Reviews, April 2016

The Rise and Fall of the French Alpine Rally

Martin Pfundner

To some of us there’s nothing more evocative than a photo of a car – even a sluggardly side-valve saloon – cresting a hard-won mountain pass with towering snowy peaks behind. That’s the landscape of this book, as it outlines the history of the famous Alpine Rally and Coupe des Alpes from 1932 to its decline in the 1970s via its golden era, the 1950s – when its profile was so high that even Grand Prix drivers entered. Each running is listed with a report and maps, in case you want to recreate the run, and many photos, though their postcard size doesn’t do justice to the scenery. Comprehensive results will be a brilliant aid to period photo ID. GC

Published by Brüder Hollinek

ISBN: 978-3-85119-381-9, 49


Brabham BT52  Owners’ Workshop Manual

Andrew van de Burgt

This series is too well established now to be described as novel, but the twist on Haynes’ famous Owners’ Workshop Manual still remains fun. By strict definition, this volume can only be of interest to BMW’s Bavarian museum curator and Bernie Ecclestone as the only custodians of this fabulous Formula 1 car – but that, of course, is missing the point.

The Brabham BT52 of 1983 (all models!) was Gordon Murray’s instinctive reaction to a late regulation change outlawing ground- effect Grand Prix cars. Powered by BMW’s bombastic four-pot turbo, the delta-shaped beauty carried Nelson Piquet to his second F1 title – against all the odds.

It’s a familiar tale, but one with enough facets to be worth another look, especially in this easily digestible format. Chapters on Brabham’s overall story and the BT52’s season record are suitably perfunctory, leaving space for the more interesting detail on the car’s development, its detailed anatomy and those who drove it – including one Stirling Moss…

If any F1 car of the era deserves such attention, it’s surely this one. Bernie’s boys were making it up as they went along in the early 1980s, from reintroducing fuel stops to Murray building his own windtunnel after reading a book that told him how! It’s glib to suggest F1 was simple back then, because the sport was already in the grip of clever science. But as this book celebrates, there was still scope for human intuition and on-the-hoof problem solving.

We’re told four of the six BT52s remain; three in Ecclestone’s ownership and one in BMW’s. In 2012, engine guru Paul Rosche pulled together an old band of brothers to restore BT52-1 to its former glory. Its appearance at the 2013 Festival of Speed, reunited with its devilish champion driver, was another of those great Goodwood moments to remember. How Rosche and his team lovingly brought the car back to life is a suitable coda, while the appendix chapter summarising the rest of the 1983 grid offers welcome context sometimes overlooked by other single-model books. All great value at this price, too. DS

Published by Haynes

ISBN: 978-0-85733-820-4, £25


The Story of a Champion Timo Bernhard

Peter Schäffner

This is as lavish a production as we have seen for a while… and also perhaps the one with the tiniest target audience. Even in Germany, it’s hard to see that demand for a colossal Timo Bernhard book will stretch much beyond his family. The fact remains, though, that he is a world champion – and currently so.

Part of the three-strong team that conquered the WEC for Porsche in 2015, with Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley, Bernhard is also a multiple winner of the Nürburgring 24 Hours, has scored class and outright victories at Le Mans and stood atop the podium at both Daytona and Sebring. Quite some record.

The text is equal parts German and English, the tone is affectionate, production values are second to none and there’s a guided tour to a lap of the Nordschleife… but still we wonder who will buy it.

A glorious curiosity – and the kind of thing, perhaps, that might prove quite collectible in years to come. SA

Published by Gruppe C

ISBN: 978-3-928540-827, 50


Anatomy of the Works Minis Rally, racing & rallycross cars

Brian Moylan

Type ‘Mini Cooper’ into the bibliographic search engine at and you’ll find more than 1100 results. The topic has already consumed a fair volume of ink.

This is slightly different, in that author Moylan spent more than 20 years with the BMC Competition department and this is his hands-on guide to period preparation methods. His initial idea was to pen a potential magazine feature, using an old job sheet as a starting point, but it was soon pointed out that he had sufficient material for a book.

There is some good nuts-and-bolts stuff within, but this is a slim volume for £20, the layout would have looked outmoded when Sir Alec Issigonis was a lad and it’s odd that, with so many lovely period photographs in the world, the cover shot is from the 1990s.

A triumph for content over design, then. SA

Published by Veloce

ISBN: 978-1-845848-70-5, £19.99


The Formula One Miscellany

John White

The fourth edition of The Formula One Miscellany contains facts, figures and trivia from the world of F1, updated in mid-2015. This is not a book to be read from cover to cover, but instead one that invites readers to dip in and out, particularly as the contents are presented in a less than coherent manner. 

Serious enthusiasts will know much of the information already – there are numerous sources for F1 facts and figures – though there may be the odd piece of trivia even the most committed aficionado will not know. Some facts are arguable, however, and creating fantasy grids based on nationalities or geographic locations simply isn’t necessary. JH

Published by Carlton

ISBN: 978-1-78097-743-0, £9.99


Endurance Rally Association 2015 Yearbook

Gerard Brown & Syd Stelvio

Few spheres of motor sport are as photogenic as the classic endurance rallies pioneered by Philip Young, who died last year as a consequence of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident in Burma. He might have gone, but his spirit lives on and the Endurance Rally Association’s first annual yearbook reflects as much.

The format is simple. A collection of reports summarises the ERA’s globe-trotting activities in 2015, the text accompanied by comprehensive results tables and route maps that underline Young’s well-known refusal to accept any terrain as being too complex to tackle. It’s co-author Lewis’s sumptuous photographs, though, that best define the sense of adventure of a man to whom many owe a great deal. SA

Published by ERA

ISBN: N/A, £35 plus p&p from