Book reviews, August 1987, August 1987

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Jaguar Sports Racing St Works Competition Cars From 1954 by Andrea Whyte. 624 pp. 103/4″ x 8″. (GT Foulis& Co, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ. £39.95).

Here at last is Andrew Whyte’s stupendous coverage of all anyone could conceivably want to know about Jaguar in motor racing and other competition.

The book is not only comprehensive—and you can repeat that! — but there is the assurance that the author is the trustworthy Jaguar authority. After all, he was apprenticed to the company from 1955, and worked for it when the D-type racing programme was at full blast; after a break for National Service he returned in 1963, rising to become Jaguar’s PRO by 1972.

I well recall how, when he was bachelor (since rectified!) Andrew lived and breathed things Jaguar at all times of the day, and for as much of the night as his friends would remain with him, talking and discussing the company and its achievements — a true Jaguarman!

So who better to compile this definitive two-volume history? This latest work, taking the story from 1954 to the present, is apt to deplete the breath of even a hardened book-reviewer! For not only is the main history fully detailed, but you have references to the short-lived XKSS, the still-born XJ13 project and the “unhappy” Broadspeed connection. Bob Tullius’ Group 44 exploits are there too, and the story goes right up to TWR’s return of Jaguar to the winner’s rostrum, a tale which has most certainly not ended. Many readers will relish this great tome for its insight into the great days of the D-type at Le Mans and elsewhere.

The appendices are equally formidable, covering as they do the individual history of every D-type, XKSS, and special-bodied E-type Jaguar; detailing 87 cars must have taken much sorting out! A history of club racing engines at international level, profiles of “works” Jaguar drivers, and specifications of many Jaguar racing engines add to the full coverage in this remarkable book, as do more than 1000 photographs, many new to me. There are 16 colour pages.

A great book to mark the thirtieth Anniversary of Jaguar’s last Le Mans win. WB

To Hell And Back—An Autobiography by Niki Lauda. 188pp paperback £2.95).

For the twelve years which separated Jackie Stewart’s last World Championship and Alain Prost’s first, Niki Lauda bestrode the motor racing stage like a Colossus. Not only did he win more races than his contemporaries, he also engendered more controversy. The Nurburgring crash and Fuji withdrawal of 1976, the break with Ferrari in 1977, the sudden first retirement in 1979, the Kyalami drivers strike of 1982 and the press conference which announced his second retirement at Zeltweg in 1985 are all discussed in this, the first Lauda book to cover his full career. Concentration on the McLaren years avoids too great an overlap with his previous publications, and there in more emphasis on the man’s family and business lives, and on contentious issues, than there is on individual races.

This is a more candid Lauda than has hitherto appeared in print. For the first time he admits his fear after the crash which nearly killed him, and his bewilderment at being unable to match Alain Prost’s qualifying speed for McLaren. Typically, however, he still refuses to concede that anyone might be a better race driver than himself. It is a matter of self-belief rather than conceit. Although the transposition of two columns in the career results appendix is annoyingly confusing, and pictures are limited to a small centre section, any Lauda book is a compulsive read — and this modest paperback is certainly no exception.  GT

The Minic book by Peter Bartok. 160 pp. 81/2″ x 91/2″. (New Cavendish Books, 23 Craven Hill, London W2 3EN. £14.95).

Cavendish Books, noted for the high-class quality of its publications, offers to model-car enthusiasts (how spoiled they are, these days!) a full history of Minic miniatures in all their guises — cars, commercial vehicles, racing cars, children’s toys, tractors, army vehicles — together with reprints of Triang catalogues and the like. This attractive landscape-format book is a delight for those who wish to recall the Minic garages, ship-models, and so on, which are shown in 154 colour and 69 black and white illustrations. It makes you want to collect them all over again! WB

Those who like Jeeps and colour pictures of them should make a note of jeep by Henry Rasmussen, which MRP of Croydon sells for £9.95. It runs from the pre-WW2 prototype right up to the 1986 Wrangler, with many others in between. WB

Under the aegis of the Michael Sedgwick Memorial Trust the excellent book about HRG sports cars appeared, and now another title has been added. This is a magazine-sized paperback work on the Malvernia car built by the Santlers, and encompasses the origins and history of this very early British car (Santler, incidentally, was responsible for the 1913 Dorman-engined Little Midland light-car). The author, Dr RA Sutton, used a splendid Sherlock Holmesian analysis to prove that his Malvemia (or Santler) should be dated 1889, which was very readable.

The book should become essential reading for all veteran-car people. It costs £5.95 post-free from GB Heath, Spring Cottage, 20 High Street, Milford-on-Sea, Lymington, Hampshire S041 0QD. WB 

Commercial-vehicle enthusiasts might like to note that MRP has published The Supertrucks Of Scammell by Bob Tuck, a 160-page landscape book full of pictures which will intrigue those who like these “heavies”. It costs £9.95. WB

Recent Haynes/Foulis publications include a Guide to the Purchase of Ford Escort and Cortina Mark I and II Models by Kim Henson, with DIY and restoration data, and Roger Gillham’s Scalextric, in updated form.

The latter will have particular appeal to model-car folk who want information on tracks, cars and equipment for these race games over the years, not forgetting the clockwork tinplates, the James Bond cars, even the motorcycle and sidecar miniatures. The book sells for £12.95. WB