A dog, an automatic Colt revolver, a bar of Antioyl soap, a mirror, leather gloves, hat with veil, overalls or duster and a secret ''pecial'' compartment were a few of the special motoring items recommended by Britain's foremost woman driver at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Dorothy Levitt was reputed to be the world's premier woman motorist, race-car driver and botorist (not a misspelling, but one involved with boats). Slight of stature, shy, almost girlish, extremely pretty, athletic, and skilled in hunting, fishing, and driving, Miss Levitt added journalism to her list of skills. She wrote a series of articles on motoring for women in the London newspaper, the Daily Graphic. ''ou may be afraid of a mouse, or so nervous that you are startled at the slightest of sudden sounds - yet you can be a skillful motorist and enjoy to the full the delights of this greatest of outdoor pastimes, if you possess patience - the capacity for taking pains. Learn quickly to mend and laugh at them rather than weep,''she wrote.
Miss Levitt devoted the bulk of her book of advice for the woman driver to emphasizing care and maintenance of the vehicle. However, before getting down to the nuts and bolts, the prospective driver was emphatically cautioned ''ever allow anyone to drive your car. Every car has its idiosyncracies . . . a strange hand on the wheel and levers seems to put the car out of tune.'' And before venturing out each day to motor, the woman driver was advised she should ''irst check the petrol supply, then water and oil levels. Remember, it is necessary to pump a charge of oil into the engine every 20 miles. Also fill grease cups, steering, wheel bearings, etc. The next duty is to check the brake. Sometimes oil drips on them during the night and they may be useless. If oil is on the brakes it can be burned off by applying the brakes rapidly several times. Then check the gear lever, ignition lever, air lever, and hand throttle. Then check the battery.'' A special chapter on motor manners said that ''f every woman and man who drove a car followed her 'manners,' there would not be such an outcry against the motor car.'' Miss Levitt also advised: ''here is no real harm in trying to see what you can get out of your car for a short spurt, but keep within the legal speed limit all the time, except on a good clear stretch of the road.'' She championed the coming of the small car, predicting that ''he small car will be as prevalent upon the country road as the bicycle is today." She recommended "a dog and revolver for protection, Antioyl soap to protect one's hands when checking over the car, a mirror, not for strictly personal use, but to occasionally hold up to see what is behind you, leather gloves (not woollen) so that the wheel can be firmly gripped, special clothing, and a secret special compartment under the seat for hankerchiefs, powder puffs, hair pins, safety pins, and a good supply of chocolates to soothe the palate. And, to avoid embarrassment, don't forget those gold and silver pieces - the advertisement of a no-tip garage is a fallacy.'' From Automotive Age, copyright 1985, Crain Communications Inc.