— His life and his cars
ANYONE who has followed Grand Prix racing or studied its history will know the name Gordini, not in the same context as Ferrari or Maserati, but as a mune that was always part of the scene between 1949 and 1957. Not only in Grand Prix racing, for Gordini car were very active in hill-climbs, rallies, sports car racing and the Le Mans 24 Hour race.
Today, if you look at the Renault Formula One engine you see that the camboxes carry the legend GORDINI — RENAULT and Renault market versions of their little AS whizz-box as the GORDINI. Of Italian birth, Amedee Gordini later installed himself in the garage business in Paris and by the mid-30s was racing tuned Fiat sports cars, built under licence in France by Simca. Such was his expertise at tuning and modifying that the cars soon justified the title Simca-Gordini. After the war the Equipe Gordini expanded rapidly and the cars bacame pure Gordini, his garage business having developed into a large engineering works in which he made his own four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines, to suit all capacity classes in competitions. He designed and built a 41/2-litre V12 engine for the Formula One of 1950, but finances prevented him going ahead with it so he sold the whole project to the Italian OSCA firm run by the Maserati brothers. For the 1954 Formula he produced straight-eight engines of delightful simplicity, but they were under-powered compared with the opposition.
Throughout the life of the Equipe Gordini a shortage of money was continuous, but never shortage of enthusiasm or ideas and his faithful band of workers stuck by him to the end. After his associations with Simca died, Renault took him up in the same way that Ford took up Lotus and BMC took up Cooper, using Gordini’s expertise re develop sporting versions of production saloons and his racing-engine knowledge has a thread running through Renault to the present Formula One engine, even though Amedee Gordini died in 1979.
In his later years he befriended a young Frenchman by the name of Christian Hurt, who was mad keen on racing cars and a fine model maker. Hurt began to specialise in Gordini history and accumulated papers, magazines, photographs and so on of everything Gordini, and eventually he was given all the drawings and documentation front the Gordini factory. It became a lifetime obsession and has now resulted in a book about the entire life and competition activities of the Equipe Gordini. .1″his is no ordinary run-of-the-mill book, thumped out on a battered typewriter by a hack-journalist as a job of work. This is a very serious work and a book that comes from the heart.
Some years ago the book publishing world got on to the “Coffee Table Book” syndrome, which produced large books with fancy photographs and few words. They looked impressive but few of them were of any real value to the enthusiast, their “pretty-pretty” layout and “fluffy” contents gave you little of lasting value. Thankfully that craze has passed, and we are now in the serious “big book phase”. There are not many of them, because they are the result of almost a life-time of work. They cannot be money-spinners because they are not aimed at the masses, they are by the dedicated for the dedicated, and two examples in recent years are “The History of English Racing Automobiles Limited” (ERA) by David Weguelin, and “‘The Miller Dynasty” by Mark L. Dees. Now “Gordini — Un Sorcier, Une Equipe” by Christian Hurt can proudly take its place alongside those two definitive works, for such offerings are 2vorks rather than books. Christian Hurt’s work contains everything there is to know about all the Gordini cars, where they raced, what they did, where they are now, together with masses of works drawings, race results, technical details, photographs that we did not know even existed, splendid colour
photographs of the 1950/56 period of racing, a most moving colour photograph of Gordini himself with one of his Grand Prix engines on the test-bed in 1952 and photos of many of the cars as they are today in various collections and museums.
This is a big book, it weighs 61/4 lb and measures 103/4 in by 12 in and 11/4 in thick, containing 481 pages, but is such a good book that it deserves more than a normal book review. Such a work is costly, that’s certain, and the price in France is 490 francs. At the moment it is only available with French text, but you do not need much in the the way of schoolboy French and enthusiasts to get an enormous amount of pleasure out of the photos and tabular material alone.
Christian Huet has taken the brace step in publishing and marketing this book himself, from his own office in Paris, from which it can be obtained direct. Naturally your friendly specialist bookshop, such as Connoisseur Carbooks or Motor Books, would get it for you from Editions Christian Hu., 64 rue du Faubourg Poissoniere, 75010 Paris, France. ISBN No 2-9500432-0-8. It is a lot of money for a book, but you will not be disappointed, that lean assure you. — D.S.J.