Book reviews, April 1973, April 1973

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“Automobile Year—1972/73”, edited by Ami Guichard and Douglas Armstrong. 248 pp. 12 1/2 in. 9 1/4 in. (PSL, 9, Ely Place, London, EC1N 6SO. £6.20.)

This de luxe review of the past year’s motoring happenings has reached its 20th edition. It has been widely copied but remains the topclass annual of its kind. This latest edition reviews, as usual, the important 1972 races and rallies, with innumerable fine colour plates, action photographs and colour diagrams. Apart from the race and rally reports there are articles on the 1972 World Champion driver Fittipaldi, the technical advances in the world of motor-racing during the past season, a piece on how Peter Schetty engineered the 1972 Ferrari domination of sports-car racing, and Indianapolis and Can-Am reports.

The historical section of the annual has an article by MOTOR SPORT’S Denis Jenkinson about a few of the great moments in motor racing that he remembers. This touches on but a small selection of the enormous number of races he has watched since he began to write about them in 1952, “a friend having asked for a report on the car racing at Chimay”, where DSJ was racing his Norton in the motorcycle event. (But he does not say what a job I had to get him to embark on a career as a motoring writer—”Writing is your job; it’s not for me!”—ED.). He reveals that his interest in motoring sport began in 1932 when he went with his parents to a flower-show but diverted to watch some Speedway racing. He was then eleven, and he first went to the Continent to race a motorcycle at the age of 27. (This makes me feel very old, because I saw my first Brooklands race in 1927 and began writing three years later, for MOTOR SPORT, naturally.—ED.)

Then comes an article by the industrious Leonard Setright, about the development of production-car design during 1972, which is the sort of interesting review we used to get in the weeklies at Motor Show time but only find in very dull and diluted form these days. So this article is most welcome. The 1972 production cars are reviewed by Carl Wagner, who might well be Setright condensing his earlier remarks, and “dream cars” and current exotic body-styling are also briefly reviewed. A Lamborghini engineer discusses the problems of making a modern GT car and in direct contrast there is a “doomwatch” piece by Jean Francis-Held, suggesting that soon there will be only everyday cars and those used for sport, with nothing in between, a surprisingly depressing theme for “Automobile Year” to exploit.

This is a publication containing 310 black and white and 90 colour illustrations in its big editorial pages in which the advertisements are as attractive as the remainder. The binding is in Skivertax with a full-colour laminated jacket.—W.B.

The same publisher has again made the “FIA Year Book of Automobile Sport” available here with an English section. This is packed with racing information and is essential equipment for most of those in our world. It costs £2.20 and runs to an inch-thick wad of information-packed and well-illustrated pages, with rules, fixtures, homologated cars, graded drivers, circuit diagrams and lap-records, etc.

Recent “Profiles” include one on the Chaparral 2, 2D and 2F sports/racing cars by Pete Lyons, with interesting details of their construction, aerofoils, test track, etc., another on the exciting Porsche 917 by Paul Frere and, going further back in history, a most attractive coverage of the Alfa Romeo monoposto P3 racing cars, by the specialist on this make, Peter Hull. This last is No. 6 in the revived series and is nostalgic from the moment you see the cover photographs, which depict Varzi driving one of these cars over the tramlines and past the pillar-box during the 1934 Circuit of Biella race, and the Hon. Brian Lewis in action in the IoM. We shall regret losing one of these fine pictures in the promised bound volume. It is interesting that all but one of the 28 photographs chosen by Hull are pre-war pictures. There are also the usual colour plates and diagrams, and as Hull is very interesting about the reasons for the P3’s unusual twin-propeller-shaft transmission, gives a full specification and race history of these cars, and concludes with details of the still-existing specimens, this “Profile” should be in considerable demand. “Profiles” are published from Coburg House, Sheet Street, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1E13 and cost 50p each.

Two more of Pearson’s “Illustrated Car Servicing Series for Owner Drivers” have been issued, covering the Ford Capri and Morris, Austin 1800 and Wolseley 18/85, priced at 75p each. The publishers are the Hamlyn Group, Hamlyn House, 42, The Grove, Feltham, Middlesex.