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Homepage. This page: Fun childrens books from the 1950s and 1960s featuring road transport.


I Spy Book
Costing just sixpence (6D) in pre-decimalised Britain, the I-SPY Road Transport book would have been a fun book to own in 1961, when children seemed to have much simpler pleasures than today. The I-SPY books were created to keep children occupied, whenever that need arose - whether on holiday or during a car journey, manys the child that kept themself busy trying to spot examples of items that featured in the book.
Books were available catering for all interests and hobbies - not just lorries!! Other subjects covered included:
  • At the Seaside
  • On the Farm
  • Dogs
  • At the Zoo
  • The Army
  • On the Pavement
and loads of others - I'd like to find one of each of the motoring I-SPYs if I could, by 1961 there were books on Cars, On the Road, Motorcycles and Cycles, Sports Cars, and Road Making, so I'll have to look out for them. But back to this one, namely Road Transport. It was filled with great line drawings of commercial vehicles that you might spy while out and about. You were encouraged to explore, whether on your own, with a friend, or with the rest of the family. At that time, I-SPY also featured in the Daily Mail, with columns written by Big Chief, for all the exploring little Redskins out there.

Road Transport - 1950s style.

For every vehicle that you spotted, you would earn a score, based on the rarity of that particular vehicle. For example, you get 20 points if you spot a Flat Platform Lorry (a Commer), 30 points if you saw a Lorry With Double Cab (again a Commer), a whopping 40 points for a Mobile Office, and an eye-watering 50 points if you were lucky enough to spot a Mobile Coal Office.
Many of the lorries and other vehicles drawn are easily identifiable as real vehicles. The cover shows a Commer transporter, loaded with Hillman Husky bodyshells on the top deck, and Minx saloon bodyshells down below. Interesting Rootes received a little plug for their Karrier commercials, thanks to the lettering on the Commer's headboard. Smart.
Other subjects and vehicles featured in the I-SPY book include a Hovis lorry, drop-side lorry, cattle, builder's & milk lorries, tilt lorry (again a Commer!), twin ram tipper, Leyland twin steer with 'tri pad' configuration, ferry trailer (AEC), cooked meat, grocer's & butcher's shops, a Thames ET6 mobile dispensary for sick animals (PDSA), mobile library, Austin Loadstar Ventilated Van (25 points), insulated van, low loading trailer with two tractors (Scammells), pantechnicon, parcel van, bulk grain carrier (Thornycroft), Macleans toothpaste display van (as modelled by Dinky), soft drink delivery van, motor coaches, half deck coaches, open top double decker bus, trolley bus, turret broadcasting van, Bedford CA pickup, personnel carrier (Commer again), breakdown vehicle (Bedford I think), transporter, lorry chassis on a road test (!), cement transporter (Bedford S Series), concrete mixer, and even a van with attendant guard dog!
Bedford CA pickup Outside broadcast van Mobile coal office Mobile shop Macleans toothpaste advertising van

I-Spy Cars (1950s).

The following copy of I-Spy Cars dates to the 1950s, the entries penned into it by an un-named young enthusiast date to September 1957. The cover features two gents, one with a fine moustache, the other in his pinstripes, streaking along a highway cossetted within the cockpit of a rakish two-seater sports-car.
I-Spy Cars cover
"With I-SPY Cars you'll get some fun wherever you are. On her way to the dentist a REDSKIN spotted a vintage Bentley, and it cheered her up even on that doleful journey. The rarer the car, the more the excitement - and the bigger the score. You'll soon get an eye for the helpful details - stoneguards, bonnet straps, grilles, louvres, and such like - and you'll become quite knowledgeable about them."
"In I-SPY Cars there are sketches of 81 cars - or parts of them - and a score for every one you see."
"P.S. It's easy to tell a Bentley from a Bond Minicar. But when an old time sports car comes tearing along - Wow! Was it a 30/98 Vauxhall or an Invicta? You must be absolutely certain about your car before you enter it. Every genuine score gives you a thrill you can get no other way. Only a moron cheats himself!"
All manner of cars feature within the book's 48 pages. Real oldies include the pre-war Riley Sprite, Morgan Three-Wheeler, Aston-Martin 1.5 Litre, Austin 7 Chummy, Lagonda Rapide, Vauxhall 30/98, Ford Model Y, Frazer-Nash T.T. Replica, and the rarely-seen-now Crossley Regis.
More recent cars of the 1950s are sprinkled throughout the book in no particular order. Most of the popular makes and models of the day can be found, while slightly more obscure entries include the Austin A40 Somerset drophead coupe, Lagonda 2.5 Litre, Lea-Francis 2.5 Litre, Allard, Renault 750 (4CV), Healey, Mercury V8, Lancia Aprilia, the first version of the Jensen Interceptor, and the Daimler Conquest Roadster. A selection of the pages and cars are shown below.
Austin A40 Somerset drophead coupe
Vauxhall 30/98
Daimler Conquest Roadster
First version of the Jensen Interceptor
Further different examples of early I-SPY books with a transport theme to them will be added in shortly.
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