If you’re like me, you’re continually looking for interesting auto related books. Here are some picks from my bookshelf for summer 2012.
As some of you know, I have a keen interest in Indiana-built automobiles. One book in this genre about a lesser-known make is Custom Built by McFarlan: A History of the Carriage and Automobile Manufacturer, 1856-1928, by Richard A. Stanley. The author documents McFarlan’s early specialization in high-grade, light-duty carriages, spring wagons and buggies and then branching into “carriage trade” automobiles, providing a quality product at a reasonable price.
Celebrities of the day such as Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Dorothy Farley, Wallace “Wally” Reid, Alma Simpson, Jack Dempsey, and Paul Whiteman drove McFarlans. Stanley’s extensive research and writing thoroughly document the McFarlan carriage and automobile manufacturing saga. He shares the story of this automotive gem from Connersville, Indiana.
Peruse Custom Built by McFarlan at Amazon.com
One book that I eagerly anticipated this summer was Carroll Shelby: The Authorized Biography by Rinsey Mills. He documents Carroll Shelby’s early exploits as an Army aviator, his 1950’s racing activities, and the quest to develop his own sports car. This book reflects Mills’ fascination with motorsports history and covers Shelby American operations with an in-depth perspective.
I especially enjoyed Mills’ coverage of the development of the first Shelby Cobra roadster. This took place at the beginning of my auto enthusiasm. It was great to read about the development of this automotive icon.
In 1962, Shelby conceived of an aluminum bodied AC sports car with leather interior fitted with the new 260-cubic-inch Ford V8-engine. “Cobras Rout Sting Rays,” reported Motoracing newspaper about the spring 1963 Riverside SCCA races. “In their outing the beefed-up Ford-Powered AC Cobras finished 1-2 today, decimating the Corvette Sting Rays.”
His research and writing thoroughly document Shelby’s auto racing and manufacturing saga.
Peruse Carroll Shelby: The Authorized Biography at Amazon.com
A new book celebrating American car culture is Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars by Paul Ingrassia. He documents American vehicular history through 15 automobiles that were at the forefront of their particular eras. The book reflects his fascination with cars and car culture starting in the 1950’s and in covering the auto industry for the Wall Street Journal in later years.
One car symbolizes the start of the mid-1960’s muscle car era – the Pontiac GTO. In early 1963, Pontiac’s engineers debuted a compact Pontiac Tempest coupe fitted with a 389 cubic-inch engine, producing 325 horsepower from a full-sized Bonneville. The GTO was born. This was their concept of a car to enhance the division’s high-performance image. GTO production for 1964 of over 32,000 far surpassed initial projections to sell 5,000 cars. GTO sales for 1966 hit a high of nearly 100,000 cars. The Pontiac GTO still resides at the top of the muscle car collector universe.
Ingrassia also provides insights about the individual creators of these mechanical icons from his time covering the industry.
Peruse Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars at Amazon.com
So, order your own copy of these books, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and discover the tale of some automotive wonders. See you the next time from my bookshelf.