Book marques: The best new classic car books

| 5 Feb 2018
Book marques: The best new classic car books

Whether you're after expert info to help with your latest restoration project, want to delve into the history of a favourite marque or simply fancy some light reading, there's sure to be a classic car book out there for you.

But where to start?

Don't worry: we've done the hard work for you, rounding up a selection of new classic car books and giving you our verdict on whether they're worth your precious time.


F1 Retro 1980 by Mark Hughes (£60)


If you want effortless knowledge imparted via beautifully written words, then Mark Hughes is your man.

This eagerly awaited follow-up to F1 Retro 1970 focuses on the watershed year when cash-strapped lateral thinking – F1’s life force – went head-to-head with corporate moolah, while a banker’s son from Brazil fought an Aussie bruiser for the crown.

Hughes paints the picture brilliantly, recalling when Alan Jones and Nelson Piquet clashed in Canada, the penultimate round, handing the title to Jones in the Patrick Head-designed Williams FW07.

The plot is related in gripping detail, plus the story of the races, the machinery and the cast. There’s even an in-depth study of that groundbreaking ground-effect Williams, accompanied by superbly reproduced graphics of its airflow.

There are factoids at the start of each chapter – race distances, fastest laps, plus the number-one singles at the time – and full stats at the end, as well as interviews. Did you know, for instance, that Jones won a horse (as well as the French GP) at Paul Ricard?

It’s lavishly illustrated throughout – with plenty of racing images, plus candid shots of the drivers and more – on luxurious paper. Magical.

Buy F1 Retro 1980 from Amazon


Ford GT40 (Great Cars series #11) by Ray Hutton (£60)

Ford_GT40.pngArguably the most successful GT40, ‘1075’ is the subject of the latest in the Great Cars series.

In the hands of Bianchi and Rodríguez in 1968, and Ickx and Oliver in 1969, this car landed two Le Mans victories among six outright wins.

After an introduction that sets out the GT40 story, Ray Hutton moves into the specifics of this particular car with an outstanding selection of images from its career on track and behind the scenes.

The text offers detailed accounts from the races over those key seasons, before launching into profiles of all those who got behind the wheel of ‘1075’ – including Redman, Hawkins, Jobbs and Hailwood.

Another comprehensive, well-produced and well-priced offering.

Buy Ford GT40 from Blackwell's


Our Le Mans by Hans Hamer, Delius Klasing (£26.40)

our_le_mans.pngThere’s no shortage of McQueen books, and many tell the story of Le Mans, but this one concentrates on the relationship between our hero and Siegfried Rauch, who played his on-screen rival, Erich Stahler.

In the early pages, Rauch reveals that McQueen requested that he be cast, after seeing his Captain Steiger in Patton, and the pair became firm friends.

Naturally, the book also explores the filming of the iconic movie, but other inclusions make it stand out, such as a lap of Le Mans with Mark Webber, plus input from Jürgen Barth, Richard Attwood, Derek Bell and David Piper – backed up with the inclusion of some excellent imagery.

For real McQueen fanatics, the story even closes with instructions on how to cook steak just the way Steve liked it!

Buy Our Le Mans from Blackwell's


Lancia Delta Integrale by Peter Collins (£35)

lancia_delta_integrale.pngItalophile Peter Collins relates the development of the iconic Delta Integrale in some detail, both in competition and as a road car. He also covers a number of interesting one-offs and concepts that you may never have heard of, such as the cabrio built for the Agnelli family.

The first edition was published 14 years ago, and it’s been heavily updated with full colour images – many from the author’s personal collection, which is a nice touch.

Buy Lancia Delta Integrale from Amazon


Porsche Boxster & Cayman: The 987 Series 2004 to 2013 by Brian Long (£40)

porsche_boxter_cayman.pngBuilt from 2004-’13, the 987 series might not yet have achieved classic status, but on past Porsche form you can expect it to follow – and if you fork out £40 for this new Veloce tome you’ll be well armed with info.

Brian Long covers the models’ history, development and production in impressive detail, and there’s useful technical data in the appendices, too.

Buy Porsche Boxster & Cayman: The 987 Series 2004 to 2013 from Amazon


Subaru Impreza Group A Rally Car (Haynes Owners' Workshop Manual) by Andrew van de Burgt (£22.99)

haynes_subaru.pngAndrew van de Burgt’s overview of the Impreza in rallying is bursting with top-notch imagery, much straight from the Prodrive archives.

There’s a blow-by-blow account of each season, plus a chapter on fettling a GpA Impreza – plenty for casual fans as well as devotees.

Buy Subaru Impreza Haynes Owners' Workshop Manual from Blackwell's


RAC Rally Action! by Tony Gardiner & The Daily Mirror 1970 World Cup Rally 40 by Graham Robson (£25 each)

rac_rally_action_world_cup_rally.pngEven if you’re not keen on rallying, you’ll enjoy these top-quality Classic Reprints from Veloce.

Graham Robson recounts the epic Daily Mirror 1970 World Cup Rally 40 – ‘the most enthralling adventure I ever tackled’ – while Tony Gardiner is your guide to RAC Rally Action! from the 1960s to the ’80s.

Buy RAC Rally Action! from Amazon

Buy The Daily Mirror 1970 World Cup Rally 40 from Amazon


TVR 1946-1982 by Matthew Vale (£25)

TVR.pngLaunching a book on this period of TVR puts you up against the oracle, Peter Filby. This doesn’t better Filby’s multi-volume masterwork, but it costs a fraction of the price – think of it more as a replacement for Haynes’ Classic Makes series.

The imagery for the early cars could be better, but there’s otherwise much to like, with owner stories adding personality plus plenty of technical detail, along with chapters on powerplants and buying and owning.

Buy TVR 1946-1982 from Amazon


Jeep Wrangler by Nigel Fryatt (£14.99)

jeep_wrangler.pngTimed to coincide with the launch of the latest version of the venerable American 4x4, Nigel Fryatt’s 96-pager charts its evolution from WW2 Willys Jeep, via the various CJ models, to the Wrangler.

There are also sections on modified cars, plus advice on buying and off-road use.

Buy Jeep Wranger from Amazon


The Abarths After Carlo Abarth by Sergio Limone and Luca Gastaldi (£60)

abarth.pngThis hefty paperback covers the many projects by the Italian firm from 1972, when it merged with Fiat’s rally division, to 2005.

There’s a brief overview of each car, with an abundance of Lancias and Alfas but also some less well-known vehicles, such as the Beta-powered Formula Fiat Abarth of 1979.

It will interest fans of Latin race machinery, but the translation is clunky and reproduction of the 518 photos is patchy.

Buy The Abarths After Carlos Abarth from


The Classic Car Adventure by Lance Cole (£19.99)


This eclectic collection of writings covers a range of topics, from the smell of old Saabs, via the Leyland P76 to a whisky-fuelled encounter with Innes Ireland.

It’s harmless light reading, and an alternative to picking up a magazine at the airport. But it would have benefited from a thorough proofreading, and the occasional illustrations and photographs are mostly black-and-white.

Buy The Classic Car Adventure from Amazon