Seven Super Books for Gearheads This Holiday Season
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If you love cars, chances are you can’t count on friends or loved ones to get you the cool automotive-themed stuff you really want. Worse, maybe you’ve been more naughty than nice this year, and now Santa is unlikely to leave anything under the tree besides a lump of fossil fuel. Circumvent the bearded clown in the red suit and get yourself a fancy book that celebrates some aspect of your automotive passion.
Each of these seven books will provide at least one hour of joy, which is more than can be said for the majority of our experiences these days. So shake up a cocktail of gin and myrrh, turn on the gas fireplace, and settle into the holiday season. Click through to buy.
Porsche at Le Mans: 70 Years: No automaker has been more consistent, successful, or consistently successful at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance races than Porsche. The German sports-car brand has competed in every running of the event since 1951 and won outright 19 times. This book by noted Porsche historian Glen Smale takes readers through all the heroic Porsche racers who sped around the track at Le Mans over the past 70 years—from the 550 Spyder to the 906, the 917, and the hybrid 919. It also provides insights into the minds and strategies of drivers including Derek Bell, Hélio Castroneves, Mario Andretti, Jacky Ickx, and Mark Donohue.
Postcards from Detroit: For seven years in the 1980s, the Motor City—famed for Woodward Avenue drag races and factories shuttered by roboticization and the rise of imports—joined the international jet set as host of a (sort of) world-class grand prix. Run on a 2.5-mile course of janky pavement right in the middle of downtown, with the mirrored glass bunker of the Renaissance Center as its central beacon, the race featured the era’s most famous drivers. This book, with photos by Roger Hart, captures the greatness of vanished teams from Alfa Romeo, Benetton, Lola, and Zakspeed and winning drivers such as Nelson Piquet, Keke Rosberg, and Ayrton Senna.
Jaguar Century: 100 Years of Automotive Excellence: Jaguar is undeniably one of the most admired automotive companies of all time, having created a nearly unrivaled series of elegant, iconic, and (relatively) accessible vehicles such as the XK-120, Mark X, E-type, and XJ, on up to the all-electric I-Pace. Now, in celebration of the brand’s 100th anniversary in 2022, automotive historian Giles Chapman has assembled this weighty tome explaining how a business set up to build motorcycle sidecars in the aftermath of World War I went on to become the most legendary British car marque.
Classic Car Auction Yearbook 2020–2021: Now in its 26th year, this annual publication rounds up all the highs and lows in classic-car sales, assembles them into easily digestible charts, and provides expert analysis accessible to both neophytes and veterans of the hobby. There’s even a top-five list. An invaluable reference for those of us fascinated by the lunacy of the collector-car market in all its forms.
BMW M: 50 Years of the Ultimate Driving Machines: BMW’s M division began as a means of supporting the brand’s race cars, but it soon became a go-fast subsidiary of its own dedicated to creating the Bavarian automaker’s most potent and capable street cars. From the wedgy M1 of the late 1970s through the rest of the BMW model line encompassing all the numbers up to 8 (with the exception of an M7—why?!), the division has created some of the world’s most beloved, discussed, and collectible enthusiast cars. As the badge turns 50 in 2022, automotive journalist Tony Lewin takes readers on a visual and emotional excursion through five decades of M.
Ultimate Collector Cars: Weighing in at more than 25 pounds and priced at $250, this two-volume set is worth the heft and the cost, as it assembles 100 of the most exemplary versions of great collectible vehicles in history and presents them in stunning photographic detail. From the 1910 Marmon Wasp to the 2020 Aston Martin Valkyrie, all your favorites are here, as well as some intriguing outliers. Interspersed in the text, by noted design authors Charlotte and Peter Fiell, are essays and commentary from notables in the collector-car world, including the Duke of Richmond, founder of the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival, and Sandra Button, chair of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Just don’t forget to reinforce your bookshelf before you put it away.
Saab Celebration: Swedish Style Remembered: Remember Saab? We certainly do. From the streamlined, front-wheel-drive, two-stroke 92 of 1949 on through the badge-engineered 9-2X (a.k.a. Saabaru), the 9-4X (a.k.a. Saabillac), and the 9-7X (a.k.a. Saabravada) of the GM era, the Swedish carmaker never failed to do one thing perfectly: be weird. Even bestsellers like the 900, which persevered virtually unchanged for 20 years, never made it beyond niche. But we love niche, as does author and Saabophile Lance Cole, our tour guide for this ride through the faded marque’s eccentric history and sad demise.
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