Book reviews, June 2010, June 2010

Alpine & Renault
The Sports Prototypes, Volume 1, 1963-1969 & Volume 2, 1973-1978
Roy Smith

These paired books each deal with a significant time period for the famous French racing teams of Renault and Alpine, specifically concentrating on sports-prototypes.

The first book covers the 1963-69 period and tells how a Renault dealer and garage owner from Dieppe, Jean Rédélé, who had spent the latter part of the ’50s building and racing Renaults, took his little Alpine company on to the world motor racing stage. Alpine is well known for its innovation and progressive thinking, and in this book you can see how ahead of its time it really was on many technical areas such as aerodynamics.

The second book spans 1973-78, culminating in a Le Mans victory for the beautiful Renault-Alpine A442B. It also covers the gradual move away from a time when the cars were built by enthusiastic Gallic mechanics to the Renault organisation taking a larger controlling interest in Alpine, and towards the goal of winning Le Mans, the Monte Carlo Rally and the F1 World Championship.

Both books appear to be very well researched, with all the main people involved in the Alpine organisation represented and the use of excellent quality photos from behind the scenes, all of which really enhance this fascinating story. There’s even a comprehensive list of every Alpine chassis built, including drivers, races and the ultimate results. DC

Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 845841 91 1/978 1 845842 26 0, £34 each

Tour de France Automobile
Maurice Louche

It’s big and it’s costly, but where else will you find such a meaty source of facts and pictures of this event which ran (with gaps) from 1899 into the 1980s? A subsidiary volume containing the English text leaves the main book to terrific views of sliding Stratoses and puttering Panhards, right back to 19th-century De Dions and Mors. Alongside full results, Louche tells of the endless struggles to keep the Tour afloat, and of its great years when the likes of Moss and Behra entered, the mad era when Matra Le Mans prototypes ran on the road, on to the age of the rally specialist, but ignoring the recent historic revival. GC

Éditions Maurice LOUCHE, ISBN 978 2 9500738 9 1, €169

Enrico Nardi
A Fast Life
Dino Brunori, Andrea Curami

This comprehensive look at Enrico Nardi’s life offers plenty for those who know about the engineer and racer’s exploits, and those who don’t.

From Nardi’s birth in Bologna in 1907, the story swiftly moves on to when his engineering work began in earnest at the Fiat test office. The images take you into Nardi’s workshops and over his and his cars’ exploits, with the authors recounting his work passionately and clearly.

There is a problem… The book has been translated and where one can forgive the ‘Italian phraseology’, constant grammatical errors do wear thin. But don’t let that put you off this interesting read. EF

Published by Fondazione Negri ( ISBN 88 89108 17 7, €55

The Daily Mirror 1970 World Cup Rally
The World’s Toughest Rally in Retrospect
Graham Robson

It’s 40 years since a mix of pro and amateur drivers tackled what is billed here as the world’s toughest rally – 16,000 miles from London to Mexico via Europe and South and Central America. The event was devised to tie in with that year’s football World Cup and featured the likes of Prince Michael of Kent and Jimmy Greaves in the line-up. Hannu Mikkola led the charge through the Andes to win in his Ford Escort.

The story of the event is told in great detail by Robson, who worked on it as a travelling controller. The pictures are fantastic, the layout (purposefully?) retro, but the text a little repetitive. Still, it will appeal to die-hard rally fans. GB

Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 845842 71 0, £35

La Mini au Rallye Monte-Carlo 1959-1997 Frédéric Reydellet Many a Mini managed the Monte, and Reydellet lists them all, plus the “three and a half” wins. Unseen photos, full results and first-hand memories complete this French-only book. Published by Frédéric Reydellet, ISBN 978 2951 676 763, €38

Saab 96 & V4 Graham Robson Another interesting addition to the Rally Giants series from Veloce, featuring the faces, the cars and the story behind two front-wheel-drive Saabs. Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 845842 56 7, £15.99

MotoGP Source Book Julian Ryder & Martin Raines A very accessible look at 60 years of motorcycle racing, with good images and coverage of the smaller categories. More reference books should be like this. Published by Haynes, ISBN 978 1 84425 723 2, £30