Books: May 2018

Alfa Romeo Monza: The autobiography of the celebrated  2211130

Mick Walsh

Another month, another Porter Press biography – the latest in a series that has become a byword for painstaking research. This is the first Alfa Romeo to have been profiled – and author Walsh arguably knows more about 8C Monzas than anyone since creator Vittorio Jano. The content reflects as much.

The Monza in question was the first to race in Britain – at Brooklands in 1933, driven by the Hon Brian Lewis – and has a distinguished cast of former drivers including John Cobb, Luis Fontes, ‘Flying’ Fay Taylour and Patrick Lindsay. Its heritage might not extend to Caracciola or Nuvolari, but that doesn’t detract from its story.

Fit and finish are as sumptuous as always and much of the archive photography is superb – particularly shots from the 1933 Mannin Moar race on the Isle of Man. And while it might be true that £60 is a lot of money to spend on a book, this represents one hell of a lot of book for the money. SA

Published by Porter Press
ISBN: 978-1-907085-44-4, £60.00

Reid Railton: Man of Speed

Karl Ludvigsen

In Motor Sport’s obituary of Reid Railton, who died aged 82 in 1977, we noted that he was “an exceedingly capable engineer and designer”. Given our line in understatement at that time, the description verged on the hysterical. But as these volumes make clear, it was entirely justified. Railton created an extraordinary range of machines but made his name during the 1930s as chief engineer at Thomson & Taylor, the Brooklands-based racing car builder.

He went on to have a major input into the record-breaking Bluebird cars for Sir Malcolm Campbell, including the one that smashed the 300mph barrier in 1935. His biggest achievement however, was John Cobb’s land-speed record challenger, which managed 394.2mph at Bonneville in 1947 — a speed record that remained unbroken for 16 years.

This book, in two volumes totalling almost 300,000 words is nothing if not thorough. But it is also told with verve and a sense of immediacy and intimacy that brings its subject alive: Railton “folds his lanky frame into his favourite armchair”, “lights up another cigarette,” and enjoys travelling by ship because it allows him time on his own.

The effect is not just a sense of awe at his achievements but also a sense that you have got to know the man. JD

Published by Evro Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-910505-25-0, £150.00

Stanley Rose: The wheels of life

Philippe Guyé

We’ve reviewed books of motoring art before, but they tend to be portable galleries. I don’t believe we’ve seen one before with this intensity of scrutiny of the artist’s life, both historical and emotional. There’s plenty of material: anyone who builds his own Dutch barge, cranes a Morris Minor aboard and heads for France has a story to tell.

You may have seen Rose’s work at Rétromobile, Goodwood or Pebble Beach – he’s widely admired – but if your walls are too crowded to add any more art this is a good way to indulge on a smaller scale, albeit beautifully presented on fine paper complete with slip case. Rose’s canvases often feature a foreground figure so close you can’t see a face, but whose clothing is elaborately rendered. It may be grimy overalls or a lady’s swirling dress, but behind will be an Alfa Romeo 308C, or Corvette, or Ferrari 512. There are sensitive portraits, too – Nuvolari grinning with an Alfa or Senna looking pensive. Even when the cars aren’t central, the care Rose expends is obvious, and compelling. GC

Published by Jamval
ISBN: 978-2956-11220-4; Passion edition: €84.00; Privilege edition: €495.00

Rallying 2017

Anthony Peacock, Reinhard Klein, Colin McMaster

A companion volume of sorts to Rallying 1967, reviewed recently, this is supposed to be a seasonal record – but also highlights the way in which photographic techniques have evolved to embrace context and a sense of location. Some of the landscapes herein are superb.

Each round of the 2017 World Rally Championship campaign is covered – and alongside the high-art photos are standardised sequences to highlight different cars’ cornering stance.

It contains plenty of technical detail, plus results, but it’s the wide-angle shots that most justify purchase. SA

Published by McKlein
ISBN: 978-3-947156-00-9, €49.90

Wow Gilles!

Giorgio Terruzzi, Ercole Colombo

While Porter Press and others operate at one end of the spectrum in terms of production values, here’s something from the other – an eternally engaging subject apparently portrayed by a bunch of toddlers let loose with a copy of Adobe InDesign.

It feels cheap and inconsequential, not the way to commemorate a driver whose charisma and attitude continue to generate discussion, 36 years beyond his passing. There are some very fine photos here, but also a few of questionable taste (particularly from the 1977 Japanese GP).

If you want a Villeneuve photo essay, go for the Mario Donnini book published by Giorgio Nada – a vastly superior alternative for the same money. SA

Published by SKIRA
ISBN: 978-88-572-3605-6, £40.00