Book Reviews, December 1990, December 1990

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The Cobra-Ferrari Wars 1963-1965
by Michael L Schoen. 368pp. 11″ X 8½“, 8202 NW 16th Avenue, Washington 98665, USA. £55.00

“368 pages, 85,000 words, based on interviews with 51 of the original participants, conducted over 18 years,” so says the blurb accompanying this book, and for once the product lives up to the hype. This is a book that the true motor racing historian will only put down because it becomes too heavy.
We are now truly into the era when sports car racing of the Sixties is being dissected and analysed in minute detail. American author Michael Schoen has taken just three years of this era, 1963 to 1965, and come up with a peach of a book.
As Schoen has been involved with production of the book as well, the result is more of an enthusiast’s than a businessman’s. In other words, he has let no expense be spared on his baby. One of the truly great assets of this book is the fact that original photographs have been used throughout and that where he has a colour photograph, he has located it next to or near the relevant text rather than go for the cheaper 16 page colour section somewhere in the centre. He will never make any money out of this book, that’s for sure, but he will long be remembered in posterity for such a fine piece of work.
The text itself is a little too chronological when an analytical approach would have been favourable, but the original source material adds authority. It has to be the photographs, though, that are the real reason for buying the book. One can look for hours at pages of Cobras, GT0s, racing shots and drivers again and again.
Even if you buy only one book this year, treat yourself to this one. $100 (or £55.00) is a lot of money, but just think of it as an amount you might have blown on an evening out. WPK

A-Z of Formula Racing Cars
by David Hodges. 312pp. 11½” x 8¾”. Bay View Books, 13a Bridgeland Street, Bideford, Devon EX39 2QE. £24.95
This book is the result of some quite prodigious research by David Hodges, assisted in part by Mike Lawrence. It is quite irresistible.
It was only when work got underway in 1986 that the extent of the job David Hodges had embarked on truly registered. What started out as another book soon began to develop into the book that has been published this year — a 312 page tome with 800 photographs and some ¼ million words.
As a reference book, it is outstanding in its contents, but if you were to buy it for that reason, you would be missing out on a treat, for it is the sort of book you can dip into at random. Stick your finger in between some pages, open it up and see what you find. Pages 116/117, for example, have Hesketh, HH, Hill, Hill Special and Honda. Everything is clearly laid out and all the entries are complemented by period photographs.
Naturally Hodges has had to be selective to some degree, but those cars built for Formulae 1, 2, 3, 3000 and Junior are automatically included while CART/ USAC, Formulae 5000, Ford and Renault are at the author’s discretion. Each of the 500 or so manufacturers is also given a brief summary. WPK

Williams — The Story of a Racing Team
by Bruce Grant-Braham. 350pp. 10″x7¼”. The Crowood Press, Gipsy Lane, Swindon, Wilts, SN2 6DQ. £19.95

Here would seem to be the definite work on the popular and successful Williams F1 team, also covering the F2 racing. It opens with biographies of Frank Williams, CBE, and the book then runs through the entire Williams’ racing endeavours, with race results and driver biographies boxed for easy reference. The Williams-Brabhams start the story and Part 2 is called ‘The Wilderness Years’, after which the FVV07, the second World Championship, the Honda years and the Judd and Renault periods carry the account to present day racing.
We are reminded by one of the many photographs that HRH Princess Ann and Capt Mark Phillips not only spent three and a half hours at the Didcot factory in 1983 but that the Princess drove a Williams at Silverstone and linked Williams to the Save the Children Fund — another link between motor racing and the British Royal Family. There are the usual appendices for those who need instant history and some good colour plates. Good, this one. WB

Hazleton Publishing have recently brought out another four of their 112 page driver profiles but, lacking the dearth of present day personalities, have discovered heroes from the past. Thus we have Gilles Villeneuve by Alan Henry, Emerson Fittipaldi by Gordon Kirby and Jochen Rindt by Alan Henry. The only contemporary driver represented in this latest batch is Alain Prost by Nigel Roebuck.
Each follows the same format, which is basically a pictorial treatise with the very briefest of narrative, so you can whizz through them very quickly, by which time you will have learnt the basic details of the drivers covered. These are not an in-depth study, but they do not pretend to be. Alain Prost and Gilles Villeneuve are £11.95, but Emerson Fittipaldi and Jochen Rindt, the two latest, are £12.95 each. WPK

If your coffee table looks bare and you have £24.95 to spare, GT Foulis & Co of Yeovil can provide The Great Book of Muscle Cars which should adequately fill it! It is concerned with American jobs propelled by things like near 7-litre V power packs. Fans of motors from AMC to Plymouth and Pontiac are catered for by 254 pages, 600 colour pictures and specifications provided by the Editors of Consumer Guide. In all, 70 of the muscle cars that are on the prowl again are featured and the booksize is 14in x 10in. It takes quite a lot of muscle to handle it. WB.

Sunday Times motoring journalist Eric Dymock has written BMW – A Celebration, a lavish and colourful, 191 page book on the marque. It is not a serious history and lacks credibility. In the chapter on racing history, for example, there are no contemporary photographs of the fabulous racing saloons of the Seventies except for a couple of tame stationary shots taken in a studio. I wouldn’t waste my £20.00 on this book, a book I would expect to find in the cubbyhole of my new BMW. WPK

Peter Dron tells the story of the fabulous Lamborghini Countach in his book of that title, by The Crowood Press, another book very well illustrated, in colour as well as with black and white pictures. One of the colour plates shows lots of Lamborghinis gathered outside the factory for their anniversary party, another Lee Iacocca with the last Countach, a car named to mark the make’s 25th birthday. Road test figures, diagrams, company politics and dates on the new Diablo are there and the book’s subtitle claims that it tells the complete story of the Countach. The price of this 192 page 10½in x 7½in book is £15.95. WB

Ferrari Concours by photographer Richard Newton is the latest in Osprey’s Colour Series. I must confess I did not think I was going to like this book. As much as I respect the work of Newton, his little book looked lightweight and ephemeral, a sort of collection of colour plates without any fixed reference points other than that they were “Ferraris”. In fact, it wasn’t quite so bad. True, one would only buy it for the photographs, but at least the introduction to each chapter is informative.
Probably the worst thing about it is the undistinguished front cover photograph. Get past that and you will find you’ll have a decent half hour’s read ahead of you for £8.95. WPK

Now is the time to buy MOTOR SPORT’s 1991 calendar. Measuring a large 16½” x 17½ ” and spiral bound for ease of turning over each succeeding month, this beautifully produced calendar is now available from our offices.
The calendar is now devoted solely to Formula One, each of the 12 photographs representing the major runners this year plus some which warrant inclusion simply through being such an outstanding composition. Each one is complemented by a long and informative caption. WPK