Monday, October 8, 2012

Ferrari by Leonard Setright

This book is part of a series by Ballantine books series on the history of the car. Ferrari was number 5 and published in 1971 with an intro by John Surtees. Most people know the author by the name LJK Setright who was featured in CAR magazine for many years. The book is decidedly English and some of the idioms and references didn't translate to me as an American forty years later. He also has an annoying habit of using foreign phrases in place of English at most inappropriate places, like "...making the FIAT Dino a rare automotive example of legititmation per matrimonium subsequens." Really, what's the point? 
He has divided the history into a few chapter segments: The Slow Forging of Independence, What Makes A Ferrari and Why All The Fuss?, Front Engine Single Seaters, Rear Engine Single Seaters, The Racing Sports Cars and finally Ferraris In The Street. He skips around a bit too much, introducing an idea here and then dropping it to be reintroduced at a later more appropriate time. It took me a while to settle into his groove.
Once involved with the story, he tells it very well and includes some perspectives not covered to any satisfaction by other authors. He talks about the commercialization of Ferrari, how the old man made production work for him while maintaining a rapid R&D department. He also originates or perpetuates some misinformation, such as the old "different oils for transmission and overdrive" dilemma.  I don't know what his engineering credentials are (certainly better than mine), but I questioned some of his views from this perspective, like forged v. billet cranks. There's also some confusing text differentiating models like the 250 Europa (which is referred to as a 250 Export at one point) from the Europa GT. His conversation about suppliers v. in-house manufacturing is interesting.
Overall this is a satisfying overview of the company, written shortly after the FIAT merger and refreshing in having been done "in period". Really, there's the Hans Tanner book and its revisions, the terrific Fitgerald & Merritt book and little else published before this one, so he doesn't have a lot of pre-published sources to pull from, mostly magazine articles (and some of them are great). Originally priced at a dollar, Setright did a very good job telling this story to the general 1970s public, adding some personal anecdotes and views to make this a nice little addition to your library.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Enzo Ferrari by Richard Williams

This is delightful book on the life of Enzo Ferrari. It treats his universe as an evolution rather than being born by some big bang or immaculate conception. You feel like his personal driver(s), chef, accountant and barber have all been referenced for this behind-the-scenes feel of the book. There are the usual suspects, those closest to Ferrari who have for the most part been reverently quiet about their boss, but Williams has dug a bit deeper than other authors. For example, we know that Ferrari was denied a position at FIAT after the war. We (I) didn't know the man who turned him down was named Diego Seria. I'm impressed. 

I like the telling of the early racing days and the time with Alfa. There is even mention of his motorcycle racing team, which was pretty extensive. The Ferrari egg was his racing career. The Scuderia of the 20s and 30s was the larval period, feeding, learning and growing. After leaving Alfa he entered a pupae stage where his metamorphosis took place, and he emerged from the war a new creature, ready to fly.  

There are a lot of books on this subject, even some in Enzo's own words. It's hard to tell where specific information comes from. Yates' book was very well researched and he offered a lot of insight (some of it heavily biased) but history is a tough thing to document accurately. The story of Ford Motor Company's courtship of Enzo Ferrari has been told many times, sometimes by those who were there first hand, yet there are differences in all the stories. In Williams' accounting, using Franco Gozzi as a source, the deal  terminated in an explosion. In Don Frey's (Ford's representative) recollection in Road & Track, he made it sound like negotiations ended quietly with Enzo and Franco walking out for dinner.

One place where biographers seem to agree is a point I'd argue. In most books we're told that the only thing that really mattered to Ferrari was Formula One, and that he never attended races. Both Williams and Yates books treat GT, sports and prototype racing as an aside. Endurance racing is pretty well glossed over in both books. Le Mans is given only a paragraph or two in this book. But Enzo not only created cars for these races, but picked the drivers, manipulated rules and relied on sports car's success to catapult his name to glory. He not only attended all the Mille Miglia races, but stationed himself at a checkpoint giving strategy to the drivers. This is not incidental involvement. In the early days he used GT and prototypes as development for GP cars as often as he used GP cars as a way to improve the sports racers.
This book flows along well. It is written in a conversational style and really feels like the author has an inside track to Enzo's life. His personal and professional life seems to be handled with an even hand. The author shows the rough spots respectfully and the glories without too much applause. It's a good read and I recommend it to anyone interested in a clear and thorough telling of this great story.                   

Enzo Ferrari by Brock Yates

The whole title is Enzo Ferrari - The Man, the Cars, the Races. This is a big book about a big figure in history and must've been a mammoth undertaking to research. I think its a well researched book and Yates has talked to as many people as will talk to him about the subject. I remember when the book came out, Yates was raked across the coals for some of his conclusions, which came across as sacrilegious in places. He made it a point to explain some of his text with a letter to Cavallino (issue 72, p. 4+8), that clarified his role as an objective journalist, not a cheerleader. 

In the foreword of his book he offers "The resulting picture may offend many of his followers who have come to believe that he was a demigod..." The offense of the book is in Yates' projecting an agenda, sometimes rudely, of an opinion he either started with or developed along the way while compiling information in the book. The agenda seems to be three fold. 

One is that most of Ferrari's victories came in the wake of substandard competition, that when faced with first class opposition, he faltered. You win some you loose some, that's sort of the way racing is. But see if this sounds biased, "Ferrari also developed the little 312PBs with 3-liter flat-12s in the early 60s. But by then he was on the verge of leaving sports car competition for good. Had he chosen to stay he would have faced enormous challenges from Porsche and the French areospace firm of Matra." First off, the 312PBs were in the early 70s and second, he completely ignores the fact they went practically undefeated and typically took the first three to five places all year long. This omission had to be intentional considering the comprehensive scope of his research.

The second agenda drives home the notion that Ferrari, the man and/or the company, never invented anything. He writes factually about the evolution of tried and true principles and Ferrari's reluctance to incorporate unproven technology. This is all pretty well known, like the fact that Disney never drew his characters but relied on a crack creative team around him. I think someone took offense to Yates position here, and Ferrari: 50 Years of Innovations in Technology was published in 1997. This book went a bit far the other way but it presents a pretty good case that Ferrari did put a few new cards on the table. But Yates obsessing on the subject is not good journalism. I just turned to a random page here, and he talks about the 250GTO "...when it was introduced on that chill day in 1962, its purpose was simply to win the new Grand Touring Championship and to dispose of the upstart Cobras in the process." This seems like a fair enough introduction to a car that became legend, but he continues, "This it would do in the near term, but by 1964 the lovely coupes from California, in the hands of experts like Dan Gurney, were considerably faster and more than capable of wresting the championship away from the red machines". In the space between sentences he ignores two years of Cobra's development and the FIAs denial of Ferrari's evolution of the GTO. He subsequently claims the GTO's success is based on a lack of competition, which was the same Cobra he is praises in the previous sentence. I just don't like this kind of confusing and weird partiality.

The third thing is that there are times when Yates is just rude. He proposes that Enzo's wife Laura may have been a prostitute, and that syphilis may have been present in the family germ pool. This is all well and good, but he calls Laura a whore on more than one occasion. I'm not sure that, given the same information about Ford or Duesenberg's wife he would have used such harsh terms. This is just disrespectful of Ferrari and makes me believe that Yates is not an unbiased reporter but a guy with an axe to grind.

It's a dark cover on this dark portrait. I'm not apt to recommend this book, especially in light of an excellent volume by Richard Williams that is now available.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Modena Racing Memories by Graham Gauld

Modena Racing Memories
Italian Sports Car & Grand Prix Racing 1957 – 1963
Graham Gauld

One of my favorite benefits of being in the Ferrari Club of America is reading Graham Gauld’s “Gauld Mine” in the club’s terrific magazine Prancing Horse. So here’s a full book of his first hand anecdotal stories, filled with great pictures and insight. The conversational text is more than an accounting of events, but clearly puts things in context of the times. There was a lot more going on in Modena than just Ferrari and he details the rivalries and developments of all the areas protagonists, again adding to the context of the Ferrari story. The relationships he established with the players of the time contribute to the feeling of being there yourself, not only in Modena, but other places in Europe that hoped to shift the balance of power from this small Emilian area to their own backyards. Gauld set out to find the Modena that Jenks had described and not only found it, but created a view of his own that he recounts with clarity, humor and an amazing accuracy, he’s even kept track of serial numbers. Gauld had amazing access to everybody. He was there behind the scenes with the devopement of the ASA and the first mid-engined Dino. He recounts the big walkout with a perspective that is now widely known, but wasn’t until Graham put it in print. So this is much more than a picture book, but a journal of his visits to great races, cottage racecar shops and the big hitters of Modena supported by some rare and interesting photos.

Here are a few comments on some photos and captions:
p. 21 Top left are Ferrari blocks and single port heads.

p.34 Note too that the tach is upside down, easier to see the red line.

p.35. Note all the shocks under the bench and steering columns on the bench.

p.36 Grinding a crankshaft, not a camshaft.

p.43 Check out the highly polished spring. Compare this dash to the one on p.34, similar wheel and tach orientation, different gauges and mirrors.

p.45 Look how offset the jack is. Looks like you’d have to turn the steering wheel to put the front wheel back on.

p.59 I like the tags on the radiator support and the front top suspension point. Note the “4” on the tunnel and the ladder frame chassis on the ground.

p.60 Not sure this is a GT, comp filler on the gas tank, trailing link and anti-sway bar on the rear, the ribbed gearbox, twin brake cylinders and comp type parking brake lever.

p.61 These heads have the little stand or boss for Le Mans scrutineering stamp.

p.74 Very similar to p.35 and now you can see the tree outside.

P. 78 Both the caption and the text describe testing Dunlop wheels. I’m tempted to think they mean tires or even brakes. Dunlop did make alloy wheels but the one shot that shows wheels in these shots show Borannis. Bottom picture shows three four choke Solex carbs.

P.79 This is 677GT on the top left.

p.82 To me it looks like the center car is 744, the way the headrest drops off quickly seems unique to that car, it was renumbered from 646. The car on the left might be TR 746 which went to Chinetti.

P.84 The PF coupe body is mounted on a chassis, note the axle cable hangers and fuel filter mount.

p.85 By 1960 the place was modernized; this shot shows late GTEs and a Lusso, probably 1963.

p.103 Doesn’t appear that the gauge is recalibrated, just enhanced.

P.107 I think this might be a LWB Cal, also has two eared knock offs.

p.110 Caption describes a berlinetta spyder, what the hell is that?

p.114 GTE and Lussos on the left, an LMB and GTO on the right.

p.132 Note the square bezel in the middle of the dash. It's a Halda Speed Pilot rally clock for keeping track of speed time and distance. It has two round faces, I think one is a clock and one is a timer, three knobs along the bottom edge, one in each top corner and an digital (old days mechanical digital) odometer. This may mean this TdF was destined for rallying and might help in its identification.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ferrari, The Factory by Karl Ludvigsen

Ferrari, The Factory, Maranello's Secrets 1950~1975

Introduction by Karl Ludvigsen

Another terrific book for those who'd like a glimpse "behind the scenes" and "how it was done" kind of information. This is primarily a picture book, with big b/w images, one per page, in this 8 1/2" X 10" book from 2002. I particularly like the older shots from the 50s and 60s but the later stuff from the race department is cool too. I can't help but wonder about the choice for the cover photo, there are so many great shots that actually pertain to the title, this contemporary shot seems out of place. Here are some comments, notes and a few corrections (to my eye) that I made to keep with the book.

p.6 If you go to the upper right you go to Maranello, lower left is Modena.

p.8 Dig the nice curtains.

p.12 1st machine does valve seats, 2nd machine trans cases, 3rd has transmission top covers.

p.13 Note chassis 150A differs from others which are GTs, see pages 16 & 17. Front guy is working on front suspension but it isn't installed until the last tressle where we see four brake drums attached, that chassis has a comp filler neck. Also notice the differentials; on the ground at the 4th stand (where the chassis is flipped), raised off the ground on the 5th stand and in place on the 6th. I like the cool b/w painted vices.

p.15 Is that a heat shield over the starter?

p.16 Chassis says 250/177E. There is a chassis 177E that is a 212 made in late 1951, 250s not being in odd number production until late 1953 (could 250 refer to something else?). As a 212 177E was bodied by Pininfarina. Could it be a rebody or reused number or other oddity?

p.16 & 17 Nice comparison of a 212 and a 340 shot over the same drain. Note the chassis outriggers on the 212 and just an exhaust hanger on the 340 (this is Gil Nickels old car). This is clearly shown on p.13 where the two chassis types are again next to each other.

p 18 & 19 Two four cylinder engines in the same room. One on a stand, the other on a dyno. One is complete, the other needs ignition and water housing, one has the fuel log on top the carbs, the other below.

p.20 Note brake line guides and engine crank guide as compared to chassis on p.21

p.21 Check out the chassis on the left, the engine mounts are located around mid-tube. The chassis on the right (behind the F1) are in the usual upright position.

p.23 Note chassis hoops are painted gray, the chassis, black. We see a guy's leg but no upper torso, must be moving fast. I like the curl to the upper A-arm.

p.24 & 25 Probably chassis 264M or 272M. 264M has been re-bodied, so tough to make comparisons, but 272M has concave rockers like this one, maybe they both did at one time.

p.28 The wheels are probably test wheels shared by all the cars so they don't have to re-polish the wheels of each car.

p.33 128D?

p.36 This picture is taken from the steps of the elevated track (see p.40). I like the 154 painted on the scatter shield, although I don't remember the number, my PF coupe had a number hand painted on the underside of the tunnel, but not stenciled. Look at the paint on the chassis tube in front of the rear motor mount (that we see again on p.40). Look at all those oil filters, where do they fit at this stage of the game?

p.37 The 3rd chassis back is the probably the front one on p.36, note it is even with the drill press. These are drum brake, proportioning valve six into one headered cars.

p.39 It looks like 152 on the chassis with the top tilted toward the elevated track.

p.40 These guys are welding and grinding a few feet from finished cars. This chassis is clearly marked 152 and now tilted top away from the elevated track. There's that area on the chassis that has white paint or paper like on p.36.

p.43 Note inboard brakes.

p.48 & 49 Check out the two colors of sand, or are there two different materials being used?

p.49 Look at all those sumps!

p.50 With such a long standing tradition of using Shell products, surprised to see Mobil coolant for the machines, maybe Shell didn't make such a product.

p.51 All these blocks have been drilled, but just the left side. They're stacked alternately front to back so it looks like only half of them have been drilled.

p.53 These chain drives have straight cut gears instead of helical cut like n the 365GTB/4 on p.93.

p.56 Here's a 330 engine, note the angles on the sump.

p.57 Angles of the sump are missing and this is a square sump with the starter way down there, is it a 209 or something else?

p.58 On the left is mostly 330s with two 275s, on the right it is much the same.

p.59 The front car is a 365GT 2+2, behind it is a 330GTC

p.60 Is the thing in front a rear bulkhead for F1 or a sports prototype or something?

p.64 Shot during a rebuild, note exhaust ports and old sump gasket.

p.69 This is likely the engine on p.64. Same pattern in the exhaust ports and no sump.

P.82 Missing the middle carb.

p.93 Note cam chain drives with helical cut gears as opposed to straight cut 275s on p.69.

p.95 These are set on newspapers for some reason, not evident anywhere else.

p.100 Dinos and Boxers both had one piece twin cam covers.

p. 123 & 125 We see Dinos, GT4s, Boxers, 400s and Daytonas all together. Quite a model range!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Inside Ferrari by Michael Dregni

This is a terrific book, published in 1990, filled with the kinds of information I enjoy, particularly the early days. This is a warm account of the history of Ferrari told from a more fundamental side than other accounts. Dregni tells of the development of the factory; its tools and methods of construction, how the company grew over time, not only as it expanded model lines and diversified types of racing entries, but the growth of the factory itself. This tale isn't limited to a short span of time, but covers decades, and reveals how much had changed and thankfully, how much has stayed the same. He really tells the story well, with interesting sidebars on vendors and individuals who have an often hidden role in Ferrari history.

Stan Nowak lamented that Dregni didn't have access to his pictures, and Bob Gurr has some killer period pictures that would be welcome in this format too. As it is, it's a well organized and well researched document of the growth and technical development at Ferrari. The informative text is well researched, it must've been a huge undertaking, and the photo reproduction is very good. Here are the few notes made on the photo captions.

p. 24 Ferrari Factory 1959. One of the Ferrari myths is that complete bodies are made independently and lowered onto completed chassis. In this great shot of a later assembly line we see several PF coupes (as stated) and and late (not an early) single louver TdF 250GT Scaglietti Berlinetta. The chassis are assembled as the caption describes, and then sent to Pininfarina or other carrozeria and returned with the completed body an integral part of the chassis. This is better illustrated in Karl's book. Note the SuperAmerica at the top left.

p. 28 Carrozeria Pinin Farina 1960. This may well be a 250GT at Pininfarina but it is not a Pininfarina Coupe, note the lack of a fresh air vent on the cowl, which was proudly featured on the PF Coupe.

p. 29 Ferrari Factory 1958. This might be a LWB California but most of the 250GTs from this period have a built up box section where this one has a tubular front crosspiece suspension carrier. I'm gonna have to look at a few more cars before I make the call, but it looks more comp than GT.

p. 36 Carrozeria Pinin Farina 1960. Note that we're at Pininfarina, the footwells and firewall being part of the chassis, the bumpers are mounted to the chassis (not the body) and the steering column is in place, indicating the chassis is there. In the white car behind you even see the chassis cross bar through the radiator opening.

p. 56 Ferrari Factory 1989. I don't think this building is in the courtyard, but behind it.

p. 62 Carrozeria Scaglietti 1955. The guy in the sweater looks a lot more like Sergio than either guy with a tie.

p. 65 Carrozeria Scaglietti 1958. These are great shots. I think the lower right photo shows electrical wiring and a positive battery cable, not a brake cable.

p. 73 Carrozeria Pinin Farina 1959. Here you can clearly see the footwells are in place and see the chassis through the rear wheel well and the bumper attaching tubes that are welded to the chassis.

p. 74 Carrozeria Fantuzzi 1978.They go to the trouble to give the chassis number, but as far as I know 2030/62E is jibberish.

p. 106 Ferrari Factory 1960. Okay the engine in the lower left is likely F1 and so is the one next to it. The third one looks like a TdF engine with three carbs and velocity stacks, not six like a TR. The last one looks like a SuperAmerica engine with the low air cleaner, whereas most GTs have a tall air cleaner.

p. 131 Ferrari Factory 1989. These are 348 engines, not F40.

p. 156 Ferrari Race Shop 1956. Judging by the clear plexi hood scoops and RHD sports prototypes and the three carb Dino F1 cars look a lot more like 1959 than 1956.

p. 161 Ferrari Race Shop 1956. It looks like the front box section is unusually crowned to the front.

I've always enjoyed this book and wanted more. More came in 2002 by way of Karl Ludvigsens book Ferrari, The Factory, Maranello's Secrets 1950-1975 that I'll cover in another post.