The Fine Art of the Motorcycle Engine by Daniel Peirce is a photographic tribute to the essence of what many of us find so attractive about motorcycles in the first place, a tribute to the heart of the machine, the mechanical motive force, … the engine. In today’s world of plastic covered streamlined shapes, where too much emphasis is put on lap times or light weight, this book takes its time to simply present the engine, unadorned by anything other than what the designer created, no more, no less.
Daniel Peirce is a photographer who spent years shooting pets, weddings, sporting events, all of the usual subjects. The idea of a project focusing on motorcycle engines evolved slowly and somewhat by chance. An early catalog shot of a V-Twin, another of an XR-750 for a magazine article, numerous photos at the Lake O’ The Pines Rally, then a motorcycle magazine photo shoot for the owner of the Up-N-Smoke BBQ Restaurant. A clue here, a nudge there and soon, the Up-N-Smoke Engine Project was born.
The engines on display in this book are found everywhere from local shows to the the Up-N-Smoke parking lot and of course, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. The photos are all part of a series that Dan sells individually as posters. Combined into this book, they’re a visual treat that hooks any motorhead into turning the pages to see what’s up next.
The book is not a technical treatise, no specs or histories of engines, just a photographic display of mechanical shapes and forms with an easy reading story of Dan’s project as it developed. Dan also includes a section that shows the steps involved in turning the initial engine shot into the finished photo, if you’ve ever wondered how that parking lot photo turns into something that looks like it was done in a studio, here’s the quick how-to.
In the earlier air cooled era, cooling fins and oil lines, pushrod tubes and gear levers, made for a pleasing mechanical look. Hide their mechanical heart and motorcycles quickly lose their appeal to those of us who like to stare at steel and aluminum. If you are one of those who would rather see functional metal than decal covered plastic, this is definitely worth a look.