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Motoring Book Review

IAIN ROBERTSON

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It is that time of the year, when book sales increase and both coffee-table and readable materials assume fresh levels of relevance, writes Iain Robertson, as he contemplates another fine hardback, either for giving, or for the personal library.

 

Ferrari F40

By Keith Bluemel

ISBN: 978 1 913089 42 9

£69.00

Porter Press International

Proven by surveys, opinion polls and shares values on the stock market, Ferrari is one of the world’s superbrands and, of all its products, there is none more evocative than the supercar launched to celebrate the Italian firm’s 40th birthday…the F40. There is certainly none more redolent, not least because each left the Maranello factory in that famous Rosso Red paintwork, even though other finishes are recorded. With Ferrari celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year, it can be argued that no single model from Ferrari’s overall production has ever been as radical and game changing as the F40.IMG_0790-2

There exists singularly more valuable models in Ferrari’s thoroughbred stable but F40 is by far the most world recognisable and era defining, either as a road car, or through more than the official near-decade of its international competition history. I can still recall sitting in the Earl’s Court London show car, having been granted permission to enter its carbon fibre cockpit, once my shoes had been removed. F40 was unashamedly naked, stripped purposefully of anything that might add a weight penalty. The drive was challengingly memorable too, demanding accuracy but both balletically light and determinedly heavy applications of its main controls to deliver the ideal balance.

Packing a race-bred 3.0-litre V8 motor amidships, twin turbochargers boosting its power output to a useful 478bhp to drive its rear wheels, the pursuit of ultimate lightness ensured that a 200mph top speed was one of its key attractions. Yet, it was the flip front and rear body sections, complete with a total package of aerodynamic elements, the sliding Lexan side windows and offset perforations of the same material providing a view through the engine cover, let alone the sill widths and ducts necessary for ultimate cooling, that captivated onlookers and secured sales.

A celebratory title is essential and its author, Keith Bluemel, is one of the most focused and leading of Ferrari enthusiasts. However, this stunning, large format, 240pp commemorative book could only ever be produced by the Great British publishing house of Porter Press International, which maintains not only the reverence worthy of such a motorcar but the high reproduction qualities that make this a collector’s book par excellence.IMG_0792-2

Its contents include a potted history of the marque, before delving into the raison d’etre of F40; its design stance, its logic and its comprehensive production story, supported by over 400 illustrations and photographic images, again of only the highest and most beautiful possible quality. Not a single technical aspect is ignored and the views of key personnel involved in F40’s production, including test driver, Dario Benuzzi, and the car’s famous early undriveability, as well as some of today’s owners’ experiences, lace the story together in the most engaging manner.

As a comprehensive record of the supercar and its achievements, several chasses of the F40 have been highlighted, complete with their small styling differences and details, especially in relation to the car’s motor racing history, which was extensive. A complete entry and results list shows that, despite the relatively small numbers produced (fewer than most observers will be able to take on board), the F40 was a giant in all respects.

Conclusion:    At a list price of £69.00, this fine reference book is almost a bargain, when you consider the high costs involved in premium grade publishing. As a way to supplement an F40 fan’s obsession, of which there are far more than owners, the defining Ferrari F40 book makes for essential reading.