Simon Kidston and Jon Pressnell’s definitive history of the Lamborghini Miura led the winners at the Royal Automobile Club’s Motoring Book of the Year Awards. Their lavishly produced work was named overall winner in a ceremony held at the Club’s Pall Mall Clubhouse in London on 3 November.
Now in its eighth consecutive year, the Awards were expanded for 2021 to reflect the increasing number of significant titles being published at different price levels, and in both the motoring and motor sport worlds. As a result, there were four book categories this year in addition to the overall winner – plus a Lifetime Achievement Award and the Graham Robson Award for Best Debut Author. The latter was named in honour of the late Graham Robson, a prolific and authoritative author who sadly passed away in August 2021.
There were a record number of submissions for this year’s Awards, with 52 entries representing 26 different publishers from around the world – from major houses and independents to self-published authors. They were all assessed by a panel of six expert judges led by non-voting committee chairman Simon Taylor – a former winner of the Specialist Book of the Year Award for his history of the HWM racing team.
Taylor was joined by Gordon Cruickshank of Motor Sport, Mark Dixon of Octane, Mick Walsh from Classic & Sports Car, BRDC Bulletin editor Ian Titchmarsh, Ben Horton from specialist bookseller Horton’s Books, and Christian Whitehead from London bookstore Foyles.
‘The quality of entries this year has been quite remarkable,’ said Simon Taylor, ‘which made the judges’ job particularly difficult. There was a lot of healthy discussion and debate, and the fact that we were truly spoilt for choice is a reassuring sign that the publishing industry continues to go from strength to strength.’
The shortlist of contenders included biographies, marque histories, motor sport titles and general motoring reference books, and the judges selected The Lamborghini Miura as the 2021 Motoring Book of the Year. Published by Kidston SA and limited to 762 numbered copies – one for every Miura built – it was recognised as being the most comprehensive work ever completed on the subject. The book features many previously unseen photographs and countless in-depth interviews with all the men behind the Miura.
‘This stunning book is the result of ten years’ work by the talented team,’ said judge Mick Walsh, ‘and the enthusiastic resolve for the best is clear throughout. Spurred on by Miura fanatic Simon Kidston, author Jon Pressnell produced a text to match the wonderful imagery and Julian Balme’s beautiful design. A definitive model history. Ferruccio Lamborghini would be very proud.’
Ben Horton added: ‘This is one of our fastest-selling motoring books of all time. It came and went in under two weeks. Truly magnificent.’
The award for Motoring Book of the Year (Below £50) was presented to Tipping Point – Designing a Great British Underdog. Written by Reliant designer Andy Plumb, it features development pictures and illustrations from the 1960s when the Robin was first conceived, plus contributions from all the designers, including Tom Karen.
Christian Whitehead said: ‘The Reliant Robin was a brave and risky proposal to shake up the British car industry and whether you approve of it or not, it’s still a national treasure that puts a smile on people’s faces. Andy Plumb has done a wonderful job in producing a book highlighting in lavish detail the important design development of the car. The Robin might only have three wheels, but this book is very stable in terms of content and research.’
Motoring Book of the Year (No Price Limit) went to Joseph Figoni: Le Grand Couturier de la Carrosserie Automobile Volume 1, Alfa Romeo by Peter M Larsen and Ben Erickson. Celebrating the relationship between Alfa Romeo and Parisian coachbuilder Joseph Figoni, the book was written following close study of the original Figoni archives and includes chassis-by-chassis histories of each of the cars for which the company provided coachwork from 1932-1935.
Gordon Cruickshank said: ‘Obsessively researched, lavishly reproduced – an impressive catalogue of one of the great pre-war coachbuilders.’
Motorsport Book of the Year (Below £50) was awarded to Mr Le Mans, Tom Kristensen. Written by Kristensen – nine times a winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours – in collaboration with Danish broadcaster Dan Philipsen, the book was first published in the English language this year. The judges were particularly impressed with how candid Kristensen was in sharing the ups and downs from his legendary career, giving an insight into what it takes to succeed at the very highest level.
Delage Records and Grand Prix by Daniel Cabart and Sébastien Faurès Fustel de Coulanges won Motorsport Book of the Year (No Price Limit). The authors delved into Delage’s official return to racing in 1922, including an in-depth account of the genesis of each model and its development, plus detailed test records, technical data sheets and a comprehensive list of specifications, records and race results. The judges agreed that it all added up to an exceptional account of this pioneering team.
Mark Dixon commented: ‘Focusing on one of the most technologically advanced vintage marques at the height of its powers in 1922-’25, this superb volume covers much more than its title might imply: it charts the evolution of cars and engine designs as well as the many events in which they competed.’
The Graham Robson Trophy for Best Debut Author was presented to Tom Fryars for The Rise of the Sidevalves, which chronicles the success of the Crossley Motors works team in competition events in the years leading up to World War One. Marque enthusiast Fryers managed to unearth photographs of almost all of those meetings, and profiled factory drivers Hubert Woods and Cecil Bianchi along the way.
Mark Hughes – one of the unsung heroes of the publishing world – was presented with the Royal Automobile Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Hughes is a former editor of Autosport and Classic & Sports Car, and was later Editorial Director of the Book Division at Haynes Publishing. More recently he has worked as an editor for Porter Press International and Editorial Director of Evro Publishing, and has edited more than 700 books during the course of his career.
‘I’ve known Mark for many years,’ said Simon Taylor, ‘and his editorial skills and experience are second to none in the world of motoring publishing. Not only is he exceptionally good at his job, he carries it out in a calm and efficient manner, and has long been a reassuringly professional presence for authors and publishers alike.’