Reviews

Alfa Romeo Tipo 33: the Development and Racing History by Peter Collins and Ed McDonough ISBN 1904788 718 published by Veloce. £39.99

About time. Porsche and Ferrari sports-prototypes have all had umpteen texts dedicated to them: some of them are actually quite good. Even Matra has been (deservedly) celebrated, although most texts are in French or, worse, Franglais. But it's taken until now for someone to get round to writing a proper history of Alfa Romeo's glorious if flawed 33 series.

And it's been worth the wait. Mostly. The depth of research in this 224-page hardback is commendable, McDonough and Collins gathering plenty of first-hand accounts from drivers and Autodelta team members. And it's their voices that help lift the text over the usual 'and then they did this' levels of hackery.

The text takes in the full story from the late-60s underdeveloped 2-litre V8s through to the awe-inspiring flat-12s that steamrollered what were admittedly only makeweight rivals during the middle of the following decade: ultimately this is a story of too little, too late. The wondrous Franco Scaglione-designed Stradale road car also gets a decent amount of wordage. Same too for the many concept cars based on the racer, including the fabulous Carabo and rather less lovely Navajo, which was apparently built as an aero design study. Presumably the study didn't go too well.

This is worth buying just for the images alone. You really do need to credit the authors for amassing so many never-before-seen photos: Richard Pilkington finishing 17th in a Silverstone Interserie thrash? Check. Arturo Merzario sharing a joke with the Italian aerobatic team? Erm, ditto. Precisely where they got hold of a pic of P Moshous racing his T33/TT/3 in a Greek clubbie is a mystery. But well done anyway.

But there are a few criticisms. Considering the wealth of pictures, reproduction is variable in places, which is a bit of a letdown, although that may just be the case with our review copy. And occasionally — just occasionally — captions are a bit too self-congratulatory to be of some relevance: The author gets a close look at the Cuneo's 2-litre engine' or 'Peter Collins' striking photo of the rear of the Cuneo'...

But this really is to nitpick. With a decent stab at disentangling often conflicting chassis records, along with race results tables rounding out the story, this is a fitting tribute to the not-quite-great 33. A must for Alfa lovers everywhere. Highly recommended. RH

RAC Rally Action by Tony Gardiner. ISBN1903706971 published by Veloce. £35.99

This good-looking 204-page hardback is an engaging read, featuring an abundance of classic images of the RAC Rally from an era when it was actually worth spending time in a Welsh forest being pebbledashed by a passing 'bubble-arched' Escort.

The author always took a week off to watch the event, and claims to have travelled some 28,000 miles over the many years he chased it. His images are evocative, if not always totally sharp, but that only adds to the atmosphere. Whether rally types have coffee tables is a moot point but if you love this era of competition, then this is a must-have. RH

Autocourse. 2005-2006 edited by Alan Henry ISBN1905334 04 4 published by Crash Media Group, £35

It's been a seamless transition to a new publishing house for motor racing's favourite annual. Still edited by Alan Henry, the 55th Autocourse is little changed from the 45th!

This is the most methodical coverage of the Formula One season you'll get anywhere — the prose, stats, photography and issues are all there. As usual Henry has chosen his top 10 drivers — and as usual many of us would take issue with the order...! He has done the decent thing by putting Fernando Alonso at the top, though.

Towards the back you get the review/results round-up of other categories. It's fine, but puzzling that Champ Car (ageing cars with spec engines) gets more coverage than the IRL. And that the World Series by Renault is completely ignored, while Italy's eight-car clubbie F3 series is included. MS

Competition Car Aerodynamics by Simon McBeath ISBN184425 230 2 published by Haynes. £25

It's the invisible edge, especially in Formula One, but aerodynamics for competition cars remains something of a mystery to the average race fan.

Coming from Haynes, and with the subtitle A Practical Handbook, you might expect this to offer useful advice on tweaking your Mallock for an extra 1 mph on Club Straight. But in fact this is a serious, heavyweight textbook, sprinkled with formulae and complex diagrams. I don't pretend to have followed the maths, but the elaborate, multicoloured airflow illustrations (and there's a CD-full of these included with the book) did begin to make sense for me out of the many tiny winglets and airfences which F1 cars sprout.

It's not going to help you to win races, but it offers some background understanding of a complex art. GC

Open Roads & Front Engines by János Wimpffen ISBN1893618 48 X published by David Bull. $149.95

Wimpffen's absolutely staggering attention to detail has already ensured that his epic dual-volume Time and Two Seats is one of the most indispensable works in this magazine's library.

Now comes a photographic history of the 1953-61 era of the World Sports Car Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours. Intended to complement the aforementioned stats books, it does that and more. As you might expect from Wimpffen, he covers everything in glorious detail — via informative captions — from the obvious Mercedes, Ferrari and Jaguar headliners to obscurities such as Ivo Fanciullini's 250cc Moto Guzzi-powered Mille Miglia racer.

Great to see shots from Caracas, Kristianstad and the Buenos Aires street track. This book's not cheap, but it's brilliant. MS

Emotion Ferrari by Maurice Louche ISBN 2 9500738 7 5 published by Maurice Louche, £110

Louche says his intention is "to keep you fascinated from the first page to the last." A bold statement — but he pretty well achieved it for me. Five hundred pages of pictures and captions could be overwhelming, but the huge variety of situations in which he shows Ferraris of every type makes a banquet for fans.

Sportscars, single-seaters, on the track, in hillclimbs, at the factory, on ferries, in snow, on trailers, in crumpled heaps by the roadside — the pictures keep coming. The only common theme is that all the Ferraris are competing in some form of motorsport between 1947 and '72 — Ferrari's finest era, thinks Louche. There's even good colour from '55, and a useful index by type.

Well reproduced on high quality paper, with captions in French and English, it's dear, but a treat. GC