|This year’s edition of Automobile Year celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, and as usual, in grand style with superb results.
Among the many interesting chapters is a comparison of the products of six manufacturers fifty years apart. Each is written by a relative expert in the field; Renault by Jean Pierre Gosselin, MG by Ian Norris, Porsche by Paul Frere, Mercury by John Lamm, and Mercedes by Jurgen Lewandowski.
It is Lancia by Wim Oude Weernink, which interests us, however. Weernink compared the 1953/4 2.2 liter B12 Sedan with the Thesis, introduced in 2001. Both are powered by a V-6 (in the case of the Thesis, the V-6 is a 215 hp 3.0 option). Both are state of the art, both are luxury sedans. As Weernink points out, however, in 1952-3 Lancia was "leading the automotive world." It would be hard to say that about Lancia products, today.
Fifty years ago, in the first edition of Automobile Year, Charles Faroux wrote of the improvement in engine design from 1904 to 1954. The article is reprinted, and the publisher then asked Paul Frere to contribute an article which looks at the last 50 years of improvements. With a lot of analyses, formulas and thought, the bottom line is that computerized engine management systems, forced induction and multiple cylinders have doubled the horsepower outputs. The XK120 of 1953 was a 3.4 straight six with 190hp; today’s XK8 is an aluminum 4.2 liter V-8 producing 300 hp, 400 with the supercharger.
Giles Chapman recounts fifty cars which have disappeared over the past fifty years, Karl Ludvisgen bios Laurence Pomeroy, while Jesse Alexander, Rianer Schlegelmilch and Mario Luini compare photographs of the past fifty years of race photography.
Chapters on the automotive industries of the U.S., Japan and Europe are included, along with a look at the exciting concept cars of the year.
Still, this year’s AY manages to fit everything else in, including the Formula 1 season, the FIA Rally Championship, the Touring car championship, etc.
Criticisms? I think not.