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Books About Automobiles - Page Turner

Getting Between The Covers

Kerry Morse
Sep 1, 2007
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These next three books I picked up in France. Although they're text-challenged, that doesn't take anything away from the pure visuals. Check out and ask for Christophe Lavielle. He speaks good English.

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Norman Dewis of Jaguar: Developing the Legend
Hardcover, 575 pages, black-and-white and color photos~$148
The seat of Norman Dewis's pants must have been stitched with golden thread. Dewis was Jaguar's test development engineer back in the days when life was lived in black and white, when engineers had rolled-up shirt sleeves instead of black polo-necks, when everybody smoked because they thought it was good for them, and the only thing that went on top of your lap was a child or a secretary. This book opens a wonderful window into Jaguar's storied past. The title has a double meaning: it's not just the legend of Jaguar that was developed, but also Dewis's standing as an extraordinarily gifted automotive engineer. He was involved in bringing disc brakes to production cars. He worked on XK models, C- , D- and E-Types, Le Mans-winning race cars, and the original XJ sedan. The tale of Dewis's tenure at Jaguar is a history of the company itself. How even in its early heyday, resources were limited. But as part of a dedicated team that included E-Type designer Malcolm Sayer, Dewis overcame such obstacles to help make Jaguar one of the truly exciting marques, one that has managed to weather economic storms when other British badges have gone under. The book has a comprehensive index and many never-before-seen photos. Particularly enjoyable is the chapter on the unfortunately-named (for triskaidekaphobics, at least) XJ13. It was a prototype Le Mans racer and one of the most beautiful cars ever made. At 140 mph, without warning, the offside rear wheel disintegrated, throwing the car off the track and onto the dirt, where it did two end-over-end rolls, barrel-rolled a few times and landed right side up. Luckily, Dewis lived to tell the tale. And several others in this wonderful book.
-Colin Ryan

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Porsche 917: The Heroes, the Victories, the Myth
Hardcover, 240 pages, English and German text, 300 color and black-and-white photos. $79.95
A co-op among four Porsche enthusiasts and, while not published by David Bull, a deal was struck to distribute this in the States. It's an important book for enthusiasts and modelers especially. The recollections of drivers who had first-hand experiences of the 917 in all stages of development make for a fascinating read. There is a table of results listing events, which chassis was used, etc. And the photos, many never published before, will hold your attention.

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Racing in the Rain: My Years with Brilliant Drivers, Legendary Sports Cars, and a Dedicated Team
Hardcover, 400 pages, 32-page color section, over 250 black-and-white and 50 color photos. $49.95
For those who followed the prime of sports prototype and GT cars, think of this as a companion to That Certain Sound by the late John Wyer. Horsman was Wyer's number two through Aston Martin in the early '60s, the Ford GT40 program and, ultimately, the great Gulf Porsche 917 effort. I could wax on about this, but won't. Just buy it and see for yourself.

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Circuit de Reims
Hardcover, 144 pages, color and black-and-white photos. $49.95
Published by ETAI
The old race circuits of Europe are a lot like our lost and forgotten ball parks. In the case of Reims, the stands and towers still loom like ghosts along the public roads that made up one of the fastest circuits in the world at one time. "Un weekend en Champagne" played host to the very best drivers. Of special note is the reproduction of posters issued for the Grand Prix of France.

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Mes Pop Cars
Hardcover, 268 pages, lots of large-format color photos. $99
Published by Apach
This is my favorite book of the year and whose publication I have been waiting for a long time. Herve Poulain was the main man behind the BMW 'art car' projects involving the big four artists of pop culture. Beginning with Calder and through to Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. This is a timeline of these BMW racecars as done by the artists and the photos make a statement of their own. In addition, there are other art cars commissioned by Poulain, such as the Porsche GT2, as done by pop master Wolinski. But it is the CSL, 320 turbo and M1 BMWs that make this book essential for those who found the art cars a landmark blend of art and sport.

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Emotion Ferrari (Europe 1947-1972)
Hardcover, 504 pages, hundreds of color and black-and-white photos. $179
Published by Editions Maurice Louche
Essential Ferrari book by one of the great historians of automotive culture and motorsport in France. Louche is the author of books on the Tour De France, Tour De Corse, and the Rallye Monte Carlo, among others, and has one of the best archives of racing photos in Europe. With text in English and French.

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Steve McQueen: The Last Mile
Hardcover, 235 pages, color and black-and white-photos. $49
This book is included because, dude, it's Steve McQueen. No shots from Le Mans or Bullitt, just a collection of family album photos of Barbara's life with the man, shot during the final reel. Cool bikes, biplanes and his Jaguar XKSS.

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Lamborghini: A Tempo Furioso
Hardcover, 178 pages, color and black-and-white photos. $99.95
This reads like a better-than-average coffee table book and the layout is corporate boardroom, but it's Peter Vann's photography that does justice to the Lamborghini legend. A National Geographic of the road from Sant'Agata to the Muira Brothers in Andalusia. Like a line in a recent road movie: "Transportation is a precise business."

By Kerry Morse
48 Articles



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