Klemantaski & Aston Martin

by Louis Klemantaski & Chris Nixon

Published by Automobilia, £99.95. ISBN 88 7960 089 3

‘Klem’ seems to be in much favour just now; this work, a companion to Klemantaski and Ferrari, builds on his close association with the Aston-Martin racing team through the 1948-59 period, after which Astons retired to develop GT cars in the afterglow of a World Championship, and Klem concentrated on advertising. During this time Klem became a semi-official team member, riding in three Mille Miglias and recording not only the racing but the inner life of the outfit. Thus the pictures, many previously unpublished, include scenes in the factory and MM test runs, as well as some of Klem’s trademark on-board shots lapping the Monza track, or looking out from the Mille Miglia start ramp.

The book is slanted towards the photography, Nixon’s text being limited to brief year summaries, and the large format permits impressive whole-page images. There’s no doubt that it is the earlier years which offer the most interest, while Klem was mixing closely with the drivers and team principals and capturing social and behind-the-scenes moments: the drivers having tea with Countess Maggi, or Eric Thompson crouching by the wreck of the Lagonda with a trackside telephone at Le Mans, explaining himself to John Wyer. Latterly, after the death of Klem’s friend Peter Collins, the coverage reverts to straight race shots, impressive, but lacking the personal charm which resulted from the photographer’s earlier close involvement with the team.

Only the narrow columns with their awkward word-breaks spoil an otherwise attractive layout. A leather-bound edition costs an extra £100.