The Royal Automobile Club presented its Motoring Book Of The Year Award to an extraordinary new title documenting, for the first time, the cars of Iran’s past rulers at a ceremony in London last night.
The event also saw world-renowned author and historian Doug Nye receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for a writing career spanning more than 50 years.
Fit for a King: The Royal Garage of the Shahs of Iran by Borzou Sepasi, the overall winner, was a 20-year project for its author. It has been published under unusually difficult restrictions, as Mr Sepasi explained in a video clip specially recorded for the invited audience. His publishers Glyn and Jean Morris of Dalton Watson Fine Books stepped in to accept the Award on his behalf.
Earlier, in a fascinating conversation with host Simon Taylor, Doug Nye was visibly emotional as he recalled the influence of roadgoing racing cars on him as a child.
He went on to describe a career that has included at least 70 titles widely considered to be definitive – although he joked that he had actually lost count of the total number of books he has written.
The Awards seek to promote all book publishing about cars, motoring and motor racing. Now in its ninth year, there were winners in four categories in addition to the overall winner, and also recognition of an exceptional debut author: Chris Wiblin for his Twin-Cam Extravagance – The History of Lagonda Rapier & Rapier Cars. All the expert judges are independent of the Club, and for 2022 they chose from an unprecedented 48 titles.
“It’s our annual super-boost to the world of automotive publishing,” said Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club. “From literary labours-of-love to compelling biographies of drivers and even individual cars, no comparable event in the English language does so much to promote motoring and motoring racing books. We continue to promote and support the work of excellent authors. The calibre for 2022 has been more impressive than ever.”
Fit for a King… traces the motoring history of each Iranian Shah, starting with Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar in 1900 all the way up to the 1979 revolution. The fates of many of the cars following the end of monarchical rule in Iran are painstakingly covered.
“Produced under unimaginably difficult circumstances, Iranian historian Borzou Sepasi has created a fascinating book on a subject never tackled before,” said Mark Dixon of Octane magazine, one of the judges.
Here are the Awards categories in detail:
Lifetime Achievement Award
Motoring Book of the Year (Below £50)
Trans-Africa Land Rover: The Story of Philip Kohler and his Epic Overland Adventure
Written by Martin Port
The book tells the amazing story of Philip Kohler and his overland adventure across Africa and Europe in his 1959 Series II Land Rover – one undertaken without sponsorship or assistance. It’s packed with more than 300 photographs – most of which are in beautifully preserved colour – that Kohler took along the route.
Judge Christian Whitehead said: “A fascinating story involving a trusty Series II Land Rover crossing the Sahara Desert – it’s a wonderful and exciting tale that engages you from the very start.”
Motoring Book of the Year (No Price Limit)
Marcel Pourtout: Carrossier
Written by Jon Pressnell
Marcel Pourtout, Carrossier tells the story of a family coachbuilding business – and a remarkable family at that. It is the first history of Carrosserie Pourtout and has been compiled with the full support of the Pourtout family. Using surviving documentation from the archives held by Kévin Pourtout, it charts the history of this enterprising small business, from its inception in 1925 to its demise in 1994.
Judge Gordon Cruickshank said: “A superb feat of research into a stylish but neglected coachbuilder.”
Motorsport Book of the Year (Below £50)
Racing Green: How Motorsport Science Can Save the World
Written by Kit Chapman
Racing Green explores the science that has been translated from racing to the road, from the early 19th century through to innovations such as electric cars and autonomous vehicles, and how motor racing has led to some of the most important modern developments that we see in car design today.
Judge Ian Titchmarsh said: “The true contribution that motor sport makes to the world in which we live is generally overlooked, and in this book the author goes a long way to helping the non-scientists among us to understand technical concepts. How the UK F1 teams harnessed their knowledge and expertise in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic to support the National Health Service makes for riveting reading.”
Motorsport Book of the Year (No Price Limit)
Strictly No Admittance: The Inside Story Of The ‘Lightweight’ E-type – The Last Works-Built Jaguar To Race At Le Mans
Written by Peter D Wilson
Author Peter Wilson formerly worked in Jaguar’s Competition Department and helped to develop the legendary ‘Lightweight’ E-type. His remarkable recall of those events is reinforced by the hundreds of hours he spent in the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust archives, and by many conversations with his former colleagues at Jaguar.
The level of detail is astonishing, and as judge Ben Horton said: “It’s a definitive history of this period of Jaguar by someone who lived and breathed it.”
The Graham Robson Trophy for Best Debut Author
Chris Wiblin, author of Twin-Cam Extravagance – The History of Lagonda Rapier & Rapier Cars
The troubled yet inspired history of the Lagonda Rapier is covered in great detail in the first half of this comprehensive book, while the second half is dedicated to coachbuilders, dealers and competition activities. It is packed with a wealth of information and extensive archive photography.
Judge Mick Walsh said: “Every car deserves a definitive history and Chris Wiblin has done the Lagonda Rapier proud. Thirty years of research has gone into this remarkable first work, and it shows.”
Motoring Book of the Year Judging Committee
The award committee is led by non-voting chairman Simon Taylor and consists of six expert judges who are totally independent of the Royal Automobile Club. They are Gordon Cruickshank of Motor Sport, Mark Dixon of Octane, Mick Walsh from Classic & Sports Car, BRDC Bulletin editor Ian Titchmarsh, Ben Horton from specialist bookseller Horton’s Books, and Christian Whitehead from famous Oxford bookstore Blackwells.