The best engine books: the appreciation of the classics

What is the next best thing to buying a Porsche Carrera 2.7? The purchase of a book about it.

Specifically, Ryan nodgrass the definitive guide to the model, published by the Parables of the Press in 2015, and asked, kindly, Carrera 2.7. Only 2500 were printed. There are about 300 copies of the Limited Edition version to the left, each one costs € 225. Sounds a lot? Not to worry: in two years your investment could be worth £1000.

“The Carrera 2.7 set a new benchmark for motoring books,” says Ben Horton of Horton’s Books, a specialist in motorsport, the bookseller in Marlborough, Wiltshire. “Not only in-depth history of the car, but is also full of all the information – cards of the color component pictures, the mechanics of the evolution of each owner, enthusiast or restorer could want, plus it is very good production. “Buy a limited edition version of today and in two years he is going to recover four and a half times its new price. I have been in the sale of automotive books for over 25 years, and of the highest quality or most interesting books, I have never known a recession.”

For the speculative petrolhead that clumsy with the keys, but loves a good read, Carrera 2.7, and books like this, it seems to be the perfect alternative. Choose your book, paste it on a shelf and wait a decent interval before they sell it for a profit. Except that it is not as simple as that. Not all the cars book it is a profit. Coffee table books heavy in the photo library, the light of the expert in copy and published in their thousands, are the only charity shop fare. Ferrari is a brand in which particularly poorly served.

“Many books on Ferraris are a criminal waste of trees,” says Doug Nye, a historian, journalist and author of more than 70 motor racing books. So horrified was for the quality of the automotive books that GP of the Library, the photographic archive was co-owner with former driver Paul Vestey, has just published his first book, created, Nye says, “to set new standards”.

Within the Track, the story of the 1961 F1 champion Phil Hill, goes “far beyond” being just another shelf-effort book, says Nye. “The impetus was Phil amazing collection of colour photographs. He recorded that golden age in motor racing, from 1950 to 1962, each image is properly formed and beautifully framed. The book had to be right, and that has taken us 16 years to produce, from these early conversations with Phil for the books came from the presses.”

Nye, aged 71, has been the collection of motor racing books since I was nine years old. Today, his house is groaning under the weight of 15,000 of them.

“If a car ran, I love it,” he says. “The two books that everyone should have are Keith Bluemel and Jess G Pourret on the Ferrari 250 GTO and Pierre Abeillon of two volumes of Talbot – Lago of Course.”

Nye conforms to the definition of motor racing, the book collector as someone enthusiastic and passionate about all aspects of his chosen subject. Or, he did. Today, says Ben Horton, the market is driven by amateurs in search of books and memories associated with a particular vehicle.

“Manuals and vehicle build sheets have always been in demand, but now people expect to find this kind of detail in the books. The information that will help them to purchase, possess, and sell a special car, or to satisfy a desire to get as close as possible to it, is what the people yearn for.”

Horton cites Bentley specialist Clare Hay, whose limited edition, model-specific books get close to a model.

“Generally, their books are limited to 200 copies and cost around £250. Bentley Speed Six is a great example. The decision of the right within a specific example before pulling back to consider the entire production cycle. His books are authoritative, exclusive and are rarely found in the Amazon.”

Major publishers include Dalton Watson, Number One of the Press and of Palawan Press, which was founded by Simon Draper, a cousin of Richard Branson, and the former president of Virgin Music. After the public company’s acquisition by EMI in 1992, Draper was to motor racing. The same year he published his first book, Aston Martin – The Compleat Car. “In its design and the quality of paper and binding, it was a labor of love,” says Draper.

“People are shocked to discover that the designer is paid more than the writer! We have published many books since then, but never compromised the quality. The spins are small and the prices high. One thing I have learned is, don’t be shy about the price – and never discount.”

Their books range in price from € 75 to € 2000. He is particularly proud of Ferrari in the Camera. “We have produced a limited edition of 10 with an aluminum binding. Each one sells for £2000 but I was recently contacted by a lady who had been offered £11,500 for her.”

Encouraged by his purchase of a Porsche 918 Spyder, Draper is putting together a book on the model. Another book on the production is the history of Ferrari, in-line four-cylinder engines, written by Ferrari authority Franco Lombardi.

Sooner or later new and used examples of these and other unique motor books will find their way to Horton Books. The most valuable of the company’s 20,000-strong collection is a rare copy of the 1949 Ferrari Yearbook, yours for $ 7500. An Illustrated History of the Bentley Car, signed by WO Bentley, has a price tag of £1250. Of all of them, Horton favorite is Frank Wootton How to Draw Cars, Volume 2 (£95).

“I love it,” he says. “It’s a very good production, and has that patina that is so desirable.”

His advice to future investment returns is Lancia, especially the books in the Integrale and Flaminia. But enough of them. In its place, my eyes have fallen in my own collection: the End of the Story of Ferrari (Marks & Spencer) and You And Your Mazda MX-5 (Haynes). Offers, anyone?


How to turn £2000 into £4000 in two years, from the comfort of your armchair. The future value of the predictions by Ben Horton of Horton’s Books

WITHIN the TRACK, volumes 1 & 2 Published by The medical Library header

Print run: 700 copies

Autobiography of 1961 F1 world champion Phil Hill.

Price today: £625 (collector’s edition).

Approximate value in the year 2020: £1500


Published by Palawan Press

Print run: 300 copies

The history of Aston legendary GT car.

Price today: £1000 (for the standard edition)

Approximate value in the year 2020: £1750


Published by éditions Orep

Print run: 1000 copies

RAC Specialist Book of the Year 2017. A history of Delage GP car of 1923 to 1952.

Price today: £125 (used)

Approximate value in the year 2020: £250


Published by Haynes

Print run: out of print, 1000 copies remaining

The complete history of the BMW M3.

Price today: £14.99

Approximate value in the year 2020: £90


Posted by Nubes Argentea

Print run: 600 copies

The definitive history of Bentley Continental versions from 1952 to 1965.

Price today: £235

Approximate value in the year 2020: £500

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