Lotus 49, the Story of a Legend
by Michael Oliver
distributed by Classic Motorbooks
P.O. Box 1, 729 Prospect Ave.
Osceola, Wis. 54020
$49.95 $4.95 shipping & handling
8 1/4 x 9 3/4 in., 256 pp.
One of those passionately detailed books the Brits do so well, this is all about one of Britain's greatest Grand Prix cars. Colin Chapman's inspirationally tidy little Lotus 49, designed in concert with Cosworth's breakthrough Ford DFV engine, won its first-ever race, the Dutch GP of 1967. The combination was still competitive in 1970, when it placed first at Monaco. In those four seasons the model won 12 of its 41 races — 29 percent — and helped make two world champions. The Lotus 49 is still considered a landmark in racing design.
Given a subject of this stature, a writer could get away with a sketch. Michael Oliver — such a lifelong enthusiast that he claims to have learned to count from numbers on race cars — has written a major work of history. Everything we could want is here, from the four-view drawing inside the front cover to the complete racing records of all 11 chassis near the back. Packed in between are insights and anecdotes from what must be every surviving person who ever had anything to do with the 49, along with full details of every race and seemingly every technical development, pictures, pictures and more pictures. And yes, there's a solid index.
If this book has a defect, it's the density — there's almost too much material here. Which, to the right reader, is no flaw at all. (Disclosure: the reviewer was a minor photographic contributor.)