Book reviews, July 1989, July 1989

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Jaguar E-type — The Definitive History by Philip Porter. 712pp. 11 x 81/2. (Haynes Publishing Co, Sparkford, Yeovil. £49.95)

Definitive, definitiver, definitivest . . . A bold title, especially with the definite article instead of the indefinite, but a staggering five pages of acknowledgements gives a clue to the breadth and depth of this monster volume.

In 712 pages, Porter works through a detailed history of the E-type, within a roughly chronological order devoting chapters to development, competition, both works and private, model versions and the E-type today, before plunging into 120 pages of appendices. These include all competition results 1961-70, tables of all export sales, a list of all models and toys, plus specifications of obsessive detail — I hope someone needs to know the wire diameter of the inner valve springs for a V12.

What elevates this from a historical text to a readable work oozing with new facts is the inside information Porter has amassed from those involved. Bill Heynes, Norman Dewis, Lofty England and many others contributed information, photographs or paperwork which provide fascinating detail on the car’s gestation and the flaws which surfaced. There is barely a page without a photo, drawing or reproduction of a confidential memo, and frequent quotations provide a first-hand perspective of the car which staggered press and public in 1961.

We have become used to £50 books today, but I can think of few which are as crammed with interest as this. GC

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