Gear: These Are The 3 Books We Fell In Love With In November

These Are The 3 Books We Fell In Love With In November

By Benjamin Shahrabani
December 1, 2016

November is a great time with the cooling temperatures to cuddle up inside and bury yourself in a book or two. Here, then are three books that, depending on your automotive predilections you might lose yourself in – there’s a book about  70-years of Ferrari, the racing history of an often misunderstood Porsche, and a weighty tome (actually two) about Audi’s design aesthetic over an almost fifty-year period.

What are you reading? Please let us know and any of your suggestions in the comments.

Ferrari 70 Years

Author(s): Dennis Adler
Publisher: Motorbooks
Pages: 320

It seems difficult to believe, but time flies quickly, and next year Ferrari turns seventy-years young. To help mark the occasion prolific automotive author and historian Dennis Adler celebrates one of the world’s most storied marques in Ferrari 70 Years, an expansive look into the iconic road and competition cars the company has produced over seven-decades, and which have made the name Ferrari recognized on every continent and in every language.

After a foreword by Luigi Chinetti, Jr., Adler starts out with some backstory on company founder Enzo Ferrari. Recounting his early days with Scuderia Alfa Romeo as both a racing driver and later team manager, Ferrari found himself at a crossroads in 1939 after he parted ways with the Milanese company after almost twenty-years of service. Whether he left or was fired is up for debate, but one thing remains clear – when most men would have hung up their driving gloves and taken their pension, Ferrari still wanted to work. Still wanted to race. So he returned to the place of his birth, the town of Modena, and set up shop. The timing couldn’t have been worse as World War II intervened. And after, the landscape including the automotive one was very different. The non-compete agreement with Alfa Romeo had run out so Ferrari could build cars under his own name, but there was no-one to buy his handcrafted racing machines in post-war Italy. It would be a fateful meeting with Luigi Chinetti Sr. who urged him to look westward and would soon become Ferrari’s import agent in the United States, that gave him the confidence and subsequently the investment to build the company’s first sports cars bearing the Ferrari name.

After the historical interlude, the next 250-pages examines the actual vehicles. The majority of cars in this book are road cars, but there are several road-and-racing models featured too from an era that is almost sure not to be repeated. Logically, the author starts at the beginning with the the first ever Ferrari-badged car, the 1947 125 S, powered by a 1.5 L V12 engine. More power and refinement came with the 166 and 212 Spider Touring setting the mold and making a name for the company. And so on and so forth. Other highlights include the 250 TR Testa Rossa that made the company a dominant force on the world’s racing circuits. The legendary 250 GTO, considered by many to be the most beautiful shape ever to grace an automobile. The Dino, a tribute to Enzo Ferrari’s son Alfredo “Dino” Ferrari. The supercar era, and the models that helped define that incredible time period in sports car development such as the unforgettable 288 GTO, F40, F50, and Enzo. Finally, we reach the present –  shall we call it the hypercar era? – with the LaFerrari taking center stage. If it was a production Ferrari, it’s in here.

The text for each model recounted is detailed and informative without getting too bogged down in the minutiae, making the book accessible to almost any reader. The Ferrari cars are pictured in all their splendor – mostly color, many times large, but always highly-detailed, and clear in a variety of different poses. Adler conveys insight and outlines, when laid out chronologically as in this book, an amazing evolution of Ferrari cars over seven-decades. Together, these facets make this book a worthy purchase in any Ferrari owner or enthusiast’s bookshelf.

Porsche – The Racing 914s

Author: Roy Smith
Publisher: Veloce
Pages: 320

Many Porsche enthusiasts snubbed the 914 as “not a real” Porsche given its Volkswagen heritage, and for many years after – and even when the car was in production – the car was widely overlooked. But almost 120,000 were produced from 1969-1976…and more than a few of those went racing. In Porsche – The Racing 914s, Roy Smith, an enthusiast turned serious automotive writer, raises new awareness for a misunderstood model and reveals that while the model’s factory competition life was relatively short, and perhaps not particularly memorable, it was considerably more successful in the hands of predominantly American privateers and dealer-sponsored teams who developed a racing reputation for the 914 which is the predominant focus of this book.

While 914’s had some more minor successes in Europe in long distance events, the cars didn’t catch one as much as their flagship 911. It would have been a tall order in any case. Still, Por­sche decided to get the little mid-engined sports car on the track in the hope that the car would catch on amongst enthusiasts in the United States. Joe Hoppen, Porsche+Audi Competition Manager, was given the job of developing an effective strategy. Hoppen’s decided to run the more powerful 914-6 as dealer/factory sponsored machine, while pushing the less expensive 914-4 towards privateers.

At first, competition Datsun and Triumph lobbied to keep the 914 out of their respective Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) classes, but Hoppen had an ace in the hole. He asked the SCCA let the 914-6 run in C Production, and the 914-4 run in E Production. In return, Porsche would pull their efforts from the winning 911 in the under-two-liter category with the 911. The SCCA concurred. For 1970, 914’s of both strengths found the podium and were competitive in their respective classes, however a championship win proved elusive. For the next year Hoppen tried a new strategy, and introduced the new and stouter 914-6 GT, however too few were built at the time to meet the SCCA Production class requirements. Hoppen took the car to the IMSA series instead where the Brumos 914-6GT and their new driver, Hurley Haywood won six of seven IMSAGTU events and consequently the 1971 series championship.

There’s much more to this book than that of course. Over 320 pages the author paints a picture of a little car that actually could win, and became recognized for its handling and reliability on the track despite initial reservations. Filled with photographs from the period, time sheets, and records, it’s great to see a well written and researched book about the 914. Today, there are few worthy books on the 914, and even less about the model’s racing history.

Limited to just 1500 copies, this book is recommended for the 914 fanatics – I know you’re out there and looking for inspiration to go racing.

Audi Design: Evolution of Form

Author: Othman Wickenheiser
Publisher: Delius Klasing
Pages: 636

Audi Design: Evolution of Form is a extravagantly produced two-volume edition celebrating the design “aesthetic” of the company whose logo is the elegant four interlocking rings. Progressive design has been a key element of Audi throughout the brand’s existence, however the influence of Audi’s styling advances have often been overlooked. Author Professor Othmar Wickenheiser, whose speciality is in the development of car design, explains and analyses the Audi aesthetic – the appearance and the ergonomics – of the company’s cars through an almost five-decade period.

Two visually rich tomes explain some of the milestones, genesis and design metamorphosis of each model examined. The first volume covers cars produced from the years 1965-2000. Bauhaus design ideals influenced models such as the 100 (also called the 5000 in the United States before the unintended acceleration controversy) a true champion of mid 1980’s aerodynamics. The A8 of the 2000’s which not only helped pioneer the aluminum space frame but ushered in high shoulders and different proportions – “two-thirds body and one-third cabin” – and a feature still in evidence on current Audis. The first generation TT coupe, which debuted as a concept at the 1995 Frankfurt auto show, and was another milestone for the brand. Using lightweight construction and sharp lines, Audi created an iconic vehicle. The second volume covers the years from 2001-2013 while also looking forward, to the future. During this period, Audi moved into a distinct new direction while never out of touch with the old. Under the direction of former chief Seat and Alfa Romeo stylist, Walter Maria de Silva, Audi design became “more emotional, more human and a bit more relaxed”. One can see this direction in the A5 coupe, the R8 sports car and the second-generation TT and A4 sedan with their more organic lines.

Within the weighty 636 pages, one will find pages of designer commentary, illustrations, as well sketches and photographs of various Audi design concepts and elements that highlights the lines and lavish details of the vehicles, along with never before published images and technical and engineering highlights. If one wishes to get a deeper look into the process that takes place before a car goes into production, this book offers it up by showing the the influences that contributed to the design of Audi cars.

What should we look for in the future from Audi? If history is any indicator, the design changes will be evolutionary. It is important for a marque not to disavow everything that came before.

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Daisy Gosia
Daisy Gosia
2 years ago

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