Simply entitled PorscheCarrera, this monumental work by Rolf Sprenger and Steve Heinrichs is nothing short of sensational. The two authors are to be congratulated on the length and depth to which this impressive works goes. This book will live on as a significant and important piece of work covering Porsche’s early motorsport achievements concerning the Fuhrmann 4-cam engine, for many years to come.
If the title is simple, then the sub-title offers rather more by way of an explanation as to what the book covers. It reads: The Porsche 4-Cam Motor and the Early Years of Porsche Motorsports from the 356 and the 550 Spyder to the 904 GTS. The Motors, the Cars, the Pilots and the Results for Race Cars built from 1953 to 1965. If you were to read this sub-title without actually seeing the book, as a Porsche enthusiast, you would be left in no doubt that this would be a substantial piece of work, and 840 pages later, your estimations would be confirmed!
Researching and unravelling the details and race results of the many races that Porsche participated in and the race cars used, is a daunting task to say the least. At some point in the construction of the story, the authors might well have questioned whether they had taken on too complex a task, as just to find the information required would be a project for a small army.
The Carrera 4-cam engine was designed and built by Dr. Ernst Fuhrmann, who was at the time just 33 years of age. This engine was undoubtedly one of the key elements in the growth of Porsche’s motorsport prowess in the 1950s and 1960s. In the history of the Porsche sports car, whether for road or race, too little recognition is given to the important part that this engine played in elevating the small company in the world of sports car manufacture and motor racing. The Fuhrmann 4-cam engine first saw action in the 1954 Liège Rally (Gmünd Coupe), and famously that same year in the Carrera Panamericana, but it was soon put to use in all manner of competition, both sprint and endurance racing.
The book explains the development of the 1.5-litre Type 547 engine through the 1.6-litre and 2-litre versions to the Type 719 engine. The book is lavishly illustrated with many engineering drawings, exploded engine diagrams, internal company memos and all manner of period documentation giving the reader an excellent grasp of the origins of this engine, and its various applications. Much of this material, in earlier years, would only have been seen by internal people at Porsche, but much effort has been put into portraying the engine and all of its attributes for the benefit of the reader.
Chapter 4, comprising around 130 pages, is devoted to just the engine componentry, from the crankcase to the clutch and flywheel, and everything in between. Subsequent chapters cover tables with details of each engine and its specifications, plus a whole section on interviews with key people involved with the engine at that time. Chapter 8 covers the evolution of the engine’s application in the 550 Spyder through to its use in the 718, 787, 804, Elva Porsche, 904 and 356 (and Speedster), and including the ‘Dreikantschaber’. Listed here are details such as the chassis number, engine number, build date, exterior colour, type of seat, and even interior specs if it was finished as a roadgoing version.
There is an excellent section entitled Cars, Documents and Photos, and here you will find some little-seen images of the 550 in the early construction phase of its life. Disappointingly though, there is not a lot of coverage given to the 904 which is a great pity, because this model played such an important role in extending the lifespan of the 4-cam engine.
The final section, Chapter 10, is in effect the Appendix to the book, and occupies almost half of the entire book, from page 466 to page 840. This chapter is in fact divided into five individual appendices, and includes: 10.1 Spare Body List; 10.2 Colour List; 10.3 Statistics; 10.4 Race Results, Planned Appearances, Shows, Testing and Training by Dates: Purpose Built Race Cars; 10.5 List of 4-Cam Motors. Each chapter throughout the book is introduced with an explanation of the terms and their usage in that section which helps the reader to make his/her way through this vast tome in a meaningful way.
That explains the contents and scope of the book, but what is it like to have and to hold. As you can imagine, any book that extends to 840 pages is going to be a long, and weighty, publication and this book certainly meets that expectation. For this reason alone, perhaps the authors and publisher should have considered making it into two volumes. Other considerations are that this book is presented in both the German and English languages, which effectively doubles its size – the English text is unfortunately a light blue which is not that easy to read. Also, being landscape format, this places greater strain on the spine of the book when it sits on your bookshelf, and combined with the effort in handling this great volume, damage to spine in the long-term is perhaps inevitable.
These points should, though, in no way dissuade you from buying what is a truly excellent publication. The sheer amount of information is of huge value to any Porsche motorsport enthusiast. Such a detailed piece of work was long overdue, and the two authors are to be congratulated on an excellent product. If you are a Porsche motorsport enthusiast, or if you perhaps know one, then this book would make a really excellent personal purchase or gift. Your bookshelf will not be complete without a copy of this book on it!
The Porsche 4-Cam Motor and the Early Years of Porsche Motorsports from the 356 and the 550 Spyder to the 904 GTS. The Motors, the Cars, the Pilots and the Results for Race Cars built from 1953 to 1965
Rolf Sprenger & Steve Heinrichs
245 x 310mm, landscape, hardback
Written by: Glen Smale
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