Books: September 2018

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The Perfect Car
The Biography of John Barnard

Nick Skeens

Maybe this should be titled ‘The search for the perfect car’ because it’s clear from this that John Barnard was never truly satisfied with his racing cars, even when they won. That push for perfection colours every page, from the moment as a lad he criticises his dad for poor work through all his tumultuous yet successful F1 career. There was many an argument – at McLaren they had The Two Rules: 1) JB is always right. 2) If JB is wrong, see Rule 1.’ But he usually was, and the book successfuly conveys the frustrations he suffered thereby, particularly at Ferrari.

A famous temper was the price of many innovations from carbon-fibre chassis and the semi-auto gearbox to suspension flexures on the way to Indy success and three world titles with McLaren before being lured to Ferrari – twice. That give the measure of one of the great designers, yet this is no hagiography: the many interviewees cite his abrasiveness as well as brilliance.

Disappointing not to find more design drawings and diagrams, and the upright format is hardly beautiful with photo sections inserted here and there. It doesn’t feel like an EVRO book. But it’s a widely researched and very readable insight into one of the great, under-rated, F1 designers. GC

Published by EVRO
ISBN: 978-1-910505-27-4, £40

Saloons, Bars & Boykies
Legends of South African Motorsport

Greg Mills

If you find the title confusing, you shouldn’t. The author has penned many previous books – one of them titled Agriculture, Furniture and Marmalade – and thus doesn’t always follow the path of convention. ‘Boykie’ is an informal South African term for a young lad who shows great promise – and there is no shortage of those here.

A keen amateur racer and dedicated historian, Mills has uncovered a wealth of information about his native South Africa’s racing past – and such tales are refreshingly different. It’s a glimpse into a parallel universe, rich with characters whose back stories are largely unknown. National racing legends Jody Scheckter and Sarel van der Merwe contribute forewords

That is one of many wonderful curios covered herein. SA

Published by Ecurie Zoo
ISBN: 978-0-620790-53-6, £40

Ford GT40
The remarkable history of 1016

Mark Cole

Dedicating a whole hardback to a car that finished third at Le Mans seems a stretch, but, so reckons the introduction, GT40 1016 ‘has a bigger story to tell’. In fact, it claims this is one of the most important in GT40 history.

It’s the car that Ronnie Bucknum shared with NASCAR driver Dick Hutcherson at Le Mans in 1966, the pink-dashed gold car a few feet adrift in the famous photo at the flag. But more than that, explains Mark Cole, it was the development car that pounded through the miles that helped turn the GT40 into a winner.

Part of the Porter Press ‘Exceptional Cars’ series (the recently reviewed GT40 1075 falls under ‘Great Cars’), it’s all-encompassing, even covering the car’s restoration by Holman and Moody. But it’s hard to feel this book was anything other than ambitious. Its subject matter is too specific. A solid body of work by Cole, it must be said, and it wouldn’t look out of place for a collector completing the Porter Press set. And that’s surely its target. JP

Published by Porter Press
ISBN: 978-1-907085-64-2, £30

And You’ll Love This One..!

The story of Terry Sanger

Ken Davies

The planet is awash with niche publications produced with an extravagant a) flourish and b) price tag, but this is as far from such conceits as it is possible to get.

Crafted on a budget, it’s an entertaining recap of the career of one of UK motor racing’s characters. Terry Sanger will never be a household name, but made his mark during the 1960s and 1970s at the wheel of assorted cars that looked very different but usually shared the same distinguishing feature, ie eight cylinders. He won the 1967 Redex Saloon Car Championship in a GT40-engined Cortina, and later built his own Formula 5000 car, the Harrier. When the latter suffered a broken gearlever on its debut at Mallory Park in 1971, Sanger welded a screwdriver in place so that he could take part in the second heat… when he almost wound up in the lake after tangling with Keith Holland, who did.

This sort of stuff tends not to happen nowadays and it is to author Davies’ great credit that such bygone whimsy is now preserved. SA

Published by Castle Combe Racing Trust
ISBN: 978-1-5262-0738-8, £12

From Send to Syracuse
The History of Connaught

Graham Rabagliati with Duncan Rabagliati

When Tony Brooks crossed the line to win the 1955 Syracuse GP the little Connaught team thought its time was here – that with proper backing it would become a major player. It didn’t happen, and just two years later the team folded. The potential to become a leading force was there, says Brooks in the foreword, but the team, running on a tenth of BRM’s budget yet able to attract drivers of the calibre of Brooks, Hawthorn and Moss, simply never found proper backing.

Comprehensively illustrated and drawing on the author’s archive, this takes us through the shoestring efforts which produced winning single-seaters and sports cars, and all the daring experiments – the streamlined sports cars and toothpaste-tube GP body, giving the full picture with pen portaits of the central figures.

Tables of every chassis and results plus a quick look at historic racing round out a good solid history of a proud marque. GC

Published by Duncan Loveridge
ISBN: 978-1-900113-13-7, £55


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