Gear: These Are The 5 Books We Fell In Love With This January

These Are The 5 Books We Fell In Love With This January

By Benjamin Shahrabani
January 18, 2017

In the 1976 movie Gumball Rally, Italian race driver Franco Bertolini, played with exquisite campiness by the dear, departed Raul Julia, rips the rear view mirror off his Ferrari Daytona, and says “what’s-a behind me is not important”.

While we at Petrolicious admire his aplomb, that’s exactly what the books – and one journal – offered for your reading consideration here do. They take you back, and show you something that may have been unknown or forgotten. Each book presented illustrates that some things are perhaps best not left in the proverbial rearview mirror, be it old cars, a defunct brand or a design. So often, great work is built on the backs of the greats that came before it.

2017 is already shaping up to be a fantastic year in books. What are you looking forward to reading this year? Please let us know in the comments.

Title: Marcello Gandini: Maestro of Design
Author: Gautem Sen
Publisher: Dalton Watson Fine Books
Format: Hardcover, 800 pages. 2 Volume Set

Marcello Gandini was born on August 26, 1938. Raised in Turin, the motor city of Italy, and born the son of a musician, composer, and conductor, perhaps it might have been expected that more than a modicum of creativity would run through his veins. While the designer is best associated with some of the most exotic Italian cars produced in the 1960’s and 1970’s – the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, and the production Lancia Stratos – when looking at Gandini’s career in retrospect, he has had a very deep and diverse client list including Alfa Romeo, BMW, Bugatti, Cizeta, Citroën, De Tomaso, Ferrari, Fiat, Iso Rivolta, Lamborghini, Lancia, Maserati, and Renault, as well as branching out into other areas including architecture, and even the body styling of the Heli-Sport CH-7 helicopter.

Yet, despite a six-decade long career, and his impact on automotive design that is still felt today, no tome on the designer has ever been published until now. In Marcello Gandini: Maestro of Design, author and fellow designer Gautem Sen was able to converse with the enigmatic Gandini and examine some of his most landmark designs in a depth never before seen. While the information in this book could have been dense, it reads anything but thanks to a surprisingly easy-going quasi-conversational writing style and format that Sen was able to impart, and made possible due to efforts on the author’s part as he notes how he attempted contacting the notoriously introverted Gandini for years, and only after much persistence was able to get an agreement to interview the designer through Gandini’s daughter. The cars depicted in this two-volume set are often stunning, while the books themselves are superbly presented with oversized, glossy pages, and an organized and logical layout. As such, and with Gandini’s “narration” of his own work, each chapter, each car explored, becomes something to read and savor. This is much, much more than a mere coffee table book.

With the designer’s own words, authoritative writing, and lavish production quality, Marcello Gandini: Maestro of Design must be considered an essential addition to any serious automotive book collection. Expensive? Yes, but the real question is not whether you should purchase this book, but if you should buy a spare copy. For if one should lend it out, it is a distinct possibility it won’t be brought back.

Title: Rost in Peace: Automobile Discoveries in the USA
Author: Heribert Niehues
Publisher: Delius Klasing
Format: Softcover, 144 pages

While one might have expected the more typical, English spelling of the word “rust” in the title, the misspelling is there by no accident. Rost in Peace: Automobile Discoveries in the USA is the latest bilingual, English-German book from publisher Delius Klasing, and seeks to photographically celebrate America’s lost, and often rusty cars.

While there has been such a slew of books and television programs about barn finds that the subject has its own genre, it stands to reason that not every derelict car can actually be discovered hiding out in a proverbial barn waiting to see the light of day: some may be hidden away in (almost) plain sight, under vegetation, in fields, under tarps, or behind an abandoned gas station. And this is precisely what author and photographer Heribert Niehues discovered when he took it upon himself to bring to light just a fraction of these undoubtedly countless decaying husks laying around the United States.

Each of the chapters in Rost in Peace depicts a region that Niehues visited during his journeys around the United States – the West, the Midwest, and the deep South – and from the ordinary to the collectable, he photographed cars and trucks he happened upon that have, for one reason or another, become forgotten. Why were they discarded? Sometimes the answer is unknowable, but other times one might infer what may have happened from Niehues’ beautiful and often evocative pictures – a crumpled fender, a missing part, neglect. Accompanying each photograph is a small paragraph of text written in both English and German telling the reader what the car is, and where it was found.

Will some of the cars in this book ever hit the road again? Unlikely, but some of the pictures just may inspire you to jump in your car and discover your own field of rusty, automotive dreams.

Title: Bella Mangusta: The Italian Art and Design of the DeTomaso Mangusta
Author: Dick Ruzzin
Publisher: Xlibris
Format: Softcover, 124 pages

Argentine-born racing driver Alejandro de Tomaso immigrated to Italy in the 1950s. Continuing his chosen career, he drove OSCA race cars and later for the Maserati Brothers. His exposure to racing and the auto industry gave him the know-how to start his own company, and so De Tomaso Automobile SpA came into being in 1959. While his first efforts were perhaps significantly flawed, DeTomaso seems to have gotten things right with the the Mangusta or “Mongoose” in 1967, which gave rise to De Tomaso as bona fide sports car manufacturer.

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro for Ghia, the Mangusta featured muscular, wide-shouldered bodywork with its signature feature being a center hinged Gullwing-style rear window over the engine and luggage compartment. The aesthetic and functional design of this stunning car also leads us to the book at hand, Bella Mangusta: The Italian Art and Design of the DeTomaso Mangusta. Written by Dick Ruzzin, a former General Motors Designer, the author has owned the Mangusta specially ordered by GM design head William L. Mitchell with a Chevy V8 for over forty-seven years, and here he depicts, analyzes, and explains the many nuances of the car’s design, revealing facets and elements with a nuanced eye that may well go unnoticed by most others.

While the subject matter is a narrow one, DeTomaso fanatics and hybrid Italian-American hybrid aficionados should find this an engrossing and easy read.

Title: Triumph TR: TR2 to 6: The Last of the Traditional Sports Cars
Author: Bill Pigott
Publisher: Veloce
Format: Hardcover, 160 pages

Triumph was founded by a pair of engineers, Siegfried Bettmanom and Moritz Shultte, in 1885. Initially producing bicycles, the company would begin to manufacture cars by 1889. While the company would experience ups and downs, eventually being taken over by the Standard Motor Car Company following World War II, it would be the introduction of the TR2 in 1953 that created a real stir for the brand. With sweeping fenders, diminutive size, and offering an open-air experience, the Triumph TR2 was a hit with the press and public alike, leading to a further series of seminal sports car experiences. While the company is defunct today, its spirit lives on in roadsters like Mazda’s Miata.

Focusing on just those models produced from 1953-1976, serial Triumph owner Bill Piggott examines these quintessentially British automobiles in Triumph TR: TR2 to 6: The Last of the Traditional Sports Cars. With an unparalleled access to Triumph factory records and archives, the author delves into a great British nameplate, which while never having a very large budget utilized often inspired engineering to achieve significant sales and motorsport success. Exceedingly informative, the book captures both the cars and what was happening within the company during the time period with a concise narrative, all backed up with a plethora of both contemporary and archival photography, schematics, period advertising, and other material. Neat stuff, and even better that one can find it all in one place.

Well produced and put together, this book from Veloce’s Classic Reprint Series would certainly make a nice addition to a Triumph aficionado’s library.

Title: Alloy + Grit: Winter 2017
Authors: Various
Publisher: Alloy Publishing Group
Format: Magazine, 120 pages

Alloy + Grit is a new Land Rover-centric journal that was launched in 2016 and caters to Land Rover/Range Rover vehicles and enthusiasts. While the content of each subsequent issue will change from issue to issue – and this review specifically concerns the Winter 2017 edition – one might rightly assume certain facets to remain the same. Inside, the reader will find articles and stories relating to both new and vintage vehicles, customization, off-road adventures, travel resources, tips and tricks, and gear. The editorials are well-written and edited, and accompanied by loads of high-quality photographs of Land Rover vehicles doing what they do best.

Printed on a hardy paper stock seemingly as tough as the vehicles it portrays, it’s good value too – a one-year subscription costs just $30. A Land Rover owner will surely want to keep and archive every issue.

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1 year ago

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Julia Cronen
Julia Cronen
1 year ago

Great selection of books, I can say that I have only come across books on design before, as I was interested in the subject. I studied design and wrote a couple of papers based on these books. Admittedly, it was not always easy and I even used services such as to write an assignment about the history of automobile manufacturing in Italy. I have now picked up a book on forgotten cars in America. It’s a very interesting topic. 

308GT4 Dino
308GT4 Dino
7 years ago

I just got the signed edition of the Gandini book and it is fantastic. worth the money for anyone that admires the Maestro’s work.

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