Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff

REMEMBERING HENRY N. MANNEY III

A KIND READER recalling early R&T reminds me that I’ve not written much here about Henry N. Manney III. I too have memories of Yr. fthfl svrt, favorites lines he composed and, in fact, a (relatively rare) copy of Road & Track: Henry Manney At Large & Abroad nearby in my “website future” pile.

Why not remedy this missing Manney today?

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Road & Track: Henry Manney At Large & Abroad, reprinted from R&T, Brooklands Books, 1989.

To describe Henry N. Manney III as the Peter Egan of an earlier generation may be helpful to younger readers of R&T. Henry was a bon vivant and occasional curmudgeon. Peter has a knack of reaching out to his followers one-on-one. Their overlap lies in an excellence of written expression.

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Henry N. Manney III, 1922 – 1988, American automotive journalist par excellence. Image by Graham Gauld at Velocetoday.

Henry was born in 1922 to a family rich in military tradition. His grandfather, Rear-Admiral Henry N. Manney, was Chief of the Bureau of Equipment in the U.S. Navy. His father, Henry Manney II, was a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Henry majored in English at Duke University and did a three-year stint in the U.S. Army as a radar mechanic. He used his G.I. Bill to fund ballet lessons. Annie Statz, ballerina, became his wife; whence his knowledge and enthusiasm for dance. Henry’s father-in-law was Arnold “Jigger” Statz, a Major League outfielder, one of only a few to amass 4000 hits in his baseball career. Thus, Henry’s love for and knowledge of baseball.

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The Manney Crosley Hot Shot leads an MG TC, Pebble Beach Road Races, 1950. Image from British Car Forum.

Henry’s enthusiasm for cars is well documented. By the early 1950s, he was racing a Crosley Hot Shot, eventually supercharged, in West Coast venues such as Pebble Beach. In the mid-1950s, he and Annie moved to Europe where he worked as an automotive journalist, principally for English magazines.

His first R&T articles appeared in 1961, including one of my Manney favorites, his reporting on that year’s Targa Florio in the August issue. Wrote Henry of Ferrari’s success, “ ‘Ferrari ha vinto!’ You have never seen such a scene, with cops waltzing around in greasy embrace with mechanics and what sounded like a seal rookery on the hillside as each Sicilian told the other.”

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E-Type Jaguar, R&T, May 1961.

When R&T road tested the XK-E Jaguar in April 1964, it was Manney who recognized the car’s appeal as “The greatest crumpet collector known to man.”

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Jean Guichet’s Ferrari 250 GTO  5111GT, destined to be Henry’s street driver. Image from Hemmings.com.

From 1962 to 1964, the 250 GTO was Ferrari’s homologation special in the FIA’s Group 3 Grand Touring class. In those days, there was nothing as useless as a grotty old race car whose competitive days had passed. Except to Henry. In 1965, he bought GTO 5111GT from French driver Jean Guichet. Henry drove it on the street until 1971. It’s rumored the car sold for $52 million in 2013.

Ah, but Henry had to work as well. Like the time R&T sent him and artist Russell Brockbank to the Ile du Levant, an island on the Riviera known as a hangout for naturalists. [Ed—please reword.]

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Edited; memory jogged by Dave W. The bearded guy at left is famed Brit journalist (and Stirling Moss co-driver) Denis Jenkinson. The fellow at right in the R&T is Henry, on assignment for “The Incompleat Guide to the Ile du Levant,” R&T, March 1964. Illustration by Brockbank.

Between 1961 and his debilitating illness by stroke in 1980, Henry wrote race reports, auto show reports and travel stories for R&T’s “good grey pages.” These were thoughtful views, never just regurgitated press releases (which, in any case, were often one-pagers in those days).

BalletBike

Henry tended to think out a story completely, and only then compose a first-draft/finished piece with his two-index-finger typing. His copy was a delight, calling for next to no fact-checking or editing. To ward off the overly officious, he drew a little skull and crossbones in the margin next to a favorite passage, no doubt the product of considerable thought.

I recall only once when a Manneyism ended up being fiddled with. Wife Dottie, managing editor at the time, would occasionally seek the advice of R&T’s uptown corporate legal staff on sensitive wording. Our lawyer would say, “Go with it. It would be a court case that could prove interesting.”

However, in a Utah travel story Henry used the phrase “those rabbitty Mormons.” Our legal eagle advised, “Let’s not mess with them,” and fortunately Henry hadn’t drawn a little skull and crossbones in the margin. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016

33 comments on “REMEMBERING HENRY N. MANNEY III

  1. patrick
    January 15, 2016

    What little I remember, I very much enjoyed.

  2. Frank Barrett
    January 15, 2016

    His writing attracted me to automotive journalism. He was a cohort of my friend from deepest Omaha, Howard Shoemaker, who created extremely clever cartoons for R&T, Playboy, and Downbeat magazines.

  3. Kristoffer Skantze
    January 15, 2016

    The good old R&T had some really great people writing for the magazine! Besides Manney, two that also stood out was Rob Walker and Innes Ireland. The memories and storys these gentlemen shared and the way they did it was simply fantastic!

    • kkollwitz
      February 25, 2016

      Rob’s stuff was terrific! He seemed so…civilized. And I remember some remark Ireland made, that Stirling Moss was the only person who could get away with calling him “Inns.” Those guys had a way of making feel like I was an intimate part of their group, even when I was a kid reading my Daddy’s magazine.

  4. Tom Phillips
    January 15, 2016

    My favorite was an article on a Riverside race. Henry quoted the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo, “Gad sir, the people, and the noise.” I found occasion to use it during my own military career.

  5. Mike B
    January 15, 2016

    I was given a copy of that book many years ago upon a Christmas. It’s getting a bit tatty but still in one piece. Peter Egan ran a close second to Henry in later years for interest and quality of writing. And, for technical matters, yourself of course. But I still go back to that book occasionally to get another fix. Thanks for the memories!

  6. simanaitissays
    January 15, 2016

    Many thanks, Mike, for including me in such fine company.

    • kkollwitz
      February 25, 2016

      You could explain anything. And still do.

      • simanaitissays
        February 25, 2016

        Many thanks. Your kind words are much appreciated.

  7. Bill Estill
    January 15, 2016

    HNM III was a true original and had a brilliant creative genius. I especially liked the way he could weave current and historical events (social, political, military) into his stories in an often hilarious manner. There certainly hasn’t been another automotive writer who managed to combine humor, intelligence, wit, whimsy and a marvelous sense of the absurd in quite the same way. Peter Egan’s stuff is terrific too. A shame his work isn’t seen too often in the “good grey pages” anymore.

  8. mccarthypix@hotmail.com
    January 15, 2016

    Great article! I list Mr. Manney as one of the writers who influenced me most. “Gynormous” and “Coarse bodging and filing” are two of his terms that have remained in my lexicon.

  9. toby tuttle
    January 15, 2016

    I grew up reading my father’s R&T’s as a boy. My favourite writing came from Manney. Between him and O’Kane, my smart-ass attitude about cars was formed. I think you could do worse, but it led to a career with Morgans…

  10. David A Miller
    January 19, 2016

    As a 12 year old I read one of HNMIII’s pieces in a R&T at the dentists. That led to my lifelong affliction as a car enthusiast and my tendency to refer to people as either “the celebrated…” or “the dreaded…”
    Thanks for mentioning him. I’m also glad someone mentioned Dick O’Kane.

  11. carmacarcounselor
    February 4, 2016

    I corresponded with Henry from my Army assignment in Alaska, and found him gracious. But oh! Dennis! Do tell me that by “wife Dottie” you mean Dorothy Clendennin (sp?). When I returned from active duty in 1971 i found that my parents had moved into a house on Lido Island in Newport Beach, a scant five houses or so from Dorothy’s. I became what I am sure must have seemed a nuisance in the R&T offices at the time, dreaming of driving some exotic car on the kind of press junket Denise McCluggage used to tell me about.

    • simanaitissays
      February 5, 2016

      Indeed, Wife Dottie and R&T’s Dorothy Clendenin are one and the same. She’s also my editress today at this website.

      • carmacarcounselor
        February 5, 2016

        Thanks for the clarification. Now perhaps you can clear up an authorship question. One of my earliest recollections of the excellence in writing at Road & Track involved an encounter between an R&T staffer with a confused driver in a roundabout while driving a Land Rover 88. The Land Rover survived with minimum damage, as I recall, while the “Cow Buick” was not so fortunate. I always attributed that column to Denise McCluggage, but she did not claim it when I asked. It was not, by chance, Dottie?

  12. simanaitissays
    February 5, 2016

    Hi,
    The story doesn’t ring a bell with either Dottie or me. I recall an R&T Land Rover tale by Dick O’Kane, the punch line of which was his using its Low-Low and pushing a balky Alfa, the latter with wheels locked, into the middle of an intersection.

  13. kkollwitz
    February 21, 2016

    My father subbed to R&T when I was a kid (before I got my own sub), so I don’t know when I read Manney’s article Si Non Risica Non Rosica (more or less: No Risk No Reward). It was about the the old Mille Miglia, classic Manney.

  14. James Gidman
    January 28, 2017

    Very touching tribute to a great American journalist, missed across the pond as well.
    The R&T triumvirate of Manney, Photographer Geoff Goddard and the cartoons of Russell Brockbank were unmatched for insight and humour. All sadly missed by those of a certain age brought up on motorsport of the 60s.

  15. lawrence romanosky
    March 3, 2017

    @carmacracouncelor I remember a couple articles on Land Rovers. One was from 1951, and featured the first Land Rover 80″, borrowed from Peter Sartori, and nearly lost in the ocean. The second, was a Dick O’Kane article that told a few Land Rover stories, one of the New England Lady who had the accident with the ‘Cow Buick’, and one of the disgruntled foreign car repair shop owner pushing his former parts supplier and his Alfa into the intersection. I also remember a wonderful photo of a Land Rover model, built out of sheet metal that accompanied the later story I believe. If you really want to know I can send you a scanned copy!

    • carmacarcounselor
      October 5, 2017

      Lawrence;
      Thank you for the clarification. I consider the mystery solved!

  16. Keith
    April 23, 2017

    So happy to have stumbled across this! I was in that category of R&T readers (starting as a pre-teen) who would never get to a European auto race, but by reading Manney I would feel as tho I was there. It’s been frustrating to see so little of his work available, either in print or online. He really influenced whatever little writing style I possess. Thanks again!

  17. Thomas
    July 1, 2017

    Reading this is inspiring me to revisit my stack of R&Ts to mine them for Manney’s gems which, no doubt, eluded my unseasoned teenage mind. Thanks so much for the nudge.
    P.S. I love hearing about the early history of cars such as the 250 GTO. Always beautiful but not that expensive to buy after their heyday on the track. Just look at them now!

  18. Harry Worley
    September 23, 2017

    It was a better age. A birdcage on the cover, and a Manney report from Zandvoort inside. Moss, Gurney, Brabham, Hill, Hill, Clark, Ireland, Ginther, Von Trips, McLaren, giants ad infinitum. Now, it’s just techno-nothing….

  19. Harry Worley
    September 23, 2017

    Remember the wonderful, doomed-to-failure, BRMs with their single rear brake assembly running off the end of the transaxle? Hill, Bonnier, and Gurney challenged strongly until the bits and pieces broke….

  20. Jay J. Hector
    January 22, 2018

    I had a different relationship with Henry than most. I sold my first picture to R&T, the lead shot from the 1978 LBGP, as an unknown photographer. R&T had a lunchtime party/picnic at a park in Newport Beach a month or so later (could have been in Costa Mesa) and Bill Motta invited me to the event as I was now an R&T insider. I told my sister, Renee Trimble, I was going and she said to say hi to Henry for her. I went up to Henry and introduced myself and told him Renee said hi. His jaw dropped and from that moment he took me under his wing. The hippie photographer and the bohemian writer, two fringe weirdosl.

    What I didn’t know then was that my sister’s husband, Jim Trimble, was the son of one of Henry’s closest friends, Helen Trimble. Henry was Jim’s Godfather. Jim went to some prep school in Switzerland when Henry lived there, I guess in the early ’60s, and Jim lived with Henry and went to many races with him in Europe. I believe Henry wanted Jim to become a photographer, but instead Jim became a hippie druggie. Henry was very disappointed in what Jim turned out to be and I guess by becoming my friend and mentor it helped ease his pain. By the late ’70s Henry felt like an outcast at R&T, and he’d confide in me his R&T pain. He’d always welcome me to hang with him at races, while he did his ballet routines and other beatnik/Merry Pranskter antics. One time he told me the stupidest thing he ever did was sell his Ferrari GTO for 6000 bucks.

    When I joined the American Racing Press Association I was supposed to get one of the red leather armbands, but I never got one even though I complained to ARPA to send me one. I called Henry to see if he could annoy them on my behalf, and he said they just sent him a new one and he said he’d give my his old one, which is right in front of me now. Beat to shit with the credentil window yellow and split, but on the back in Henry’s own hand is a big MANNEY. I treasure his ARPA armband, which made me look like an old pro.

    The last time I saw him was after the Las Vegas GP in 1981 (I don’t think it was 1982 but it could have been) when we talked a bit and then he walked away into his coma and never woke up. Kudos to Bill Motta for reading to him and caring for him until he slipped away.

  21. Jay J. Hector
    January 22, 2018

    Dennis, Henry’s stroke was not in 1980, but in late ’81 as I said above as he definitely was at the 1981 LVGP.

  22. Jay J. Hector
    January 22, 2018

    I just thought of another time Henry’s fatherly hovering over me got the best of him. We were at a race at Riverside, at the outside of turn 6, which was above the track level. There have been a number of crashes there into the outside wall, and some were fatal. I was shooting there and ran out of film. Henry was standing next to me. I was using a Nikon F with a motor, and to change film you have to totally remove the back with the motor still attached. I also used the strap eyelet on the motor with the other end of the strap attached to the body. The motor with the back and battery pack would dangle from the strap while changing film. Then, because there was no bottom where the film cartridge goes, you also had to hold the film cartridge with your thumb while you threaded the sprocket on the right and got the film advancing and only then could you put the back/motor/battery pack back on the camera body.

    Now I’ve always had a hereditary arm/hand tremors. Well, in the middle of the race, under pressure to change film fast in case someone crashes and parts go flying at you, it’s not good to divert your attention from the track. My tremors would get worse when adrenaline is pumping, and that’s the situation that makes you pump the adrenal juice. So I squat down, and start to change film with one eye on the track and I notice Henry intensely watching me. So Henry is watching my hands shaking, my fumbling with the film and the back spinning from the dangling strap. His face grew more and more concerned looking and then he couldn’t take watching me any more and lunged for my camera yelling “I’ll change the film for you. I can’t stand it.” I batted his hands away and yelled “I know it looks crazy to you, but this is completely normal to me. I’m OK. No problem.” Later he told me that he was so frustrated watching me and apologized for trying to grab my camera.

    Henry was just being his kind self and trying to help and I knew that.

  23. Richard Nerf, Jr.
    February 10, 2018

    I came upon this website when I googled to find the correct spelling of Manney. I often quote his “It’s always a pleasure to watch a professional at work.” He was referring to a GP driver, but I have used it for arborists, plumbers and emergency room physicians…
    The other quote I still have to hand was the caption to a photo of a pre-war Auto Union or Mercedes GP car being driven around, probably, the Nurburgring: “Sturm und drang mit Hermann Lang.”
    The R&T issue with the E-type Jaguar was the second car mag I ever bought. I caught the bus home from high school in front of a hole-in-the-wall Jaguar dealership owned by a fellow named Walt Hansgen. A white D-type appeared in the dealership window for a while, with voluptuous lines, and a rigid tonneau over the passenger seat. It intrigued me, so when I heard E-type, I needed to explore further…

  24. Bob Hartmaier
    February 13, 2018

    Growing up in Virginia I was a car guy, but my fantasies were more in the nature of a ’60 Chevy Impala, or a hot rod running a flat-head engine with a set of chrome plated Strombergs sitting on top. My next door neighbor and best friend shared my feelings about cars. While in the hospital for a hernia repair at the age of 14, my friend’s father, who was also our family doctor, dropped in for a visit. On the way he stopped at the gift shop and bought one of every car magazine on the stand for me. One was the February issue of R&T. A whole new world opened up for me, and I been a fan of European sports cars ever since. I didn’t stop being a NASCAR fan, but due to Henry Manney’s wonderful Formula One reports I instantly became a life long fan of European style road racing also. His writing style was unique, and as others have noted, made the reader feel as if they were there, before the days of ESPN when all races began to be televised. When things are not going so well for me, I still remark that “practice was the usual shambles”.

    Dennis, thanks for bringing back the good memories of R&T when it was family owned and John and Elaine Bond brought together that wonderful staff.

  25. Eric Booth
    January 20, 2019

    Enjoyed R&T and Henry from my first copy in about 1956 to present.
    Another favourite was Buher sketches and Dalliston art.

  26. Mike
    April 22, 2020

    Anyone know the name of Henry’s sailboat? Anyone have a picture of it?

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