Book Reviews, August 1992, August 1992

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Formula One Fact Book, by Ian Morrison. Guinness Publishing, £11.99.

Is this another subject suffering from overkill? Time was when any motor racing literature was welcome. Nowadays, there’s so much of the stuff that one can afford to be choosy, whether you’re looking for marque histories, driver biographies or reference manuals. This is presented in more digestible form than Trevor Griffiths’ rather more comprehensive Grand Prix (Bloomsbury, £16.99) which appeared last winter, and also has a few photographs scattered hither and thither, the complete absence of which made Griffiths’ tome an eyesore.

The layout is messy, though, and the reproduction of the black and whites, in particular, is poor, and the selection thereof peculiar. Why show Graham Hill at Monaco in a Brabham BT34, for instance?

Several shots are plain out of focus, and the caption writer is a couple of seconds off the pace at times. Check out the picture of Jody Scheckter (captioned Mario Andretti…) and James Hunt talking to ‘Lord Hesketh’; Hunt is sporting McLaren overalls, a subtle hint that Hesketh had pulled out of F1 when the shot was taken. The ‘baron’ in question is in fact Alan Henry, erstwhile contributor to this magazine and Motoring News, and nowadays F1 correspondent of The Guardian…

While on the subject of captions, many are trite in the extreme. I quote: “Didier Pironi survived a career in Formula One only to lose his life in his next sporting venture, powerboat racing.” Can’t see this figuring in the Booker Prize for Sensitivity nominations, somehow.

Much of the factual material here is useful, and will serve the office well. A lot of the padding, however, is abject. S A

Land Flying – The Terraplane, by James Fack. £5 (plus 40p p&p).

To celebrate the 30 years of the Hudson Terraplane, that lively writer James Fack has come up or out with a bubbly little spiralbound 76-page booklet on this rather remarkable car. It makes instructive as well as enjoyable reading, because Fack not only shows us why the Terraplane was such an effective car (it led on to the best of the Anglo-American hybrids, the Railton, debunking the myth that the performance was derived from a lump of engine in a lightweight chassis, whereas the reverse was the case), but compares it with other makes such as Derby Bentley (Rolls-Royce engineers were warm in their fulsome praise of it), Roesch Talbot and so on. He also covers the development of both six – and eight – cylinder models in much detail. I note that Fack quotes freely from MOTOR SPORT, in his refreshingly controversial style and although most of the 28 pictures, one incorrectly captioned, have been seen before, they are adequate. Reproductions of appropriate descriptions and road test reports, from The Autocar and The Motor make up 24 of the pages. Most entertaining. I liked this one! And just as, after reading Anthony Blight’s Talbot book you felt the urge to rush out and buy a Talbot, this book makes you feel the same about the Terraplane.

A pity rusting was ever invented! Contact the Railton OC, Fairmiles, Barnes Hall Road, Burncross, Sheffield, S30 4RF. W B

Shire Albums, £1.95 each.

Shire Publications of Princes Risborough is including one-make histories its commendable, modestly-priced Shire Album series, the latest such titles being The Morris Minor by Ray Newell, secretary of the Morris Minor OC since 1983, and The Rover by George Mowat-Brown. W B

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