First published in 1983, Allan Staniforth’s Race and Rally Car Source Book is widely regarded as the seminal tome for amateur constructors and vehicle fine tuners, and to mark its 30th anniversary it has been republished with a few additions.
There is a new introduction by the late author’s son, Darrell Staniforth, and also a special feature by Steve Cropley, who describes the influence the book has had on those seeking to produce a successful race or rally car over the past three decades.
Other than that though, it’s business as usual and what fills its 256 pages is almost identical to what you would have found in the first edition all those years ago.
It provides detailed advice and intricate diagrams on various aspects of building and modifying competition cars, including suspension and steering, tools and construction techniques, and tyres and aerodynamics.
But, if there is one area that is sorely missing from Race and Rally Car Source Book, it’s electronics.
There have been massive advancements in all things circuit-based since the early ‘80s – engine management systems, data logging, that sort of thing – which means it is, well, a little redundant for any contemporary competition car creators.
[pullquote]Non-techy types will also get something out of it as well, as it provides a greater understanding of how a race car functions…[/pullquote]That said, classic car tuners will probably want to get their hands on a copy before the season begins in earnest in an attempt to squeeze every last bit of performance out of their retro racers.
Non-techy types will also get something out of it as well, as it provides a greater understanding of how a race car functions – you will be the life and soul of any party explaining the differences between a push and pull rod suspension, and discussing topics such as rack and pinion ratios and damper sizes.
Perhaps most interesting of all, however, are the case studies on several old-school vehicles towards the end of the book.
From rallying greats like the Mini Cooper and Audi Quattro, to single-seater splendours like the Lotus 25, the six-wheel Tyrrell P34 and the Brabham BT46/B – better known as the ‘fan car’ – each is dissected and their unique traits told in an interesting fashion.
So, summary time then, and truthfully, I am in a bit of a quandary as to what to make of Race and Rally Car Source Book.
On the one hand it feels like nothing more than a homage to what was once a great practical book, but then, the backbone of it is still valid even today. But to what extent, I am not entirely sure. It is doubtful that it will prove to be as useful to any modern mechanic as it once did, however.
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: J H Haynes & Co Ltd (3 Jan 2013)