Aston Martin V8 Race Cars

by Paul Chudecki, 208pp. 10 5/8" x 7 3/4". Osprey Publishing Limited, 59 Grosvenor Street, London W1X 9DA £24.95

Published in mid-May, just a few weeks after the announcement of the withdrawal of Aston Martin from the World Sports Prototype Championship, Paul Chudecki's book is a timely reminder of the V8 engine which powered both the AMR1 in 1989 and the Lola T70 Mark III coupé in 1967 as well as several models in between. That the engine could power a car to 11th place at Le Mans and to fourth in a championship event 22 years after it first appeared in competition is a credit to its designer, Tadek Marek, although he never intended the engine to be used this way.

Unlike the engine, the book itself is better at the beginning than at the end. By the time we reach the AMR1 story, the author is in such thrall of the Aston Martin operation that much of the professional writer's objectivity is lost, which is a pity considering the access he had to various key personnel.

The story starts with John Surtees' ill-starred attempt to create an all-British car to compete at Le Mans. The two Lola-Aston Martins in the 1967 Le Mans race lasted but 19 minutes and 2 1/2 hours respectively!

Extensive conversations with Robin Hamilton, Steve O'Rourke, Richard Williams and specifically David Morgan, the development engineer who worked alongside Marek, ensure that this book is a cut above most 'pot boilers'.

The photographic spread is quite good although those of the AMR1 are a little amateurish. The publishers, though, could take a tip from Aston Publications with regard to the layout of the book, for the photographs are rarely close to the relevant part of the text. WPK