IAIN ROBERTSON

Hot on the news that book sales are very much on-the-up, Iain Robertson has been busy reading some of the latest titles for fans of motoring, business and wider interests, all of which he declares as ‘essential reading’ in their respective fields.

 

Alfa Romeo Monza

By Mick Walsh

ISBN: 978 1 907085 44 4

£60.00

Porter Press International

Famously registered ‘FYE 7’, of all the cars on which there has been an intense focus by Porter Press, and this book is the 12th in its series of Great Cars, the Alfa Romeo Monza, designed by the outstanding Vittorio Jano, is one of those ultimate machines that will send a frisson of excitement through your soul. Written expertly and enthusiastically by fellow journalist, Mick Walsh (of Classic and Sportscar magazine fame), who has driven and written about many Alfa Romeo 8Cs, this tome deals with chassis number: 2211130. Owned and raced by the seasoned Hon. Patrick Lindsay and campaigned subsequently by his son, also an accomplished racer, the comprehensive details of the car’s life story are carried in colourful and beautifully laid-out detail, including its various changes of bodywork. Both monochrome period and full-colour first-class images accompany the spirited text and the rearmost section of the book, which features the usual studio-based photography of the car in its current state, is something over which you can salivate as often as you desire. In its day, this Alfa Romeo was the ultimate all-rounder, as capable of tackling the flat-out banking at its namesake Monza, as the dusty road route around Sicily’s Targa Florio, or the original Monaco GP track around the streets of the Principality. Renowned for its phenomenally capable chassis and prodigious handling potential, its supercharged straight-eight engine is a great reason for Alfa possessing such a charismatic image today. As is now regarded as typical of these judiciously edited books, the history of this single car is delved into in finite detail, underscoring its long list of achievements and the illustrious owners that have thrilled to its capabilities. While I am sure that Porter Press is not finished in its quest to excite me further, this fine book will take pride of place on my coffee table for now. If you even possess an inkling of interest in classic sports cars, this one will take some beating.

 

The First Three Shelby Cobras

By Gordon Bruce

ISBN: 978 1 907085 55 0

£30.00

Porter Press International

Another from the impressive Porter Print impression, albeit the fourth of its Exceptional Cars series, there are few British sports cars that can boast the enviable history of the Shelby-enhanced 1962 AC Cobra. As its talented author, Gordon Bruce, these days renowned for running a successful Marlow-based automotive PR agency, although his days as a motoring journalist and frequent racing driver are components of a well-logged personal history, highlights that innumerable claims have been made about the questionable ownerships of Cobra prototypes. Yet, there was only ever one pre-production example (chassis: CSX2000), which sold in 2016 for a whopping $13.75m!  The association of the Thames Ditton-based car manufacturer with Texan racer, Carroll Shelby, commenced after he won the Le Mans 24-Hours race. Coincidentally, Ford Motor Company wanted a home-grown product to compete head-on with the punchy Corvette. Installing an American Ford V8 in the much-modified British two-seater, mainly because it was already an aging design, was a fortunate end-product. This book deals with the prototype and the first two production cars (CSX2001 and CSX2002, which was also the first factory racing example). As it happens, all three are now residing in North America in the hands of wealthy but enthusiastic collectors. It helps Gordon’s case that he has raced and won championships at the controls of a Cobra. However, this excellent book follows the usual Porter Press style, in being impeccably laid-out and beautifully illustrated with a compelling blend of period and current photography. The entire raison d’etre behind the AC/Shelby project is explored in fine detail, including the development and technical analyses of the cars, followed by a comprehensive breakdown of each of the three models. The ‘Who’s Who’ list of famous drivers makes especially good reading, while the tailpiece on the Shelby legacy provides a poignant overview. Reasonably priced and of the highest quality, if you are as affected by the infamous Cobra as I am, then you will consider this fine book to be the class of the field.

 

The Choice Factory

By Richard Shotton

ISBN: 978 0 85719 609 5

£14.99

Harriman House

If you have ever wondered what it is that influences our decisions to buy stuff, then it helps it you can get a handle on what techniques marketers employ to engage with their potential customers. Richard Shotton’s excellent paperback is a prime example of observation and investigation in the field of comprehending what makes each of us tick. However, do not expect a tediously academic diatribe spread over its 202 pages. Its contents are very human and engaging, while the language used is charming and immensely entertaining. If you own, or operate, a business, there is much to be learned from the 25 surprisingly short chapters. Each of them concentrates on cognitive biases and provides practical means by which you can employ similar techniques, to apply them to your own marketing challenges. As a measure of its lack of bias, the reference section at the rear also highlights further reading opportunities that includes titles from some of the foremost and smartest leaders in advertising and marketing. Exceptionally easy to read and, then, to apply the lessons learned, I have seldom read such a useful business book.

Formula One 2018

By Bruce Jones

ISBN: 978 1 78739 050 8

£14.99

Carlton Books

Carrying the boast of being ‘The World’s Best-Selling Grand Prix Handbook’ must surely please flame-haired Bruce Jones, its author, as well as Carlton Books, its publisher. To be fair, it is keenly priced and is both a very comprehensive and finely detailed review of the 2017 season, while providing a skilled reporter’s preview of what should come this year. Sadly, car recognition will be the reader’s responsibility, as the guide was compiled before most of the teams had released details of their 2018 race cars. However, a neat layout, dealing firstly with each of the teams and their drivers, is followed by some of the more important talking points, such as the reintroduction of the French GP, not at boring Magny-Cours but on the Paul Ricard circuit in the hills above Marseilles instead. A full description of the 2018 circuits is provided, as well as a race-by-race review of the 2017 season. Interactivity is not forgotten, with a useful double-page results chart in the final section that is ready to be completed by race fans. Bruce is a most competent and knowledgeable writer, factors that are translated neatly into the pages of this practical book, and, whether you are an armchair, or venue, activist, you will find this book becomes a regular companion in 2018.

 

 

RAF 100 – The Official Story

By James Holland

ISBN: 978 0 233 00526 3

£25.00

Andre Deutsch

Another of Carlton Books’ imprints, this Andre Deutsch hardback consists of 224 pages of well-researched and beautifully laid-out history. Celebrating its first century, the Royal Air Force has a proud past that is explored in glorious detail from the earliest days of flight to the complex and changing face of defence and the RAF’s place within a new order. The author, James Holland, is an award-winning historian and broadcaster, who was given unbridled access to the service and its historical archive, which includes many photographs, letters and files that have never been published anywhere before, some of which were classified as secret. It is almost as though the RAF were awaiting the chance to celebrate, such was its level of co-operation. Many stones were overturned during James’s research and none of the inevitable horrors of war has been ignored. However, written in a most captivating style, this is a book that is exceptionally hard to put down. Some of the content is very moving but it is also highly respectful of the heroes that made the RAF the aeronautical envy of the world. Many of the ‘personalities’, both male and female, as well as the amazing aeroplanes that have populated air bases around the world and flown into that essential mix of combat and defence of the realm, are featured in compelling detail. From ‘Brylcreem Boys’ to highly specialised combatants in a wildly challenging range of locations, the RAF is one of the UK’s premier defence mechanisms and this book rightly supports its efforts.

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).