I first heard about Adil (one of the pioneers of Indian automotive journalism) in 2003, when I somewhat mystifyingly found myself answering to the description of ‘automotive journalist’.

Back then, he was the competition, as the editor of Overdrive magazine, and my boss had said “You should meet Adil. He knows everything about everything, specially cars and bikes.” He wasn’t joking, either – reading one of Adil’s road tests (or even his editor’s letter) was something of an event. His writing had a relentless, almost breathless pace, run through by a childlike enthusiasm and a dizzying array of facts, figures and other technical insights; when you got to the last sentence, you knew you had been in a scrap, but you also felt like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, when he says “I know kung fu.”

MERCEDES-BENZ WINNING

When I met him in the flesh, I was struck by the vast breadth of his automotive knowledge (he really was an encyclopaedia) and his Energiser-bunny persona – he never seemed to be bored, or tired, and he never said no to anything that gave off even a faint whiff of automobilia; to watch him bulldoze his way through the scale model section of a store was to witness true passion (he owns thousands of scale models, it won’t surprise you to know). Thus, when I heard that a 400-plus page book on the history of Mercedes-Benz had recently been published, I assumed it could only have been written by Adil – only he would have the beans to single-handedly research and write a coffee-table tome that contains almost 1000 photographs, well over one lakh words and weighs what feels like a small Mercedes- Benz.

Mercedes-Benz Winning! (available on Amazon and Flipkart) is, on the face of it, a history of the German brand’s storied motorsport pedigree, but it goes beyond this aspect, broadening into the story of the company itself. Adil went through countless thousands of photographs at the Mercedes-Benz archives in Stuttgart before selecting the ones that made it into print, and each photo has a lengthy caption that not just mentions the car/s in question, but its context at the time as well as its historical significance now.

Targa-Florio und Coppa Florio, Sizilien

Mercedes’ legendary racing cars all make appearances throughout, along with pivotal figures like Juan Manuel Fangio, Sir Stirling Moss, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, among others. It’s the book’s subsection that I found most enjoyable, however – the one on the brand’s history in India. Here, with the help of photographs that must have been a task and a half to source (I can claim to have shot a few of them, incidentally), India’s 126-year relationship with Mercedes- Benz is revealed, along with details of some of the most significant vintage Mercedes cars still in existence here. This book isn’t for everyone, to be honest – it takes concerted effort to go through the wealth of information in it. For anyone with an automotive bent of mind, however, it will make for very enjoyable reading.

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