I have review books, complete with press handouts on my shelves, but this is about one that’s been bought. Somebody gave Ruth the Stuart Turner Haynes Retirement Manual when she stopped work and it’s great. More than a brilliant after-dinner speaker, Stuart is a natural writer. Prose flows fresh and sparkling from his keyboard. Wish mine would.
In 1961, as Verglas of Motoring News, he navigated heroic Erik Carlsson to victory in the RAC Rally. I watched them pass in a rasping welter of Saab 96 two-stroke crackling exhaust on, as I remember, the Rest-and-Be-Thankful special stage. Stuart went on to be the most successful BMC Competitions Manager with Monte Carlo and Spa-Sofia-Liege rallies to his credit, before joining Castrol as publicity executive in 1967-1969. He ran Ford’s competitions department before taking charge of its Public Affairs.
It wasn’t his best move. I guess glad-handing motoring journalists was unrewarding except perhaps in salary terms. Now he’s gone back to writing and in his Retirement Manual inserts a “Disclaimer”.
Although I have survived over 20 years of retirement and staggered to my 83rd year with all parts still in working order, and although I have invested in property, spoken at more funerals than I care to count, celebrated a golden wedding, and still help run a charity, and although I have consulted widely for the book, I am not a medical or financial expert, so if, for instance, you are planning self-surgery with a Swiss Army knife or intending to accept the share of the 40 million dollars being offered online by your new friend in Nigeria, well, do please get expert advice first.
Finally, in these health and safety conscious times I would like to stress that no pensioners were harmed during the making of this book.
Brilliant. Says it all. There are chapters here on making the most of middle years, money, modern technology, health, mobility and much else compiled with style, humour and the dry wit for which Stuart is notable.
Together with Marcus Chambers and Peter Browning Stuart has gone into detail in a 2015 hardback, out now as an ebook by Veloce Publishing, BMC Competitions Department Secrets. This is another publication I highly recommend and another I’ve actually bought. Stuart reveals that, “going to work at the MG factory at Abingdon where the famous octagon featured everywhere, was like a dream. I was 28, and suddenly found myself working with industry legends, including Alec Hounslow who had been a riding mechanic with Nuvolari. And they were going to pay me £1250 a year to do so.” I have quoted from this book, with due acknowledgement, in a forthcoming revision of my MG File.
There is copious detail about MG, Austin-Healey and Mini in racing and rallying, some of which you could only guess at the time, such as why the French organisers were so amazed at the performance of the Minis winning the Monte Carlo Rally. Remember how they made a weak excuse to exclude the Minis of Timo Makinen, Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk from the first three places. How satisfying, as Stuart put it once in Motor Sport, nobody remembers now it was a Citroën that “won”.
Stuart Turner is not only a legend in his own lifetime, he wears his success lightly. If he’d been greedy he could have become President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, like another famous rally-co-driver Jean Todt, and made $18million. I guess he has done quite well thank you since starting with BMC. By coincidence it was about the same time as I got my dream job on the road test staff of The Motor. And the salary was the same. I expect that although he poses as “not a financial expert” (see above) he has probably now got a bit ahead.
Retirement Manual: Mid-life Onwards Stuart Turner Haynes Publishing, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ ISBN 978 0 85733 335 8 £12.99. Browning, Peter; Chambers, Marcus; Turner, Stuart. BMC Competitions Department Secrets (Kindle Location 4). Veloce Publishing Ltd.. Kindle Edition. First printed in hardback 2005. First published in ebook 2015 by Veloce Publishing Limited, Veloce House, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 3AR. Ebook ISBN: 978-1-845845-75-9 Paperback ISBN: 978-1-904788-68-3