IAIN ROBERTSON

It is that time of the year, when book sales spear upwards and both coffee-table and readable materials assume fresh levels of relevance, writes Iain Robertson, as he tackles five new titles for travel and automobilia fans alike to consider.

 

F1 Retro 1980

By Mark Hughes

ISBN: 978 1 999748 10 4

£60.00

Motor Sport Magazine

While it is unusual these days for a magazine publisher to enter the realms of books, there is no finer example of the motoring literary form than that produced by Motor Sport Magazine. Its Grand Prix Editor, Mark Hughes, has been employed by either its publisher or Haymarket Publishing (Autosport) for almost thirty years and what he does not know about Formula One is hardly worth knowing. As the second of his retrospective heavyweight tomes, he reflects on the titular year (1980) in which F1 underwent a major modernisation programme. This was the first year of Bernie Ecclestone, the former North London motorbike salesman, making his commercial mark on the sport. At the time, it was ruled over most autocratically by Mr Jean-Marie Balestre, whose management style led to frequent clashes. However, 1980 also marked one of the most competitive seasons, during which major technological developments were the order of the day. Between ground-effects aerodynamics and turbocharging, the sport was evolving from driver-led to data-harnessed glory. Williams would snatch its first Constructors’ Championship title, while stars like the always-exciting Gilles Villeneuve would wring the neck of his Ferrari, against the might of Australian Alan Jones and Brazil’s Nelson Piquet, between whom no love was lost en-route to title honours. While the on-track battles could be earthy and gladiatorial, the off-track shenanigans were equally newsworthy. Mr Hughes is a master of embodying as much detail into his reportage as possible and, using the powers of hindsight allied to up-to-date comparisons of how F1 has progressed (or not!), he manages to analyse race-by-race and car-by-car a comprehensively informative and multi-faceted account of a phenomenal racing year. The original photography is a bit grainy in places but that will scarcely matter to F1 fans. It is a fantastic book packed full of colourful memories.

 

Formula 1: Car by Car 1960-1969

By Peter Higham

ISBN: 978 1 910505 18 2

£50.00

EVRO Publishing

Producing an editorial marker-in-the-sand, this fine book is the first of what will be a series of decade-by-decade reference books that covers the history of the F1 World Championship. Supported by a fabulous collection of 630, high-quality, monochrome and colour images, the book reveals details on every car raced, with their respective drivers, to show how the Championship evolved and how technology changed its face, in a logical order that avoids flimflam and concentrates on finite details. Every team is represented, from the smallest and most impecunious to several major players, some of which survive today. Amazingly, the most successful machines were British made and developed and it is notable that each of the ten champions highlighted in this first volume were from an English-speaking world. The author, Peter Higham, is a renowned freelance journalist, with over thirty years’ experience, part of which has been spent working with LAT Photography, a leading light in the motorsport scene and the largest supplier of images contained within this tome’s 300pp. Unlike many reference titles, this one is packed with well-constructed reports, anecdotal information and useful tabulations. It avoids the tedium of endless lists, with its injections of colour and referential commentary. There is a powerful element of ‘well, I never knew that’ to its contents that all readers and fans of F1 will find fascinating, while it also contains some of the more tragic details that peppered the motor racing scene of the period. Motorsport history fans will love this book.

 

Perfect Days in…Cuba

By Marco Polo Spiral Guides

ISBN: 978 3 8297 5546 7

£9.99

Marco Polo Guides

Of its latest spiral-bound guide books that include California, Krakow, Madrid and South Africa, Marco Polo has finally produced its pocket-sized guide to Cuba. Renowned for its unique appeal and the nostalgia of a bygone era, this country is now one of the most popular tourist haunts in the world. As usual with Marco Polo guide books, this one is a treasure trove of both fascinating attractions and amazingly intimate details. Opening with ‘The Magazine’ section, a delightful overview of the island state commences with the Revolution, continues through its colourful social life, highlights its prowess in cigar-making and fishing and also delves into ‘must sees’, walks and tours, vehicle rental, accommodation and many of its more magical attractions. I became a fan of this publisher’s guide books before they were ‘spiralised’ and now that they are, they are even more practical. As usual, a pull-out map expands usefully to help with finding Cuba’s beauty spots and focal points. As a means to discover more about a fascinating country and its increasing diversity, the Cuba guide (or any of the other countries and cities that it has mapped) from Marco Polo is helping me to contemplate my future vacation and I consider it to be an essential travel companion, while offering exceptional value for money.

 

The Creators: 1 – Road To Nowhere

By Mark Hughes

ISBN: 978 1 78803 9987

£8.99

Troubador Publishing

A trilogy of immensely engaging novels by J M Collin, of which I have just finished reading the first, ‘Road to Nowhere’, is a story of a successful businessman, ‘Pete Bridford’, who was affected by the ‘I’m Backing Britain’ campaign of the late-1960s, while studying at Cambridge University. Intriguingly, it is the arrival of Brexit that resurrects the lessons he learnt during his formative years, which are detailed in the first novel. ‘Flight to Destruction’ (no.2) and ‘The Turnaround’ (no.3) should make phenomenal reading, if the quality of the first volume is anything to go by. As a young man, the semi-autobiographical story follows his life and those of his close-knit circle of friends, as they start to build a world-leading enterprise. However, they all need to address the political and social crises of the period, which build the experiences that are practical for steering a route through the present era of uncertainty. The story involves both family and relationships. The author was an academic mathematician, before finding his feet in industry, culminating in the civil service, which led to his role as a trade union officer. There is a clear ‘hands-on’ appeal to the stories that guarantees interest levels. It is a book that is so well-written that it falls into the category of ‘non-putdownable’.

 

 

Lancia Delta Integrale

By Peter Collins

ISBN: 978 1 787110 76 2

£35.00

Veloce Publishing

One of the country’s leading automotive publishers, Veloce, has developed a sound reputation for the quality of its books and list of first-rate authors. Peter Collins is a case in point and his role as editor-at-large of Auto Italia Magazine certainly qualifies him as a solid resource for one of the more charismatic and now collectible Lancia models ever sold. Although the car’s primary aim, when it was introduced in the early-1980s, was to contest the World Rally Championship, a specific number of road-going examples of the Delta Integrale had to be produced to satisfy the demands of vehicle homologation, which made it legal to rally. Although its design originated in the early-1970s, competition success eluded it until almost twenty years later. As a compact hatchback, it packed a powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and 4WD into its tightly ‘blistered’ dimensions. Fortunately, the book highlights the development of Lancia and the Delta, from initial Ital Design concept, to ultimate hot hatch development, reflecting on the personalities and drivers that gave the car its marketplace. Although conceived initially as an Italian rival to the VW Golf, it is clear that Latin passions, ignited invariably by competition successes, would carry the Delta Integrale to fresh peaks. Today, the car is a collector’s delight and mint originals fetch strong money, while competition alternatives continue to set higher bars on the value front. Highly sought after and recognisable, the Lancia Delta Integrale is a worthy subject and this excellent book is sure to get support from dedicated brand fans, as well as broader motorsport enthusiasts.

 

About Iain P W Robertson

Frequently being told to 'go forth and multiply', Iain P W Robertson's automotive wisdom is based on almost forty years in the business, across all aspects from sport to production, at the highest levels. He likes dogs and drives a Suzuki (not related).