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Porsche • 70 Years—There is No Substitute

by Randy Leffingwell. Book review by Gary Smith

Randy Liffingwell is one of my favorite authors. This thoroughly researched, well written account uncovers the history of Porsche, the family, the company, and the cars, along with the political and economic climates of the times. There are a number of historically significant photos of the early facilities, construction techniques, players, race and production cars.

If you are interested in the early history of Porsche, Porsche—The Classic Era (reviewed on Dean’s Garage) also goes into how world politics shaped the company, as well as the post-war “German Miracle” in detail. Porsche—The Classic Era takes a smaller chunk of the story only through the mid ’60s.

Porsche—70 Years is a spectacular book, however. Its presentation is very much in keeping with the high craftsmanship of the cars it represents, and covers the entire span of the company’s history. Under Randy Leffingwell’s name on the cover reads: “Special Photography by Michael Furman.” The photos are indeed special.

I’ve put together a number of books, and was immediately struck by the cover. The matte-coated jacket is a double fold, with subtle matte gold on the spine and stripe on the cover that matches the Cibie covers on the 911. A low front shot of a 1955 550 Spyder is on the cover with no title with the same matte gold stripe along the top. The rear view of the 550 is on the back. Of course. The copyright page is at the end of the book so it doesn’t disrupt the flow at the start.

A quote from the beginning of the book.

“In Switzerland, neutral during World War II, Zurich’s Gahnhofstrasse was he city’s main financial street, lined with buildings already centuries old. One afternoon in late summer 1950, two men—one a local architect named Richard von Senger and the other, Austrian attorney Dr. Anton Piëch—encountered a third individual on the street. As a Swiss, von Senger traveled anywhere he chose in postwar Europe. He was an auto enthusiast, Switerzerland’s agent for Preston Tucker’s cars, and he had negotiated with attorney Piëch to serve as Switzerland’s exclusive distributor for automobiles the attorney’s wife, Louise, and her brother, Ferry Porsche, were producing in Gmünd, Austria. Von Senger had visited Gmund and sealed a deal to acquire ten of the new Porsche cars plus an open prototype assembled two years earlier.

Von Senger was cagey, a bit duplicitous, and slightly shady. To complete all of these negotiations with Piëch, he had convinced a client to load him fifty thousand Swiss francs, roughly $11,400 at the time. The client, a hotel owner named Bernhard Blank, trusted Senger and made him the personal loan without hesitation. Von Senger planned to sell the cars, repay the loan, and profit the profits without divulging his scheme to Blank.

Wen von Senger and Piëch encountered Blank on the Bahnhofstrasse that day, Piëch was dressed in the traditional Austrian business attire. This was a medium-green military-style suit jacket with a single epaulet and knickerbockers, noticeably different from others in more typical Western European clothing on the Zurich street. Blank greeted von Senger who did not introduce Piëch.

It took Piëch no time at all to understand that von Senger used Blank’s money without his knowledge. And so it happened that in those postwar days of opportunities and opportunists, even though Richardvon Senger ordered the first ten Porsche cars, it was Bernhard Blank who imported them and acted as Porsche’s sold distributor throughout Switzerland, Europe, and beyond.

Such a connection opened borders to the rest of the world.”

Clear, concise writing. Generous body copy leading. Thoroughly researched. Mixture of historic and spectacular recent photos. Beautifully designed cover and interior layout. Inside front and back cover photo spreads. Hard cover nicely done. Double fold matte-coated dust jacket. Many designer sketches. Properly indexed. Running head with page numbers.

Caption font size is a bit small.

Description from the Publisher

There’s something for every Porsche enthusiast in Porsche 70 Years, whether rear-engine 911 loyalist, race fan, or follower of contemporary vehicles.

Porsche is one of the most important and iconic automotive manufacturers in history. From its first 356 to today’s technical tour de force, the 918, Porsche has advanced from strength to strength for nearly seven decades.

In Porsche 70 Years: There is No Substitute, author Randy Leffingwell offers a richly illustrated and detailed book that captures the full story of one of the world’s leading automotive companies. Beautiful, contemporary, photos and rare historical images accompany in-depth analyses of milestone cars and events.

Created with Porsche’s cooperation, the book brings to light the engineering and design stories behind Stuttgart’s most famous cars–such as the 356, 904, 917, 911, 928, 935, 956 and others–as well as its key players. Comprising the most comprehensive overview of the company’s entire history, Porsche 70 Years truly has no substitute.

 

About the Author

Randy Leffingwell wrote his first book, American Muscle, in 1989 while still on staff at the Los Angeles Times. Since then, he has authored another 47 titles for Motorbooks and its sister publisher Voyageur Press covering subjects from sports cars to motorcycles to farm tractors. Leffingwell is considered one of the top Corvette historians working today, and he enjoys a close working relationship with Chevrolet as well numerous other manufacturers. His  previous Corvette titles include Art of the Corvette; Corvette Fifty Years, Corvette 60 Years, and Legendary Corvette. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Specifications

Published by Motorbooks

Format: Hardback, 256 Pages
ISBN: 9780760347256
Illustrations: 200 color, 50 b-w photos
Size: 12 in x 9.75 in / 304.8 mm x 247.65 mm
Published: September 19, 2017
Cost: $60.00

1 Comment
  1. Spirit

    They have made some really interesting cars….in the past. Not so much in the last 20 years except for the Carerra GT, of which I have seen a total of one on the road and I live in the wealthiest county in the US. The era of the 904/Carrera 6/917.Abarth Carerra/et al ia long since over. Now it’s the Panamera, their truck and thoose overpriced sports cars they make. Innovation? What’s that at Porsche?

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