You probably couldn’t get 2 rally cars much more different than the Mk 1 Escort- based around a successful family road car- and the Stratos which was really rallying’s first ‘prototype’; designed just for the purpose. They were almost contemporaries, with the Mk 1 ending its first class career as the Stratos was coming on the scene. Here they form part of a new series: Rally Giants, from Veloce. Each of these soft cover books has 124 pages and the whole series is authored by the knowledgeable Graham Robson.
In both cases, Robson tells the full story, putting the cars in the context of the factory’s models that went before and those that came after. And it’s an honest telling, for these cars had faults and problems as well as great successes: often it was a constant problem that seemed to defy fixing, like the Lancia’s transmissions. Their homologation stories are enjoyable, both involving some imaginative counting as far as quantities and availability were concerned!
Robson is good on both the engineering development (motors, suspension, etc) and the competition histories of the works cars and the top privateers like Chequered Flag for Lancia. He gives full credit to those behind the scenes- engineers like ex-F1 racer Mike Parkes at Lancia and competition managers like Peter Ashcroft and Stuart Turner at Ford: they, along with the top drivers, get a potted biography. Both teams excelled more on some types of surface than others and both had some superb drivers. The Stratos won the Monte 3 years on the trot with Sandro Munari, while the Mk 1 succeeded in plenty of events, but probably none brought more public fame than the 1970 World Cup Rally.
A superb selection of photos adds to the enjoyment of these books - the Safari spec Stratos loses some of its sleek glamour, but Roger Clark’s prototype twin-cam Escort cetainly looks the part on the ’68 Alpine Rally!
The Mk1 was phased out as the Mk 2 came on stream, but the Stratos lost out more to internal Fiat politics with the Fiat 131 Abarth being ‘favored’.
At least 14 more titles are promised:if they are as good as these two, this will be an excellent series for all rally fans.
Classic & Sports Car, April 2007, UK magazine
This new compact series by C&SC contributor Robson kicks off with three icons of post-WW2 rallying. Each mid-sized softback weighs in at 130 pages, features 100 pictures, and is packed with info.
You get the same foreword in each book, but beyond that each is a well-researched overview, nicely illustrated with period pictures and boxes on the characters, the traumas – and shenanigans – of homologation and more. The appendices list major wins for each model and identify all the works cars, which should settle some arguments!
The publisher says there will be 16 titles in the series, which could get pricey. Next up are Austin-Healeys and Peugeot T16.
The Motor Cycling Club Ltd (MCC), 2007
UK club newsletter
It’s three for the price of one this time as I have been reading the Ford Escort Mk1, Subaru Impreza and Lancia Stratos in the Rally Giants series, written by Graham Robson and published by Veloce and thoroughly recommend all three volumes. Priced at $14.99, each has an interesting 8 x 8in format with about 125 pages containing lots of well chosen pictures, mostly in color, so looks impressive enough for the coffee table, yet due to the author’s experience and attention to getting his facts right must have a place in the serious enthusiast’s bookshelves, from whence they will frequently be taken as a source of reference.
What I really enjoyed most though is the way in which Graham has made a readable tale from what so easily could have been equally factual but totally boring. The author knew and worked in the rally world with the people and events he describes so brings out their characters and the behind the scenes action not always appreciated at the time.
Old Stager, May 2007
I constantly struggle to see the book that I'm looking for in the bookcase. So, I am delighted to see that the new series of Rally Giants by Graham Robson all have matching grey spines with the name of the featured car clearly marked.
Three have already been released by Veloce Publishing and feature the MkI Escort, Subaru Impreza and the Lancia Stratos.
The books each describe the birth of each 'rally giant' and the author chronicles the development, politics, successes and failures of the cars. The style and format offers an easy read and the ability to dip into each book as and when – one small criticism I have is that several of the side bars merely repeat parts of the main text, but that is only a small niggle.
There are plenty of excellent photos (both mono and color) and sections covering the personalities that shaped the various cars' development as well as the star drivers.
The best news though is that Graham Robson is working on another dozen or so books to include the Austin-Healey 3000 through to the WRC Ford Focus – I can't wait!