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Written with the full cooperation of all of the remaining protagonists, one way or another, this book covers everything regarding the development of these engines. The author managed to find everyone alive who was directly involved with the racing engines. 30 months it in the writing, this is an incredibly detailed book.
After 30 months of original research and writing, this book describes exactly how these famous engines developed from industrial fire pumps to the Hillman Imp, from Le Mans winning Lotus Elites to Formula One winners driven by Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham, right through to the company's takeover by Jaguar in 1963. Viewed through the eyes of an engineer, and the detailed recollections of those who were there, this is a fascinating account of the trials and tribulations of leading edge race engine design from 1952 to 1966.
Review from Classic Bike Guide, January 2008
OK, who hasn't heard of Coventry Climax? I know they're race car engine makers but the company history is a fascinating insight into the working psyche of a successful engine maker.
Books like this fascinate me and the subject is, if a bit technical, far from boring - at least that's what I found.
Author Des Hammill has patiently researched his subject and admitted early on that prior to delving deep into Coventry Climax, he's accepted the 'common knowledge' about the company and its products as being correct.
There are details of engine development, the characters involved in all aspects of the company and the racing world, references to motorcycles and the emerging world of the professional race team as opposed to the gentleman's sport.
Coventry Climax Racing Engines has a wealth of history crammed into the 192 pages of this hardback 9in x 6in book. Is it worth the £16.99 from Veloce Publishers? I think so, but then again I enjoy a load of such technical books.
Reviewed by Terry Strange for Friends of the National Museum, Winter 2004
Des Hammill was given free access to Walter Hassan's papers. He also managed to track down surviving key players from the company's motor racing heydey in the
1950s and '60s. This book is a history of Coventry Climax racing engines and how
they developed out of normal production engines, for the most part, yet were powerful enough to power Formula One World Championship winning cars.
This hardback is for the technically minded who are interested in the history and development of motor racing engines. It goes into great detail analysing the difficulties encountered by an engine manufacturer trying to make world beating machinery on a tight budget. It is quite amazing how many of the key British motor engineers in the 1950s were involved with Coventry Climax. This book has a number of interesting anecdotes from former employees and users of Coventry Climax products.
This well-illustrated book traces the history of Coventry Climax, from the time that it went public in 1951 to the time that it was taken over by Jaguar in 1963. The book includes a useful index and a chapter detailing the technical specifications of the various V8s, 4-cylinder and flat 16-cylinder engines that the company produced. The book also includes the fire-pump and outboard motor developments that eventually led to the development of the base engine for the Hillman 'Imp' range in the early 1960s.
Overall, this is an excellent book dealing with engineering concepts and practices that took place almost 50 years ago. This book is a welcome insight into a forgotten company.
Review from Classic & Sports Car, October 2004
Hammill is better known for his practical and engine tuning series, but this compact hardback is his first history. In it he tells the story of how this already established engineering company designed and developed the first British engine to power World Championship-winning F1 cars – Coopers for Jack Brabham in 1959 and 1960 and Lotus for Jim Clark in '63 and '65. Hammill was given free access to designer Walter Hassan's papers an has tracked down all surviving key players. He deals with each of the Climax engines in separate chapters, with a heavy technical bias to explain their make-up and evolution. It's all here, from cylinder head stretch, to flat-lane cranks, to fuel injection and ignition problems – and the fiendish flat 16 – peppered with intriguing anecdotal details. Excellent stuff, with cutaway drawings, and technical specifications at the back. You have to love engines but this is definitive stuff, endorsed by the Hassan family. Recommendations come no higher. Good value, too.
Review by Alistair Smith for Classic Cars, October 2004
Subtitled 'The Definitive Development History', this 9in x 6in hardback, 190-page book describes the development of Coventry Climax's famous fire-pump engines into successful racing engines of the Fifties and Sixties. Des Hammil a professional engineer and race engine builder himself, has talked to all the surviving team members who were involved. He also had access to the papers of Walter Hassan, the chief engineer and technical director of Coventry Climax, who was responsible for the success of the grand prix engines.
Hammill has produced an enlightening, readable book that mixes technical details, testing procedures and personal anecdotes with company history up to the present day. £16.99 is a small price to pay for a book about one of the 20th century's greatest engine builders.