July/Aug 2019 edition
Issue #6 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
The day Niki Lauda passed away, I went to my bookshelf and pulled down his treatise, The Art and Science of Grand Prix Driving. It’s part memoir and part explication. That book got me thinking about the value of enjoying a good read, even if the story may be a little self-aggrandizing or jejune here and there. With that in mind, here are two books I believe have a place on any racing enthusiast’s shelf.
Yet there’s much more to this story than mechanics. Lauda can’t help but bring himself to the project, bluntly stating his beliefs on every topic. Further, his prose occasionally tends toward the purple: “We Ferrari men belong body and soul to our engines – we devote every ounce of our energy and emotions to these artefacts of aluminium, magnesium, and steel.” If that quote just made you smile, go get a copy of this book.
From a collector’s perspective, you can take your pick of any number of printings. A first edition of the English-language version of this book sold on eBay for $118.75 in Feb. 2019. That was before Lauda’s death, and now there are some wild-eyed fantasy prices in the wake of his passing. Some asking prices are topping $500. However, with a little searching you can find a worn copy in the $40 range, but expect to pay about double for one in excellent condition
At least seven editions have been printed. It is available in paperback, though the hardback editions are much more common owing to their greater durability. There are at least four versions of the cover art, but the most common hardbound edition shows a young Moss looking out from a silver Mercedes-Benz W196 grand prix car circa 1955.
Moss told his story to legendary journalist Ken Purdy, and Purdy created a narrative using quotes to denote Moss’ actual words. The book is really Purdy’s biography of Moss, but with more input from Moss than is typical. Purdy delves deeply into the mindset of the racing driver of the era, when none truly expected to survive to the ripe old age Sir Stirling enjoys today. The book also panders to the aristocratic playboy image that Moss and many drivers of his day cultivated.
One of the attractive things about this book is the number of excellent vintage photos included. Noted racing photojournalist Jesse Alexander provided most of them. Finally, a complete table of Moss’ career racing results is included as an appendix.
There are some silly prices asked online for this book, but it’s easy to find a hardcover copy for $10-$20 in good condition, and less for the paperback. One thing––don’t rely on the photo of the cover art to get the edition you want. Some carry a disclaimer that the photo is illustration only and the actual cover, binding, and edition may vary.
To read more great columns like this one from art & book expert Jeff Zurschmeide...