Book reviews, March 1983, March 1983
“Automobile Year 1982 / ’83” 243 pp. 12½” x 9½” (Edita SA, 10 rue du Valentin, 1000 Lausanne 9, Switzerland. Distributed by PSL Ltd., Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB3 8EL. £19.95)
The current edition of Ami Guichard’s now-immortal “Automobile Year” is as lavish as ever — the Rolls-Royce of coffee-table annual reviews of the previous year’s motor racing and automobile activities. The contents are probably secondary to the fine photographs, colour illustrations and high-class advertising, but are of interest nevertheless, especially as we have contributions by Peter Windsor of Autocar, Paul Frère (on Group C), Philip Turner of Motor (on Le Mans), and Andy Marshall of Motoring News (on the World Endurance Championship) writing under the Racing 1982 heading, and Motor‘s Rally correspondent Martin Holmes covering the World Rally Championship. Special articles embrace a controversial outcry about the state of F1 Grand Prix racing by Ami Guichard himself, robots in car manufacture by Alan Downing, new cars by Jacques Farenc, the Buchmann brothers design work by Dirk Maxeiner and a piece on the Delage D8-120 by René Bellu.
As usual, full results of all the important races and also of rally and hill-climb contests are included and the only term for this great publication is superb, and distinctly de luxe.
“BMW — The Complete Story from 1928” by Werner Oswald and Jeremy Walton. 191 pp. 10¾” x 9¼”. (Haynes Publishing Group, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, BA22 7JJ. £14.95.)
Here is a large book devoted to BMW along the years, particularly the origins of the now-famous German make, but also going year by year through all the many BMW models. The story is told mainly with pictures, many in fine colour, long picture-captions, and specifications tables. Thus you get almost every model in the ever-changing and prolific BMW range set out pictorially, with cutaway drawings, plan views or just good photographs of complete cars, from Wartburg in 1898 and Dixi from 1903 onwards, to the BMW 1982 models, production output figures being quoted for some of the later models. The lsetta and other small four-wheeled variants are not forgotten and there is a chapter devoted to the BMW factory from 1945. What a feast for those who appreciate the worth of BMW motor-cars!
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Fascinating indeed, for those who love the Citroen 2cv in all its forms is “La 2 CV” by Jacques Borgé and Nicolas Viasnoff, which is a mixture of everything and anything appertaining to the peasant’s production from La Belle France, that is if you can read French; if not there are innumerable pictures to enjoy. The 2cv is seen in every conceivable guise, and doing races, rallies, records, endurance runs, etc., with special versions I’ll say!), and even model 2cvs included. One set of pictures shows the uses of the 2cv in much the same light as the one-time publicity booklets put out by Austin for the Seven and Trojan for their “You Can’t Afford To Walk” two-stroke. Not a serious history but mighty amusing for all 2cv fans, this book is of 191 9¼” x 7″ pages, and Albion Scott can supply it for £9.95, from Bercourt House, York Road, Brentford, Middlesex, TW8 0QP.
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Historic Can Racing is now an important part of the overall motor-racing scene and Haynes have got off to a good start by publishing annual surveys of the International contests for such cars. Their No. 2 annual, titled “Historic Car Racing ’82 / ’83” by Rob de la Rive Box, runs to 159 pages measuring 8½” x 11½”, and reports on last year’s events at Monza, Brands Hatch, Zandvoort, Montlhéry, Donington Park, Zolder, and the Nürburgring. There are masses of clear black and white photographs from these fixtures, and a great colour section devoted to Alfa Romeo cars of the appropriate kinds, in current racing. The Foreword is by Count Lurani, President of the FISA / FIVA Historic Car Commission, and Luca Grandori, President of the Scuderia del Portello contributes another leader. With an index of all the drivers and their cars, this fine art-paper record of the 1982 Historic Car Racing season seems a “must” for all competitors and followers. It is priced at £19.95.
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“Panteras For The Road” by Henry Rasmussen is now available in Haynes’ “The Survivors” series of books, this one about de Tomaso’s exotic motor-cars. It is the seventh of this line of mainly photographic, landscape-size (8½” x 10¾”) books. There is plenty of descriptive supporting text and the price is £19.95.
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There has to be the occasional pot-boiler to even things out in the prolific motor-book publishing world. This month the book that qualifies for the title, in my view, is “Chrome — Glamour Cars of the Fifties” by Brian Laban. But if you want a coffee-table-size book of American autos in lurid colour, Orbit Publishing Ltd., Orbis House, 20-22 Bedfordbury, London, WC2N 4BT, will provide it, for a modest £5.95.
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How to get into saloon-car racing in the UK is the theme of a 143-page paperback by Mike Carney, published by PSL of Cambridge at £5.95.
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There is a saying that it never rains but it pours, and this is true of books about Citroën cars which are flooding us at present. To those reviewed elsewhere must be added a far more professional and comprehensive 2cv history, although with fewer pictures, that by James Taylor in Motor Racing Publication’s “Collector’s Guide” series. It covers the derivatives of the 2cv and includes a lead-in background on other Citroën models. It has all the tabulated data expected of books in this series, so those who are interested historically rather than sentimentally, will go for this one. The aforesaid tables give specifications, chassis numbers, performance summaries, and production figures for A-range cars, and much other data besides and again, model 2cvs are included. The only criticisms I have are that the record-breaking “Rosalie” Citroëns are referred to but not Mon. Lecot’s remarkable endurance runs with the later FWD model, that surely the “Petite Rosalie” ran for 133, not 134, days on its record-acquiring bid at Montlhéry, and that it is a thought unkind to say that “Any resemblance between the record-breaker and the production models was purely fortuitous!”, because a racing-type body was normal on most record cars and in the case of this Citroën even the hub caps of the bolt-on-wheels and, I would think, the tyre-size, correspond. Incidentally, were the production Citroëns of the period actually called “Rosalie” models officially? I thought this was a nice term ascribable to Bunty Scott-Moncrieff, when he was writing about them. But no doubt the Citroën experts will enlighten me. — W.B.