With just 125 pages in total, this book is not a detailed narrative description of the Porsche Spyders between 1956-1964. But what it is, is a useful record of the Type 550A, RSK and 718 models, richly supported with period photography.
This family of early Porsche race cars can be a somewhat confusing lineage to follow, as each year brought improvements but the race cars did not seem to change externally all that much. But then, this is what Porsche has always been good at, that is, changing technical details under the skin while showing little change externally.
Close-up photos showing the differences between various chassis are extremely useful when trying to understand the development progress of these early race cars. Additional detail shots show the construction, engine, brakes and suspension, wheels, as well as the cockpit. There are also many photos of the various models in action, with a high percentage of these being seldom seen photos – in other words, not the all-too-familiar regurgitation of well-known photos.
These eight years, between 1956 and 1964, are potentially the most important for the company in that the 550 and 718 family of race cars set Porsche on the road to international motorsport success. Developments during this period saw the tiny cars from Stuttgart frequently challenging much larger machinery, and sometimes, embarrassingly, beating the more powerful opposition.
Karl Ludvigsen is a well-respected author, and in this book, he has taken the mystery out of these Porsche models by showing the changes through photographs, with simple and clear captions. A well written introduction explains the family of race cars covered by the book, before the author launches into a pictorially descriptive explanation of each model.
These race cars were driven in endurance races around the world, including Sebring, Le Mans, Targa Florio, as well as in many hill climbs around Europe. Period photographs from many of these famous races show some of the best drivers of the day in action, but importantly, the cars are well explained and described.
Although this is not a new book by any means (published 2007), it is an extremely useful record of these important race cars that established Porsche on the international motorsport stage. The simple style in which each successive model is explained is clear and useful when researching a particular model. If your passion is for the early racing Porsches of the 1950/1960s, then this is an invaluable publication to get hold of. For these reasons, I am glad that I have this book in my library – it has certainly simplified this period of Porsche’s race cars.
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