Book Review: ‘Can-Am Cars in Detail’ by Pete Lyons, Photography by Peter Harholdt

You might miss the flares, side-whiskers and cowboy hats of period photography, but Can-Am enthusiasts will love the latest large-format book from David Bull Publishing, which studies 22 of the most celebrated cars of the period.

Each open two-seater, built to the ‘no-rules’ rules of the Canadian-American Challenge Cup, has been lovingly studio-shot by Peter Harholdt and described in detail by THE historian of the genre, Pete Lyons.

From the white, groundbreaking 1966 Chaparral 2E (top), with its double adjustable wings and high, mid-mounted water radiators, to the sinister black-painted UOP Shadow of 1974, the 244-page book is a testament to the high-profile series and its Formula One-lap-time-beating cars.

In addition to the 2E, there’s also the intensely weird Chaparral 2H and the infamous ‘sucker’ 2J, with its separate Snowmobile engine driving the twin rear fans. Understandably, McLaren is the most numerous marque, with four entries ranging from the 1967 M6A to the mighty M20 of 1972.

European manufacturers, and top Grand Prix drivers, loved the Can-Am for its generous prize money. At a difficult time of industrial disputes and lack of success in F1 and long-distance racing, Ferrari earned some useful cash with its 612P and 712P Can-Am cars.

Porsche, on the other hand, was looking to promote its technological expertise, and came straight from total domination in World Championship sports-car racing in 1970-1971. Taking the flat-12 917 coupé as a base, it developed a turbocharged ‘spider’ which blitzed the opposition in Can-Am for the next two years. The early, non-turbo 917 PA and the later 917/10 and 917/30 (engine, above) are lovingly covered.

And, if the Chaparral 2H isn’t quite off the wall enough for you, the book includes other oddities such as the Holman and Moody-run Honker II (above) and the ‘tiny tyre’ AVS Shadow Mk 1. The latter is almost worth the price of the book alone.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that the Can-Am was run at a time of free love and psychedelic, chemical-induced experimentation – such was the variety of designs that made it to the track. This latest book is a worthy tribute to them all.

The book, hardcover with slipcase, 11" x 11", 244 pages, 157 colour photographs (ISBN-13: 978-1-935007-11-1), is published by David Bull Publishing and priced at US$99.95 plus postage.

For further information, see

Text Steve Wakefield
Photographs from ‘Can-Am Cars in Detail’ - All Strictly Copyright

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