Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Must Have Car Guy Books

Welcome to the brand new Carmichael's Automotive Culture Blog.  The idea behind this blog is to share ideas and trends in the automotive world. My opinion is the automotive world is more than just a market where products are bought and sold and it's more than just a hobby.  I believe there is an actual sub culture than spans the entire globe consisting of men, women, and even children that have a passion in the subject of cars.

Today I want to share a few books that are in my personal library that I feel every car lover should read and understand.  The first one I want to mention is The Encyclopedia of American Cars.  When was the last time someone told you to read the encyclopedia?  This book is by the nerds, I mean auto editors, over at Consumer Guide.  I'll be honest its a nerdy book but that's why it's great. It is a history lesson of American automotive manufacturers from the 1930's all the way to 2006.  This book goes into amazing detail with stories of why our favorite cars were built and why they were successful or why they weren't successful.  If you're thinking it only covers the boring Big 3 automakers, well you would be completely wrong.  Even the most learned car guy would be blown away by the detail in which this book covers lost and forgot brands and models.  Every major North American brand has it's own chapter which tells the story of the company.  At the end of each chapter is a well laid out table of different model years, their sales numbers, and even the engine options for each model.  Don't ever go to another car show again and be stumped at what you're looking at.  Fill yourself with the knowledge of the car and where it came from and what it was like when it was original.  This book it also full of amazing original photos straight from the manufactures as well as new color pictures of perfectly preserved gems that we dream about.  Yes so often we car guys are nerds and this book will fill that nerdy brain with knowledge that will bore all your friends even more than you already do.

Now for something completely different. One is The Driver by Alex Roy a legendary long distance illegal street racer.  The other is related and must be read first because it actually inspired the works of Mr. Roy.  It is called Cannonball! World's Greatest Outlaw Road Race written by famed automotive journalist Brock Yates.  Yates takes us back to the 1970's when the speed limit was 55 mph and speed and horsepower were more evil than drugs, rock and roll, or cigarettes.  Then as now many did not recognize our culture in the world.  Most saw cars as only a means of transportation that simply replaced the horse and buggy and cars would eventually be replaced by something else.  Yates saw government nannies stepping in and controlling how cars were made and how they drove.  Yates sets out to prove that these state regulations were not making cars safer but making drivers more dangerous.  He puts out a challenge for himself and all other car lovers to cross the United States as fast as possible without stopping.  What happens next sets off an icon that continues to this day.  The book covers a better part of a decade where the best drivers and the best cars on the road gather to push themselves to amazing limits.  This book is not only a memoir of his account but other participants are included as well.  Probably the most important is none other than racing legend Dan Gurney.  Reading about Gurney's skills behind the wheel of a Ferrari Daytona is inspiring.  Fair warning, you will speed after reading this book for at least three weeks.  The words will run across your brain even if its just a short drive to the grocery store or to work.

The Cannonball races of the '70's inspired several to keep the race alive even after Brock Yates publicly denounced such races.  I think a few bad movies and some worse copy cats ruined the excitement for him and made him reconsider the effects on public safety.  One individual to pick up the torch of the original Cannonballers was Alex Roy.  In his book he does more than just tell an impressive story of continental racing but examines where the joy of car culture originates in a person.  No one is born a car guy they are made that way. For Roy is comes from his father, a Porsche 911 aficionado.  Most of the beginning of the book talks about Roy's relationship with his father and the hurt he felt when his father past away.  In many ways Roy is trying to keep his father's memory alive and he does this behind the wheel of a very famous BMW M5.  The book as several important features that will attract many car guys to it but actually the most important chapter of the book has nothing to do with cars.  Roy is a native to Manhattan and much of the book takes place there.  On September 10, 2001 Roy makes a lap of the island in an Audi faster than anyone else every had before.  He started his lap at the World Trade Center.  The very next day Roy and so many others saw first hand what most of us only saw on television.  Why is Alex Roy's account of Sept. 11 so important?  When the Spanish first arrived in the New World many kept journals.  These journals are now priceless because no other record can be found of what happened during that world changing event.  In the same way Roy is not a famous politician or public servant. He was a normal New Yorker living through a world changing event.  Today those Spaniard journals are read in every high school in the country and in a hundred maybe two hundred years I think students will be reading Alex's account of Sept. 11.  That chapter aside the rest of the book is pulse pounding rush of adrenaline where Roy takes us inside of his M5 at speeds well above 100mph facing down danger and most of all police.

So here are a few books that you can surf through Amazon and find.  Trust me all will be shown proudly in your library as they are mine. 

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