Reviews, September 2017

The Golden Years

Leonardo Acerbi

Similar in spirit to Nada’s Mille Miglia Portraits, reviewed last month, and equally fine value, this is a largely pictorial trail through a period bracketed by Enzo Ferrari’s first eponymous car and his death in 1988.

While racing naturally dominates, there is some nice behind-the-scenes stuff from the factory and private test sessions, plus a fair sprinkling of candid shots of the man himself. He even wore dark glasses while being presented with an honorary degree by the University of Bologna in July 1960…

It runs to 360 pages, and had been discounted to the equivalent of £45 at the time of publication. Very few of the images herein are anything less than worthwhile. If Nada can produce books of this heft and quality for this money, why can’t everybody? SA

Published by Giorgio Nada

ISBN: 978-88-7911-674-9, 51


Pioneer. Leader. Father. Champion

Roger Donaldson

With hindsight it is surprising that this film has only just been made. The story of how a dashing New Zealander travelled halfway across the world with nothing but a burning passion to succeed – and a Kiwi can-do attitude – and ended up conquering the staid world of British motor racing is tailor-made
for the big screen. This is no saccharine Hollywood hokum. Using the documentary style perfected by Senna, which relies on period footage interspersed with interviews to drive the story along, McLaren has a compelling narrative that is all the more poignant for the knowledge of how it ends. Director Roger Donaldson is also the man behind the 2005 film The World’s Fastest Indian and has managed to coax powerful interviews from Bruce’s friends and family including Chris Amon, Howden Ganley, Dan Gurney, Phil Kerr and Bruce’s sister, mother and wife Patty – some of whom died before the film was released. But it is the footage of Bruce himself – looking like a Hollywood leading man – that steals the show, closely followed by the audio tapes he sent home to New Zealand explaining to his mum and dad how he was getting on. If there is a criticism it is that the staged recreations of certain scenes using an actor as McLaren are superfluous and jar with what is otherwise a perfectly pitched piece of racing history. JD

DVD released by Universal Pictures, £12.99

Jaguar XJR-9

Owners’ Workshop Manual

Michael Cotton

It’s been a long time coming, this, but the Jaguar XJR-9 finally has a Haynes Manual.
The timing is right: the car’s 1988 victory at
Le Mans with Andy Wallace, Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries hits 30 next June.

There’s more to this than the evocative Silk Cut Jag on the cover implies. It documents the piece-by-piece evolution from the XJR-5 to the XJR-16 of IMSA, with Tony Southgate’s regular input. The TWR Porsche/Jaguars of 1996 and ’97 get brief mentions, too. Every race is described (only for the V12, due to space), every XJR finish is noted and every driver profiled. This will no doubt be a success, simply because the subject remains so evocative after all this time. JP

Published by Haynes

ISBN: 978-1-785211-13-3, £25

F1 Retro 1980

Mark Hughes

Full disclosure: this book is published under the Motor Sport imprint, and written by our Grand Prix editor. So it comes with quality guaranteed, then. And certainly the book looks the part with beautifully designed pages on high-quality paper. 

The content matches the look and feel, too. This is the second in a series of books that Hughes hopes to produce, taking a single F1 season and analysing it with the benefit of hindsight to discover how and why it turned out the way it did. The first book took as its subject the 1970 season, this one turns its attention to 1980. 

Why 1980? As the author explains in a compelling historical sweep that takes in everything from John Lennon’s assassination, the Cold War, and unionised Britain to the break-up of the Eagles and Nelson Piquet’s maiden Grand Prix win: “The ’70s were over, but it wasn’t yet clear what was coming in their stead.” 

Of course it is F1 – and in particular Williams that won its first world championship that year – that Hughes focuses on and he does so by putting the season under the microscope from the perspective of today. That means with today’s technical understanding, today’s knowledge of how the sport developed from 1980 and what events and developments were upon reflection the most crucial. The result is that this is not another book content to wallow in nostalgia. It brings Hughes’s brilliant analytical mind and razor-sharp descriptive powers to bear on a season that had it all. It is particularly good on the politics of the sport and crucially the cars, and how the aero and engines influenced the direction of the season. So we find out exactly why one car worked and another didn’t. We learn the nuances of ground-effect aerodynamics, as well as discovering that while the downforce produced was no less than it
is now, it was 150 times what was being achieved in 1970. A joy to read. JD

Published by Motor Sport. Available to pre-order from

ISBN: 978-1-9997481-0-4, £60


The Lost Race Circuits of Europe

SS Collins & Gavin D Ireland

The idea was splendid – a tour of disused European racing circuits – and the execution benefited from the decision to blend the obvious stuff (Monza’s banking, Reims, Crystal Palace) with venues that might be slightly less familiar (Keimola in Finland – source of some of the most poignant photography).

If the title sounds familiar, it should. This is from Veloce’s classic reprint series and first appeared in 2005. Since then, as is acknowledged in the introduction, the decaying venues will no longer look quite as they did at the time of first publication. SA

Published by Veloce

ISBN: 978-1-787111-29-5, £45

Citroën SM

Brian Long & Philippe Claverol

To anybody growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, Citroën seemed to make things that were either utilitarian in extremis – the H-van and the 2CV, to quote but two – or else (a trend that began with the DS in 1955) looked like spaceships. And nothing fulfilled its futuristic brief quite like an SM.

This technically intense history is subtitled “Citroën’s Maserati-engined supercar”, which nowadays brings to mind something suitable for the Blancpain Endurance Series. Not really SM territory, that… The book is thorough, but perhaps not £45 thorough. For slightly more bang for your buck, at the time of writing there were SMs available from about £3000 (for an extreme restoration case) to £40,000 (for an immaculate runner with fresh MoT). SA

Published by Veloce

ISBN: 978-1-787111-25-7, £45