Gear: Here’s How To See The Aston Martin DBR9 And Porsche 911 2.7 Like Never Before

Here’s How To See The Aston Martin DBR9 And Porsche 911 2.7 Like Never Before

By Benjamin Shahrabani
February 18, 2016
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The finest books boast well-written stories, but to rise to the top, even the best writing needs to have great design to back it up. Think back to the last good book that you read. It doesn’t matter what the subject was, but chances are that you don’t know what the font was, or even remember many details of what the page design looked lik… or how the chapters might have been arranged. Good book design is something you would probably never notice unless it did not exist.

They say, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but that is exactly how Carrera 2.7: 1974-1976 and Aston Martin DBR9: The Definitive History should be judged—both the titles and their superb construction tell you exactly what’s inside them. These books work!

DBR9 – The Definitive History
Author: Dr. Thomas Gruber, Christoph Mäder
Publisher: TAG Books
Pages: 296
Price: $475

Written by Dr. Thomas Gruber and Christoph Mäder, DBR9: The Definitive History is about just a single model from Aston Martin’s history, the DBR9 GT1. While just 19 chassis were constructed in total, the car had a similar pivotal effect for the brand that the RS had for Porsche in 1972-73, placing Aston Martin back on the map when the car debuted in 2005 at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Based on the road-going production DB9, It was the first proper race car the company had built in decades, along the way winning the 2006 Le Mans Series Drivers’ Championship, the Le Mans Series Teams’ Championship and the FIA GT Constructors’ Championship, as well as claiming class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Sebring, and Laguna Seca amongst others. Authors Gruber and Mäder were intimately involved with the Jetalliance racing team, one of the earliest customers for the DBR9, the former as a driver, the latter as a manager, so the information contained within is accurate, directly from the source, and instills this book with a rare level of insight.

The authors trace the history of the DBR9 from its origins through to the end of its competitive racing career when the GT1 category was abolished in 2011, covering how Aston Martin’s racing program came about, how the car was developed, and which factory and customer teams and drivers raced them.

The 296-page tome paints a very complete picture of Aston Martin’s racing technical ingenuity—all the drivetrain, suspension, aerodynamics, and handling challenges that needed to be met to make a contender in the extremely competitive GT1 class—as well as the hard work, and often pure luck required to sustain a successful racing team.

Supplementing the prose, the book is packed with internal documents, and notes as well as testimonials and contributions from the designers, drivers, and crewmembers. An appendix section at the end lists the complete race history of each of the 19 chassis.

DBR9 is exceedingly well-made—thick and heavy, with lots of drawings, blueprints, graphs, and hundreds of photographs of DBR9s being built and raced, including many with close-ups and details as one might expect of authors who had unfettered access to the car. One of the extremely creative elements employed in the book is the use of transparencies in several of the full-color technical drawings. Akin to an x-ray, the reader is able to peel back and dissect all the technical details of the car layer by layer. Very neat!

“If you write a book on a car, you have to have driven it,” says Gruber. Both of the authors assuredly have, and in conjunction with publisher TAG, have created one of the finest automotive books on a competition car this reviewer have ever seen, and one that is as much a pleasure to read as it is to flick through.

It’s not inexpensive, but quality never is.

Carrera 2.7: 1974-1976
Author: Ryan Snodgrass
Publisher: Parabolica Press
Pages: 406
Price: $250

The legendary Porsche 911 Carrera RS of 1973 resulted from the factory’s realization that the weight of its 2.4-liter 911S production model was holding back its development potential for racing. Therefore, the company decided to build and homologate a special lightweight variant for Group 4 GT competition purposes. Demand quickly overwhelmed the initial supply, and although 500 units were initially planned, production ceased after 1,580 units had been produced by the time production ceased in July 1973.

For 1974, newly enacted safety standards in the United States, one of the company’s largest markets, heralded the end of the “long-hood” chassis. The new “G-prefix” series of that year brought with it a shortened hood, impact bumpers, revised lighting, and a plethora of other changes. The Carrera name continued on Porsche’s top-of-the-range model, and a limited number of high-performance lightweight Carreras emerged from 1974-1976 for European markets only.

While never branded an RS by Porsche’s marketing department, these “Euro Carreras”,  as they came to be known, retained the legendary Type 911/83 2.7-liter, 210 hp engine with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, the same engine as fitted to the legendary 1973 Carrera RS. However, following in the footsteps of its iconic predecessor was always going to be a tough act to follow—and for a long while the model was misunderstood.

If you’re going to write another Porsche book, it better be something different, and author Ryan Snodgrass has done just that, focusing on just the single model of car stated in the title of his book, Carrera 2.7: 1974-1976. No significant or focused book has ever been written on the ‘impact bumper’ 911 models before, and it was the author’s complete restoration of one of these rare models back to original factory specification that inspired this book.

The result is a very engaging story, and much, much more than just an A to Z compilation of previously known information.

Yes, it has all the de rigueur niceties we would expect and more—detailed photographs, competition history, insights into factory production, technical drawings, and special appendixes for instance, but the author has clearly found a higher level.

Through time spent with the Porsche factory, private collections and archives, as well as countless hours interviewing people directly involved with the cars, he has written a book of almost unprecedented breadth, along the way unearthing many photographs and materials, much of what must be new to the record. A two-page spread early on, located on page–nine of King Hussein of Jordan trading both his 904 and 908 to the Porsche factory for a brand new 1974 Carrera 2.7 surely must be one of them and literally had me in awe. Other wonderful details abound such as in the “body” chapter of the book – the color reproduction and filtering of colors to resemble the actual colors available in period are simply incredible, and must have taken days.

Snodgrass is not only a Porsche enthusiast, but has also owned and restored a 2.7 Carrera, so his writing is informed by experience in ownership and restoration. He has made an immense effort to paint the complete story by undertaking a level of research rarely seen, the best comparison being the fabled Carrera RS book by Dr. Thomas Gruber and Dr. Georg Konradsheim.

The car is misunderstood no longer, and the relative rarity of the 2.7-engined Carrera, with less than 1,550 cars produced from 1974-1976, has brought a corresponding rise in prices as well as a renewed appreciation in the model. This is a reference book (and much of it applies to the early 930 Turbos) that should be on any Porsche enthusiast’s bookshelf. It’s inexpensive for what you get…

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