Factory and Private Competition Cars
It would be oh so easy to tar this review with ‘Oh no, not another Jaguar E-type book…’ Surely in the history of motoring books, Coventry’s prettiest coupé must be one of the most comprehensively covered, perhaps exhausted, topics.
But author Peter Griffiths sets the tone very early for his iteration, claiming “This is a book on E-types unlike any other!” But how, you say?
Well, instead of following the well-worn wheeltracks of detailing the model’s construction and factory racing history, listing Le Mans successes and star names such as Hill, Stewart and McLaren, Griffiths has gone back to basics with the model’s story and focused heavily on the non-Lightweight cars that were owned and campaigned by amateur drivers.
If you have an interest in club motor sport, this book forms an ideal and charming account of the racing, rallying and pretty much all other activities privately owned E-types got, and still get, up to. The book drips with glorious retro images from venues such as Brands Hatch, Snetterton and Prescott. The world-beating names are still present, but punctuated by others like John Oxborough (who raced heavily modified versions), John Burbidge and Brian Spicer.
The tracing of many of the original cars via their number plates shows the level of detail and research that’s gone into it. One for the enthusiast. RL
Published by Veloce
ISBN: 978-1-787111-86-8, £40
Sports Car Racing
In Camera: 1980-89
Many might consider the 1960s to have been the apotheosis for sports car racing, but the 1980s were also ripe with charm. Porsche’s 956 and 962 were the dominant forces for much of that time, but it was also the decade in which Jaguar returned to Le Mans to achieve its first victory since 1957 and Mercedes-Benz began once again to contemplate the notion of mainstream motor racing.
And then there are the curios: Kremer Racing’s Porsche 917 replica, competing more than 10 years after the original first appeared, all those home-brewed C2 cars that sputtered around Le Mans, Eddie Jordan racing a Porsche 908, the Monza race that was prematurely stopped by a fallen tree
or rallycross king Martin Schanche’s switch to the World Sports Car Championship, to name but a few.
Plus, of course, there was Stefan Bellof…
In common with previous volumes, this is essentially a photographic essay that follows its subject around the globe, with informative, extended captions to provide context. The tone is very much fact rather than flair,
a slight pity given that this was such a colourful chapter in endurance racing history, but that doesn’t dilute its merits as a work of reference. SA
Published by Behemoth
ISBN: 978-0-9928769-7-5, £50
The First Three Shelby Cobras
The sports cars that changed the game
The latest instalment in Porter Press’s Exceptional Cars Series focuses on the iconic Shelby Cobra – one of America’s truly great exports.
The story of how the AC Car Company, Ford and Carroll Shelby came together to create the Cobra has been told multiple times, and is recounted here again, but the book differentiates itself – as its title suggests – by focusing purely on the first three models: the single prototype chassis, the first production car and the first works race car and traces the timeline and development story across the three models.
The book is illustrated with loads of period and modern images, giving a useful insight into the design and construction of the Cobras, even if the resolution of some of the imagery may leave a little to be desired.
Aside from the story of the cars, the mini-biopics of each of the drivers serves as a particular highlight and details the backstories of key name such as Ed Hugus, Dan Gurney and, of course, Shelby himself. RL
Published by Porter Press
ISBN: 978-1-907085-55-0, £30
It’s a reflection of the way the world has changed that Rosemary Smith claims to have received more coverage from testing a Renault Formula 1 car – in 2017, shortly before her 80th birthday – than ever she did for her bygone achievements.
Such as, for instance, taking her Hillman Imp to outright victory on the 1965 Tulip Rally, defeating a top-class field in the fifth round of that year’s European championship…
Hers is a tale worth telling and much of the content is absorbing. The occasional paragraph appears to have been lifted directly from The Daily Mail – never a good thing – but for the most part it’s an entertaining account of her battles on track, stage and, sometimes, against luddite attitudes (such as not being permitted to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest having banned female participation from 1956 and not changing its mind until 1971).
Many of her anecdotes reflect the way the sport’s periphery has also changed. During the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally, while trying to keep pace with Timo Mäkinen’s Austin Healey, she lost sight of his tail-lights and failed to appreciate that the Finn had negotiated a left-hand hairpin. Smith then plunged off the road, her Sunbeam Rapier plunging into a ravine and causing co-driver Rosemary Seers to sustain serious injuries. Following an unsatisfactory night in hospital, Seers was transferred the following day to a more suitable establishment in Paris… by train.
An easy read, and a worthwhile glimpse at a very different age. SA
Published by Harper Collins ISBN: 978-0-00-830185-9, £14.99
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