IAIN ROBERTSON 

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There has seldom been a more apposite time to highlight the latest automotive books worth reading than now, states Iain Robertson, and you can order copies direct from the publishers, to receive them a couple of days later.

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Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe

By Rinsey Mills

ISBN: 978 1 907085 42 0

£60.00

Porter Press International – www.porterpress.co.uk

Under the current state of ‘house arrest’, having viewed the latest Hollywood blockbuster chronicling the on and off-track battle undertaken between Ford (Carroll Shelby) and Ferrari (‘Le Mans ’66’), my resolve to conclude the review of the latest Porter Press blockbuster was strengthened. I am delighted to tell you which of the pair I preferred…it was NOT the movie! I make zero apology for being an ardent fan of Porter Press’s publications. As the fourteenth in the series of ‘Great Cars’, its 336pp follow the cover sleeve precepts of elegant photography on a gloss black background, which looks great on either coffee table, or bookshelf, and deals with the model-specific CSX2300. Interestingly, this great car, one of just six ever built, has as much relevance to historians as motoring and motorsport enthusiasts, having commenced its run of success for Shelby’s equipe in 1964, contesting four World Sportscar championship rounds the following year. Ford Motor Company needed a world-beater away from the constraints of US oval racing; that it would also be a Ferrari-beater was an incidental bonus. Texan Shelby was the means to that end and the author of this outstanding tome, Rinsey Mills, is probably better qualified than any other Shelby, or Cobra fan, having compiled the great man’s biography, which was published just weeks prior to his passing, as well as several other Cobra related titles. Designed by the infamous Peter Brock, who also wrote the book’s foreword, CSX2300’s racing history is explored in tremendous detail. It endured a record not entirely free of disappointment that also underscored the Shelby American team’s remarkable mechanical capabilities, eventually lifting the title at Reims, despite suffering a broken connecting-rod. The eight international drivers of the car warrant their own sections within the contents. It is a wonderfully comprehensive study of a superb machine, from concept, design and build, through to a stunning collection of colour plates snapped at Reims in readiness for the book’s publication. The car continues to make star turns at various international events.

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Jaguar D-type – The Story of XKD 526

By John Elmgreen

ISBN: 978 1 907085 95 6

£20.00

Porter Press International – www.porterpress.co.uk

The second in the Porter Profiles series, although somewhat ‘skinnier’ and more manageably smaller (at 96pp) than the same publisher’s stellar ‘Great Cars’ series, features more tangential but no less important subject matter. XKD 526 is one of only three ‘production’ D-types registered new in Australia in the summer (their winter) of 1955. Although the Coventry factory had promised a run of 100 examples, only 67 were ever completed. However, the company’s victory at Le Mans took precedence and earnest customer demand did follow suit. As might be imagined, the car featured here was already ‘old stock’, as Jaguar continued to develop the D-type for the next couple of years. Yet, in the Antipodes, the ‘old’ cars enjoyed many successes, the featured example even incorporating an unique hardtop that enabled a win in the Australian GT Championship as late as 1961. With a major accident in 1962 curtailing its 50 race successes, it was repaired and laid up for a while, although it did take an historic cars race victory in 1970. It was completely restored in the early-1980s and helped to promote the brand’s relevance and racing history in the southern hemisphere. It was returned to the UK in 2015, since when its amazing originality has been recognised, despite its lengthy history. The story is an enchanting one and gives me an opportunity to clarion the efforts not only of its Australian author, John Elmgreen, but also of the UK-based Porter Press team, with editorial direction provided by the excellent Simon Arron and the design aspects managed by the hugely respected Martin Port. As is typical of these fine books, the photography, including a more current and extensive section towards its conclusion, is of first-rate quality.

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Jaguar XK120 Supersonic by Ghia

By Richard Heseltine

ISBN: 978 1 907085 82 6

£35.00

Porter Press International – www.porterpress.co.uk

Part of Porter Press’s tremendous success in the book publishing scene lies in its ability to avoid standing still. Having already established a ‘gold standard’ with its current series of books in various formats, its latest diversion is the new ‘Coachbuilt Cars’, of which this 1954 Ghia designed Jaguar XK120 is the first. Although largely unknown to the wider world, Ghia’s design innovator of the period was Giovanni Savonuzzi. Emerging from the post-WW2 period of austerity, his Supersonic series of productions was not limited to Jaguar, as he also crafted similar profiles for Fiat and Aston Martin. However, one of the three Jaguar XK120 versions was extra-special, as its engine was modified by tuning legend, Virgilio Conrero. It is worth highlighting that long before Ford Motor Company subsumed the Ghia design enterprise into little more than a trim option on run-of-the-mill Escorts, it was THE leading and most in-demand automotive styling house in the world. Thus, the well-researched contents of this new title deal as much with the design studio as one of its more remarkable creations. Inevitably, the car has a fascinating past, which author and respected classic car journalist, Richard Heseltine, delved into with his usual unravelling talents. It is fair to describe it as both uncannily secretive and surprisingly chequered…most of the details being revealed in glorious Technicolor! If Porter Press is seeking another subject, I should like to recommend the Bugatti EB112; more modern (1990-ish) but assuredly as complex to write and chronicle. As a new series for Porter, the rich crimson cover and customary photographic highlights will add a new era of success to its fold.

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Ferrari 250GT SWB

By Richard Heseltine

ISBN: 978 1 907085 87 1

£30.00

Porter Press International – www.porterpress.co.uk

Porter Press’s ‘Exceptional Cars’ series, which has been acclaimed internationally, is now eight-strong with its latest addition that details the history of chassis 2689, from a run of much-adored ‘short wheelbase’ 250GTs. Powered by Ferrari’s 300bhp, 3.0-litre V12 engine fed by a triple Weber carburettor set-up, boasting a top speed nudging 170mph and capable of despatching the 0-60mph sprint (in race trim) in less than 5.0s, the 250 SWB entered the annals of early-1960s’ motorsport history in memorably winning form. This particular car was a recompense acquired off the back of a previous race accident that had written off another example of the car. Intriguingly, on its first competitive outing, it claimed a class-winning victory in the Le Mans 24-Hours race. Yet, its specific racing career was surprisingly short-lived, despite helping its drivers to lift several key trophies. I love the detail and individual fascination levelled at each of the cars in this series. The contents are much more than just editorial and serve to build the characters of specific models, adding to their allure and importance, accentuated to a wider and growingly enthusiastic market. Once again, Richard Heseltine is the reader’s guide through the history and currency of 2689, his well-crafted story supported by a comprehensive raft of monochrome and full colour images that includes the customary, contemporary picture gallery towards the rear of this 128pp hardback.