By Roberto Giordanelli
2023 review by James Loveridge
Roberto Giordanelli, the author of “Confessions of a Test Driver. From a Pedal Car to Formula One. The Story Behind the Stories” is probably known to many, particularly those with an interest in Italian and other supercars, through his association with AUTO ITALIA and other media. He has now published this story of his very close involvement with such cars, their makers and owners since the 1960s.
It should first be said that the title is a little misleading as he is not just a test driver but is also a qualified engineer, a car restorer and builder, a successful racing driver, a qualified race driving instructor, and a recognised consultant in legal cases as well as a prolific author. It is that last skill which makes this such an interesting and enjoyable book.
Mr Giordinelli, a freelance throughout his career, has the rare ability of not only being able to drive exceptionally well but also to understand what the car is doing, or not doing, and to explain it fully. It is undoubtedly this ability which has enabled him to get the respect and confidence of the likes of Maserati and Alfa Romeo as well as owners and to get him access to events and places few other outsiders have achieved.
This is undoubtedly a motoring book but it is also part travelogue, part family history and part motoring history. Mr Giordanielli has dual British and Italian nationality and whilst his love for Italy and things Italian is obvious he doesn’t want to live there. The story is told year by year, so we read of numerous trips to the Continent as well as the USA and South Africa. Of his family we are told that in 1940, when Italy declared war, his mother, who was in the Italian armed forces, happened to be in London so she just hid her uniform, didn’t say anything to anybody so escaped detention whereas his father, also in the Italian Army, was captured in North Africa and made a Prisoner of War.
Mr Giordanelli doesn’t just tell his readers about the mouthwatering selection of cars he has driven, their performance and characteristics, he tells it fluently and understandably; he doesn’t like “clogging” his story with technical detail but uses sidebars containing that stuff whenever he can persuade editors to allow that. He also tells the designer and manufacturers what problems there are or improvements that could be made, many of which have been adopted. Whilst never, it seems, a formal member of any team his considerable ability has secured him many invitations to drive in competition.
The history part of the book gives sufficient technical and other data to explain the evolution of several supercars such as Maserati, Lamborghini, Abarth, Lancia and Alfa Romeo. This is helpful for those of us who get confused by the profusion of models such as Countach, Diablo, Miura, Espada, Murcielago, Gallardo, Jarama and Aventador (they are all Lamborghinis by the way). Given full coverage are numerous Ferraris, Lancias, Bizzarrinis, De Tomasos as well as real rarities such as the Aguzzoli. British cars are mentioned, usually favourably, for example his “homemade” turbocharged monster Jaguar E-Type that got banned.
Mr Giordanelli has an often irreverent sense of humour which enlivens many of the stories of places, race tracks, countries and people in this 240-page, lavishly (570 plus images) illustrated and very well produced book. A reviewer owes it to the author to show that the book has been read from cover to cover so it is necessary to mention some slight niggles: on page 99 “in empty” for “is empty” and on page 189 ”east” for “easy” are examples but these in no way detract from this informative, easy-to-read and highly recommended book.
Publisher:Auto Italia Magazine. Available from Roberto Giordanelli Book Shop, 85 Vicarage Road, Sunbury on Thames, TW16 7QD, firstname.lastname@example.org, or directly from https://www.roberto-giordanelli.com/book/
Description: 240 pages, hardback published without dust jacket. 240mm x 270mm. 570 images, many in colour.
ISBN: 978 1 3999 3344 5