Book reviews, September 1981, September 1981

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“Capri — The Development & Competition History of Ford’s European GT Car” by Jeremy Walton. 284 pp. 10″ x 7″. (Haynes Publishing Group, Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset, BA22 7JJ. £14.50)

The Ford Capri has always been a very desirable sports-coupe and the current 2.8-litre Injection V6-engined version is a covetable car indeed. Jeremy Walton feels this, and names it as one of the reasons for writing a book that covers about every conceivable model of this sporting Ford — the first editions of the “European Mustang”, its German background, four-wheel-drive variants, and how the Capri fared in rallying and racing, all this and much more is fitted into this definitive work on this classic motor car.

The author knows his subject, having worked on Capri development at Ford’s, has raced them, being an aggressive driver fully able to cope, and says he must have done more than 150,000 miles in all manner of road-going Capris since the model’s introduction in 1969. The book is based on lots of specialist information, interviews with top Ford competition personnel conducted in Jeremy’s well-established journalistic capacity, and is packed with facts, figures and intimate anecdotes. I am not saying this is an easy book to read, but it does give all the data anyone could desire about Capris. The 1971/72 European Championship, the 1973 battle with BMW, the road and race Capri RS3100s of 1973,75, the Capri Hs of 1974/78, coming to the last of the “traditional” models, take the chapters along with 196 good illustrations to support the text, with the German Championship cars and the Group One Capris rightly included in the story. Six appendices pack in more specialist information, including a list of drivers associated with the Ford Capri in competition. I like the chapter on “Capris remembered…”, in which Jeremy endorses his right to discourse about these cars and shows his preference for the V6 jobs. I was about to say that this new book is the best there is about Capris but it is the only one. Ford buffs are fortunate indeed to get so much data in one authoritative work. — WB.

 

“Flat-12 — The racing career of Ferrari’s 3-litre Grand Prix and sports cars” by Alan Henry. 144 pp. 10″ x 7″. (Motor Racing Publications Ltd., 28 Devonshire Road, London, 114 2HD. £8.95)

The flat-twelve-cylinder Ferrari has already given place to the 1½-litre V6 Turbos in Grand Prix racing, so that Alan Henry has come in at the right moment with a book about the racing career of these engines in GP and sports/racing Ferraris. He saw the great contests in which these worthy cars from Maranello took part and he knows personally most of the F1 drivers, so here is a story culled from first-hand, front-line acquaintance.

In his Introduction Alan makes the point that between the beginning of the 1970 racing season and the close of 1980, 3-litre flat-12 Ferraris appeared in a total of 169 World Championship races, in which Ferrari gained 37 victories, a 22% success rate, and that whereas Cosworth DFV V8-powered cars can claim 110 wins in that period, on many occasions there were upwards of 20 of them racing, whereas Ferraris numbered never more than three per race, usually only two, sometimes but a solitary red car, or none. That justifies a book about these splendid racing engines and cars, especially, as Alan also reminds us, drivers of the calibre of Ickx, Andretti, Regazzoni, Lauda, Reutemann, Scheckter, Villeneuve, Peterson, Schenken, Redman, Merzario, Munari, Pace and Marko drove them — I use Henry’s order of listing them. He has not forgotten that the Michelins on the Ferrari 1978 312T3s and the Goodyears on the 1973 Ferrari 312PBs may have helped a good engine to overcome a less effective chassis.

It is a measure of Alan Henry’s standing as a GP-race reporter that he got Niki Lauda to contribute the Foreword and his book is a delight for Ferrari fans, especially as the illustrations are clear and well chosen. Instead of listing the headings of the six chapters I think printing the quotes below them will whet the appetite for this history of the Flat-12s: “Every time it ran it would fly apart. I thought, Oh God. I can’t stand another season of this…” — Chris Amon. “Those were race cars you could really grow an affection for…” — Mario Andretti. “Those tyre vibrations were so bad that you couldn’t see clearly. Every muscle in your body seemed worn out…” — Peter Schetty. “If I had, effectively, an extra 20 bhp over my rivals I would be walking away with GP races using only one hand…” — Niki Lauda. “Niki called and warned me that Montezemolo was pushing for Reutemann from Fiat’s point of view” — Clay Regazzoni. “I was never convinced that the T3 was as good a car as the T2. It was never as fast at Fiorano…” — Carlos Reutemann.

How it all came together and worked out, driving with these 450-515 bhp engines peaking at from 12,000 to 12,400 rpm, to quote from Appendix B of the book is there for you to enjoy. I asked others better acquainted with the modern GP scene to do this review but all refused, on the grounds that it wouldn’t be fair, being a friend of the author’s (implying that I am not!), being too busy, and so on. But I am satisfied that this is the very stuff of F1 and modern sports-car racing, from the Ferrari viewpoint. — WB.