There are a number of options, from the super practical to the super cool, for the car guy on your Christmas list. This holiday season, consider getting them one of the five books below for their library. The books here are some of our personal favorites, ranging in topic from muscle car history to what the world may look like when vehicles drive themselves.
Here are the five best car books for the enthusiast on your holiday shopping list.
Larry Webster, Editor-in-Chief of Hagerty Magazine and the company’s Vice President of Content, helms this insightful work on the significance of driving and the importance of automobile ownership in American culture. Webster’s book helps us embrace the bite we received from the “car bug” long ago, and puts us back in touch with why we love automobiles in the first place.
Never Stop Driving provides tips on how to find the perfect weekend car, and advice on how to maintain it. For those of us with a family, Webster shows how owning the car of our dreams can help strengthen bonds with the people we love. And as younger generations are now showing an interest in classic cars, Webster’s book comes along at the perfect time.
Never Stop Driving is the ideal book for the car enthusiast on your list whose every big dream includes four tires and a steering wheel. They will be thrilled to find this book under the tree on Christmas morning.
Like Never Stop Driving, Day One reaffirms why we love cars and why they continue to be such a meaningful part of our lives. In the foreword, Joe Oldham of Hemmings Muscle Machines, recalls the day he received his first red GTO convertible loaner at an LA press event. Driving it along the Pacific Coast Highway would only reinforce that life-defining notion.
Oldham’s passion (and guts) eventually landed him at Magnum Royal Publications in 1965, right at the dawn of the muscle car era. “How did a dumb kid from Brooklyn wind up with such a cool gig,” he writes. “If you were a car guy, as I was from the time I was a little kid, it was a dream job.”
Marty Schorr, author of Day One and Oldham’s mentor, was Editorial Director of Magnum Royal Publications at the time. Hi-Performance CARS served as the company’s flagship and carried the banner proudly. Since the magazine made its revenue from newsstand sales versus advertising, honesty (sometimes brutal) was the policy. If a car had faults or suffered from too much marketing hype, it was ripe for the picking inside the pages of Hi-Performance CARS.
During his years with Magnum Royal Publications, Schorr regularly drove and evaluated what would become history’s most coveted performance cars. These experiences are recounted in Day One, where we see Pontiac’s 1962 and 1963 lightweight Super-Duty 421 street and Swiss Cheese models; Chevrolet’s 1963 big block 427 Mystery Motor; Ford’s 1963 Galaxie fastback; 1968 Hemi Road Runner and many others.
“It was really a wonderful time to go out and see the engineers, drive the cars, and get up close and personal with the guys that made all this happen,” Schorr told us in February 2018. “Back then, it was just a day’s work and they were just cars. And the following year, they’d be cheaper and they’d be faster, and so we treated them as such.”
This gem from author Robert McGowan is something every Porsche fan should own – but also something every car enthusiast should read. “McGowan has a knack for telling the story all us gearheads know far too well: searching for, tracking down, and finally buying the car you’ve been dreaming of,” writes Automoblog columnist Tony Borroz of the book. “It’s remarkably different from all the other countless books out there on the 911.”
”The passion from an everyday enthusiast comes through loud and clear,” says the Porsche Club America of this book. “If you’re dreaming of owning a Porsche you can make your dream a reality and not spend a ton of money doing so.”
McGowan covers the questions one would have when seeking out their dream Porsche. He details a proper strategy for buying one, and provides advice on how to spot common mechanical problems that may be hidden from view. Through his firsthand experience, McGowan shows us how owning a Porsche can be done on a budget. From there, he places us in the driver’s seat, teaching us how to master the handling characteristics of a classic 911.
If the car guy on your Christmas list has a New Year’s resolution to finally buy a Porsche, they will be glad you got them McGowan’s book ahead of time.
Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky examines a bold new era in Robot, Take the Wheel, one where cars can drive themselves. It sounds like science fiction, but autonomous vehicle development is not slowing down, as big OEMs and small startups alike continue to advance the technology at a sometimes blistering pace. There are entire conferences today dedicated to bringing engineers together to discuss and address the challenges facing automated vehicles and their corresponding technologies.
In his book, Torchinsky, who also serves as a producer of Jay Leno’s Garage, irons out how we may want to approach self-driving cars, and what we should consider. Further to that, how are we to perceive (and perhaps even survive with our humanity) in an ever-increasing robotic and tech-enhanced world? Torchinsky in Robot, Take the Wheel provides us some insight in a way that only he can.
No matter what type of cars the enthusiast on your Christmas list enjoys, Torchinsky’s book is the perfect stocking stuffer.
Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years by Tom Glatch is a deep dive into a car that tore up race tracks, thundered down main street, and blazed across Hollywood’s silver screens. On the heels of the GTO, the Firebird had its work cut out when it hit the scene in 1967. Across town, Ford’s Mustang was raking it in, an instant sensation among baby boomers. And so it was: the screaming eagle would clash with the charging horse.
Since 1983, Glatch has contributed hundreds of stories and photographs to major collector, Corvette, Mustang, muscle car, and Mopar magazines. He grew up during the muscle car era, later owning a 1970 Plymouth Duster 340. Glatch takes us through the entire history, from 1969 when the mighty Firebird Trans Am arguably ruled the roost, to the quiet years of the 1970s, to a reemergence in the 1980s.
Should the car guy on your list have a soft spot for that big eagle on the hood, Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years is the book for them.
Carl Anthony studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. Before going back to school, he simultaneously held product development and experiential marketing roles in the automotive industry.