Heron MJ1: The Story of a New Zealand Supercar and The Man Who Created It by Patrick Harlow
Patrick Harlow is an automotive historian with a love of unique New Zealand produced cars. Heron MJI is Patrick’s third book, and it features a car designed and built in New Zealand with a unique fibreglass monocoque chassis, and its owner car designer and builder, Ross Baker.
Heron MJI is a handsome hardback, with plenty of photographs throughout, a book that would look great gracing any coffee-table. What is apparent when reading the book is that the story of Heron the car, and the story of Ross Baker are inseparable.
The first half of the book tells of Ross’s life, while the second half of the book moves on to Heron Developments Limited, and the Heron supercar itself. The author details the obstacles and triumphs in Ross Baker building his dream car, in a way that is compelling, creating non-fiction that is wonderfully readable and informative. Ross is an innovator – if it had wheels, he’d modify it; if it would go fast, he’d race it. There are numerous enjoyable anecdotes.
Ross designed, prototyped, and built the Heron MJ supercar during the 1980s. interestingly, if the car was built today it would cost millions to manufacture with today’s multitude of regulations. But in the 1980s Skodas, Fiats, and Escorts became unlikely donors for the Heron, brought together by Ross’s kiwi cleverness. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however, and Ross had to deal with escalating costs and forced redesigns.
This book will have huge appeal to all car lovers everywhere, it’s a fabulous read.
Reviewed by Iain McKenzie