Book Review: 365 Sports Cars You Must Drive

This bucket list for the driving enthusiast covers each end of the spectrum, with each entry deservingly garnished with a fascinating tidbit by late author John Lamm.

365 Sports Cars You Must Drive
365 Sports Cars You Must Drive

365 Sports Cars You Must Drive

Fast, Faster, Fastest

Revised Edition

By John Lamm with Larry Edsall, and Steve Sutcliffe

Published: October 27, 2020

320 Pages, 405 images (all color)

ISBN:  9780760369777

$26.99 USD, $35.99 CAN

Motorbooks an imprint of the Quarto Group

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McLaren F1 LM and McLaren M6GT insert
McLaren F1 LM and McLaren M6GT

Sadly, author John Lamm passed away October 5 at age 76 just shortly after this edition of his book was published.  A highly-respected, and well-liked photo-journalist, his stories and photos were a part of Road & Track magazine’s wonderfully classy look and the industry standard for great writing for 37 years. 

In his honor, and really because he can say it best … we’re using his Introduction to “365” here as our book review.

I smile when I read the notes that John wrote for the pages … each is an honest and professional, appraisal of the machine at hand; but each has a little chunk of the kind of information that John always loved to impart. 

Alfa Romeo 8C Spider and Alfa Romeo Disco Volante insert
Alfa Romeo 8C Spider and Alfa Romeo Disco Volante

Even in the relatively compact descriptions of these wonderful cars, he finds an opportunity for a wise thought, a note about a particular car’s little quirk, a line or two about a famous person owned one, or other amusing inside facts.  Three hundred and sixty-five short pieces on one subject (even if it’s cars) could get tedious, here Lamm and his co-writers keep the monologue bright and moving right along.

This is a fun flip book for any aficionado and a wonderful primer to give as a “just because” (ersatz indoctrination) book to a young fan.

And … if you think that “365” sounds a little like an inventory sheet for Jay Leno’s garage or the official spotter’s guide to the streets of LA/Beverly Hills/Santa Monica you’d be right in either or both cases.

Now, here’s how John Lamm sees his book … -DS

The Ruf CTR 3, CTR "Yellowbird", and RGT-8 insert
The Ruf CTR 3, CTR “Yellowbird”, and RGT-8

This is like the ultimate automotive bar bet:

Okay, pal, you’ve got a garage with 365 spaces and unlimited funds. What will you slot in each space? What will you wheel into spot 365? What’s number one? Chronological? Park the 1886 Benz – not just the first sports car, but also the first car – in space 1?

How about the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, arguably the most luscious vehicle ever created? That would put you head-to-head with many McLaren F1 guys … no argument.

But let’s be practical. Mazda’s Miata belongs in a place of honor. Ditto with any of several Alfa Romeos and MGs.

A horsepower guy? Park a Cobra, a Viper, or a ‘Vette.

And so you get a little sense of what it’s like to create a book like this. We all have our automotive loves and when you narrow it down to sports cars, ouch, it gets even more difficult.

Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport and Alfa Romeo 8C2900 MM/8C2900B LM insert
Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport and Alfa Romeo 8C2900 MM/8C2900B LM

To some it’s their first love; in my case a Bugeye Sprite or Triumph TR4. Others opt for what they can afford right now, like a Miata, a nicely maintained Toyota “MR 2,” or a low-mileage Corvette. For those who prefer to dream, this is the chance to mull over a Ruf CTR3, a Ferrari 488 or something really out there, like an Aston Martin One-77. And there are those who will slip into the past, to an Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 or one of many Bugattis.

With luck, wherever your dreams take you, there are examples in this book. You’ll find all the favorites, but we also kept an open mind, so don’t be surprised by a few curveballs, from pony cars to a three-wheeler.

That is, however, the fun of assembling a book about sports cars. There are classic definitions of the type and then those that give a little space.

Maybe that’s the real bet. What is a sports car?  – John Lamm

The luscious Ferrari 250 GTO insert
The luscious Ferrari 250 GTO

Personal:  I knew John and called him a friend, and, as the above starts to reveal, he was an outgoing and friendly man who always seems to be involved with the subject and who always asked intelligent questions (the ones that I would love to have thought of) with a smile and a bit of a tilt of his head. His legacy is that of a great photographer and writer who never seemed to care much for that “great” part, substituting dignity and respect for that preface to his true title: “professional”.  He’s missed already. -DS

 

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