Ferrari 250 GTO

The autobiography of 4153 GT

Keith Bluemel

This fine series would not be complete without one of the very few cars that deserves the overused epithet ‘icon’. The Ferrari 250 GTO is exactly that – more than a car, a symbol of automotive greatness. Beautiful, fast, and rare, a GTO is the prime target for any collection with a limitless budget – but unlike some halo cars, it deserves adulation.

Star of this ‘autobiography’ is 4153GT, the car raced in period by Lucien Bianchi with victory on the 1964 Tour de France its chief rosette, though fourth overall at Le Mans is worth crowing about. As per previous volumes, opening chapters outline the era, the rivals and the model’s evolution before our subject’s debut – which as Bluemel says “was right in the middle of Ferrari’s golden period at Le Mans”. The competition history is scrupulous, with sections on the car’s drivers, teams and many events – and they were varied, from the famous 24-hour classic to minor hillclimbs in its Spanish period, not forgetting later historic events, all detailed within. There’s even a table of all the models of the car. 

Handsome presentation extends to lavish illustrations including maps and posters, which makes £60 (or less) a very fair price. Photos of 4153 ploughing through muck and gravel on a mountain pass remind you that though we now see these vehicles through greenback-tinted specs – back then this was just a competition car…

Another fine production from Porter. GC

Published by Porter Press

ISBN: 978-1-907085-27-7, £65 

Ayrton Senna

The Last Night

Ercole Colombo, Giorgio Terruzzi

Ayrton Senna’s life story has already consumed oceans of ink, but this latest take on a familiar tale differs significantly from many of its forebears: photographs dominate to the virtual exclusion of prose.

Some of long-serving Italian photographer Colombo’s images are absolutely stunning – especially the candid paddock material. The pick is perhaps a shot of Team Lotus from Monaco 1985, with Senna perched on a small toolbox, team-mate Elio de Angelis on a wheel and boss Peter Warr sitting in the middle, digesting a sandwich. Having frequented F1 paddocks from time to time in that era, I always felt they oozed sophistication, but the evidence here suggests otherwise.

A chapter on Imola concludes proceedings and features poignant shots of Senna on the grid, and also chatting to compatriot Rubens Barrichello who had been injured in a practice accident on the Friday. A photo of Roland Ratzenberger’s rumpled car tells part of that weekend’s story, but a shot of the mortally wounded Austrian receiving medical attention strays beyond the acceptable.

That element lets the book down. SA

Published by Fouchard Filippi

ISBN: 978-88-572-3153-2, £34.95

Formula 1 

Technical analysis 2015/16

Giorgio Piola

Given the extraordinary detail and across-the-field coverage of Giogio Piola’s F1 technical illustrations, it’s surprising to be told that the Italian chronicler sometimes has to fight for photo access to the cars like anyone else. Yet here are close-up cutaways of McLaren’s blown hubs, Toro Rosso’s exhaust accelerator and Ferrari’s T-tray, as if Piola had every team’s data piped straight to his desk. 

Team by team he shows every variation of wing, duct and nose through the 2016 season, short captions explaining what’s going on, with other chapters showing what differences regulation changes have made. He even diverts into history – in this case with a lesson on the arrival of gearchange paddles – and the effect of next year’s regs. 

If you are fascinated by the carbon-fibre nitty-gritty, this year’s volume is a tour de force – just like all the previous ones. GC

Published by Giorgio Nada

ISBN: 978-88-7911-656-5, £32 

Worms to Catch

Guy Martin

He packs a lot into life does Guy Martin.

He’s spent the last 15 years racing motorbikes, most notably in fairly hazardous road events. He writes, ‘Racing hasn’t retired me, I’ve retired from racing’, so you’d assume he’s looking to ease off the throttle. Not so.

While sitting in his hospital bed recovering from a monumental accident, where this book begins, he was already plotting his next adventure. A shot at the world record for the Wheel of Death was first, but not before racing David Coulthard in a F1 vs Superbike challenge for TV. He would also film a TV programme in Latvia about his ancestors, during which he started training for a challenge to cycle 2745 miles unaided, non-stop, across the biggest mountains in Canada and America. Not to mention driving a race-spec Transit van at 150mph across the desert in the Silver State Classic… The book concludes with an account of his land speed record attempt on a Triumph streamliner (featured in our November 2016 issue) and how it is unfinished business. 

All these mad schemes are laid out just as Guy talks – directly – and with a take on the world that sets him apart from most people, which is why we all love him. One suspects he’ll never be content with the quiet life. DC

Published by Virgin Books

ISBN: 978-0-7535-4530-0, £20

Autocourse 2016-17

Edited by Tony Dodgins

Part of motor racing’s landscape since 1951, when Fangio had just won his first world title and Brylcreem was most racers’ hair product of choice, Autocourse remains an authoritative, collectible review of the year just past, ripe with words and pictures of the highest quality. 

As well as Formula 1 analysis from Tony Dodgins, Maurice Hamilton and Motor Sport’s own Mark Hughes, who provides an incisive technical overview, the annual spreads its wings – as always – to embrace all the key nursery formulae, from GP2 down to karting.

Producing the book before the year’s end becomes ever more of a challenge, as the season now finishes late in November rather than the mid-October of yore, but the wait is ever worthwhile. SA

Published by Icon

ISBN:  978-1-910584-22-4, £45


Time was that most of us would be grateful for any kind of motor sport coverage on TV, when the annual diet amounted to scanty coverage of perhaps three Grands Prix per annum, the wonder of rallycross from Lydden Hill, a bit of motorcycle scrambling and, if you were really lucky, an end-of-year F3 race from Thruxton.

Today? ITV4 provides live coverage of British Touring Car Championship meetings’ every nuance, from the three headline races to interviews with Ginetta Junior drivers who in a previous life would perhaps have been doing their maths homework on a Sunday afternoon.

Whether or not the BTCC is your cup of tea, the coverage is consistently slick and this (sort of) distils the highlights into digestible form… if such a term is appropriate for two discs and seven hours. SA, £16.99