By Jeremy Walton
Published by: Robert Bentley Inc. £59.95. ISBN 0 8376 0206 8
We tend to keep reviews of books reaching their second editions to a minimum. Too often these days it is a device used by publishers to chuck a fresh coat of paint at an already well used product in the hope that some will believe the difference is more real than perceived.
This book is not like that. It was first published in 1979 and covered the previous twenty years of BMW’s motorsport endeavours. Now, two further decades on, Walton has brought the story bang up to date. The result is not so much a second edition as a second book, grafted onto the original.
To give you an idea of what was involved, of the the new edition’s 580-odd pages, 335 of them are new and come complete with nearly two hundred fresh photographs. A conventional second edition it is not.
Walton himself is an author many of you will know already, either from his time on the staff of MOTOR SPORT, or from his other books which may well already be piled on your shelves. His tally just of individual marque histories stretches to over 25. Unbeatable BMW is told in his typically straightforward fashion, perhaps as well as there is a mountain of ground to cover. It goes into all areas of BMW’s sporting aspirations from the familiar stories of the Batmobiles to the less well recognised efforts in snow-racing, a wonderful sport that enjoys a huge following in France yet is almost unrecognised here.
The book is rounded off by comprehensive indices giving an manner of information including complete technical specifications of the cars. Curiously, given its British author and German subject, the book is actually published in America where the original attained what its press material describes as ‘cult status’. Happily it is also being sold over here and while nearly £60 is undoubtedly a tidy sum to fork out for any book relying on volume rather than beauty for its appeal, I think there will be more than enough people out there who share Walton’s view that, though frequently vaunted as a manufacturer of superb mad cars, BMW has received inadequate credit over the years for the quality, variety and consistency of its racers.
Letters from Readers, May 1949
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