Book reviews, February 1982, February 1982

“The Scuderia Ferrari — Enzo Ferrari Racing with Alfa Romeo — 1929 to 1939″ by Luigi Orsini & Franco Zagari. 429 pp. 9″ x 11″. (Osprey Publishing Ltd., 12-14, Long Acre, London, WC2E 9LP. £39.95)

What a splendid book this is! It tells, as is obvious from the title, the story of the years when that incredible, enigmatic character, the well-beloved Enzo Ferrari, was running his Scuderia Ferrari racing team of Alfa Romeo cars, before he commenced to make and race Ferraris. This is done in two ways — by describing the racing history of the Scuderia Ferrari from the origins of this famous team and then in detail about the years 1930 (“The first season”), 1931 (“Monza and Monoposto”), 1932 (“Year of the Tipo-B”), 1933 (“Year of triumph, and tragedy”), 1934 (“The old order changeth”), 1935 (“The value of Nuvolari”), 1936 (“Alfas in Auto-Unions year”), and finally about 1937/40 (“Decline and change”) and by describing the “hardware” which the drivers had at their disposal, divided into technical descriptions of the cars of the early days, and the four succeeding periods.

It may be that you have read plenty about racing Alfa Romeos in the past. But it is appropriate to this book to have these technical interludes, which are rich with engineering drawings, specification tables, and photographs — and where previously have you seen drawings of how the gear lever for the twin gearboxes of the 12-cylinder, twin-engined Alfa Romeo was connected? It is interesting that to avoid controversy, the P3 is also referred to as the Tipo-B Alfa Romeo.

All this is valuable historical material. But it is the pictures that make the book, 600 of them, dearly reproduced on top-quality, thick art-paper. Indeed, the high quality of the photographic reproduction makes me very envious! These are in the main photographs, from Italian archives, not seen previously, at any rate here. They depict all the great Italian land other Scuderia Ferrari drivers and officials, etc. (what splendid names they have, incidentally) in posed groups, with their cars, in action and in contemplation, etc. In addition, there are many good racing shots, such as of a Fiat Balilla on the Modena ring-road during the 1931 Mille Miglia, this being a Cav. Gandolfi shot, the suort in which he specialised, other great photographs being the work of his friend Dr. Testi. Close-up action pictures, not only of the cars but of motorcycles raced by the Scuderia, are there as well, and so good are these that the rev.-counter and handbrake in one Alfa Romeo cockpit are clearly visible, even the brake rods on another. All manner of intimate pictures are included and the Scuderia’s transporters are not forgotten, from the 1931 Ceirano 45 and Lancia Eptaiota 254 trucks to the Bussing vans taken to the American Vanderbilt Cup race in 1936. The backgrounds to many of these photographs add to the fascination — the cars outside the Ferrari factory in Modena, the knickerbockered apprentice in the machine-shop. Nuvolari unable to find room in Enzo’s bucket-seated Alfa Romeo at the 1930 Coppa Ciano because it is already occupied by Ferrari at the wheel, his wife Laura, Borzacchini and Arcangeli, with Augusto Coniato, standing behind it, and to set the Italian scene, a Lancia Lambda saloon outside the hotel. And didl you know that the bottle of mineral-water Nuvolari sucked through a tube while racing was attached to the front dumb-irons cross-tube, to keep the contents cool? — there is even a photograph to prove it!

Anyone who likes Alfa Romeos, or for that matter Italian cars and drivers, the latter seen off duty as well as at work, is magnificently catered-for in this big book. It, not all Alfa Romeo however — Mercedes-Benz, Auto-Union, Bugatti, Lancia and Fiat, etc., even a lone Aston Martin, figure in its pages. “The Scuderia Ferrari” concludes with tables of the Scuderia’s results in the main car and motorcycle events in which they competed, with race numbers where known.

The editor of the English tenets Doug Nye, and I see that our Denis Jenkinson had a hand in this fine tribute to a great racing stable (the Ferrari legend) and these nostalgic recollections of a golden-age of motor-racing (not forgetting speed hill-climbing). The Italian text was translated by Aldo Piombini and filmset in Ashton-under-Lyme, for printing and binding in Hong Kong. The hook is available here from Albion Scott Ltd. and is highly recommended! — W.B.

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As if every possible connotation of the motoring theme had not been covered, Automobile Quarterly Publications of 245, West Main Street, Kutztown, Pennsylvania, USA, has brought out a “Complete Handbook Of Automobile Hobbies” in its Hobby Book Series, edited by that genius lady auto-historian Beverly Rae Kimes. Moreover, they have decided it was worth making a very nice job of a book that, compiled by many different experts, covers old-vehicle collecting, motoring literature, mascots, art, memorabilia, objets d’art, restoring, researching and authenticating such possessions, finding old licence-plates, tyres, garaging old autos., insuring, transporting and exhibiting them, touring in them, competing for appropriate prizes, and the judging of such contests, the racing of vintage cars. etc. The 395-page hard-cover book does not just stop there. It continues with data about enthusiast clubs, buying and selling old vehicles, predicting values, preserving what it terms “your investment”, flea markets, models (a section which should have world interest), how to best use motoring libraries, locating personal information about your loved car, collecting paper Americana, starting your own car club, and much about fire-engines, trucks and motorcycles, not all the information being about old models,

Aimed mainly at the American way of automotive life, this book could contain some items you won’t want to miss. We are flattered to find Motor Sport among the few British journals listed for research consultation. — W.B.

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Dalton Watson, 76, Wardour Street, London. W1V 4AN, have added William Kimberley’s “The Complete Guide To The Triumph TR7 and TR8” to their books in this series. It costs £6.50, and includes ‘a chapter on the TR7 rally-cars by Bill Price, former manager of Special Tuning at BL Motorsport. The little book is illustrated with colour as well as black and white pictures and should make many friends among those who enthuse about the modern Triumph sports cars— and perhaps among those who are not so keen, seeing that there is a concluding chapter on “Troubleshooting”. — W. B.

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The AA, like the BBC, has turned to publishing as an adjunct to its main function. Recent publications from Fanum House, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 2EA include “Discover America”, produced in association with the American AA for Marks and Spencer. In 180 colour photographs, maps and street plans, the idea, the blurb says, is to enable the armchair traveller to compare his TV image of the USA with reality — a rather ironical thought for what should be a mobile motoring organisation. But the book is full of interest to actual as well as to potential Atlantic crossers, and inexpensive at £3.99. The other AA book, their soft-cover “Guest Houses, Farmhouses & Inns in Britain”, uprated to 1982, is of more interest to those who roam our own roads. It details 3,000 economy places at which to eat or stay, for £2.75.

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Two more of those informative and thoroughly fascinating, copiously-illustrated books about specific ‘bus companies or makes of ‘buses, from The Transport Publishing Co., 128 Pikes Lane. Glossop, Derbyshire SK13 8EH, which we have praised highly when reviewing earlier books in the series, are now available. These cover “The AEC Q-Familv” and “75 Years of Crosville”, respectively No. 2 and No. 5. by Alan Townsin and John Carroll. Each costs £6 in paperback but No. 5 is available in hardback for £7.50.

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Another gap in aviation history is filled by “Aviation in Ulster” by John Croft. an attractive soft-cover 136-page book running from ballooning days to the present, civil and military aviation in Ireland being the theme of the text and pictures. The interesting point is made that the Railway Air Services Belfast-London fare of around £12 in 1937 has to be compared to the £86 Shuttle fare of 1979 and that journey times scarcely came down between 1934 and 1951, in spite of faster aeroplanes being used. The book is right up to date, with much data that will interest transport fans as well as military aviation buffs, as it runs from the efforts of Harry Ferguson to today’s Lear Skyvans and Shores 360. The Foreword is by J. W. R. Taylor, Editor of “Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft” and the book is available at £6.95, from Blackstaff Press Ltd., 3 Galway Park, Dundonald, Belfast DT16 OAN.

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Albion Scott’s new showroom, with over 100 yards of shelving and face-out racking for books exclusively on transport, military and modelling subjects, has now been put into operation in York Road, Brentford, Middlesex.

The showroom displays as far as possible the ever renewing stock of some 6,000 titles which pass through Albion Scott’s hands in a year and which are available to bookshops and specialist modelling and motoring book outlets in Britain, Europe, the USA and throughout the book-buying world. The books themselves come from some 200 publishers in 15 countries. Provided they are well illustrated, the language is no barrier.

On display is probably the largest collection of books on transport, military and modelling subjects in Europe, details of which are contained in two specialist catalogues on Motoring and Military & Modelling books; in spring 1982 these are to be joined by one on Railway books. These catalogues are so extensive that data for them is held on a computer in the USA. The Brentford showroom completes a chain of specialist Albion Scott Trade outlets, which includes Bewdley. Worcs., for customers outside London and the Home Counties, New York (48 East 50th Street) for Motorbooks, Frankfurt (die Modell-Box, Friedbergerstrasse 41) and Tokyo (Light Corporation).

Albion Scott’s London telephone number is 01-847 0511, and not as given in recent advertisements.