Day One

Automoblog Book Garage: The Three Best Car Books For Summer

Normally, winter is the season associated with a good book. There are the usual images: rolling fire, fuzzy blanket, easy chair, warm tea, and that quintessential book resting on a small table. Summer, by comparison, may not be as glamorous for our book-loving friends. One might have a noisy and cranky air conditioner, or worse, no AC at all!

And reading outside might warrant you a visit from that one rogue wasp that makes a dive bomb for your head.

That aside, summer can be a great time to get caught up on your reading. So head out to the patio, grab the iced tea or your favorite cold brew coffee, and get situated in that old deck chair. For your summer reading pleasure, here are three entries from our Book Garage series that really stand out.

Top Muscle

This is one every performance and muscle car enthusiast needs to own. Author Darwin Holmstrom has crafted a masterpiece of horsepower, documenting the cars so well they nearly leap off the page. Top Muscle: The Rarest Cars from America’s Fastest Decade chronicles the golden days of factory muscle cars, including the ones built in secret – the ones never officially approved by senior management.

In a “sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll” generation, even car enthusiasts got in on the action, and this book is their story.

Available via Amazon.

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This 1968 Shelby GT500KR is among the many beautiful machines featured in Top Muscle. Photo: Randy Leffingwell.

The John Deere Century

The John Deere Century begins with the agricultural powerhouse struggling to gain traction as farming was becoming more modernized at the turn of the 20th century. John Deere branch managers were petitioning the company’s board for an offering that could match the growing “power farming” movement.

Author Randy Leffingwell walks us through John Deere’s extensive history, from the Model D in 1926 with its innovative flywheel, to the 530 and 630 in the late 1950s now regarded as styling wonders. Leffingwell even draws the conclusion that John Deere accomplished what former General Motors Chairman Alfred P. Sloan wanted: that is to create something for every purse and purpose.

While most entries in our Book Garage series deal with cars, classic or otherwise, The John Deere Century remains at the top of our list. It’s not often a book this comprehensive on an American icon like John Deere comes along. Leffingwell’s work is something fans of the green machines will certinately appreciate.

Available via Amazon.

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The 1929 Model C appears on page 40. At the time, farmers pulled implements behind them similar to how horses would have. Photo: Deere & Company Archives.

Lamborghini Supercars 50 Years

Just like the cars he is writing about, author Stuart Codling dives right in and never slows down. We meet Ferruccio Lamborghini and see his passion for machines and his potential, but feel his pain when he returns from World War II.

We especially feel the fire in his clashes with Ferrari.

Beginning with the Miura in 1965 and closing with one of our favorites today, the Huracán, Lamborghini Supercars 50 Years follows a young man who loved machines and what that love could ultimately create. We see other vital namesakes through the years too: Countach, Diablo, Sesto Elemento; every one is there.

The book covers the acquisition of Lamborghini by Audi and how German influence wielded the likes of the Murciélago in 2001, the Gallardo in 2003, the Reventón in 2008, and the Aventador in 2011.

If you fancy exotics or love anything Italian, this book will satisfy any unanswered cravings.

Available via Amazon.

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Pages 136 and 137 are consumed by this beautiful Gallardo LP560-4. A few pages prior, a table chart shows the chassis, engine, and suspension specs. “This was a high-stakes game,” writes Codling. “When Audi collected the keys of the Sant’Agata factory in July 1998, its senior management knew that all eyes would be on the successor to Lamborghini’s marquee car, the Diablo.” Photo: James Mann.

Bonus Book: Day One

This makes the list for a lot of reasons but mainly because of how the book is written and who it is written by. Author Marty Schorr is perhaps best remembered from his time as Editorial Director of Magnum Royal Publications, which published Hi-Performance CARS, Custom Rodder, and Car, Speed and Style

These guys told it like it was and were less politically correct than rival publications at the time.

“We didn’t sell as many copies, we didn’t make as much money,” Schorr told us in a feature earlier this year. “We didn’t have the advertising but we had an abundance of New York attitude.”

Shorr keeps that brutally honest tone in Day One, taking us through his firsthand experiences with some of the greatest cars ever manufactured. He tells us the inside stories of the cars we love and fantasize about owning. Some of our favorites in the book include 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, the Cotton-Owens Hemi Coronet, and Plymouth’s original 1968 Hemi Road Runner.

If you read any one book this summer, make it Day One.

Available via Amazon.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.