Reviews, December 2008

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Cars
Freedom, Style, Sex, Power, Motion, Colour, Everything
Stephen Bayley

Don’t be fooled by the title. This is not a book about cars in the strictest sense. If you’re interested in horsepower and top-speed figures then this, I’m afraid, will be of no interest to you. But for those who delight in the beauty, form and detail of cars as diverse as the Citroën DS, Lincoln Continental and Renault Twingo, you’ll be in sheer heaven.

This weighty, reassuringly expensive and perfectly produced book is a sumptuous celebration of 86 cars selected by renowned design commentator Stephen Bayley. His personal selection is beautifully photographed to an amazingly high standard that gives the same attention to a Renault 4 as a Ferrari 250 GTO.

Bayley has not only written a thoughtful overview of how cars – and what they represent – have come to be part of our lives, but has also given each of his selection an intelligent summary. Of course, not everyone will agree with his choices (Nissan Cube anyone?), but the style in which they are presented at least allows the reader to marvel in the detail.

Bound in tactile grey suede and printed on high-quality art paper, everything about this project oozes quality. It even comes with its own box sleeve to ensure more impact on the coffee table. An essential purchase for the design-conscious automobile devotee. DC
Published by Conran Octopus, ISBN 978 1 84091 504 4, £75

Behind The Pits
Personal Memories – The Morgan Way to Le Mans
Commentary by Richard Shepherd-Barron

This compilation of amateur cine film follows the Lawrencetune Morgan Plus 4s as they contest European GT races in 1961-62. You won’t buy it for race action (though the Le Mans starts and the Goodwood TT are worth watching) but for the period atmosphere and back-scene life as the team convoys from Spa to the ’Ring, Aintree and Le Mans. Works driver Richard Shepherd-Barron talks about what’s on screen, including his class win at Le Mans in ’62 with Chris Lawrence. The footage is grainy and a bit wavy, but it’s all in colour. An unusual insight into the paddock – and you’ll get some great tips for period fashion for Goodwood. GC
Available from www.morgancars-dvd.com, £20

Peter Collins
All about the boy!
Ed McDonough

Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his death, this tribute to Peter Collins is both exhaustive and exhausting. The author tells the story of this ‘golden boy’ of the 1950s year by year, race by race. He then transcribes the thoughts of those who knew Collins well – including his wife Louise, who has donated letters she sent to her family during her tragically short marriage – and some who have written about him before. The book is illustrated by a wonderful collection of photographs, including in-car shots by the great Louis Klemantaski, and the life story is told in great detail. It’s an admirable achievement, but perhaps a firm editor might have made parts easier to digest. DS
Published by Mercian Manuals Ltd, ISBN 978 1 903088 43 2, £39.95

Memories of Ronnie Peterson
Joakim Thedin and Thoms Hägg

As the title suggests, this is a compilation of memories of Ronnie Peterson rather than a historical account of his racing career. While setting up the Peterson website in 2005, and more recently the museum, Joakim Thedin talked to many people involved in ‘SuperSwede’s’ career. In doing so he accumulated a diverse and touching book’s worth of stories. There are contributions from the likes of Mario Andretti through to Doris Zwillich – a German fan who learnt Swedish so that he could get Ronnie’s autograph and say ‘tack så mycket’ (thank you) in return. The range of characters who have contributed to the book is a fitting tribute to Peterson, and their words are complemented by some interesting race shots and behind-the-scenes pictures. EF
Published by Pole Text, visit www.ronniepeterson.se, ISBN 978 91 633 3256 2, £19.95

Portraits
Jesse Alexander

As signed-up members of the Jesse Alexander fan club based on the standard of his last two books – Ferrari, Grand Prix Moments and Porsche Moments – it will come as no surprise that we think this latest installation is equally good, if not better.

Titled simply as the all-encompassing Portraits, this work offers a much broader spectrum of photographs. It isn’t the racing that stands out from the 90-odd pages, but the personalities it has thrown up over the years. Whether it is a stern-looking Roger Penske, a mischievous Innes Ireland or a smiling Tom Kristensen, Alexander has managed to capture the highs and lows of a sport that he has been photographing for over half a century.

This book is not cheap, but without a doubt it’s worth every penny. It has been extremely well produced and, trust me, you’ll be hooked from your first flick-through. EF
Published by David Bull Publishing, ISBN 978 1 893618 98 5, £39.99

100 Years of Motorsport
A British Sporting Century
PA photos archive

This book forms part of a series which includes editions on football, rugby, golf and cricket. If the others are anything like the motor sport volume, they’ll be collectors’ items in their own markets, too.

This is a fabulous book of photographs, made up of gems plucked from the Press Association’s impressive archive, many of which have not been published since they were first seen in the newspapers of their day. The subjects and eras covered vary from Brooklands to modern Formula 1, touching on pretty much anything motor sport-related in between.

Inevitably, it is the pre-war shots that really stick in the mind. An incredible motorbike photo from 1938 of Noel Pope flying (and I mean that in the literal sense) around the Brooklands banking will make you gawp, as will the grass track sidecar passenger hanging off his contraption at Brands Hatch. But my personal highlight has to be Jackie Stewart sitting in his Matra in the pitlane – playing trombone, surrounded by Chris Barber and his band of jazzmen… DS
Published by Ammonite Press. Order at www.thegmcgroup.com, ISBN 978 1 906672 03 4, £14.99

Alpine & Renault
The Development of the Revolutionary Turbo F1 Car 1968 to 1979
Roy Smith

The further we get away from it, the greater the Formula 1 turbo era becomes. The memory of 1000bhp (and some more) is ingrained – and it’s special because we’ll never see its like again.

If you are an avid follower of this period, and of the Renault and Alpine partnership that introduced turbos to F1, you’ll be delighted with this book. Roy Smith starts by charting the story of how the engine became a reality, and the troubled first couple of seasons where the results sheets are a testament to Renault’s determination to make it work. The list of DNFs, ahead of Jean-Pierre Jabouille’s breakthrough win at the 1979 French GP, would have deterred most teams and manufacturers.

The book tells of the eventual success of the concept in the succeeding seasons, and finishes with a look at how the idea overflowed into departments other than F1. Photographically, the behind-the-scenes stuff and technical details are the work’s biggest strength, but at this price you’d better be keen. EF
Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 84584 177 5, £45

10 Years of Endeavour, Vol 1
Derek Bracegirdle.

An in-depth look at motor sport since the ’30s. And this is only the first 300-page volume! A bold self-publishing effort, but better editing would have helped to avoid such confusions as ‘bazaar’ and ‘bizarre’.
Published by BBS Books, ISBN 978 1 903029 01 5, £12.99

Motorfilms Quarterly, Vol. 21
Compiled and introduced by Doug Nye and David Weguelin.

Another great selection of newsreel and film. Highlights include Triumph’s exploits in rallying and at Le Mans, Austin-Rover in the British Saloon Car Championship and part one of the BRSCC’s 1957 review.
www.motorfilms.com, £19.99

The Jim Clark Film Festival: Yesterday’s Racers
Gary Critcher and Michael Oliver.

The film of this special event includes valuable contributions from a number of Clark’s contemporaries, but could have benefited from the added excitement of some actual race footage.
www.jimclarkfilmfestival.com, £14.99