Book review: ‘Porsche by Mailander’

Following the author’s previous work on photographer Rodolfo Mailander’s Ferrari archive, Karl Ludvigsen has produced another large-format book of the highest quality, with Porsche race and road cars of the early 50s as its subject.

Mailander (‘Rudy’ to his friends), who died in 2008, was of German origin, although he was born in Milan and his name literally means ‘one who comes from Milan’. His multi-lingual skills, together with a passion for cars and early photographic skills learnt on a Leica, meant a natural progression to photo-journalism in that most exciting of times: the immediate post-War period.

The big break was as a contracted freelancer at the Swiss magazine Automobil Revue - considered by most to be the pre-eminent publication of the time – and what followed was a period of intensive mainland European travel, visiting racing circuits and car manufacturers for new car stories, race and rally reports.

Book review: ‘Porsche by Mailander’ Book review: ‘Porsche by Mailander’

He must have been doing OK, as his transport for much of this period was a Porsche 356 Cabriolet, replaced by a coupé in 1954. In the mid-50s, Mailander took up a position in the press department at Mercedes-Benz, moving to the Fiat group in 1960, again in press and corporate relations.

This book is a selection of Mailander’s Porsche-related work from 1950 to 1955. Ludvigsen – an expert on the marque – introduces each year with a progress report on the fledgling company’s activities and then incisively captions each photograph.

It’s a tale of Alpine passes, hats and mackintoshes at Le Mans, a virtually all-356 grid splashing its way round a wet Bern road circuit, and Austro-German high society enjoying days out in the charismatic air-cooled sports car.

For Porsche aficionados, the book is a ‘must’. For anyone else who appreciates fine photography and knowledgeable commentary, and hankers after that carefree, post-War, ‘we survived’ spirit, 'Porsche by Mailander' is a fine addition to their bookshelves.

The book is hardback with dust cover and slipcase, 330 x 240mm, 264 pages, 300+ b&w illustrations. ISBN: 978 1 85443 244 5 and priced at $150.00/£95.00. For further information, visit

Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Dalton Watson

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