The 10 Best Books for a Petrolhead

Here are 10 books that we have looked at, produced by Porter Press. They look great books, whether you are considering buying as a gift for the petrolhead in your life or you are treating yourself. Remember that you can get 10% off any purchase from Porter Press by using our discount code: Heaven10

10% off Porter Press books

Ferrari 250 GTO

Ferrari 250 GTO Book

This two-volume set is limited to 750 copies and is signed by author James Page and Ferrari expert Keith Bluemel.  

There is also a limited number of Collector’s Editions available here.

Ultimate Ferrari GTO explores the story of this iconic family of cars in more detail and with more authority than ever before. Introduced in 1962 as the final evolutionary step in the long-running 250 GT series, the GTO was the last and best GT racer of the front-engine era. 

It remained at the forefront for three seasons, winning a hat-trick of World Championship titles for Ferrari. 

Ever since, GTOs have retained their exalted status not just because of their racing achievements but also their exquisite beauty, undoubted charisma and — for those lucky enough to have experienced this — peerless driveability. 

Indeed, the GTO’s illustrative reputation has made it the world’s most desirable car, as confirmed by the record-breaking prices repeatedly paid for the finest examples. 

Packed with superb photographs, many not previously published, this lavish two-volume production does true justice to this ultimate car.

Includes:

  • The build-up: the first volume begins with a close look at the GTO’s forebears, followed by study of its design and development.
  • The 1962 season: between wins both on début in the Sebring 12 Hours and in the year’s last race in The Bahamas, the GTO’s activities are covered in full, in the World Championship and other competitions all over the world.
  • The 1963 season: despite the endeavours of the opposition, the GTO’s supremacy intensified during its second season, with more entrants running in more events, from endurance classics such as the Le Mans 24 Hours to sprints at obscure British venues.
  • The 1964 season: Ferrari beat off a strong challenge from Shelby American’s Cobras to take its third title, helped in part by an upgrade that included a revamped body design for new GTOs.
  • Later life: this section explains how GTOs continued to compete internationally and with occasional success far beyond their sell-by date.
  • Chassis histories: the second volume is devoted to comprehensive individual histories of the 36 GTOs, all of which have survived to the present day. Packed with new research and fresh insights, these accounts include interviews with owners, information about restorations, event participation, and much more. Take a look here.

Author: James Page

Project consultant: Keith Bluemel is a Ferrari expert of world-wide renown whose body of work includes co-authorship with Jess G. Pourret of the book Ferrari 250 GTO.

John Fitzpatrick Group C Porsches – The Definitive History

John Fitzpatrick Group C Porsches Book

John Fitzpatrick Racing was a highly successful privateer Porsche team in the glorious early years of Group C sportscar racing, first with 956s, then 962s.

From 1983 to 1986, Fitzpatrick’s operation made 66 Group C entries in 44 races in the World Endurance Championship, the German Deutsche Rennsport-Meisterschaft and the American Can-Am, winning three times and taking another 11 podium positions. This book tells the story of this exciting team, its five Group C Porsches and what became of them, its crews, its drivers, its races and – above all – its charismatic owner, John Fitzpatrick, arguably the best British driver never to have raced in Formula 1.

Includes:

  • John Fitzpatrick’s story: during an extraordinary 22 years behind the wheel, he was the youngest-ever winner of the British Saloon Car Championship and became one of Porsche’s most garlanded champions.
  • The birth of Group C: this new category rejuvenated sportscar racing when it was introduced in 1982 and heralded the development of the legendary Porsche 956.
  • The 1983 season: the highlight was victory for Fitzpatrick and Derek Warwick in the Brands Hatch 1,000Kms, but there were podiums too in the 1,000Kms races at Spa and Imola – and a win in the Can-Am race at Elkhart Lake.
  • The 1984 season: with Fitzpatrick now running a two-car team, the stand-out result was third place in the Le Mans 24 Hours for David Hobbs, Sarel van der Merwe and Philippe Streiff, while strong second places came at the Nürburgring and Mosport, and thirds in Britain at Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
  • The 1985 season: loss of sponsorship necessitated a reduced programme, mainly with single-car entries, but Le Mans brought another fine finish with fourth place for Jo Gartner, David Hobbs and Guy Edwards.
  • The 1986 season: Le Mans again provided the highlight with another fourth place, this time for Emilio de Villota, Fermín Velez and George Fouché.
  • Numerous interviews with drivers and other team personnel bring colour and anecdotes to the story, with significant names including John Fitzpatrick himself and Porsche’s Jürgen Barth, plus star drivers such as Derek Warwick, David Hobbs and Thierry Boutsen.

Author: Mark Cole

This book is limited to 750 copies.

There are also 10 copies signed by Rupert Keegan, John Fitzpatrick & Mark Cole and 4 copies signed by John Fitzpatrick & Mark Cole.

Signed by the author, Mark Cole.

This title is the first in the Ultimate Cars Series.

Jaguar XK 120 Supersonic

Jaguar XK 120 Supersonic Book

In this, the first in Porter Press’s new ‘Coachbuilt Cars’ series, author Richard Heseltine has untangled the Ghia Jaguar XK 120 Supersonic’s complicated story of British design brilliance and Italian design artistry.

Built on Jaguar XK 120 chassis number 679768, this car wasn’t unique: two other examples were made in 1954. But the trio was just one part of the charismatic Supersonic canon, which began with a one-off GT intended to contest the Mille Miglia.

This tale, of how Ghia wowed the car world with its jet-age styling, takes in several fascinating characters whose names have peppered the post-war story of Italian car design, engineering and racing.

Includes:

  • In-depth background on Carrozzeria Ghia examines the Italian coachbuilder’s efforts to spread across Europe and ‘crack’ the US market, which it did – in a way – by adding design stardust to Chrysler cars and creating the hugely popular Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia.
  • The birth of Supersonic design as an Alfa Romeo-powered GT is covered in great detail, and the author goes on to explain how ostensibly the same car carried the badges of Aston Martin, Fiat and even AC/Shelby as the show-stopping, wind-cheating shape was adapted to a wide variety of other chassis.
  • Readers will discover how the original Supersonic was the work of Giovanni Sovanuzzi – the genius designer-engineer famous for the Cisitalia 202. Meanwhile, race team legend Virgilio Conrero was first to put fire in the Supersonic’s belly, while fiery Ghia chief Luigi Segre used the car to woo North America.
  • A fascinating line-up of other Italian-bodied Jaguar XK sports cars are examined and illustrated, as a way to compare and contrast the Supersonic with the work of other accomplished Italian designers.
  • The history of chassis number 679768, is chronicled, recounting its elusive first owner, its lengthy periods hidden from public view, and its status today as the prized centrepiece in a private collection.
  • Stunning contemporary photography of the car is mixed with rare and fascinating archive images.


See 108 pages with over 100 images here.

Ford GT40 – The autobiography of 1075

Ford GT40 Book

This sumptuous book tells the story of one of the world’s most important racing cars.

Always raced in Gulf’s iconic blue-and-orange colours, this Ford GT40, known by its chassis number ‘1075’, won the Le Mans 24 Hours not just once but twice, in 1968 and 1969, and the second victory came after the closest fight ever seen at the finish of this great endurance race. 

Four other championship wins – at Brands Hatch, Spa, Watkins Glen and Sebring – add to this GT40’s distinction as the very best of its breed, driven by ‘greats’ such as Jacky Ickx, Pedro Rodríguez and Brian Redman. 

The car’s entire competition life is covered in fascinating detail, together with biographies of its drivers and insights into John Wyer’s crack team that ran it, all supported by a fine collection of period photographs.

Includes:

  • Early in 1968, after two non-finishes in Florida, at Daytona and Sebring, Jacky Ickx and Brian Redman overcame Porsche’s challenge in the six-hour BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch.
  • At the Spa 1,000Km in Belgium, torrential rain allowed Ickx to demonstrate his wet-weather mastery on his home circuit and take a second win for ‘1075’, ably supported by Redman.
  • Back in the USA, with Ickx now partnered by fellow Belgian Lucien Bianchi, Watkins Glen brought a third win amid controversy about team orders.
  • With Ickx sidelined by injury, Mexican ace Pedro Rodríguez was drafted in to join Bianchi at Le Mans – and they won comfortably after Porsche’s four-car works challenge collapsed.
  • The second of three outings in 1969 saw a return to the Sebring 12 Hours and an unexpected success for Ickx and Jackie Oliver against formidable new opposition from Porsche, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari.
  • And so to Le Mans again: in this old warhorse’s final race Ickx and Oliver again achieved the unexpected by putting themselves in strong contention for victory – but it was only decided on the last lap. See more pictures here.

The author – Ray Hutton

Ray Hutton’s first race as a working motorsport journalist, the 1968 BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch, was also the first win for ‘1075’. Through his reporting in subsequent years, including the epic Le Mans of 1969, he came to know all of the car’s drivers, as well as team manager John Wyer. 

A long-time editor of Autocar, he has enjoyed a distinguished career in motoring and motorsport journalism. He is honorary president of the International Car of the Year Jury, vice-president of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and an associate member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. His work has twice won the Guild of Motoring Writers’ Montagu Trophy and the Bentley International Trophy.

Porsche 917 – The autobiography of 917-023

Porsche 917 Book

This most important Porsche 917 of all – the one that gave Porsche its first victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

In 1970 the world’s greatest sports car race was ravaged by periods of torrential rain but through it all came 917-023, driven by Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood, to achieve a landmark success for the German manufacturer. 

This book provides detailed insight into not only this race but also the six others in which 917-023 took part, supported by a superb collection of period photographs, many in colour. All Porsche fans will love this addition to the ‘Great Cars’ series. 

Includes:

• The complete life story of Porsche 917-023, which won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1970.

• The car’s seven races covered in detail, from the 1970 Brands Hatch 1,000Km to the 1971 Daytona 24 Hours.

• All surviving drivers of 917-023 specially interviewed for this book: Hans Herrmann, Richard Attwood, Vic Elford, Kurt Ahrens, Gérard Larrousse and Gijs van Lennep.

• The works-assisted teams – Porsche Salzburg in 1970, Martini in 1971 – outlined in detail, including interview input from mechanic Helmut ‘Käfer’ Frauenschuh.

• Nearly 300 period photographs, many previously unpublished, supported by a portfolio of specially commissioned studio photography.

This is the second book in the Great Cars Series. Get your copy here.

Bugatti Type 50 – The autobiography of Bugatti’s first Le Mans car

(Limited Edition)

Bugatti Type 50 Book

The thirteenth book in the highly regarded ‘Great Cars‘ series tells the story of the Bugatti Type 50 and one of the chassis in particular – chassis 50177. This car led the famous Le Mans endurance race on its opening season in 1931, until its sister car crashed heavily at high speed and it was withdrawn for safety reasons. This is just one of the many fascinating tales included in the book.

Thrilling race reports of all four Le Mans races in which Type 50s took part tell a story of promise, unfulfilled, while driver biographies, illustrated with fine period photography, reveal both the glamour and the danger of life in the fast lane in the 1930s. 

The book documents 50177’s post-war journey across the Atlantic with Le Mans hero Luigi Chinetti and reveals how it came into the hands of passionate collector, Miles Coverdale, who uncovered much of its curious and captivating history.

For full details of this wonderful book, please see the Classic Edition.

This stunning Limited Edition of the book is bound in black leather. It features gilt page edges and is cased in a grey cloth slipcase.

As an extra special touch, the book bears an embossed reproduction of the chassis number on the front. This leather-bound, version is limited to just 100 copies and is signed by the authors, Mark Morris & Julius Kruta. [Get your copy here.]

Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 – The remarkable history of 115.72.002

Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 Book

The Alfa Romeo T33/TT/3 was produced by Alfa’s Autodelta racing department to compete in the 1972 World Championship for Makes. The Alfas struggled to take the fight to Ferrari, though scored regular podium positions. 

The highlight was a second place in the epic Targa Florio Sicilian road race, where Helmut Marko put in a stirring drive to come within seconds of victory. Marko was driving chassis 115.72.002, the most successful of the T33/TT/3 chassis, which would later have a second career on the race circuits and hillclimbs of Greece, prior to an eventual return to Europe, where it is still a frequent competitor in historic events.

Includes:

  • The background to the T33/TT/3 story, and how the car evolved from its Alfa Romeo predecessors.
  • Full details of T33/TT/3’s world championship season in 1972, with race-by-race accounts, including the detailed story of 115.72.002’s finest hour – the Targa Florio.
  • Profiles of 115.72.002’s period drivers – Vic Elford, Helmut Marko, Nanni Galli and Andrea de Adamich.
  • A fascinating account of the protracted negotiations that resulted in Autodelta’s Carlo Chiti selling 115.72.002 to Greek driver George Moschous in 1975. Moschous’s successful three-year campaign in his homeland, both on the local circuits and in the national hillclimb championship, which he won with the car in 1976 and 1977.
  • The car’s subsequent ownership, including its sale in the late 1980s to Andrew Fletcher and Willie Tuckett, who took the car to Japan and then South Africa. Franco Meiners’ ownership in the 21st century, during which time the car was driven by then-Red Bull Racing Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo, reliving its finest hour on the Targa Florio course. Current owner, Martin Halusa, relates his experiences of ownership, and competing in the car with his sons, Lukas and Niklas.
  • The book is lavishly illustrated with a mix of period and contemporary images, many previously unpublished, including a gallery of colour photographs showing the car in all its fascinating detail. Check out the pictures here.

The First Three Shelby Cobras – The sports cars that changed the game

The First Three Shelby Cobras Book

The story of three cars, the first AC Cobras created by the legendary Carroll Shelby in 1962.

The prototype CSX2000 has been described as ‘the most important modern American car’, although it was built on a British AC Ace chassis with an American Ford V8 engine. CSX2001 was the first production Cobra and CSX2002 the first to race, leading to a series of competition successes that made Shelby’s Cobras famous and a favourite of sports-car enthusiasts throughout the world.

Includes:

  • CSX2000 was the only prototype Cobra and was retained by the Shelby family until 2016, when it sold at auction for a record $13.75 million.
  • The first production car, CSX2001, was delivered to American race driver Ed Hugus, and subsequently sold to a Frenchman, Jean-Marie Vincent, who raced in the Tour de France and numerous European hillclimbs.
  • CSX2002 nearly won its inaugural race, at Riverside, driven by Bill Krause, but was side-lined by a broken rear hub. The first Cobra win, by this car, fell to Dave MacDonald at Tucson in March 1963.
  • All three cars are now the pride of car collections in the United States. CSX2000 and CSX2002 are part of the Larry Miller Collection, while CSX2001 belongs to a California-based motorsport aficionado Bruce Meyer.
  • The book is lavishly illustrated with a mix of period and contemporary images, many of which are previously unseen.

Author: Gordon Bruce

A qualified mechanical engineer, Gordon Bruce was the Road Test Editor of Motor magazine and then a Ford PR manager before founding the eponymous marketing consultancy he still operates 35 years later. 

His first book concerned the Ford GT40, for which he was awarded a prize by the Guild of Motoring Writers. His associations with the AC/Shelby Cobra date from 1983, when he won the Intermarque Championship in a 405bhp example.

This is the fourth book in the Exceptional Cars series. Get your copy here.

Iso Bizzarrini – The remarkable history of A3/C 0222

Iso Bizzarrini Book

A fascinating story of the last and most successful of the Iso AC/3 Grifo race cars from the fabulous period of sports car racing in the mid-1960s.

The A3/C was the creation of Giotto Bizzarrini, the engineer who developed the famed Ferrari 250 GTO. In its short but varied racing career, which included outings with two Grand Prix drivers, ‘222’ showed itself to be one of the world’s fastest racing sports and GT cars, its top speed on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans, nearly 190mph, bettered only by the 7-litre Ford GT Mk II. 

This book celebrates the life of ‘222’ and the against-the-odds efforts of Bizzarrini, a genius with the ambition to produce the best GT race car of its era.

This is the story of the car that won its class and finished in ninth place overall against formidable opposition in the Le Mans 24 Hours of 1965.

Includes:

  • The car’s conception, design and development – masterminded by Giotto Bizzarrini – covered in detail, complete with rare period images.
  • The background and achievements of Bizzarrini the man outlined and assessed, including his role at Ferrari.
  • Five international events in 1965 – as an Iso run by Giotto Bizzarrini – recorded in full, with superb photos.
  • Biographical details of all drivers who competed with the car, including Chris Amon (in Austria at the 200 Miles of Zeltweg) and Maurice Trintignant (in France at the Mont Dore hill climb).
  • Contains many first-hand accounts, including from surviving drivers and other participants in the story.
  • Later life: rebadged as a Bizzarrini, sold as a road car to a colourful American living in Rome, passed through further owners, ending up today in enthusiast Bruce Meyer’s California-based car collection, returned in every detail to its original race specification.
  • The book includes a portfolio of magnificent studio images by noted American photographer Peter Harholdt.

This is the first book in the Exceptional Cars Series. Get your copy here.

The Light Car Company Rocket – The Singular Vision of Two Men

(Owner’s Edition)

The Light Car Company Rocket Book

The Light Car Company Rocket was the brainchild of former racing driver Chris Craft and design genius Gordon Murray, who relentlessly chased his goal of building the lightest production road car of all time. 

Starting with a clean sheet of paper, Murray’s unique creation made extensive use of bespoke components and was crammed with the technological brilliance for which he’s renowned. 

Today, it has a cult following and is recognised by die-hard enthusiasts and the motoring cognoscenti as being a landmark achievement in sports car history. Written by Rocket owner Clive Neville and designed by Rick Ward – the man who originally penned the car’s badge and all of its publicity material – this book tells the full history of a fascinating car.

Includes:

  • The definitive history of Rocket development and production, from Rochester to Chigwell
  • In-depth contributions from key players in the Rocket story, including Chris Craft, Gordon Murray and Luke Craft
  • Owners’ views from Jay Leno, who has also contributed the Afterword, plus Dire Straits guitarist Guy Fletcher and others
  • Full of behind-the-scenes photographs and Gordon Murray’s design sketches
  • A chapter by renowned motorsport journalist Peter Windsor celebrates the racing career of Chris Craft
  • Detailed listing of each Rocket, making it the ultimate reference work

Limited to 50 copies and individually numbered and signed by Prof Gordon Murray, Chris Craft, and Clive Neville. Get your copy here.

By Clive Neville

10% off Porter Press books

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