By Ian Norris
Published by Editions JR, £30.95. ISBN 2 88324 054 X
If you need one single source of reference covering not only racing in all classes, road cars released over the last year, and the state of the motor industry world-wide, then this 46th edition of the venerable Automobile Year should really be on your shelf.
Comprehensive summaries of Formula One, sportscars, touring cars, F3000, the CART Champ Car series, NASCAR’s Winston Cup and rallying make up a hefty section of the large-format book, the F1 overview being interspersed with individual race summaries, and the sport section opens with a look back to the first year of the world championship in 1950. A very thorough results section gives raceby-race tables and even lap-charts for F1, plus records for a slew of other series, including CART and European Hillclimbs.
Technophiles get their share as well, with highly detailed chapters on modem car safety systems such as ABS and Mercedes’ ESP. Race car design comes under scrutiny with an in-depth look at the manufacture of OZ magnesium wheels, suppliers to F1, CART and touring car teams.
In amongst sections profiling industry and markets in the world’s major segments USA, Asia and Europe are some interesting historical natures, about Renault’s history, about coachbuilders Karmann, long-distance Land-Rover expeditions and the 1903 Spyker which may or may not be the world’s first six-cylinder car. To be honest I’m not sure who the industry sections are aimed at, since city analysts will know it all already and car buyers don’t care that much about America’s union difficulties or Japan’s domestic sales performance, but it does provide a chance to catch up with all those fascinating concept cars. As befits a respected title like this one, the authors are recognised names in their fields (Michael Cotton, David Tremayne, Michael Scarlett, Simon Arron among others), and some of the racing and historic pictures are excellent, though the industry parts tend to rely on corporate publicity shots. But what a lot of gen for £30.