Book reviews, October 2003, October 2003



Forza Amon! A Biography of Chris Amon
By Eoin Young
ISBN 1 8442 5 016 4
Published by Haynes, £17.99

Mention Chris Amon, and this definition follows like clockwork: the greatest driver never to win a grand prix. Eoin Young’s new biography of the New Zealander demonstrates the sheer perversity of that stat, and persistently reminds us that the bulk of his compatriots don’t even know that Amon was “the Schumacher of 30 years ago”, leading the Ferrari team in F1. Yet there is much more here: detailed background of Amon’s early career, tasty anecdotes and an honest appraisal of the career choices which led to his decline in F1. But above all, Young’s long-time friendship with his subject has allowed him to extract revealing primary material, and to truly shed light on a wonderful man.

Many of you have been waiting a long time for an Amon biography. This won’t disappoint. TS

Lancia Stratos — Thirty Years Later
By Andrea Curami
ISBN 8-87911-300-3
Published by Giorgio Nada Editore, £29.99

Perhaps the most unexpected thing about this highly researched book is the amount of detail on the Stratos Zero. This astonishing wedge-form prototype is confirmed here as one of the high points of the concept car.

In telling how a title-winning rally car grew out of this sensation-seeker, Curami has spoken to all the names at Lancia, illustrating internal arguments about Stratos’ future and power source (a Maserati V6 was a serious proposal) and how it was Nuccio Bertone who finally bullied into production the bespoke rally winner conceived by Cesare Fiorio.

A lumpen translation doesn’t diminish the value of so much new first-hand information. GC

Porsche 956/962 — The Enduring Champions
By Peter Morgan
ISBN 1 85960 951 1
Published by Haynes, £30.00

The great 956/962 dynasty is a popular subject right now. Just two months on from the re-release of Ulrich Upietz’s tome on Weissach’s masterpiece, established Porsche writer Peter Morgan has launched this version. They serve rather different purposes, however. Whereas the Upietz book was foremost a photographic record, this is a 200-page scholarly work. It’s the story in full, using research in the Porsche archives and scores of interviews with key figures.

This is no coffee table ‘dipper’ (sadly, the photographs are of a mixed quality), it’s a take-on-holiday-with-purpose book. If you’re a dedicated fan, you’ll love it. TS

The Works Escorts
By Graham Robson
ISBN 1 84425 010 5
Published by Haynes, £25.00

Heavily researched by Robson — the definitive author of all things Blue Oval — this fourth-edition book paints the entire, 30-year history of the Escort, in racing as well as rallying, from the humble but giant-killing Mk1 of the late 1960s through to the flame-belching, turbocharged WRC cars of the late ’90s.

Both the text and photographs are authoritative and workmanlike — somehow the sparsity of colour adds to the historical flavour.

The most impressive feature of this book is the incredible inventory of all the cars and their results: registrations, chassis numbers, dates and the cars’ current whereabouts are all there.

This is an essential addition to the library of not just the Escort fan. HH-F

Classic Racers: New Zealand’s Grand Prix Greats
By Eoin Young
ISBN 1-86950-460-7
Published by HarperSports, £20

New Zealand has given us several grand prix stars — Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme and Chris Amon need no introduction. But the Kiwi isles have also spawned a collection of lesser-known but equally colourful characters who helped put it on the motor-sporting map.

Eoin Young’s personal anecdotes, lovingly retold in this easy-to-read paperback, include profiles of Ron Roycroft, Ross Jensen, Tom Clark, Johnny Mansel and Ernie Sprague — all men who, had they come to Europe, may well have enjoyed the publicity and success of Messrs Hulme, McLaren and Amon.

Young also details some of the obscure, home-built cars driven — and constructed — by these local heroes. His tales highlight what fun times these were. HH-F

Formula One in Camera 1970-79
By Rainer Schlegelmilch and Paul Parker
ISBN 1859609600
Published by Haynes Publishing, £30.00

Schlegelmilch’s name guarantees photographic excellence — and his latest book maintains that reputation. Fans of the German’s work will recognise some of these pictures taken during the 1970s — a decade of glamour, danger, technological breakthrough and increasing commercialism — but there is enough unseen stuff to make this a refreshing addition to the recent portfolio of big pics-few words tomes.

That said, Parker’s pithy captions and year-by-year analyses add value here, steering you through a rapidly changing decade — both inside and outside the paddock — and making the book a useful point of reference as well as a nice thing to plonk on your coffee table. HH-F