Like to read about things that drink petrol and live in the garage?

Or about things that go really fast? How about engineering ingenuity in New Zealand? Here are a few titles for you:

Syndetics book coverKim : the Kiwi on the konig / by Tim Hanna.
This recommendation came from my father, who is always taking bits of car apart or putting them back together again, and who definitely considers cars and motorbikes to be mechanical members of the family. He reviewed this book very enthusiastically, and although it does have a very sad ending (see here for more information about Kim Newcombe), he very much enjoyed it and I think also enjoyed discovering an aspect of Kiwi motoring history he’d previously been unaware of. Some backstory (as understood by me, the non-mechanical family member): Kim Newcombe developed a 500cc motorbike called the Konig using a two-stroke outboard motor – so actually a boat engine. This was during the 60’s when hydroplane (a type of very fast motorboat) racing was very big. There’s a lot more to the story – and from all accounts it’s an amazing story – but I’ll let you read the book and enjoy discovering it for yourself.

Syndetics book coverJohn Britten / Tim Hanna.
A biography of John Britten, a Motorcyclist of the Millennium (he placed fourth equal with the founders of Harley Davidson in a popular motorcylcing magazine poll). Here was another New Zealand innovator who took the world by storm and a dyslexic whose genius for design and mechanical engineering won him a place on The New Zealand Edge’s list of design heroes, as a “Maverick Genius of Motorcycle Design”. Incredibly, he designed and built the V1000 bike in his spare time. Another story with a very premature ending, but a lot of inspirational content.

Syndetics book coverOne good run : the legend of Burt Munro / Tim Hanna.
Seen the movie? Follow it up with this biography of Burt Munro by Tim Hanna. Amazon has this to say of this title:
“Here is the amazing story of Kiwi motorcycling legend, backyard engineering genius, and land speed record holder Burt Munro. Munro was the archetypal eccentric inventor. He took an original Indian motorbike and modified it in his shed so it became capable of extreme speeds. From small town New Zealand in the 1920s to heroic accomplishments in the USA, Munro was still inventing up until his death in 1978. This is very much a “little guy beats the odds” story-Munro still holds several records in the US-as a mark of respect, the category he raced in was “frozen” for all time.” (The release of this biography was originally timed to coincide with the movie release.)

I like the phrase ‘backyard engineering genius’ – it sums up all three of these titles nicely! Enjoy.