Friday, 9 March 2018

The Ultimate Book of the air-cooled Porsche 911 – a review

Graham Robson is a name well known in the motoring world, and he has a few events coming up this month. Saturday will see him chatting to David Richards, CBE at Beaulieu National Motor Museum, and Monday the 12th will see him at Bristol Pegasus Motor Club, with Brian Culcheth, talking about the 1970 World Cup Rally

As if he's not busy enough, Graham has also been reviewing some of our books. Today, we bring you Graham's review of The Ultimate book of the air-cooled Porsche

"Note carefully that word – Ultimate – for it told us everything we needed to know about this monumental study of Porsche's iconic 911. But with 592 pages, well over 1250 illustrations, and enough detail to satisfy any enthusiast's memory banks, could it be anything else. We could, in fact, have expected nothing less from Brian Long, who is a totally addicted admirer of these cars. Not only has he owned 911s, driven 911s, and been involved in the restoration of 911s, but has clearly been totally besotted with these cars for the half-century in which they have been on the world's roads.

The very first 911, complete with its rear-mounted flat-six air-cooed engine, went on sale in 1964, and the last was assembled in 1998, when it was finally replaced by yet more 911s, but thereafter equipped with water-cooled engines. In those thirty-four years, Long has somehow managed to include a description of the myriad different specifications, engines, transmissions, colour schemes, specialised market types, coupes, convertibles and competition versions – and has somehow kept it all understandable to a casual reader (who will, we promise, become an avid reader shortly afterwards).



Because this is a huge, and bulky book, which comes in its own special slip-case, we expected to find beautifully-presented colour images on almost every page, and were not disappointed, but were also vastly impressed by the excellent picture quality, the variety of car, component, brochure and advertising reproductions and, amazingly, by the easy-to-follow way in which the book is laid out. This, of course, in not a volume which can be skimmed at a sitting, but needs careful study – and the enjoyment of reading a real tour de force.

Over the years, and because there were so many different engine sizes, power ratings, carburetted, fuel-injected and turbocharged models, all matched to rear-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive, different colour charts for every model year, and special specifications for special markets, a seemingly endless evolution of Porsche's dedication to their layout (and style) merges. You need to know the detail technical specification for each model year? It's there. You want to know what combination of body colour and trim layout was available for particular markets? How many cars were built in each model year? That's all there too.

Yet Long, somehow has given this monumental book a real theme from start to finish, of how the car which started out with handling and other shortcomings, but which gradually became the standard by which all its rivals measured themselves, developed. To decide whether this tome is worth £175, you need only remind yourself that nearly 457,000 air-cooled 911s were built, and you will see that the magic is truly world-wide."

Note: This book is a limited edition of just 911 copies and is only available directly from Veloce's website.

Be sure to check out the wide range of Graham Robson books we have in stock over on our website.