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Any good motoring book recommendations?


CarNucopia
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I've got a bit of a car book addiction and seem to buy books at a rate of about three titles for every one I actually read. I imagine I'm not the only one with this problem, so I thought it would be nice to get and give some recommendations. While I also collect reference books, like the Crestline series, I'm looking for titles that are entertaining and informative to read cover-to-cover.

Help me out folks...what's missing from my book shelf?

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The last five books I've read that I recommend are:

Freedom's Forge by Arthur Herman. This is the story of how the US ramped up production of arms before and during WWII. While not a car book per-say, a lot of what happened was in the car industry and was done by guys related to it. William Knudsen, former President of GM and Henry Kaiser are both central to the story.

Blood and Smoke by Charles Leerhsen. The history of the first Indy 500 is told in this book. While the author has an annoying fondness for long sentences, I think he does a good job capturing what it was like at the dawn of the automobile.

Engines of Change by Paul Ingrassias. The subtitle of this book is "The American Dream in 12 cars". The book tells of the history of 12 important cars and how they either influenced society, or were a reflection of it. I imagine anyone that is a fan of one of the 12 with find the history to lack details. But as a study of the interaction of the car and society, I think it works. This is a really good book for someone who wants an introduction to automotive history.

Stealing Speed by Max Oxley. Okay, this is a motorcycle racing book, but its a great read. Behind the Iron Curtain, a former Nazi rocket engineer developed two-stoke engine technology to compete in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. He gets his MZ team competitive and on the verge of winning a world championship only to have his secrets stolen by a rider who defects and sells them to a Japanese manufacturer. It's a true story, but it reads like a novel.

Car Guys vs. Bean Counters by Bob Lutz. I'm sure Mr. Lutz needs no introduction. If you're curious how GM came to build such bad cars and how it's current product renaissance came about, this book tells the story.

Edited by Buick64C (see edit history)
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I highly recommed the "Last Open Road" by Burt Levy and the series of books that follow. These are novels telling the story of road racing in America in the 1950's, which is a serious interest of mine. Burt has a fabulous sense of history and place, and presents it with great humor. The book has been compared to "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Sallinger, that's how good it is. You can obtain through Burt's website as it was privately published.

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My recommendation is for "Century Story" by Claudia Parsons (published by Book Guild Ltd., ISBN 1 85776 027 1). It is the true story of an English woman living in India in 1939 who figured out that a war was coming and she had better get home. So, she bought a well-used 1927 Studebaker roadster and drove it from India across Asia and North Africa, ferried to France, then across France to England. She had a male passenger/helper/lover along for the ride. It's an interesting tale of getting a car across trackless wasteland, finding gas and repair parts, and meeting interesting people. It helped that she had an engineering degree in an era when few women went to college. The book may be a little hard to find, as it was published in England in 1995. It's a good read.

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One of the best books I have read in a long time is Driving Force "The McLaughlin Family and the Age of the Car" by Heather Robinson. Well written and informative.

One of the first things I read was about the McLaughlins coming to Ontario from Ireland. With a family origin of O'Daly THAT sure got my attention. Everything from deforestation to ginger ale. Its a good one.

Bernie

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"CAR - a drama of the American workplace". Is a great read...by Mary Walton...Ford allowed a journalist to follow 700 engineers for two years, while they redesigned the Taurus into the 1996 model....

May sound like a bore, but it's not.....

Ford had no say so in the final product, so the story is full of the stupidity of a large organization......

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I just finished Bugatti Memories by Gene Cesari. A wonderful book about the author's experiences as a grad student in the '60's who seems to have put himself through school while indulging his automotive interests by importing Bugatti's , Alfa's etc.... at what now appear to be a pittance. His contact in France would send him information on located cars, ( comparatively very little ) money would be wired, and a couple of months later the car would appear on the docks. The author would take a bus down from Upstate New York or New Hampshire, arrive at the docks with a gas can, then drive them home. Incredible cars, great story, and wonderful photos. Was our hobby ever really so innocent ?

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Great recommendations guys, nice and obscure. Thanks.

I have another one which I will preface this by saying this book is interesting, but not necessarily a story for the ages. Many car books are good because they tell tales of innovation, craftsmanship or a person overcoming numerous obstacles through shear determination. This book is the opposite.

The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History, by Jason Vuic. The author is a professor of European History, not a car guy. He's also clearly not a fan of Malcolm Bricklin. This is a pretty quick read, but I thought the insight into how such a bad car ever came to exist (Communism) and how it actually ended up in the US (Mr. Bricklin) was interesting.

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If you want to broaden your interest and knowledge, you might try "The Schlumpf Obsession" by Denis Jenkinson and Peter Verstappen. I always aspired to own a cpy; and just today I picked up one in a local bookshop at a very reasonable price. I just had a look at one of the aggregative internet book lists, and there are 53 copies priced from less than three dollars, to the most expensive at $ 289! Dennis Jenkinson was a journalist and most literate of motoring writers. He was the navigator for Stirling Moss when he won the Mille Miglia in a Gull-wing Mercedes. ( I guess then you could read about that in Ken Purdy's book based on a series of conversations with Moss).

Purdy wrote a number of valuable car books, such as "Kings of the Road" . However his short stories, for which he was renowned, are probably a matter of personal taste.

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I am currently reading a book that I would recommend. It is "The Life of the Automobile" by Steven Parissien, published by St. Martin's Press, 2014, ISBN 978-1-250-04063-3

This book starts with the earliest car and covers not only the development of the car but of the personalities of the men behind the design and building of the cars. A real good read about the development of the automobile and the people who built them.

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Here is the classic of books. I think I have read it four of five times: Horseless Carriage Days by Hiram Percy Maxim Harper & Brothers 1937; Dover Publications 1962.

http://www.amazon.com/Horseless-carriage-Hiram-Percy-Maxim/dp/B0007E1062

Worth whatever the asking price. I wouldn't sell my copy and I am going to start reading it again tonight.

Bernie

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While I admit to being somewhat biased, "Crosley, 2 Brothers and a Business empire That Changed the World" is a great read. The Crosley story involves radio, appliances, baseball, as well as cars and a hundred other things. It is well written and flows nicely. I couldn't put it down.

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  • 1 month later...

I read a review in Car & Driver about "Cord Complete", http://blog.caranddriver.com/cord-complete-recalls-an-automotive-icon-book-review/ , which indicated the publisher was selling them at half off ($80 + shipping). I don't usually buy big-ticket books, but with the gushing reviews in CD and Amazon, I rolled the dice. Now I see you can buy it for $51 on Amazon. I have not had time to read this yet, but paging though it I'm blown away by the detail in the book. Plus, the quality of the entire package is very impressive.

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  • 5 months later...

I recently finished another good book: "Beast" by Jade Gurss. The book tells the story about how Roger Penske and Ilmor Engineering developed in secret a "stock-block" engine which went on to dominate the 1994 Indy 500. I realize this isn't exactly antique-auto related, but if you're a fan of Indycar racing, it's well worth a read. The circumstances that allowed Penske to exploit a loop-hole in the rules were also symptomatic of the rift that was growing between the car owners and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So, in addition to sharing the drama of creating an engine, it gives great insight into what caused "The Split".

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  • 11 months later...

My two favorites are "The High Speed Internal Combustion Engine" by Ricardo (have a '58 edition) and the original (not the movie) "Stand On It" by Stroker Ace (Bill Neely). Can verify several of the incidents. After that have several bookcases worth ranging from Smith to Clymer.

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