Evolve or perish (like all cliches, it's grounded in truth) has hit few enterprises harder than specialty publishing. Strategies to help counter digital competition include focusing on single subjects in high quality and expensive formats with limited print runs, but the remainder tables are still piled high with such efforts, as varied in appeal as your average used-car lot.
Two of the titles reviewed here fall into that category simply because of their dimensions, but neither of them are the kind of dead weights that exist only to keep coffee tables from drifting off into space. Through the efforts of publishers such as Taschen and Assouline, the coffee-table book has been remade into an art house statement. This caught the attention of more than just one auto-related publisher, and we are better off for it.
DBR9 - The Definitive History (Aston Martin) by Thomas A. Gruber and Christoph Mader published by TAG Motorbooks
Hardcover, 13"x11"x1 and 1/2" with slipcase
296 pages more than 400 images, 3-D overlays
TAG Motorbooks knows how to do a book. Its essential Carrera RS raised the single-marque standard 25 years ago, and the updated reissue is considered mandatory for any respectable Porsche library. Now, TAG's new tome on the DBR9 arrives light years ahead of any recently published auto-related title. In fact, without fear of overstatement, I contend this is a front-runner for motorbook of the decade. TAG's Thomas Gruber suggested that recent arrival Christoph Mader be given as his first project a book on the 19 Prodrive-constructed DBR9 GT race cars. Mader's elegant touch complements the narrative of the DBR9 with a clarity of presentation that makes even the most technical details easily comprehended. Many have stated that this Aston is one of the most beautiful GT cars ever built, its purposeful, understated aggressiveness offering timeless appeal. Translation: It just looks right. And so does this book. From the X-ray overlays through the complete competition history of each of the 19, the two years of effort Mader spent to assemble this transcend passion; it's high art. Expensive? Damn right, but so is a DBR9. This book might not replace the ownership of this special car, but it comes closer than any dream.
The Luftgekhuhlt Book by Patrick Long and Howie Idelson published by Deus Ex Machina
Hardcover, 12 and 1/4"x12 and 1/4"x1 and 1/4" with slipcase
260 pages including images
It's appropriate that this first book about the annual event organized by Patrick Long and Howie Idelson has the feel of a family photo album. Text is kept to a minimum; people, pets, and Porsches take priority in this chronicle of the yearly celebration of primarily air-cooled cars from Zuffenhausen. Covered are the origins of Luftgekuhlt as well as its second and third iterations. The Lufty boys recently put on event number four, the biggest and most creative so far, and are busy planning Luftgekuhlt funf. The Lufty gathering is separated from other similar events by its ever-changing locations. Long and Idelson purposely change up the venue to keep it fresh (in a curious way, the cars are static while the scenery is in motion), and the lack of a fixed event date is intentional. The duo believes that growth is no more necessary than increasing attendance or cramming more cars into the same old place. Luftgekult's friendly, intimate vibe is welcoming as shown through the assembled images. This book is a souvenir of Luftgekuhlt's genesis; I expect volume two will reflect its endurance.
Recaro—Seating in Motion by Frank Jung published by Delius Klasing Verlag
Hardcover, 9"x1 and 1/2"x10 and 3/4"
144 pages including images
Sitzenmachen! It all began as so many of these stories seem to, with a horse and a saddle maker, Wilhelm Reutter. He realized the future belonged to the automobile and in 1906 opened the Stuttgart Body & Wheel factory. Through several name changes and eventual mergers, the company became known for its long association with Porsche. Recaro was started in 1963 specifically for the design and construction of, yep, you guessed it, seats. This is a first-class archival effort and full of those details you'd never thought about until you read about it. It's the kind of stuff that a concours judge or forum dweller cannot wait to bring up. We tend to take good seats for granted, but a poorly designed bucket is a constant reminder of what a bad saddle is to horse and rider.
Peter Falk—33 Years of Porsche Rennsport and Development: People, Cars, Stories by Peter Falk and Wilifried Mueller published by Edition Porsche Museum
Hardcover, 11 and 3/4"x9 and 1/2x1 and 1/2", 408 pages including images
There is a short paragraph on page 14 that exactly describes the kind of person Peter Falk is and the loyalty that he and others demonstrated toward Porsche. "I didn't find Daimler that interesting at that time, because I'd seen during my apprenticeship there that everyone was just a small cog in the big company wheel. I wanted to work in a broad area, I wanted to use my abilities and test them in practice." Falk keeps his recollections tight and to the point. Humor is mixed in with the seriousness that Falk and crew brought to every task. Be prepared for a journey from 1959 to 1992 undertaken with class and style, an apt summation of Falk's Porsche experience.
111 Porsche Stories You Should Know by Wilfried Muller published by Emons
Hardcover, 8 and 1/4"x10 and 3/4"x1"
304 pages including images
Really? Does this mean there's no meaningful anecdote after 111? I'm waiting at the station for number 112. Seriously, though this book's title resounds with Reader's Digest insipidness, it is a most entertaining collection and the perfect light read in the age of 140 characters. The photo selection is first rate, and Wilfried Muller selected the vignettes with care and just the right amount of balance between the educational and creative. The hardcore enthusiast likely knows more than half of the stories, but that shouldn't put off any autophile from purchasing the Porsche book bargain of the year.