Books and Films: December 2017

Ferrari: Race to Immortality

The deadliest decade in motor racing history

Ferrari: Race to Immortality

Racing fans as well as admirers of the sport’s great team owners have been spoiled over the past few months, with biopics of Frank Williams and Bruce McLaren hitting the big screen. And now for the padre of them all: Enzo Ferrari.

Billed as the story of Ferrari’s tumultuous early years, the film wisely focuses on the human actors behind the Scuderia’s success in the 1950s. The story and the era provide a rich seam to mine and, as with the other two films mentioned above, tells that tale by stitching together archive footage from the time. So here we have Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn larking around on water skis, racing wheel to wheel, and off-duty on the side of a dusty track. There’s moving footage of the doomed Luigi Musso on the eve of the 1958 French Grand Prix, and more of Eugenio Castellotti and Alfonso de Portago. The film’s narrative is driven along with erudite contributions from – among others – two of this magazine’s contributors, Richard Williams and Doug Nye. But the real star is Richard Wiseman, who appears in the end credits as film archivist: it is presumably he who managed to dig out the incredible footage that make this film worth seeing.

Ironically, the one person who remains for the most part off-camera is Enzo himself. Instead, the Old Man maintains a spectral presence throughout with fuzzy audio of his disembodied voice playing over key sequences. Then again this is perhaps fitting for a film that, despite its exquisite archive footage of events that defined Ferrari, never quite manages to get beneath Enzo’s skin. Who is the man who, we are told, on being informed of Castellotti’s fatal crash asked: “And the car?” It’s a question this film ultimately fails to answer. JD 

In cinemas Friday November 3. On Blue-Ray and DVD from Monday 6 November. 

Powered by Porsche: The Alternative Race Cars

Roy Smith

Powered by Porsche can probably be filed under the ‘books we didn’t know we needed.’ The premise is simple: document as many cars not built by but powered by Porsche.

There’s little flourish in the writing, and it’s all rather matter of fact, but there’s some genuine interest here: the Glöckler products, which started it all, and Pete Lovely’s Pooper, for example. The Kremer era and the ’80s become rather bogged down, and the book often falls into the realm of information rather than entertainment. But the photo research has been done meticulously, unearthing some fascinating shots; it’s yet another work that has used Porsche’s copious archive to great effect.

All the right names are on board: Jürgen Barth and Reinhold Joest are among many who provide forewords, and the investigation has been thorough for every car. They’re not all pretty, but they’re all here. Except the Seat Ibiza… JP

Published by Veloce
ISBN: 978-1-845849-90-0, £100

Shelby Mustang GT350

Chuck Cantwell with Greg Kolasa

Chuck Cantwell ought to know about Shelby Mustangs: he was project manager for creating the ‘Mustang GT’ – its name before the 350 was added – out of a cheap, fun car that was actually advertised as suitable for secretaries. In this lengthy and detailed memoir he recalls the double task of not only making a race-winning car from the base model but also the parallel task of making a viable production run of the hot version, and his book is packed with facts about the people, the racing and the specification alterations, huge and small, he had to factor in.

Here are the background stories to the Hertz rental GT350Hs, behind-the-scenes memories of title-winning racing, the astonishing overnight rebuild of a seemingly totalled car at Green Valley. Much has already been written about this American idol, but this, with additional background from Mustang expert Greg Kolasa and David Bull’s usual high production standard, is a valuable contribution. GC

Published by David Bull
ISBN: 978-1-935007-29-6, $49.95

Special Obsessions

Les Brown

In post-war Britain there were more pressing matters than designing or building small, affordable sports cars. The solution was for the terminally industrious to construct their own.

This thorough examination of the cottage industry that spawned many a special from 1947-62 fuses the histories of familiar names (including Lotus and Cosworth) with many that you are unlikely ever to find on AutoTrader.

The author’s passion is obvious and his prose is well illustrated with photos, technical illustrations and period press cuttings – including a few from Motor Sport, wherein Bill Boddy and Jenks were vocal supporters. Vanwall and Cooper are often credited with spearheading Britain’s emergence as the world’s most potent motor sport hub during the late 1950s, but the seeds of that transition were perhaps sown a few years before by those wielding spanners and welding torches in suburbia. SA

Published by Kirkdale
ISBN: 978-1-872955-36-0, £30.00

Ford Escort RS1600: The Story of RWC 455K

Ed Heuvink & John Davenport

There are countless tomes about the original Escort, with or without numbers on the flanks, but this limited edition covers the individual history of the 1972 Safari Rally winner, crewed by Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm.

It’s a perfect excuse – not that any should ever be needed – for McKlein to trawl its immense and sumptuous archive to provide a bit of photographic context to Ford’s pre-Escort Safari history. As a result, there are shots of a 100E Anglia on the 1956 Safari, Cortinas, Capris and much else as the story evolves towards its engaging core.

As with any McKlein project, lavish production values and wonderful images are included as standard – so it’s rather better equipped than many a basic Escort of yore. SA

Published by McKlein
ISBN: 978-3-927458-98-7, €79.90