author. All were originally published in hardback. None are still in print but most are available through the obvious motorsport or second-hand booksellers, sometimes at quite sensible prices but occasionally at seriously inflated prices. Shop around!

C.A.N May
  • Wheelspin. Competition Motoring from the Driver’s Seat. First published 1945. Second edition 1945, reprinted 1946 and 1948. Classic reprint 1971. All by G.T.Foulis & Co. 174 pages. There was a later paperback edition. May’s personal recollections of the period from 1933 to 1939, so biased towards certain cars and certain events, but tremendously evocative of the period and an essential book in any motorsport enthusiast’s collection.
  • More Wheelspin. Post-war Competition Motoring from the Driver’s Seat. First published by G.T.Foulis & Co. 1948. 192 pages. There was a later paperback edition. Similar format and style to ‘Wheelspin’ but covering just the short period from the end of WWII in mid-1945 to the removal of the basic petrol ration in December 1947.
Peter Garnier
  • The Motor Cycling Club. Britain’s oldest sporting club for motor cycles and cars. First published by David & Charles. 1989. 222 pages. Second edition printed by Footeprints. 2009. A potted history of the MCC from its formation in 1901 up to the late 1980s. Very patchy as a true history with some aspects of the club covered in detail whilst others are ignored completely. The second edition has a few minor additions but the printing is poor quality and I know (because he told me) that John Aley was very disappointed with the end result.
Roger F Thomas
  • M.G . Trials Cars. An appreciation of The Works Teams. Published by Magna Press. 1995. 104 pages. Produced as part of the MGCC celebrations of the sixtieth anniversary of the formation of the two Works Teams. Lots of information about the cars, their drivers, and the main trials organised by the MGCC during the 1930s. Now quite rare with copies in good condition selling for £100 to £125, or even higher. The captions for some of the photographs are incorrect (the book was produced very quickly with minimal time for checking) and a corrections list will be published on this website in early 2022.
Donald Cowbourne
  • British Trials Drivers. Their Cars and Awards 1902 to 1914. 2003. 602 pages.
  • British Trials Drivers. Their Cars and Awards 1919 to 1928. 2001. 590 pages.
  • British Trials Drivers. Their Cars and Awards 1929 to 1939. 1998. 720 pages.
  • All three volumes were published by Smith Settle and I’m pretty certain that there is only one edition of each and no subsequent reprinting. They all consist primarily of tables charting the entries in a selection of the major trials of the relevant period, supplemented by photographs, brief details of the events themselves, and bit and pieces of trialling trivia. None of the three are a ‘bedtime read’ but they are all absolutely essential reference books for the periods which they cover.
… and Others

It was only after I’d written the above that I remembered that motoring bookseller Simon Lewis ( had written an article about trialling books for the November 2020 issue of Restart, the ACTC magazine. It was gratifying to note that I hadn’t missed any of the major works, although Simon also listed a number of other books which give trials a mention alongside other motoring topics.

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