About us

“Your production & printing is exceptional. I don’t think I’ve seen such a standard for a small print run before. Very well done.” (PS, Fawkner Motoring Library, Australia)

Stinkwheel Publishing was founded by David Beare in 2004 out of frustration with commercial publishers of historical works on cyclemotors, motorcycles, cars, tractors etc. None were interested or wanted to publish niche books for a limited market on fascinating but outside of mainstream subjects, and with print runs of less than 1,000 copies. Commercial publishers all needed to print thousands of copies due to the limitations and economics of lithographic print technology at the time, which would mean a large pile of costly unsold books sitting around for years. Our average print run now is 200-300 copies per title as it is possible these days to print-on-demand small runs on digital Xerox presses. Interestingly, many publishers are now using this technology, so nearly 20 years down the road a minimum print run of 1,000 copies is history.

Computers and software have reached a level of sophistication, speed and affordability where it is possible to write text, design layouts, embed images on pages and produce print-quality .pdf’s from an ordinary home PC, ready for printing. Collaboration with our superbly-supportive print-works near Ipswich, Suffolk, completed the circle. KDS Print & Design (Elder House, Chattisham IP8 3QE) was renamed PFP Print Ltd. (email- jason@pfpprint.co.uk) and continue to produce high-quality printed & bound books for Stinkwheel Publishing.

I decided early on to use an A4 format, which lends itself well to larger reproduction of images than smaller page formats, and to print soft colour covers rather than expensive hard-backs, in order to keep prices down for readers of such niche publications. We have achieved this and made well-researched, readable books more affordable. Many motoring publications are now aimed at the prestige, hard-back with slip-case market, with high prices to match. With new digital printing technology available at PFP Print I can now include colour images distributed throughout the text, previously impossible due to costly litho-plates having to be made.

The name Stinkwheel derives from 1930s slang amongst motorcyclists for small-capacity, feeble two-stoke powered cyclemotors and autocycles which buzzed noisily but slowly around in a cloud of blue oily smoke- a stinkwheel. Our first two books were histories of such cyclemotors- The Stinkwheel Sagas, Episode 1 and 2, covering a short period after World War II when many manufacturers, small-scale and large (some of whom should have known better), launched themselves into making sub-50cc auxiliary engines to clip onto ordinary pushbikes and assist a rider up hills. Some came from reputable names such as BSA, Vincent, Ducati or Garelli. Others were individual efforts or from two-men-and-a-dog engineering works in a shed. Many exhibited technical ingenuity of a high order, with obtaining the most from the least the guiding principle.

Author & publisher David Beare and collaborator Philippa Wheeler (Stinkwheel Saga Episodes 1 & 2) with a Ducati Cucciolo, the 50cc superbike of the 1950’s cyclemotoring era.

Cyclemotors were never meant to last long and increasing prosperity from the mid-1950’s saw nearly all fade away, destroyed by a tide of fast, comfortable and reliable 50cc mopeds, many originating in Europe. Nevertheless a fair number have survived and are preserved and ridden by enthusiasts. Cyclemotors were one subject worthy of technical and historical study but would not sell many books, hence the establishment of Stinkwheel Publishing to produce works on subjects which could only be published in small print-runs.

Our next book was on post-war Panhard cars, technically fascinating but commercially unsuccessful in Britain and now almost unknown, despite Panhard being a founder of the motor industry, winner of motor races from 1895 and maker of some of France’s finest grand routier cars for fifty years until Adolf Hitler put a stop to such activity. Panhard’s post-war cars were an entirely different breed; small, economical and relatively affordable. Panhard, the flat-twin cars 1945-1967 and their origins, is a history of the industrial, technical, social and political story of Panhard and France in the post-war years. Read some of the reviews by clicking on Publications and then Panhard.

In November 2015 we published another niche motorcycle book, “The Wilfred Saga, Autocycle Adventures” which studies the brief but important and technically-interesting life of British autocycles. These were simple, low-powered, single-speed, pedal-assisted motorcycles of under 100cc capacity which came into being largely through a tax concession by Chancellor Phillip Snowden in 1931, reducing the cost of the “Road Fund Licence” for such machines. The license required to ride one was also simplified, allowing many professional women such as midwives to give up pedalling to work and back. An autocycle was the most basic means of transport, very economical of fuel, which was why they proved so popular during WWII. Many reputable motorcycle manufacturers built autocycles; Coventry Eagle, Excelsior, Francis-Barnett, James, Norman, New Hudson and Rudge, to name but a few. By the 1950s the autocycle was an anachronism, overtaken by light 50cc European mopeds with multiple gears and modern styling, so they faded away, the last (New Hudson, made by BSA) finally ending production in 1958.

January 2017 saw the publication of “Hispano-Suiza and Pegaso, Birkigt and Ricart, two men, two marques made in Spain”, Volume 1; see full details elsewhere on this website. Volume 2, “Pegaso and Ricart, From Hispano-Suiza to Pegaso; trucks, buses and sportscars” was published on the 4th December 2017 and has already been reprinted twice. It is, to my knowledge, the only book to date dedicated to the Pegaso marque in English. I drew on many works in Spanish, Italian and French languages for source material and historical information not normally accessible to English-only readers, in the hope of providing a fresh viewpoint and accurate data.

Giuseppe Ricobaldi Del Bava’s 1928 poster for Fiat.

Come 2018, I embarked on a project which had been bothering me for at least 20 years – a historical survey of Fiat covering the first 100 years (1899-1999) of the company’s existence – including technical details of cars, trucks, aero-engines and competition activities. A multiple Fiat-owner myself from the 1960s to 2010s, I’ve always found Fiat cars to be good value, with interesting engineering, Italian style and good performance.

Some of Fiat’s early advertising were works of art and are reproduced in The First Fifty Years, Volume 1, 1899-1949.

Also included are details of the gifted engineers and administrators who guided Fiat through it’s formative years, together with an outline history of the all-powerful Agnelli family, who ran Fiat from 1899 to 1995, when founder Giovanni Agnelli’s grandson Gianni Agnelli finally retired from day-to-day running of the ‘family’ business.

Marcello Dudovich’s poster for the Fiat Balilla, which caused so much trouble with the Vatican!

Volume 1 includes chapters such as The First Decade 1899-1919, The Roaring Twenties 1920-1929, Ten Years of Problems 1930-1939, Italy at War 1940-1945 and Post-war Italy, Chaos and Recovery 1946-1949. Subsequent chapters include Cisitalia and Piero Dusio on his Fiat-based racing cars, and the Carlo (Karl) Abarth story and his links to Fiat with tuning kits.

Volume 2, Fiat, Thirty Years of Progress 1950-1979, covers a period of extraordinary growth for the company, the nineteen-fifties being the time when Italy was slowly recovering from a disastrous period under Mussolini’s Fascists and involvement in a catastrophic war few in Italy wanted.

Post-war prosperity, courtesy of America and the Marshall Plan’s generosity (in part because the US strongly suspected post-war Italy could have become a Soviet Communist outpost in western Europe) meant more Italians were able to afford a car. Pre-war models were carried over – the 500 Topolino became the restyled 500C – but new beginnings were made with the 1950 introduction of the unitary-construction 1400.

The 1400 was followed in 1953 by a smaller version of it, the 1100 range, which proved to be one of the longest-lived Fiats of all time, being produced in Italy until 1969 and under license in India until 2000.

Iconic models such as the Nuova Cinquecento, the Seicento, the 1800/2100 sixes, 124, 125, 850, 127, 128, the luxury 130 saloon and coupé, were all part of this period.

For the 1970s the 124/125 models were replaced by a new design that would become Fiat and SEAT’s workhorse for a decade, the 131. In highly tuned form, it won the 1977 and 1978 World Rally and Driver’s Championships.

Volume 3, Twenty More Years 1980-1999, was published in late 2021, having been delayed by the Coronavirus epidemic which closed our printers for almost a year. The last volume covers the introduction of more iconic Fiat models such as the Panda, Uno, Tipo, Croma, plus the Barchetta and Coupé sportscars. Also included is information on the turmoil of the Agnelli family’s attempt to ensure succession of a family member to run the company when Gianni Agnelli finally stepped down.

Italy itself was also in turmoil socially and economically, with rival factions from the far right and left vying for power over a corrupt centrist government which produced the Red Brigades, who killed hundreds, facing off against far-right quasi-Fascist organisations such as The New Order, who also killed hundreds. This in turn gave Italy the ‘Tangentopoli’ corruption scandal (Bribesville or Kickback City) when politicians were caught with hands in the public purse, soliciting bribes for public works programs.

The late 1980s then saw the collapse of the Soviet-controlled Communist régimes in eastern Europe, closely followed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics itself, toppled by Mikhael Gorbachev’s social and political reforms, with the result that East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria turned westward and opened new car-starved markets to European manufacturers. Fiat had long had an association with Poland, the FSO company making superannuated Fiat models under license, while the new Seicento (1998) was entirely made in Poland. The 100-year story concludes with the introduction of two new models, the ‘world-car’ Fiat Palio, and the extraordinary Multipla, plus what happened when Fiat bought bankrupt Chrysler and formed an association with PSA (Peugeot/Citroen) to create the pan-European car maker Stellantis in 2020.

My latest book, which was published in 2022, is Hotchkiss, a History. It traces the origins of the Hotchkiss company, founded in France in 1867 as an arms manufacturer by an American, Benjamin Hotchkiss, at the behest of Emperor Napoleon. Hotchkiss, which had precision tooling suitable for gun making, took on machining work from the growing French motor industry and soon began making complete cars and trucks. The company employed a talented artist from Russia, Alex Kow, to provide publicity material and brochures.

Technical details of this book are: A4 format, 208 pages with an average of 2-3 colour or b/w images per page, Image credits, references and a bibliography, plus a full index.