Book Review: ‘Porsche The Sports Racing Cars 1953 – 72’

The blue and orange dust jacket is a clue to this work’s ultimate destination, but this latest book in a long line of interesting volumes from veteran author Anthony Pritchard is not just ‘another JW Gulf 917 book’.

Far from it, and for those looking for a complete record of the Stuttgart manufacturer’s factory - and factory-supported - sports cars from the ‘earlies’, such as the 550 and RSK, right through to the ultimate twin-turbocharged 917/10, this is for you.

The book also covers Porsche’s Formula 1 efforts of the early sixties (as the cars were closely related to the two-seaters), but it’s the long-distance racers that deservedly take centre-stage. Each chapter covers a significant model (904, Carrera 6, 908 etc) with concise technical summaries married to reports of the major races such as Le Mans, the Targa Florio and the Spa and Monza 1000Km rounds.

The photographs, in black and white with two colour sections, are well chosen from the author’s own collection, LAT and contemporary journalists such as Pete Lyons. You do get the impression though that Pritchard just cannot wait for autumn 1969 to come around, when John Wyer signed the contract to run 917s the following year.

This period is treated royally, and if readers were unaware that, with regard to the JW team manager David Yorke, ‘no one knew his age, his relationships or his marital situation!’ then they are now. The author accompanied the British team to Le Mans in 1970, and stayed with them during practice and the race so got to know many of them very well. But obviously not that well.

Six interesting appendices are included: ‘Dramatis personae’ profiles leading Porsche drivers of the period, ‘Porsche specifications’ has all you need to know on the technical front, ‘Porsche racing results’ and ‘Porsche World Championship results’ have, er, the racing results, while collectors and auction houses will argue for ever over ‘Porsche 917 chassis numbers’.

The final appendix is a transcript of senior engineer Hans Mezger’s 1972 paper to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers titled ‘Porsche 917: The Inside Story’.

Read it all before? Maybe, but I liked it.

The book (Hardback, 280 x 230mm, 336 pages, 56 colour & 232 b&w illustrations, ISBN: 9781844253333) is available by mail order direct from the publishers HERE at £35.00 plus carriage.

Text - Steve Wakefield
Photos - Haynes

ClassicInside - The Classic Driver Newsletter
Free Subscription!