Hooniverse Asks- What Was Your First Car Book?

Cars and books are inexorably linked. After all, if it wasn’t for cars, how would you get all those library books back in time? And for most of us, there’s a shelf, or perhaps several, that are dedicated to books about cars. Looking back, there must have been one that started it all?
For me, admittedly, Go, Dog, Go was a favorite from the start, and it wasn’t until years later that I learned it wasn’t one of Dr. Seusses works. That was a major influencer for me, along with Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel which pretty much sealed my fate as a lover of all things greasy and mechanical. As a middle-schooler, I read a book, as well as its sequel, about a groups of teens who all pitched in together to buy a car, and were then immediately challenged to a road race by the local rich idiot. To this day I can’t remember either title or author, but it, and its follow up about the same teens investing in a Panhard racer each made a big impression on my 7th grade psyche.
What about you? What book turned you into the raving gear-head you are today?
Image source: [Amazon.com]

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65 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What Was Your First Car Book?”

  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    My first car book (and the one that educated me about cars) was "Automobiles; How They Work", by Charles Yerkow:
    I literally checked the book out at least ten times, from my elementary school's library. It's a great read if you're a kid, or know almost nothing about cars of the '50s and '60s. I bought a very good used copy a couple of years ago through Amazon. Unfortunately, it has a yellow cover, so I think I still need to buy one with the red cover, like the one I remember from the 1960s.
    <img src="IMAGE URL" width="600">
    <img src="http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/37/88/611a820dd7a0004aaafef010.L._AA300_.jpg"&gt;

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    And yes, I dig "Go, Dog. Go!", which I've read to my three girls many times. It's the kind of book where you need to study each illustration, to catch all the little details. Like the page where all the dogs are sleeping on the bed, and moonlight is coming in. There's one little dog with his eyes wide open.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Go, Dog. Go! introduced me to pretty much everything I needed to know about life — red mean stop, green means go, accidents happen, don't be the last one out of bed, and be truthful with a woman but find opportunities to compliment her hat.

      1. taborj Avatar

        Stop, dogs, stop! The light is red!
        Go, dogs, go, it's green ahead!
        (Yes, I read this to my daughter often, including last night)

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          Not to be pedantic, but I believe the second line is "Go, dogs. Go! The light is green now."
          I've read it a few times, too.

          1. taborj Avatar

            Turns out, there are several versions of the book. The board book I have at home is definitely "it's green ahead."

    2. joshuman Avatar

      My wife and I took our three kids and two others (all age 5 and under) to see the play of Go, Dog. Go! at Seattle Children's Theater a month or two ago. It was a nice production.

    3. OA5599 Avatar

      I never had that book as a kid, but I did read the board book (a more abbreviated version) of G,D.G! to my son when he was still in the incubator at the hospital.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    Up until high school I was more interested in planes, tanks, and ships than cars. I'm sure I had a few car books as a child, but they don't stand out. The first one that stands out is The Great Book of Sports Cars by the Consumer Guide. Shortly after getting this book I went to my first vintage race and got to see many of the cars in the book in the flesh. This is when I became a true gearhead.
    <img src="http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/61/17/c924024128a01d21dc2e4010.L._SL500_AA300_.jpg"width=500&gt;

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      One of the editors listed there is Dean Batchelor, a legend in automotive journalism.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I do remember it being well written and in the years since I haven't found in glaring mistakes in it, unlike some auto reference books that I have.

        1. tonyola Avatar

          Graham Robson is a very respected author too. Consumer Guide has a decades-long history of producing better-than-average car books – they're the same outfit that has published Collectible Automobile magazine since 1984. Also, they produced this superb book:
          <img src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51J0N7nQI2L._SS500_.jpg&quot; width=400>

          1. P161911 Avatar

            Yep, I've got that one too. Also 50 "Years of American Automobiles 1939-1989", "The Complete Book of Collectible Cars", "Muscle Car Chronicle", "The Complete Book of Lamborghini", "The Complete Book of Corvette", "The World's Fastest Cars", "Corvette America's Sports Car", and "Indy 500 Pace Cars" all sitting on my bookshelf right now, all by "The Auto Editors of Consumer Guide".

  4. tonyola Avatar

    My parents got me this book when I was a kid. Since the book is English and slanted more towards Europe, it featured mostly cars that were rare or unseen on US streets. I found that fascinating. I was hooked.
    <img src="http://cb.pbsstatic.com/xl/23/5023/9780600025023.jpg&quot; width=400>

  5. dukeisduke Avatar

    Another book I vaguely remember (that was around our house) was something that had tons of black and white photos of mostly European show cars from the '50s, with an emphasis on Italian stuff (like the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. cars). Sadly, the cover was missing, but it was probably 9" x 12", and I would guess it was a book published in the '50s. I wish I could find another copy of that today.

  6. Alff Avatar

    I have two distinct memories – Richard Scarry's Things That Go and, since my dad was a Chevy salesman when I was wee, factory brochures for all Chevrolet models from the golden years of the late '60s.

  7. OA5599 Avatar

    I was into the Mach 5 and the Batmobile even before I read this book, but I remember being quite impressed to read The Phantom Tollbooth and discover the adventures a boy could have with a car.
    <img src="http://piceye.net/pictures/kamran/movie23/The_Phantom_Tollbooth_1970.jpg"&gt;

  8. west_coaster Avatar

    Wow, you totally hit the nail on the head with "Go, Dog, Go." In fact, a few years ago my mother was in a book store and saw that it had been re-issued. She sent it to me, explaining that even before I could read, I'd look at the pictures and have her read it to me almost every night.
    As for books that I read myself, there was this great series in the library at my elementary school circa early 1970s. They were hardbound, fairly thin, and like a Dr. Suess size but turned 90 degrees to be in what we'd now call landcape format, with lots of color photos. Some of the titles I can remember were "Go Karts," "Dragsters," "Slot Cars," "Mini Bikes," and so on. I would run to that section of the library whenever we had our scheduled time there, but they were popular with other boys so you had to get there first. I think I must have read each one ten times, and dreamed of having my own complete set, like an Encyclopedia Britannica, all linded up in my bookcase.
    Do these ring a bell to anyone else?

    1. PFG Avatar

      Bell rung! I remember those books, particularly the one about lowriders (I grew up in El Paso…go figure.) I seem to recall that the text on every third or fourth page read only, "Look at that lowrider!"

  9. CptSevere Avatar

    I remember quite a few books about cars being around when I was a kid. There was one about a Phaeton of some kind named Andrew, "Hucketa Bucketa Down The Road," which probably is responsible for me liking prewar cars, all manner of car magazines, and "An Observers Guide to WWII Millitary Vehicles," which got me fascinated by military vehicles. Also, books like what I described in Scrogg's previous posting. My family are Hoons, so there was always something laying around that was an interesting read.

  10. skitter Avatar

    It was probably my uncle's coffee-table Porsche books.
    But the anorak demands accuracy, so I'll have to think about it.

  11. Jonathan D Avatar
    Jonathan D

    I'm pretty sure this book is responsible for me becoming a gearhead, it's the earliest of many books about cars that I received. I recently bought a copy for my daughter who is three months old:
    [img ]http://images.betterworldbooks.com/030/Richard-Scarry-s-Cars-and-Trucks-and-Things-That-Go-9780307157850.jpg[/img]

  12. Jonathan D Avatar
    Jonathan D

    Let's try that again:
    I'm pretty sure this book is responsible for me becoming a gearhead, it's the earliest of many books about cars that I received. I recently bought a copy for my daughter who is three months old:
    [img ]http://images.betterworldbooks.com/030/Richard-Scarry-s-Cars-and-Trucks-and-Things-That-Go-9780307157850.jpg[/img]

    1. SSurfer321 Avatar

      <img src="http://images.betterworldbooks.com/030/Richard-Scarry-s-Cars-and-Trucks-and-Things-That-Go-9780307157850.jpg"&gt;
      courtesy embed as it was one of my first books also.

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        Yup, had that one too.

      2. Deartháir Avatar

        To this day, one of my favourite books of all time.

      3. topdeadcentre Avatar

        Richard Scarry is a long-running favorite in my family. I remember being disappointed that I couldn't get a car for myself in any shape I wanted.

      4. P161911 Avatar

        Pretty sure I had that one, maybe that's what started it.

      5. Buickboy92 Avatar

        One of my all time favorites!

    2. Maymar Avatar

      I had that memorized to the point my parents couldn't dare think of skipping a page (until it was so worn out a couple might've fallen out.

    3. joshuman Avatar

      Yep. Me too. Can you find Goldbug on every page?

  13. Festiva_Movemnt Avatar

    The Red Car by Don Stanford. I think I still have it, too. Sorry Raleigh Co.,WV Bookmobile.
    My dad had Inside 100 Great Cars, full of cutaways of everything from Deusenbergs, to Citroens, to even a Porsche 928.
    The first book got me into road/rally racing, while the second tipped off my interest in mechanical complexity of cars.

    1. Festiva_Movemnt Avatar

      Sorry, don't have the patience to learn how to link in photos here…

  14. Maxichamp Avatar

    Illustrated Motor Cars of the World. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Illustrated-motor-cars-wo
    I loved reading it in the library. Each page had hand painted pictures of four cars and their descriptions. 30 years later, I bought a copy from Powell's in Portland. It even had the same smell I remembered.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      I used to have that book too. Another gift from my parents and pretty great.

  15. west_coaster Avatar

    "OOH, OOH, OOH…MR. KOTTER…MR. KOTTER!!!!" (Raising hand in air…very 1970s reference.)
    I just remembered the sort of comic books for little gearheads: "Hot Rod Cartoons" and "Car-toons" (which may have been a rip-off of the first one). Great illustrations and mildly funny stories. Kind of like "MAD" for the car crowd. Very cool.

      1. JayP Avatar

        I lost my CarToons collection. 🙁 My son would LOVE those old mags.
        Found Trosley on a site a while back and now I have this… thanks for the link.
        That half-VW/Half-top fueler was kickass! I can't wait to show the boy.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      <img src="http://www.waterrow.org.uk/motoringbooks/240bG.jpg"&gt;
      A Picture History of the Automobile by Peter Roberts (1974).
      Got this for either my Birthday or Christmas when I was 11.
      I bet I spent 200 hours flipping through this, reading and re-reading this.

    2. dukeisduke Avatar

      Car-Toons, who could forget those?

  16. vwminispeedster Avatar

    Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. I could read that thing for hours.

  17. $kaycog Avatar

    My first car book that is totally all mine is not really a book but this dealer's brochure which sits on my coffee table.
    <img src="http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a247/EscortBrochure/FORD%20SPECIALS/gt05.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      That's your first car book? You're a bit late to the game! Unless you're like 17, in which case, good for you!

      1. $kaycog Avatar

        There were shelves of car books in my previous life, but I got this brochure A.D. (after divorce). That's why I said "totally" mine.

    2. Black Steelies Avatar

      A coffee table brochure. I like that.

  18. Bret Avatar

    Another vote for "Go Dog Go" and Mr Scarry's "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go" here. I remember devouring the pictures in these books. Mike Mulligan was another favorite. I have a Mike Mulligan lunch box, that is a cherished possession (a gift from my gear-head Father-in-law).

  19. joe_bloe Avatar

    I don't remember the name, but in 1st grade there was a car book for young readers that talked about different kinds of cars. One page was about drag cars. It had a picture of an old school funny car or gasser, with the following text (paraphrased): "If you lived a quarter mile from your school, you could wait until 10 seconds before the bell and still get there on time with this car."
    I miss that book.

  20. Black Steelies Avatar

    Not this one but I remember having one of these car books that velcro shut and roll around on wheels. It sucks I can't find a better picture, everyone had one of these.
    <img src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51fZLvpemiL.jpg"&gt;

  21. Lotte Avatar

    I have a stack (who am I kidding, it's boxes and boxes) of 90's Automobile magazines sitting in a closet somewhere…my pop would bring one home every so often and I'd be pouring over the pictures, even if it was a Ford Scorpio or a Kia Carens. Apparently I bombarded an aunt with car questions, and when she dismissed me with a number of 'yes'es I looked stuff up and told her she was wrong. I must've been a fun child.

  22. topdeadcentre Avatar

    You wanna go way back? Way WAY back? The very first car book I can remember being mine was the Fire Engine Book, published by Little Golden Books. It was a "must have" in the book pocket of the lime-green stroller when I was two years old in 1968. It must have been read to me many, many times, but I was also happy just flipping through and looking at the pictures.
    <img src="http://images.betterworldbooks.com/037/The-Fire-Engine-Book-9780375828416.jpg"&gt;

    1. JoeDunlap Avatar

      WOW! Got news for you. I had this book when I was 3 or 4…….in 1953! I also bought it for my triplet daughters 30 years later! A wonderful book!

  23. PrawoJazdy Avatar

    Does "Mike Mulligan and His Steamshovel" count? Cause that was my first and that book was awesome. If not, then I guess my first car book would be the huge book of schmatics my dad brought home from GM on the Impact (a.k.a. EV-1) when he was on the program would be it. It wasn't nearly as exciting as Mike Mulligan.

    1. joe_bloe Avatar

      Oh man, the mouse and the motorcycle! I LOVED that book. I still go "pthbhbhbhbhbhbhbhb" when I'm pushing Hot Wheels around with my son.

  24. Patrick Avatar

    Two books by Bill Peet. Jennifer and Josephine, which features a car that was "already very old" in 1933, and a cat that lives in it going on an adventure, and Smokey, which is actually about an old steam train, but which has a scene where some Native Americans chase the train (very politically incorrectly, I now realize) in their old Hupmobile. I was obsessed with Hupmobiles as a child, but had to settle for a Studebaker when I started driving because it was 1989 and where could I have found a Hupmobile??

  25. 2stroke4life Avatar

    First kiddie one? "Susie The Little Blue Coupe" by Bill Peet. (after many years of guessing, I figured she was based on a late-30s American Bantam or Crosley.)
    First grown-up one? I got the complete works of Floyd Clymer for my 13th birthday and got a Ralph Stein or Burt Mills car book for my birthday and Christmas every year since, with Trend Publications specials on import cars, fiberglass specials, racing, customizing and other things. Still got 'em all too.
    -Darnell's Auto Wrecking, Jalopnik & TTAC

  26. Buickboy92 Avatar

    It has to be the book WHEELS! I read this book front to back and back to front everyday and everynight! and I could recite the whole book without reading it too! That was when I was around 7-8 years old, I just turned 19 today and I still tell myself to go find one and buy it. Good times, good times.
    <img src="http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t326/buickboy92/WHEELS.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

  27. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    <img src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41QzPlXi2tL._SL500_AA300_.jpg"&gt;
    Not a kids book, but I've had it since I was about 6. It's mostly really high end euro tuners (there's at least 3 928s) and a bunch of concept cars.

  28. longrooffan Avatar

    I vaguely remember that Beverly Cleary read about the mouse and the motorcycle…
    I do remember this one vividly and now own a copy of my own..
    <img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_zCnDCJkPVTc/S9uHisY5xuI/AAAAAAAALig/Eitnmy4cPJs/s1600/reading+sports+car+book.jpg&quot; width = 500 end>
    but the first automotive book I got on my own was "The Year of The Jeep." The dogeared paperback copy is in my brother's, thejeepjunkie, garage as we speak. His son, the Kid, even enjoys it. About once a year, I'll snag it and reread it just for fun.

  29. earlofhalflight Avatar

    Gumdrop on the Rally – one of the series telling the adventures of Gumdrop the Austin Clifton Heavy 12/4.
    <img src="http://i612.photobucket.com/albums/tt206/sunbeammadd/Car%20Stuff/gumdrop.jpg"&gt;
    I loved that story. 30 years on I found the book again and introduced it to my car-mad son, but he just couldn't get into it.

  30. smokyburnout Avatar

    <img src="http://www.lostepcot.com/images/futureworldoftransportation.jpg&quot; />
    "Hey, that's not a car on the cover!"
    I know, stick with me.
    I don't know if it's my first car book, but I do remember taking it out on a monthly basis (and I'm not alone in this! ) and poring over the Syd Mead-ey visions of cars of the future! There was also a section on the GM World Of Motion filled with 80s-tacular designs.
    I also distinctly remember my disappointment when we finally went to Disney World in the early 00s and I discovered that exhibit had been turned into the Test Track ride…

  31. scroggzilla Avatar

    I wish I could remember the name of my 1st car book. It was a guide to American automobiles of the 1930's and early 40's, with black pen and ink illustrations of each car, and a short comic book style synopsis next to each illustration. I particularly remember the one for the Graham Paige Model 97 Sharknose, which was shown driving up a mountain road, headlights blazing, in a very Art Deco presentation.

  32. ptschett Avatar

    Lee Culpepper's Collector's Cars, from about 1979, is the earliest book that I remember. It has mostly American and European cars, and gives brief histories of the manufacturers and their important cars. At least one car is pictured for each brand, with more for companies like Ford and Austin.
    <img src="http://img.auctiva.com/imgdata/1/4/1/4/3/6/4/webimg/426262528_tp.jpg"/&gt;
    The first car book to actually belong to me is "Corvettes for the Road (Survivor's Series)" which was written not long after the C4 Corvette began production. The author profiles several examples of each of the C1, C2 and C3 generations (and began the C3's with a bang, with a yellow coupe which was half of the total Corvette ZL1 production) before ending with an early C4.
    <img src="http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/2b/69/4f3562e89da0ab6335d83110.L._SL500_AA300_.jpg"/&gt;

  33. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

    I didn't have any car books per se when I was a kid, but I did have Steve Jackson Games' Car Wars and the Q Manual for the old Victory Games James Bond 007 roleplaying game, which had info on all the Bond cars to that point (mid-1983).