I really wanted to get this review done for the Holiday Season, but now that it's 2012 and some of you have some Amazon gift certificates from loved ones, this is the book you should spend them on. I've obtained some really top notch car books this year which will be covered in subsequent reviews, but I have to say that Veloce Publishing's new Lamborgini Urraco book by Arnstein Landsem --himself an Urraco owner--really provides the perfect balance of historical background, comprehensive documentation, copious amounts of photos and smart yet objective editorial observation on the topic. Veloce has gone from strength to strength lately, and at this point I would consider them the foremost publisher of affordable automotive books in the world. Veloce consistently delivers books that are comprehensive without being pedantic, profusely illustrated, well produced in terms of printing and layout, and accessibly priced. And the new Urraco book is no exception.
From a purely casual browsing point of view, this book is just crammed with gorgeous shots of the Urraco, combining historic press photos with scans of magazine reviews, and top notch modern photography that looks like it was taken right out of the pages of Octane. There are also plenty of detail shots for the true restoration enthusiast showing how the interior and engine bay should look. For an underappreciated car like the Urraco, you are unlikely to find more shots of these cars in one place even on the web. In addition to this wealth of imagery, there is a very thorough telling of the history of the car and of the ups and downs of the Lamborghini company in the tumultuous late 70s. Extensive quotes from famed Lamborghini development driver Valentino Balboni add character and first-person intimacy to the subject matter. There is a lot of discussion of the car's development from both a technical and stylistic point of view. Another nice feature is that each styling iteration is accompanied by a very nicely done photoshop rendering so you can really follow the changes that occured in the car's gestation.
After the history section, there are also extensive summaries of period road tests and magazine articles. The Silhouette and the Jalpa, which were both cars developed off the Urraco's platform are both well described here as well. Although Landsem isn't a gifted writer, I think he did a remarkable job of packing a lot of information into a very attractive and digestible package. He also provides the reader with a very honest, sometimes blunt description of the pros and cons of owning and maintaining an Urraco which I found very refreshing and enjoyable to read. There are helpful pointers about what to look for when buying one of these cars, as well as a value guide. At the very end, there is a very cool chart allowing you to compare the specifications of the various Urraco models to the other cars of the period.
Overall, this is a really solid book that will provide enjoyment on multiple levels, and definitely a commendable effort at telling the story of an under-appreciated classic.