These Are The 3 Books We Fell In Love With In July
July has brought ever-rising summer temperatures…and some brand spanking new automotive books with it. If you hate being beach or poolside without a good book in your hands, to that end I’ve assembled a short list of recently-released titles for your reading pleasure. You’ll find two excursions into the early days of Formula 1 racing, and everything you wanted to know about often weird—but usually wonderful—cars based on the classic Austin Mini.
If you have your own reading list for summer, please be sure to comment and pass along recommendations for us.
Maserati 250F: The Autobiography of 2528
Publisher: Porter Press International
Author: Ian Wagstaff
Another volume from Porter Press’ ongoing Great Car Series, Maserati 250F – The Autobiography of 2528 by Ian Wagstaff is similarly focused on just a single example of the model. Owned by Neil, Freda and Nigel Corner since 1972 who commissioned the tome, 2528 is a truly historic Grand Prix car, with four Grand Prix wins to its credit, and previously piloted and driven to victory by Juan Manuel Fangio in the Monaco Grand Prix and by Jean Behra in Pau, Modena and Casablanca, continuing the tradition and supremacy in Grand Prix Racing that began in 1926 for the Maserati brothers.
While the 250F model was produced from 1954-1957, 2528 was produced in 1957, at the tail end of production by Maserati. One of only 26 examples produced, it is also just one of three works “lightweight” cars, and technically advanced for the time being a tubular design clad in an aluminum body, and powered by a 220 horsepower 2.5-liter Maserati A6 straight-six through a four speed manual gearbox. Excellent weight distribution was achieved by placing the majority of the weight ahead of the rear axle, and by all accounts, it was a sublimely driving racing machine, with Stirling Moss later saying of the model that it was the best front-engined F1 car he ever drove, period. High praise, indeed.
Well-written and engaging with what was surely an exhaustive level of research, with a plethora of wonderful photographs (some previously unpublished) and historical documents, Wagstaff follows 2528 from its beginnings, its Grand Prix outings, “retirement” to privateer hands and its more contemporary, historic racing career and history. A thoroughly enjoyable “autobiography” of a car, and surely one of interest to Maserati fans.
Maximum Mini 3
Publisher: Jeroen Booij Books
Author: Jeroen Booij
Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and produced by the British Motor Corporation (BMC), the groundbreaking, original Mini was one of the most popular cars ever produced, with over five million units made in the classic shape and configurations from 1959-2000. Today, the Mini legacy lives on, and it is little wonder it is consistently voted one of the world’s favorite cars—it helped define the vehicle class it belonged to, and moreover it is a little car with a great, big heart.
While the factory under BMW ownership continues to build derivative versions of the current generation Mini as it had in the past: a convertible, and a Clubman with van-like doors—far less is known about the cars the original Mini sired through the use of its underpinnings.
Author Jeroen Booij is back for the third and final, or so he says, book in his Maximum Mini trilogy, Maximum Mini 3, this time bringing to light an incredible 397 more Mini spin-offs. Hailing from all four corners of the world, a host of often obscure manufacturers used the Mini’s mechanicals, and sometimes even parts of its bodywork, to create diverse offerings such as Trikes, twinis, racers, fire engines, coachbuilt specials, beach cars, buggies, jeeps, camper vans, mini bus, a dragster…and much, much more. Who knew?
One might even say the Mini had maximum versatility and potential. One other thing to note: this special edition with plenty of photographic eye-candy has a mini-print run of just 600-copies. If you are intrigued by what the Mini inspired, it’s probably best to pick up a copy before they’re gone.
Lotus 18: Colin Chapman’s U-turn
Publisher: Veloce Publishing
Author: Mark Whitelock
Colin Chapman’s racing career spanned four decades, but by the end of the 1950s, his Team Lotus was in a bit of a conundrum. Despite the advanced nature and light weight of the company’s current Lotus 16 race car , the team notched all too few few points on the track in the Formula 1 and Formula 2 championships, with their cars beset by reliability problems, and often failing to even finish a given race. Written by Mark Whitlock, the author recounts how Lotus founder Colin Chapman – famous for his “just add lightness” mantra” overcame those previous disappointing racing seasons, and came back with a new, clean sheet design, the Lotus 18 in 1960.
Lightweight, powerful, well-handling, and simple, the Lotus 18 was both Chapman’s first mid-engined design and a milestone car for the company. Initially powered by a 2.5 liter Coventry Climax engine, but after rule changes, a reduced displacement of only 1.5 liters, and driven by some of the top drivers of the era including Innes Ireland, Jim Clark, and John Surtees, the Lotus 18 proved to be the competitor Chapman and Lotus supporters were hoping for.
While the car’s first Formula One championship win came at the hands of a privateer named Rob Walker (back when privateers could still reasonably compete in the series, a big difference from today) it was driver Stirling Moss who helped make the car’s name, helping Team Lotus finish second in the Constructor’s Championship in both 1960 and 1961 with some breathtaking wins over giant Ferrari during those seasons.
Lotus 18: Colin Chapman’s U-Turn describes the development and competition of a car that over its 7-year competition career heralded that better things were yet to come from a company that was then at a crossroads. It offers a detailed, but extremely readable text accompanied by wonderful photos, technical drawings, cutaways and an appendix detailing the history of all Lotus 18 chassis that were manufactured. If you’re an aficionado of early Formula 1 racing, and Lotus in particular, this book might be considered essential for your library.