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"The Perfect Car" -- John Barnard


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#1 Charlieman

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 14:33

It's a biog of John Barnard, written by Nick Skeens, a bloke who knows about engineering design more than F1. 

 

I started to read the book on Christmas Day and I'm half way through. The writing style is fine for me, but there are so many quotes and facts in the book that I have to stop and reflect for a while. The data intensity is black hole degree if you follow up the citations.

 

I'm up to the moment when Barnard is signing to Ferrari as a designer. That's the first half of the book: after Barnard grows up in an engineering family, finds a job at Lola and eventually turns up at Project Four to sort out McLaren. 

 

Barnard tells his story. The voices of Ron Dennis, Teddy Mayer and Tyler Alexander are also heard. The first half of the book tells some interesting stories about McLaren.



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#2 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 16:46

I'm really looking forward to this book but waiting for some price discounting. :rolleyes:

Perhaps this could be moved to the book thread as well.

#3 Charlieman

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 17:49

I'm really looking forward to this book but waiting for some price discounting. :rolleyes:

My copy is from the second reprint. The book is/was printed in eastern Europe. I guess that Evro didn't know how this type of book could sell.

 

The book costs £40, retail price. It is a good book.

 

It is a different tale than last years Adrian Newey work. 



#4 Doug Nye

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 20:32

I have just finished JB's book and I spoke with him just yesterday to say how impressed I am by his and Nick Skeens' work.  

 

There are a few inevitable quibbles but I really, truly, enjoyed it - I learned many things I did not previously know about, nor even suspect and it is sometimes piercingly honest and objective. JB admitting he might have got some things wrong?  Blimey! John tells me that Evro, the publisher, had to cut some 25,000-30,000 words out of the original manuscript to produce what they regarded as a publishable package - but they have done a fine job of doing so.

 

And well done Mr Skeens.  I VERY MUCH recommend it.

 

DCN



#5 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 23:56

I have just finished JB's book and I spoke with him just yesterday to say how impressed I am by his and Nick Skeens' work.  
 
There are a few inevitable quibbles but I really, truly, enjoyed it - I learned many things I did not previously know about, nor even suspect and it is sometimes piercingly honest and objective. JB admitting he might have got some things wrong?  Blimey! John tells me that Evro, the publisher, had to cut some 25,000-30,000 words out of the original manuscript to produce what they regarded as a publishable package - but they have done a fine job of doing so.
 
And well done Mr Skeens.  I VERY MUCH recommend it.
 
DCN

High praise, indeed.

Come on, booksellers....just enough to make me think I stole it.:)

#6 jtremlett

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 07:27

High praise, indeed.

Come on, booksellers....just enough to make me think I stole it. :)

I don't know about the US but UK RRP is £40.  Current best price I can find is £24.28.  Well worth that. 



#7 kayemod

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 11:29

I have just finished JB's book and I spoke with him just yesterday to say how impressed I am by his and Nick Skeens' work.  

 

And well done Mr Skeens.  I VERY MUCH recommend it.

 

DCN

 

For what it's worth, I agree wholeheartedly with Doug. I bought the book as soon as it appeared, and after a quick scan, it immediately leapfrogged my steadily growing 'books to be read' pile, not for a moment was I disappointed. It's unusually well written by a slightly surprising choice of author, and once started, it's hard to put down. Nick Skeens clearly had almost total co-operation from John, and must have carried out a vast amount of research. I'm not an expert in the Nye league, but I found it almost impossible to quibble over any of the content. There are always two sides to anything of course, and it would be interesting to know the opinions of some of the people mentioned. One of the men I've long most admired in motor racing is Ron Dennis. John and Ron had several well publicised fallings out, but it seems to me to be a fair assessment of both men and the situation, and overall, Ron emerges from everything quite well with his reputation undamaged. I suspect that Ferrari, Benetton/Briatore and Chaparral fans will be less enthusiastic though, Ferrari especially, some of the occurrences and machinations described defy belief, Machiavelli would have been proud. 

 

I'd love to read the 25,000 to 30,000 pages that were left out though...



#8 David Birchall

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 18:28

Fifty three dollars is the current best price on Amazon.  Which is almost $70 Canadian.  I'll wait a while.

The Adrian Newey book was superb though!



#9 Parkesi

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 19:03

Me-too liked the book and I couldn`t put it down until I finished it.

The competent but distant/critical and neutral way of writing I found very impressive.

Thanks God Evro Publishing reduced the volume because a book of an additional 25000 - 30000 pages

would not fit into my study :clap:

  

   



#10 thegforcemaybewithyou

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 20:02

You can read a few pages online on amazon, just click on the cover: https://www.amazon.c.../dp/1910505277/



#11 Nick Planas

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 20:32

I got it a couple of months back and could not put it down. Totally fascinating and JB is honest about why he was so hard to work with. I like the fact that he knew no more than anyone else about carbon fibre technology so he taught himself, and didn't make the mistakes so many of his contemporaries did.

 

There's also something rather quaint about a man who is high powered, high vis. senior management wanting to go home every lunchtime to eat with the wife and kids. 

 

Unless funds are an issue, I wouldn't quibble about the price, it was excellent value.



#12 thegforcemaybewithyou

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Posted 10 January 2019 - 21:34

If you'd rather listen to Barnard and Skeens:

 

https://vimeo.com/282069917

Edited by thegforcemaybewithyou, 10 January 2019 - 21:35.


#13 john aston

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 07:03

Terrific read - my review will be on speedreaders.info shortly .Ditto Newey book



#14 Henri Greuter

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 07:18

Terrific read - my review will be on speedreaders.info shortly .Ditto Newey book




"Terrific" not being the shortcut combination of "Terrible & horrific" I presume ?????

#15 stuartbrs

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 09:59

I enjoyed the Newey book way more than I thought I would. I didnt think I would find the Red Bull years all that enjoyable but it was a huge insight into how human these teams still are. 

Looking forward to reading the Barnard book now. 



#16 Charlieman

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 11:59

In other threads, we've discussed Adrian Newey and his desire to own part of the team for which he worked or works. Patrick Head, of course, owned a big chunk of Williams when it was a privately owned company. John Barnard owned a lot of McLaren, before and after the split with Teddy Mayer and Tyler Alexander, when the team had lots of potential but low capital value. John Barnard sold his shares, for reasons which he explains and which were rational to him; Barnard raised enough money to improve the lifestyle of his family and I would never criticise him for his choice.

 

When I read about the flareups with Ron Dennis and others at McLaren, I can see how management might prefer the designer to NOT be a significant shareholder. John, Adrian and Patrick are different characters but team management and car design require different skills. Patrick Head pulled it off for much of his career; in interviews, it often seemed that Frank and Patrick were ready to finish off the other's sentences. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a similar example where the boss and designer had such a relationship.



#17 GTMRacer

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 12:47

If you can't find enough change down the back of the sofa right now then the Kindle edition is £9.99, I read the Newey

book on my Kindle and it in no way detracted from an excellent read!



#18 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 13:03

I enjoyed the Newey book way more than I thought I would. I didnt think I would find the Red Bull years all that enjoyable but it was a huge insight into how human these teams still are. 

Looking forward to reading the Barnard book

 

Yes, though some people would have you believe teams are too big or complex for one guy to make a difference, which is incorrect.

 

I was gratified to see the nice things JB had to say about my old man.



#19 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 13:11

A must read for the Ferraristi among us. Good to hear him call the 412 T1 the 645, that is in line with the Barnard F-nomenclature. The F93A then being the Barnari 644.

 

And I also thought I heard Beresford...



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#20 Henri Greuter

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 13:18

I have not read the book yet, it's on the pile of books to read this year.

But what I think to be interesting is that I read all kind of things about Ron Dennis and John Barnard having their disagreements and their `relationship` falling apart...

The curious thing is I have found a report about the press conference in mid '85 when Niki Lauda announced his second retirement, once Nike had said his things and Dennis got the word, (according my report0 he practically ignored Niki and instead tried to give all attention and appreciation for Niki's successes to John Barnard for his outstanding work on the cars of the past years.....


Now I will instantly admit that this was found in a book by the Austrian journalist Heinz Prüller and on this forum he is not exactly known fir being objective when it comes to Austrian F1 matters and people.....

#21 E.B.

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 13:45

Roebuck was at the conference and said pretty much the same thing about it.

#22 Tim Murray

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 13:55

As E.B. says, Nigel Roebuck was at that press conference and wrote about it in his book Grand Prix Greats. As Niki had considered his retirement announcement a personal matter he had not wanted Ron Dennis to be there, but Dennis had insisted. After Niki had said his bit Ron was asked to comment. As Roebuck put it:

Rather than pay tribute to a great driver, rather than thank him for a not inconsiderable part in building up McLaren International, for four years work, several Grand Prix victories and a World Championship, Dennis chose instead to rebuke Lauda for paying insufficient tribute to John Barnard - ‘the principal reason for our success last year ... ’

Yes, but what about Niki, and his retirement? ‘We operate McLaren International principally to win Grands Prix, and next year we’ll certainly have two drivers capable of doing that.’

Yes, but ...

The moment was gone. Lauda made no visible response, and continued to answer questions. As he strode to the pits afterwards, however, he was bristling, most words in his conversation held down to four letters.



#23 Henri Greuter

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 14:08

As E.B. says, Nigel Roebuck was at that press conference and wrote about it in his book Grand Prix Greats. As Niki had considered his retirement announcement a personal matter he had not wanted Ron Dennis to be there, but Dennis had insisted. After Niki had said his bit Ron was asked to comment. As Roebuck put it:



Thanks for quoting this.

I am looking forward to read the Barnard book and find out about his share in upgrading the '75 M16E as well as his work on the Chaparral and I hope there will be something about the rumors of the German company Heidegger offering an In-line straight-6 turbo engine with central power take off point for use in a McLaren.
And of course what he has to tell about the 637.......

#24 MLC

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 14:22

I bought this book when it first came out and read it over a weekend. Very fascinating and great insight from one of the legends. As an engineer, I found some of the technical thinking behind his designs inspiring. The number of innovations he brought to F1 puts John Barnard as one of the truly great men of Grand Prix racing.



#25 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 15:36

Indeed, Lauda was shall we say, cool about Ron Dennis in interviews post 1985. Later he mellowed.

 

Also interesting to get his Ferrari story from his POV. The obligatory Maranello kidnap, the negotiations, the excuses for GTO, etc.



#26 PCC

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 18:04

Indeed, Lauda was shall we say, cool about Ron Dennis in interviews post 1985.

I don't have it handy right now, but I seem to recall Lauda quoted in Autocourse that year as saying something along the lines of, "People think that we drivers are egomaniacs, but compared to team principals, we're non-starters."



#27 Doug Nye

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Posted 11 January 2019 - 21:47

:lol:



#28 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 20:58

OK, I'm convinced. I purchased the book today.

:wave:

#29 brakedisc

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 22:06

A wee story that fits in with this thread.

 

"In 1980 I met a guy at Oulton Park called Ron Dennis. He was supported by a fag company then and his F3 team was well prepared to say the least. He made an impression on me and over the years I watched him and his team develop. By 1983 he had moved into F1 and was moving the goalposts even there. When my wee team built our first race car, the RoToR JT1 FF1600 I wrote to Ron and asked if we could visit his workshop to see how a F1 car was made. His secretary replied in the positive and hand written at the end of the letter was a note from John Barnard to say he had seen the car in Autosport and wished us all the best. I phoned to arrange a date and time and was bluntly told that ALL visits were cancelled as members of another F1 team had visited the facility as parents on a primary school visit. We were devastated. Fast forward to the Mount Stuart Motorsport festival and who should I meet but Ron. I had a great blether with him and told him the story. He remembered that incident and invited us to see his new "workshop" the McLaren Technical Centre. Hard to believe but I never managed to find the time or to follow his invite up until last Thursday. It might have taken me 36 years to finally get there but boy was it worth the wait. What vision and drive to not only come up with something as splendid as it is but also to follow Bruce McLarens dream of being the best. Ron is gone from McLaren but what a legacy he has left. "

 

So looking forward to reading " The Perfect Car " but with a big birthday coming up I will have to wait as I do not want to make the same mistake as happened one Christmas when I ended up with 4 copies of Mr Neweys book.



#30 D-Type

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 23:14

~

So looking forward to reading " The Perfect Car " but with a big birthday coming up I will have to wait as I do not want to make the same mistake as happened one Christmas when I ended up with 4 copies of Mr Neweys book.

Better than getting two copies of "Motor Racing's Strangest Races" - even if they were 15 years apart. 

My family have learned to keep the receipts ... just in case.