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Recent Books to Give Yourself

by | November 2016

A Century of Motoring

Jon Pressnell. 2015 Shire Publications. 112 pages. List price $12.95. ISBN: 978-0-74781-510-5

Available on Amazon.

 

This enjoyable small book (it measures just 5 3/4-inches on a side) won’t weigh down your coffee table, your bookshelf, or your hands as you page through. Its 51 chapters – each a two-page spread – offer a kind of Cliffs Notes history of “Motoring” in the U.K. The photos are wonderful and some, such as “Chum in a ‘Chummy’ Austin,” might make you laugh out loud. Starting with 1908 and carrying on through 2009, the informative – and tightly written text – offers interesting “word bytes” of history and insight. It’s the perfect book for episodic reading.


Gentlemen, Start Your Engines! The Bonhams Guide to Classic Sports & Racing Cars

Jared Zaugg. 2015 Gestalten Verlag. 320 pages. List price $70.00. ISBN: 978-3-89955-567-7

Available on Amazon.

Author Jared Zaugg describes this book as “not so much a history book as it is an art museum.” Zaugg is modest in his assessment of the information he presents, but he is dead accurate praising the book’s luscious photography, luxurious layout, and high-quality printing and paper. This is a book to take your time with and to allow good light and a steady table. Stretching out 10 3/4 inches by 12, two-page spreads in this book give a car – such as the side profile of the 1907 American Underslung 50-Horsepower Roadster, the instrument panel of the 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, the overhead view of the 1939 Talbot-Lago T150 C SS, the 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Berlinetta, and so many more – nearly two feet of display.

Each of the cars in this book is one that Bonhams has auctioned. And while none of us care to admit it out loud, we all are curious about, umm, err…just how much…? Zaugg finishes each chapter with the car’s auction location, date, and sale price (quoted in US dollars, Euro, or Great Britain pounds.)

But even more interesting is the mix between brilliantly restored automobiles where nary a speck of dust is seen, and time capsules where rust is apparent. The 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R F1 car appears as it did after a quick clean up following a season of mortal combat. It is simply glorious.

Zaugg’s cover car and the subject of a mid-book chapter is Ferrari’s 1962 250 GT Short-Wheelbase Speciale Aerodinamica. The photos are rich enough to dive into and the text is evocative enough to make you yearn for winning lottery numbers. And if that doesn’t do it, the next car, Ferrari’s 1962 model 250 GTO just might. And a few pages after that, an ex-Le Mans, Nurburgring, and Reims 1964 Porsche Typ 904 GTS appears, equally as beautiful and equally potent.

There are other Porsches, a 356A Speedster, a Typ 908.02 “Flounder” racing spyder, a 917 InterSerie Spyder (that started life as a 917K coupe), and an early 911 Carrera RS 2.7 with “ducktail delete”, wrapping up Porsche coverage with a white 959 Komfort.


History / Industry / Artistry The Petersen Automotive Museum

Leslie Kendall, et al. 2015 Petersen Automotive Museum. 176 pages. List price $59.99. ISBN: 978-0-9967783-0-5

Available only through the Petersen Museum.

This is the first book the Petersen Automotive Museum has done about its founders and the cars in its collection. It appeared in time for the grand opening of the heavily remodeled and revised building and displays in 2015.

The first section of the book – running through page 47 – blends a photo album with snippets of history of Los Angeles, museum founders Robert and Margie Petersen, construction of the original building as a department store, its evolution into automotive museum, and views of the structure, displays, cars, and special events as they were.

The second section, carrying through to page 153, showcases a varied assortment of Petersen Museum collection cars, ranging from the Magnum P.I. television series Ferrari 308GTSi to Fred Astaire’s Hooper-bodied 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom I, from the 1929 Niekamp Roadster to a road-scraping 1973 Cadillac Coupe de Ville lowrider, from a 1913 Mercer Type 35-J Raceabout to a 1998 Gurney Eagle Indianapolis racer. Text is brief, and each spread incorporates photos by Evan Klein, specially commissioned for the book.

The final section of the book analyzes and explains the museum’s exotic new exterior, and introduces readers to the museum’s board of directors.

This book is much more than a mere museum collection souvenir. Elegantly designed and printed, it serves as a printed waypoint in the Petersen timeline, from what was then to what will be in the future.

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