Book Review: Ford Total Performance

Ford’s Legendary High-Performance Street and Race Cars

The subtitle says it all. Ford Total Performance is a highly personal look at an era when automakers, especially Ford, waged an all out motorsports war producing a decade (1961-1971) long series of cars the like of which we will never see again.

Ford.bookMartyn L. Schorr was an eyewitness to all this as a young automotive journalist and while the book can occasionally be fact-heavy full of engine and chassis specs along with race results, it’s a cornucopia of driver and car builders who made this era ever so special (to me too.)

Regular readers of this blog may know I’m a Ford enthusiast and although in most recent years I’ve been a import driver/racer Fords have a special place in my heart. (My wife drives a new Escape.) And while the book is obviously aimed at people like me, Chevy fans will be surprised to learn that Zora Arkus-Duntov got his start making parts for the Ford flathead V8. The legendary Ardun heads are an acronym for Arkus-Duntov, something I didn’t know that until I read Ford Total Performance.

The book covers automobiles that don’t have Ford logos on them including the Pantera, Cosworth-Ford racing engines for open wheel racers, Shelby Cobra (naturally) and several Mercury automobiles including Cyclones, Cougars and Comets, a car I’ve always loved. In fact the book takes you on the 1964 East African Safari that Comets participated. I didn’t know that until I read Ford Total Performance either.

The book is infused with the knowledge and passion that Schorr brings to Fords of these years and the forward by Lee Holman, son of John Holman of Holman-Moody whose exploits turn up throughout the book, provides some interesting historical perspectives.

The book is illustrated with mostly historical photographs of people and events who defined this exciting era in motorsports and while approach to book design usually results in a hodge-podge look the layout by John Sticha enhances the text producing a great looking book that you will want to look at and re-read. And people who love racing facts and figures will want to read it more than once to let the details soak it.

Ford Total Performance is clearly a labor of love for Martyn L. Schorr and all who participated in its production. It is a must-have book for Ford fans of all stripes including road racing, open wheel, rally NASCAR, and drag racing will find something they will enjoy reading but more importantly I promise you will learn something new—even if you think you know lots about Fords—within just a few pages of this book. It’s a great read too and one that will make the perfect holiday gift to the ford enthusiasts in your house. I can’t wait to read it again.

  • Author: Martyn L. Schorr
  • Format: hardcover
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • Illustrations: 133 color, 215 black & white
  • Size” 9.625 x 11/125-inches
  • Published: November 2, 2015