Reviews, April 1995

Porsche – the Road, Sports and Racing Cars. Dalton Watson, £29.95

Porsche books abound, so that it becomes increasingly hard to find anything novel within them. In which case your choice of Weissach-works comes down to a question of packaging, and this Dalton Watson production is certainly packed. Though 260 pages long, it is heavily illustrated (mostly monochrome but with a colour section) so that the text for each section is actually quite concise. Model-by-model it covers every road and race car which has so far had the Porsche badge nailed to it, up to the current 968, and including a breakdown of chassis numbers. I liked the easy-to-scan chronologies, ideal if like me you always muddle your RS60 with your 550. The book apparently had a committee rather than an author, but does not suffer in consequence.

Ferrari On the Road, by Stanley Nowak and Rob de la Rive Box. Dalton Watson, £39.95

This second edition of the 1988 Nowak/Box work has been extended by Julian McNamara up to ’93, though the original text has not been updated (“the 412 continues…”), nor in places corrected – that’s not how you spell quattrovalvole, chaps. It’s comprehensively illustrated, including the one-off coachworks, but the quality of some of the b&w shots is not good. Chassis listings up to the 330 models reflect the late Stan Nowak’s extensive research, and in case you’re about to buy a Daytona spyder, the “proper” numbers are given here. Inevitably with a single volume on all the multiplicity of models, it feels a bit rushed, and the viewpoint is strongly about the US market. Thorough, but strangely flat.

Maserati Heritage, by David Sparrow and lain Ayre. Osprey Classic Marques, £10.99.

Boasting nice shiny pictures, but unilluminating textually, this paperback is a rose-tinted run-through of the road cars. Woffly captions and contradictory generalisations (ABS must be rubbish because Maserati don’t fit it; front engines are good, mid-engines bad, except mid-engined Maseratis…) don’t convey authority, and as for the suggestion that Maseratis handle better than anything else(!) because they can’t afford a test-track… Seven years ago l thought the Biturbo was dangerous, and this month’s road test shows the Ghibli is still flawed. No, we’re not anti-Maserati; we love the noise and the name, and we can’t wait for a good one. But they’ve been poorly built and badly sorted for years, and any book on the marque should at least be honest about that.

Ford’s Kent Crossflow Engine, by Peter & Valerie Wallage. Haynes, £14.99.

This volume, in Haynes’ practical DIY manual style, is on rebuilding and tuning the popular Ford Kent engines, of which more than 10,000,000 have been produced, for Escort Mid and 1300 and 1600 Cortinas and early Fiestas. So it should be of great value to a great many Ford users. The step-by-step instructions in photographic form are a feature and this 192-page manual has data on tuning a Weber DGAV 32/36 carburettor, torque tightening values, etc.

Brooklands Books have issued five more of their books which reproduce road-tests and other articles from past issues of the leading motor journals, including Motor Sport and Motoring News, thus making much other reference material redundant. The latest volumes cover a Performance Portfolio on the 1989-1994 Mercedes SLs, Gold Portfolios about the Jaguar XJS and Lancia Delta, and another of these, rather a departure but of enormous interest to motor-racing historians, on the ERA, from 1934 to 1994 with five Motor Sport articles, and another Performance Portfolio for the Porsche 928, 1977-1994. Gold Portfolios cost £12.95 each, the others £10.95, postage and packing £1.50 extra, from PO Box 146, Cobham, Surrey KT11 1LG.