Reviews, April 2008

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Group B
The rise and fall of rallying’s wildest cars
John Davenport and Reinhard Klein

Group B was killed off by the people who run Formula 1. That’s the view of admired rally snapper Reinhard Klein, whose terrific pictures illustrate this first history of the era. Whether you believe that the accidents which brought down the guillotine on the most spectacular rally machines ever built were reason or excuse, it’s ironic to find that GpB was originally hatched to calm things down and reduce costs. No more mad specials like the Stratos, that was the thinking…

Davenport is the perfect guide to this dramatic era, being both a top co-driver and a main player: as BL’s competitions manager he made the Metro 6R4 happen. Here he analyses GpB’s origins, gives a chapter to each machine, including the 2WD ones you’d forgotten, then runs through the stage action, the fateful season and the aftermath. John knows all the central people, so their views are full and frank. There’s details of still-borns such as the mid-motor Audi, plus complete results. ‘Definitive’ is over-used, but not for this, which took me right back to shivering in a Welsh forest and hearing the spine-tingling wail of Pond’s Metro approach. WRC cars may be clever, but where’s the magic? GC

Published by McKlein, ISBN 978 3 927458 32 1, 49.90 euros

Grand Prix, Driver by Driver
Philip Raby

As it says on the cover, this is ‘a compilation of every driver ever to have raced in Grand Prix’. And that’s pretty much it. The drivers are listed in alphabetical order, complete with cursory career statistics and short biographies. All very functional and offering the bare minimum you’d expect. The author says that he’s not interested in “page upon page of data documenting race results; all of which is available elsewhere”. He’s right. It’s all in Steve Small’s benchmark Grand Prix Who’s Who. But at least unlike Small’s book, last published in 2000, this work is bang up to date. DS

Published by Green Umbrella, ISBN 978 1 905828 17 3, £16.99

Motor Movies
The Posters!
A Paul Veysey Production

A book of motor movie posters may seem too frivolous to spend £35 on, but Veysey’s is perhaps one of the better deals. Of course Le Mans and Bullitt are included, but so are the likes of Two Lane Blacktop and L’Urlo dei Bolidi. It’s the poster art that really appeals, however, and in many cases this is better than the movie itself – something Veysey points out. One of the most interesting parts is the copy lines, my favourite being, “Watch carefully because everything happens fast; the chase, the desert, the shack, the girl, the road block, the end.” I wonder if the artist had ever seen Vanishing Point? EF

Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 845841 27 0, £34.99

A Drive on the Wild Side
Alistair Weaver

This collection of 20 or so articles, published in titles like Autocar and Top Gear, makes for an enjoyable and, at times, hilarious read. Weaver has spent much of the past decade going to weird and wonderful places in bizarre choices of car and the results are what we see here. Whether it’s a semi-legal, BMW-sanctioned race through Moscow’s streets or driving a Smart car to the Arctic, every chapter has its appeal. The book focuses more on the situations than the cars, so if you want to know how a 350Z copes in traffic, stick to a road test. EF

Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 84584 100 3, £29.99

World Rallying 2007-2008 By Martin Holmes
This comprehensive book is not merely a list of rally results and offers insightful prose on all the major championships as well as the WRC. The professionalism of the layout is not the best, however.
Published by Martin Holmes Rallying, ISBN 978 0 9545433 4 1, £24.95

The Works Escorts By Graham Robson
Yet another book on the famous make and its rallying exploits. Robson’s offering misses little and will be a must-buy for die-hard Escort fans. Don’t expect a light read if you aren’t already interested in the topic.
Published by Haynes, ISBN 1 84425 010 5, £25.00

Porsche, The Sports Racing Cars
1953-72 By Anthony Pritchard
You’ll be hard pushed to find a more informative book on this period of Porsche’s history. Although heavy going at times, it’s always an interesting read.
Published by Haynes, ISBN 978 1 84425 333 3, £35.00

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