Continuing to delve into the latest offerings from the book publishing scene, Iain Robertson has discovered some true gems from the motor racing scene that he believes will make fine additions to your private library and coffee table.
Ferrari 857S – The Remarkable History of 0578M
By Ian Wagstaff
ISBN: 978 1 913089 08 5
Porter Press International
It is always great to start a books review section with another of Porter Press’s phenomenal titles. None of them fails to enthuse me, or provide what readers desire mostly, a reward. As usual and as the ninth of the ‘Exceptional Cars Series’, the signature black and grey background and the high-definition image of the featured car on the jacket of this 128pp landscape format hardback hit the mark. The exceptional quality of reproduction is abundantly clear. In this instance, respected motorsport journalist and author, Ian Wagstaff, curates the amazing tale about a charismatic racing Ferrari. A machine of automotive beauty, it was driven by several of the leading racers of the mid-1950s – Mike Hawthorn, Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill among a stellar cast – but possessed serious purpose considerably beyond its fluent styling. Contesting the open road circuits, such as the Targa Florio (Sicily), it was the Italian manufacturer’s primary weapon in the battle with Stirling Moss and Mercedes-Benz. Yet, it was also a consummate circuit racer, owning a long history in private hands, despite being powered by a ‘mere’ four-cylinder Colombo engine (in either 2.0, or 2.5-litre forms, although it grew to 3.0 and then 3.4-litre capacities), chasing results at Buenos Aires, Dundrod, Sebring, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia. As with all of the books in this collectible series, each of its drivers is profiled and a superb collection of period and contemporary photographs chronicles the varied history of 0578M. Unsurprisingly, this car has been restored by Ferrari Classiche to a specification it possessed for the 1956 Sebring 24-Hours race. It was a competitor on the 2016 running of the Mille Miglia, from which it retired with a valve timing fault. However, it returned for a successful tilt in 2018 and again in 2019. The final studio photo gallery (by Alex Howe) is typical of Porter’s books. Each image could be reproduced in poster form and the mechanical details are superb.
FORMULA 1 – Car by Car 1950-59
By Peter Higham
ISBN: 978 1 910505 44 1
In a world presently starved of the rigours of its premier racing championship, two aspects have become abundantly clear to me: 1. Modern F1 is full of complaining high-rollers and 2. Classic F1 is where the real heroes resided. EVRO is one of the UK’s leading motor racing publishers and its access to one of the greatest photographic resources in the world, LAT Photographic, now known as Motorsport Images, ensures that every one of this decade-by-decade series of titles that covers all of the cars, teams and drivers can be illustrated to perfection. This latest addition to the series covers the first decade of the new World Championship, which commenced in 1950. It is a 304pp hardback that is predominated by colour; in the early part of which Italian red is everywhere, transitioning to British Racing Green, as Vanwall and Cooper came to prominence in the latter part of the decade, overtaking the richness of Alfa Romeo, Maserati and, of course, Ferrari. The 1950s was also highlighted by the performances of one champion, Juan Manuel Fangio, who took the title no less than five times. However, the book’s author, Peter Higham, ensures that the myriad private entrants, their sometimes-quirky cars and even quirkier team activities receive all due credit for their participation. As with the other books in this marvellous series, each year is presented in glorious detail, incorporating the front runners down to the non-starters. While Mercedes-Benz has dominated the recent F1 World Championship, it was a newcomer in 1954 and provided two seasons’ worth of winning wheels for both Fangio and our own Stirling Moss, naturally. Over 600 photographs support this excellent tome, which is both reference book and an editorially strong record of the sport’s glory years.
THE ALL-AMERICAN HERO AND JAGUAR’S RACING E-TYPES
By Phillip Bingham
ISBN: 978 1 907085 81 9
Porter Press International
The complete title of this latest Porter Press book adds a far from supplementary ‘Briggs Cunningham’s Le Mans Dream, US Road Racing and the Legendary E-Type’ to create one of the most convoluted and expansive book names ever! However, it is a 288pp, large format hardback and weighs a tonne by way of justification. Its author, Phillip Bingham, is a respected motoring and motorsport writer, whom I have known for almost forty years. Having spent a sizable chunk of his career in North America, where he developed his reputation, it also gave him access to many of the top racing teams, among which was the inimitable owner, Briggs Cunningham. An immense character, his sole aim was to live the American dream and win the Le Mans 24-Hours race in a US-built car, powered by US ‘iron’ and piloted by US drivers. Yet, despite his access to millions of Dollars, Briggs found himself competing against the might of the European marques, with sportscar racing dominated in the 1960s by Ferrari, Aston Martin and Jaguar Cars. His ultimate plan followed the principles of ‘if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em’ and, in the process, Briggs formed an Anglo-US alliance, also becoming the East Coast importer for Jaguar and switching his allegiance to the D-Type. In fact, had it not been for the development of this relationship, the much-vaunted E-Type Lightweight might never have existed. Packed with high quality period photography and more recent studio artworks, the book allows Phil Bingham to explore the complete development cycle of the racing E-Types that ended up with an American accent. It is a fabulously colourful story, told impeccably well that highlights the stars of an era, as well its unsung heroes and, while Briggs Cunningham never quite fulfilled his original desires, it also reveals a truly engaging series of tales that make it a fine addition to any Jaguariste’s library. That it is presented in the customary, high-class style expected of Porter Press International is a major bonus.