by Graham Robson. 288 pp. 9″ x 6 3/4″. Patrick Stephens Ltd., Denington Estate, Wellingborough, Northants. NN8 2RQ. £17.50.
This is an important book! It unravels the complex Cosworth story, of how Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth formed and brought to enormous success the Cosworth company of engine builders and other projects, with a client list ranging from Ford and GM to Mercedes-Benz, a one-man tuning establishment which became a multi-national business.
It is the story of Keith Duckworth and his associates, right up to the time of his retirement as owner of two helicopters, a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth and a fine house. It is indeed a tour-de-force by Robson-the-industrious. Essentially an engineer’s book, it tells an absorbing story that motor racing persons needed to be told. I am not in favour of taking large chunks of a book and quoting them in a review, probably to an author’s disadvantage when the book goes on sale. So let part of the Foreword to Cosworth, by Walter Hayes, CBE, suffice to whet your appetite: “History is best,” he writes, “when it is biography and Graham Robson has chosen to let Keith Duckworth and his colleagues and allies speak for themselves. It seems a very appropriate thing to do. For their achievements have already done that.” Robson himself explains that his purpose was to answer questions like “Why did Keith Duckworth discard aero engine work for motor sport? Why did he link up with Mike? Why did he move from London to Northampton? Why did he dabble with transmissions, helicopters and motorcycle engines? Why did he sell out in 1980? Why did he walk away from the business in 1988?”
That’s the scope of the book. I like the way in which boxes deal with items outside the immediate scope of the text, one devoted to “The Thoughts of Chairman Duckworth”, how so many technical queries are answered, how the Cosworth engines from 1960 are illustrated with small inserted pictures in the appendix dealing with their specification differences — Cosworth did not only build the highly successful Ford-Cosworth F1 powerpacks but high performance saloon car engines, from Ford 105E onwards, used in many makes of road cars. I like the excellent pick of a vast quantity of good pictures, recalling great racing occasions and personalities, with the late Colin Chapman happily amongst them. The appendices show that DFV-Cosworth engines achieved 154 F1 championship victories, with the DFY adding another, between 1967 and 1983, and that these engines were used in at least 46 “makes” of F1 racing cars.
The publisher’s blurb says Robson is available for interview. I will spare him that, but had I interviewed him I would have asked him how ever does he do it? — indefatigable after writing 70 motoring books.
Every year, along comes the Triple-M Yearbook to delight, even enthral, MG enthusiasts. The 1989 edition is fully up to this claim, with 73 pages, 11 1/4″ x 8″, between soft covers, telling of MG happenings last year and with articles on some ambitious record-breaking at Millbrook banked track, about Geoff Radford’s LS Magna, dealer Barry Bone’s experiences along the years, and much more besides, on K-type Magnettes, Vintage Register events etc. The illustrations, some in colour, are good and the Editor, Guy Harris, is to be congratulated — incidentally, his surname reminds me of how closely the late “Flem” Harris was associated with sporting MG matters before the war . . . . The book costs a modest £5 (£6 overseas) post-free, from Malcolm Green, Knowle House, Hooke Road, E. Horsley, Leatherhead, Surrey KT24 5DY.