Gear: Abandoned Racetracks, Lancia's 037, And Volvo Wagons: These Were Our Favorite Books In July

Abandoned Racetracks, Lancia’s 037, And Volvo Wagons: These Were Our Favorite Books In July

Alex Sobran By Alex Sobran
August 3, 2017
7 comments

The summer months leave many of us indoors, immodestly splayed out in front of our air conditioners. To regain some dignity why not pick up a nice book instead of the remote? Last month we read through a pretty disparate collection from Veloce Publishing, and we think you’ll enjoy them too.

Autodrome: The Lost Race Circuits of Europe
Authors: S.S. Collins
Publisher: Veloce Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 176 pages
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There is something special about the glitz and lux of a racetrack during an event weekend—a Tetris game of gleaming transporters packs the infield, while the machines they carry lap the course and send their violent chorus into the grandstands—that’s always going to be a spectacle. But no matter how wild the layouts get (though new circuits rarely stack up against the past in this metric), how good your seats are, or how far you’ve traveled to be there, all of modernity’s best efforts fall short of the drama and historical weight that lives on in abandoned motor racing circuits. There is a monolithic aura about these places that charges the imagination  and orders your mind to wonder and revel in that open-mouthed, eyes-skyward way.

If crumbling barriers and peeling sponsor logos pique your interest even a bit, then Autodrome will suck up a few hours of your life quite easily. There are pages on pages of historical and current day photos of skeletal buildings and desiccated asphalt, like the dormant banks of Monza, the husk of Reims’ straightaway, and the still-bizarre remnants of the Crystal Palace circuit. It isn’t just coffee table decoration though, as there is plenty of history packed into the accompanying text to provide perspective on these tracks’ histories, and in all, nine so-called “lost circuits” from Europe are featured: AVUS, Brooklands, Crystal Palace, Keimola, Masarykring, Montlhéry, Monza, the Nürburgring’s Südschleife, and Reims.

The Volvo Estate Car: Design Icon & Faithful Companion
Author: Ashley Hollebone
Publisher: Veloce Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 160 pages
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Everyone has an experience with a Volvo wagon, and if this somehow doesn’t apply in your case, then you’ve surely missed out on an important piece of automotive history. Ferrari and Porsche can have the racing pedigrees, Rolls and Bentley have been the luxury heavyweights for some time now, and the American pony cars squarely own the term “badass,” but Volvo deserves more than just the pages on safety. The fact that so many different cult followings have formed in the wake of these Swedish blocks speaks to their larger significance as cultural artifacts. There are the yuppies with their golden retrievers carted to and from summer homes on Nantucket, crazy Scandinavians putting down massive power figures in old 240s, house painters who always have the seats flat to make room for empty buckets and splattered ladders, college kids with hand-me-down 740s, purists who hunt for the rare examples that haven’t earned hundreds of thousands of miles yet, and so many more.

If you’re curious about the cult of the brick, then this historical overview of the Volvo wagon’s many guises and evolutions is a good place to start exploring. Laid out chronologically from the company’s inception to the latest V90, the digestible sections on each tick of the timeline are informative, well-written, and are complemented by an impressive amount of archival photographs and tons of vintage marketing materials.

Lancia 037: The Development & Rally History of a World Champion
Author: Peter Collins
Publisher: Veloce Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
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The 037 is an important car. You know it as one of the last successful rear-wheel drive rally cars, a pioneer of Group B when it was in its incipient stages, and an achievement of engineering and design with the badges to prove it: Abarth, Pininfarina, Lancia. You’ve seen it wearing the unmistakable stripes of Martini and the dizzy scrawl of Totip, sideways in mud and in snow, airborne and fully compressed. The point is, we all know the 037, but nobody knows the 037 to the degree its life is chronicled in this book. This is dense stuff. Not in the sleep-aid textbookish sense, it’s more like “goddamn there is a lot of cool stuff in here.”

The writing is full of facts and dates and names, but it is also lively and propulsive; you read through it and after a few minutes you might feel as if you’re part of Sergio Limone’s engineering team, wringing your hands as you follow the tribulations and breakthroughs along the way of transforming the lowly Lancia Beta into the monstrous 037. Even if you aren’t a Lancia or rally fan, the amount of insight this book carries is impressive enough to warrant a read. Every little piece of the past has been sought and then recorded here in development photos (want to see an 037 prototype in a wind tunnel with a spare tire on the roof?), anecdotes, hand-written notes, detailed schematics and plans, and a full perspective on all the moving pieces that had to come together to bring the world this remarkable car.

Looking for more great automotive literature? Check out our entire book selection here.

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Alex Sobran
Alex Sobran

No claims on recency here, we just share and carry what we enjoy! I agree it is a great book.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Sheesh .. Alex .. I guess you missed out on the information I provided below stating that you’ve been vindicated by the fact that the book was just revised and reprinted this year.

Damn .. give the guy a little credit and he still resorts to what would otherwise be inane excuses if it were not for the mitigating circumstances involved ..

Edward Levin
Edward Levin

Collins’ 037 book is indeed a great read and an outstanding reference. But you’re a little late to the party; it was published in 2008.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Thanks for sparring me the phalanx of Twitter/Facebook addled thumbs down I’d of received for posting the same almost verbatim . Great book ( fantastic actually )… very late to the party …. oh but wait … lets give the youngins a bit of credit … it was ‘ revised ‘ and reprinted this year …. so … err … perhaps a bit of leeway is in order on this one …

😎

Edward Levin
Edward Levin

There’s no bad reason to promote the book; “fantastic” is an appropriate description. And a ‘revised’ edition would certainly explain why it’s on Veloce’s current catalogue. But revised or not, I’ll stick with my signed original edition.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Errr … Mr Levin … lets not go down the ‘ Everybody Deserves a Gold Medal ‘ route . Suffice it to say there’s a boatload of ‘ bad ‘ reasons to promote anything .. never mind a book . As for the revision … I’ve got the original as well and other than another print date etc I’ve not seen much in the way of ‘ revision ‘ in the new one .. so no need for us to buy another . But … at least its been reprinted keeping it available to the youngins who may of missed… Read more »

Edward Levin
Edward Levin

Silly me; I imagined we were speaking about this particular book – not everyone and everything. I never suggested that those who already own a copy should run out and buy a “revised” new edition on the rather dubious assumption that the revisions are essential; I rather doubt they are in this case. But I’ll say again that I can’t think of a bad reason to promote the book. It’s a fundamental principle of logic that an argument with a true conclusion is valid, even if it proceeds from a false premise.