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PORSCHE THE CLASSIC ERA
Reviewing Dennis Adler's new book

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Oct 31, 2016

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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Porsche the Classic Era by Dennis Adler

LA Car Book Review PORSCHE the Classic Era By Dennis Adler Forward by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche III Hardcover 304 Pages 10.4 x 8.5 in ISBN: 978-0-7603-5190-1 Motorbooks an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc. www.quartoknows.com $40.00 USD It’s surely can’t be any sort of news to anyone that there must be hundreds of books out there about Porsche automobiles … and here you are reading a review about yet one more. The good news is that this one is an excellent primer on the marque, how it came to be, and why the Porsche 911 is more than a motorcar … more like movement, a religion, a force of nature … something light years beyond simply being a cool, sexy, German sportscar with an air-cooled “boxer” engine hanging off the rear axle. Interestingly enough, the author himself acknowledges a whole long list of other wonderful books about these machines right up front. He then goes on to put together a book that combines the history of the man, the company, and the product in a very usable piece of writing. Denis Adler is a highly respected Porsche expert, in this book he shares that deep understanding of the brand in an easy-to-read, direct way that informs the reader as entertains and explains. I’m not enough of a expert on Porsche books (I only own maybe 18 or 20) to be dead certain about how many of the thousands of aforementioned publications are as cleanly written about the subject, but I can sure recommend this one as giving very full value for money.

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Adler’s selection of illustrative material is excellent, beautiful, in fact. He nicely covers the entire classic air-cooled era with an array of color and black and white photos that do their part very nicely to visually explain the wonderful phenomena known as "Porsche" from its very beginnings. (Again, I’ve only seen a small percentage of the millions of books about the breed, but this one seems to have a good number of very expressive photos relating to the subject that I’ve not seen before.) As is true of all of the great automotive marques that I can think of this book tells the story of an engineer/designer who went against existing convention, building machines that were not only different, but brilliant, and eventually seen as icons … that man was Ferdinand Porsche.

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After the war the French government “detained” Doctor Porsche on unproven war crimes charges involving the use of French inmates as slave labor in his factory. There was a one million French franc “bail” set for the man’s release that his family (still reeling from the war) could not come up with. After some two years of incarceration an Italian industrialist put up the money in return for Porsche penning a couple of designs for his company including the highly-advanced, stunning beautiful, but unsuccessful Cisitalia Grand Prix racer.

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Even for me, ever the motorsports nutcase, the balance between track and road that Adler strikes in this book is perfect. Of course, both are very important to the force of nature that is Porsche and both are well-chronicled here. No, there’s not a 12-page list of every nut and bolt that ever were twisted together (and on what day of the week) … this picture is a bit more macro but, where the details really count, you’ll see them. In “Classic”, the fabled Porsche Carrera Rennsport 2.7 of the 70’s gets a well-deserved and quite informative 18 pages of coverage, a good amount in a 300-page book. On the other end of the Porsche spectral scale, I have, ladies and gentlemen, on the sturdy end table right next to me, another book that covers that one single Porsche model alone. … It was printed in Germany, came in a heavy slip cover box, has 404 large-format pages, has a built-in (bound) bookmarker and covers every possible technical aspect of that one single model. It included a 44-page small-type appendix that covered every technical aspect from camshaft specs to choice of luggage color (each with the specific date code) of every 2.7 that ever rolled out of Stuttgart from 1973 to 1976. That’s one model (albeit a very cool one) of what more than 50, 70 … maybe more, Porsche models that have lit up roads and racetracks since 1948. And, if you must ask, that ultra-specific knowledge is priced at a Porsche-like $249.99 (USD) and weighs in at just over four and half pounds (!). Just saying … there’s good, solid, interesting, accurate Porsche information (as this book “… The Classic Era” provides) and then there’s forensically-detailed true believer stuff like “Carrera 2.7” (described above) by Ryan Snodgrass provides … Choose your own prescription for your own personal case of Porschecosis. (Note: Most of those last two ‘graphs should have been some sort of a sidebar, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that…) By now, this whole review must be making people who follow the AP Stylebook really queasy … sorry!

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Dennis Adler, ever the detail-oriented author, adds a great, fully-formed, and very usable index, the mark of a serious book no matter the price or number of pages. He also includes a 20+ page selection of Porsche printed advertising materials. Always among the best of the best, each is a very unique, distinct statement, very different, but each is VERY (yeah, right ….) PORSCHE. The road cars, the 356, Carrera, 550, Speedster, 911S, 911 Turbo, the federally outlawed 959, 914/6, and the lithe little track team: 906, 908, and 935 … they’re all here in “Porsche The Classic Era”, all well accounted for in their places of honor on this incredible automotive family tree … all in celebration of a true classic era. -DS

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