BOOK REVIEW  By Ken Davies

Blue Lemon - Rallying for the Buzz 

This rather elegant coffee-table book tells the fascinating story of Phillip and Yvonne Haslam's induction into historic rallying, a hobby that subsequently beguiled and converted them into seasoned and serial competitors on some of the most exotic and daunting historic endurance rallies on the calendar. Some 100 rallies through 58 countries totaling over 200,000 hard-fought miles to date. The Haslam’s world map carries a truly enviable portfolio of international destinations – and they are not done just yet!

Released in October 2020, the book is professionally written and well-illustrated with some atmospheric images. Extravagantly presented, the high-quality, hard-back tome is amusing and self-deprecating as, despite the considerable rallying experience that Phillip and Yvonne have gathered, they never take themselves too seriously and remain refreshingly lighthearted and self-critical throughout.

Following a successful career as principal of an architectural practice, Phillip’s grand retirement plans eschewed the local bowls, bridge and ferret clubs and expanded into a far more hectic, but fulfilling, way of life in the fascinating world of classic cars and historic rallying on a ‘who’s who’ of blue-riband global events to countries not appearing on the average travelogue. From lush green UK countryside, the Haslam’s adventures see them traverse arid deserts, thick forests, chaotic cities and cross almost every major mountain range and continent.

Four cars share starring roles in the book. First, a 1948 Allard M Type in which the Haslams first honed their rallying skills; a 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air, acquired especially for the formidable Peking to Paris rally; the ex-Sir Malcolm Campbell 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans - ALR 1 - and a 1950s Jaguar XK120 roadster, used for the majority of the Haslam’s events, reminding us of the doughty breed of world class cars Sir Williams Lyons’ company produced at Browns Lane, Coventry almost 70 years ago.

Written in a pleasant, easy-to-read style, Phillip’s almost encyclopedic power of total recall makes this unusual and niche volume a thoroughly enjoyable read. Bad points? None really, except perhaps the 300mm x 210mm x 25mm dimensions of the heavy book are not conducive to easy reading in bed.

Blue Lemon is a great book for those interested in historic rallying mixed with extreme foreign road travel, and the Haslams press-on-regardless style of competing is commendable. I imagine a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s immortal poem ‘If’, available in the glove compartment of their cars to use as inspiration in times of tribulation - which have been plentiful.

Multi-talented Haslam wrote the book, designed the layouts, organised the printing and self-published. So far, 200 copies are printed with half already sold

Blue Lemon - Rallying for the Buzz
Written by Philip Haslam
ISBN 978-1-5272-6693-3
Available from or
Price £30.00 plus P&P

In 2009, the same author published Turn Left for the Gobi - PEKING TO PARIS THE HARD WAY. Another graphic and enjoyable account of the Haslam’s many character-building adventures in the Chevrolet on the 2007 historic version of the original 1907 Paris to Peking endurance rally. This epic story is another Haslam production, requiring reprints in 2011 and again in 2015, totaling 500 copies to date, of which just 30 remain available for sale.