Reviews, March 2009

The Maserati 300S
Walter Bäumer

Two huge monographs on rare cars in one month! Along with Simon Moore’s Alfa 2.9 work (see over) comes this comprehensive history of the sports-racing Maserati which was Ferrari’s main rival in the late 1950s. These cars are even rarer than 2.9 Alfas, though not as diverse, and Bäumer provides a life story for each of the 28 known, with complete racing history in period and descriptions of all modifications. And there is a discussion of various mystery entities which may or may not still be out there to be discovered…

The book makes good use of its square format, with very large pictures throughout, many previously unpublished, some in colour, and reproductions of factory drawings and paperwork illustrating the technical chapter. Thick glossy paper and a slip case add to the quality feel. Bäumer also places the 300S in its racing context, discusses the various privateer entrants who ran these cars, and gives pen portraits of relevant personalities. The author, a historian and photographer who has excellent racing credentials, being the nephew of the Mercedes Grand Prix driver of the same name, also discusses the 350S successor model, including an amusing tale. After a chin spoiler was fitted to Moss’s 350S to keep the wayward nose on the road the spoiler then disappeared. Moss was told, “it just did not look good…” A telling comment about Italian attitudes. GC
Published by Dalton Watson Fine Books, ISBN 978 185443 232 2, £95

Three Points of Contact
Jeffrey R Zwart

During the 2007 Race of Champions all the drivers posed for Hollywood director Jeff Zwart. The outcome? Well, Zwart focused on the ‘three points of contact’ that racing drivers have between them and their job: their hands, eyes and feet.

It’s certainly a novel approach to motor sport photography, and it’s hard to deny that the images are anything but expertly taken. However, full-page photos of the drivers’ feet become somewhat off-putting after a while.

The book is well produced, but at a penny under £100 you’re going to need to be a big fan of Zwart’s work, or indeed of feet, hands or eyes.

I suppose we should count ourselves lucky it doesn’t focus on the fourth point of contact between a driver and their job under the heading ‘seat of the pants driving’… EF
Published by David Bull Publishing, ISBN 1 893618 99 2, £99.99

Porsche Racing Cars
1953 to 1975 & 1976 to 2005
Brian Long

Prolific marque specialist Brian Long is a suitable guide as Veloce brings us two volumes of glorious, if familiar, Porsche racing history.

Photos take precedence over words, although Long’s overviews and captions through each season, from 1953 to 2005, suffice for such a work. The pictures chosen are largely terrific and there are plenty of them, while the subjects include obscurities as well as the obvious. Even on first flick-through there are pictures that draw you in – always a good sign.

As an introduction to Porsche’s racing heritage this is excellent. For those more familiar with the history there is less to get excited about. But the two volumes are a worthy addition to our bulging shelf of Porsche books nonetheless. DS
Published by Veloce, ISBN 978 1 904788 45 4 and 978 1 904788 44 7 respectively, £45 each

Grand Prix 2009
Bruce Jones

The official ITV Sport guide is without doubt one of the most in-depth looks at the 2008-09 Grand Prix seasons.

This 130-page book examines the grid in detail with actual opinions on what lies ahead for the drivers and teams this year, and indeed how they fared in 2008. All too often these reviews/previews tend to gloss over various parts of the story – especially when they require the writer to put someone in the firing line – but not here. With a close look at all the races and tracks in 2008, and even contact details for the teams, this book is packed with useful information for casual fans of the sport.

Easy to read and well laid out, it’s a steal at £12.99. Let’s hope that the BBC’s coverage of the 2009 Grand Prix season is as thorough… EF
Published by Carlton Books, ISBN 978 1 84732262 3, £12.99

The Immortal 2.9
Alfa Romeo 8C2900
Simon Moore

Hard to believe it’s over 20 years since I reviewed the first edition of Simon Moore’s history of all the Alfa Romeo 2900s. At the time it set a new mark for depth of research and detail on one single model, but since then Simon has continued to ferret out information on this most rarefied of machines, there have been two major rediscoveries, and the first edition now sells for high prices on Ebay. Hence this expanded version – double the size – in which half the historic photos are new and coverage is extended to the later V12 cars.

Every car is updated, not only ownership but history, and Moore has been able to answer questions he himself raised originally. Best of all are the tales of one lost 2.9 found almost complete – the beautiful Pinin Farina car restored by Terry Cohn – and the burned-out ruin of another resurrected by the late Rodney Felton. The photos of puddled aluminium are heart-breaking, while Henry Wessells’ tale of pulling the remains out of a ditch is every enthusiast’s fantasy.

There are separate chapters on the works racing years, and Moore includes extensive technical detail with drawings, plus brochure shots. The book’s quality is as high as the price (and the collector’s edition is $440), but since you’ll find no other source for such depth on these wonderful cars, this may be one of your indulgences. It’s as close as most of us will get to owning one. GC
Published by Parkside Publications, ISBN 978 0 9820774 0 5, £230

Ferrari Legends
Classics of Style and Design
Michael Zumbrunn and Richard Heseltine

Type ‘Ferrari’ into Amazon and you’ll get nearly 4000 hits for books alone. Put simply, writing another book about the famous Italian marque is a brave move.

Zumbrunn and Motor Sport contributor Heseltine do a great job here, however, with the photographer’s attention to detail and the writer’s usual dry sense of humour and well-written prose lending themselves to a comprehensive work on Ferrari’s ‘legends’. Everything from the 1947 166 Spider Corsa to the 2002 Enzo is covered, with at least four pages dedicated to each model and a brief story about the car in question preceded by beautiful full-page images. The book concentrates on the marque’s road cars, but thankfully includes iconic racers such as the 512M and 330P4.

If you’re looking for a work on the exotica that the Modena factory has produced over the past 60 years, or just want to learn a little more about the story behind the cars, you can’t go too far wrong with this. The introduction also provides a good insight into the mindset of the great Enzo Ferrari, something that amazes every time you read about him. EF
Published by Merrel, ISBN 978 1 8589 4432 6, £29.95

Dario Speedwagon
The Rise of a Champion
Neil Drysdale

Dario Franchitti’s life is certainly worthy of a biography. The unassuming Scot has significant notches on his belt and his IRL Indycar title, Indy 500 and Daytona 24 Hours victories have cemented his place in the history books.

This unofficial biography is a brave attempt to tell his tale. However, Drysdale brushes over Franchitti’s youth and also misses complete years of his racing in America during seasons that weren’t quite ‘up to scratch’. Much of the book repeats itself in its adoration for the fact that the Scot remains so down to earth, and Drysdale sometimes branches off on a tirade about how boring Grand Prix racing is, or how little he respects FIA president Max Mosley.

Taken as a light read or an introduction to what Franchitti has achieved it’s worth looking at. But if you want something slightly more thorough I’d wait for the official version, even if Dario himself claims he’s ‘too boring’ to be the subject of a biography. EF
Published by Birlinn Limited, ISBN 978 1 84158 763 9, £16.99

Lotus Goes Turbo Produced by Michael Seligman

A great little DVD, shot in period, of Lotus designing, building and testing the 1983 turbo car. Includes amazing behind-the-scenes footage and the de Angelis test at Paul Ricard, where he went faster than the Renault of Prost., Tel: 01624 640000, £10.17

Big Bangers at Brands: The Guards International Trophy 1965 Produced by Michael Seligman

Good colour film of the double-header starring Clark, Hill and Surtees. The races aren’t great, but not much beats these cars drifting round Hawthorn bend., Tel: 01624 640000, £10.17

Automobile Year 2008/09

A useful overview into the motoring world over the past year. From concept cars to motor sport, Automobile Year covers it all. The 2008 Formula 1 season is reviewed in detail and the photography almost justifies the price.
Published by Christian Philippsen, ISBN 978 2916 206080, £47