Book Review: ‘Porsche Argentina’
Visitors to Paris Rétromobile will be the first to see – and buy – the latest historical book on racing cars in Argentina. Instead of the usual Italian focus, this time it’s dedicated to Porsche.
With its close links to Europe and a strong economy, Argentina was a hotbed of motor racing from the 1930s onwards. The country did, of course, produce one of the finest-ever Grand Prix drivers, Juan Manuel Fangio, as well as countless other top-flight racers such as Carlos Reutemann.
The 1950s saw energetic backing from the country’s President, Juan Perón, and the book really gets into its stride with the story of how an embryonic Argentine Motor Racing Team was formed – with the Ferdinand Porsche-designed, mid-engined Cisitalia Grand Prix car.
Argentina was no stranger to advanced, streamlined German designs, by the way: the opening chapter is devoted to the Graf Zeppelin’s visit to the country in 1934...
Back on terra firma, the story continues with the Cisitalia project relegated to a record attempt and finally repatriated to the Porsche collection after Perón’s overthrow. By then, the mid- to late-Fifties, Porsches proper were starting to appear in Argentina through importers such as TERAM. There was even a TERAM-Porsche built in Argentina, using Porsche components in an officially sanctioned co-operation devised to get round Perón’s blanket ban on imports.
The book discusses this and the extraordinary Zunder, another Porsche-powered production car that saw just 200 examples built from ’61 to ’63. Did you know any of this? No, me neither.
Naturally, the famous 1000km race in Buenos Aires, well financed with generous starting money by Perón, is covered in depth. From the early 550s, RSs and RSKs through the Gulf and Martini 917s, right up to Jorge de Bragation’s privateer 908/3 in 1972, each year is examined from a Porsche perspective with excellent b/w photographs, many of which are from the Porsche archives.
National racing is also covered in detail, and there’s a section on famous Porsche-driving Argentines, including a wonderful 356 entry in the 1953 Carrera Panamericana which proudly displayed a painting of Eva Perón on its bonnet.
Argentine drivers Roberto Bitito Mieres and Anton von Döry won the 1959 Championship race at Daytona aboard a 718 RSK, so there are photos of this as well as other, less exotic Porsches scuttling around circuits worldwide, all with an Argentine connection.
Regular fans of Whitefly’s books will not be disappointed in this latest edition, to be launched at Paris Rétromobile which runs from 2 - 6 February.
Authors Cris Bertschi and Lao Iacona will be on Stand K29 (just in front of the Fangio display of Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo and Maserati Grand Prix cars – where else?). Ask them nicely and they will sign your copy, too.
As a special Classic Driver promotion, Whitefly will offer the first 20 readers to order a copy of the new Porsche Argentina book (normally 95 euros including worldwide shipping) that, plus an edition of the ‘Argentina F1 Grand Prix - Vol. 1 – 1953’ (normally 25 euros) for the special price of 100 euros including worldwide shipping.
Text: Steve Wakefield
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