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Moderator
Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4475 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

authors avatar
Favorite Books about Cars, Hot-Rodding, Racing, etc.
Posted by: Moderator
Date: November 08, 2009 06:18PM

I've been reading a lot this year... at the moment I'm enjoying Mark Donohue's "The Unfair Advantage." It's been on my reading list for a long time, but I finally moved it to the top at the recommendation of Ted Lathrop.

That got me thinking. I wondered what other books my friends are reading this year. What are your favorite "car books"? What are the essential reference and technical books for various aspects of our hobby? What car books would you NOT recommend?

Please write a book review or two for us! If you would, please include basic info so we can find your book: author name, publisher, ISBN number...

I'll kick off the thread...





The Grand Prix Car, 1954/1966 by L.J.K. Setright
Copyright: 1968.
Published by: W.W. Norton and Company.
Pages: 422 (hardbound)
ISBN: not applicable (long out of print)
Price: can be found occasionally on eBay for less than $20.


I bought this book on a whim. It was well-used and cheap. I was surfing around on eBay, and it looked interesting. I'd never heard of Setright. I didn't expect much. When it came in the mail, I was blown away. I couldn't put it down. There are plenty of black and white photos and drawings throughout the book, plus thirteen color photos at midway, but what I really liked about the book is the writing. I think Setright was a remarkably skilled writer. I want to learn to write like he did. What was his secret? Wonderfully descriptive adverbs and adjectives? Unexpected verbs? There isn't an uninteresting paragraph in this book. I did very much enjoy Setright's dry British sense of humor. Occasionally he might slip some little jewel of sarcasm or a play on words right into the middle of a technical paragraph. I also kept wondering how he got such remarkable access to the cars. How did he get the various teams to reveal their design innovations? Could anyone write a book like this in our modern era?

This book has basically three sections. First, Setright took a chronological look at the era by describing almost race-by-race and season-by-season how the cars technologically changed. Then, Setright discussed each major aspect of a racing car. There's a chapter on engines, one on tires, one on brakes, etc., etc. Finally, he described twenty specific cars, one by one. Number sixteen: the 1966 Brabham F1 car which featured our favorite little aluminum V8. If Setright weren't such a good writer, I might have skipped ahead and read that section early.


Capt'n Moorgone
Mike Moor
Angola,IN
(114 posts)

Registered:
11/20/2008 07:05PM

Main British Car:
1973 MGB 300 Buick

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Re: Favorite Books about Cars, Hot-Rodding, Racing, etc.
Posted by: Capt'n Moorgone
Date: December 15, 2009 07:24PM

Fred Puhn's "How to make your car handle" is one of my favorites.Lots of good info.


Moderator
Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4475 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Favorite Books about Cars, Hot-Rodding, Racing, etc.
Posted by: Moderator
Date: December 16, 2009 03:03PM

I'll second that, Mike! It's probably the most dog-eared, worn, and stained book on my shelf - I've gone back to Puhn's book again and again. For PRACTICAL information about how street-car suspensions can be tuned and improved - particularly rear-wheel-drive sports and muscle cars - I doubt a better book has ever been written. Since everyone who reads BritishV8 should have a copy, here are the details:

How To Make Your Car Handle by Fred Puhn
Copyright: 1981.
Published by: HP Books.
Pages: 200 (8.5" x 11" paperback)
ISBN: ISBN 0-912656-46-8

How to Make Your Car Handle is ideal if you're working with an already-designed suspension and thinking about anti-sway bars or lowering springs or Panhard rods or anti-tramp bars or different shock absorbers... But what if you decide to apply Puhn's information by making or modifying parts? Carroll Smith's Prepare to Win is a great complement to Puhn's book. It teaches a lot of design and fabrication principals and skills. (Broken suspension parts can get people dead... so I strongly recommend everyone take Smith's many warnings seriously.) And if you get curious to learn about suspension geometry, such as for example how the installation angle of A-arms is related to tire camber change when a car corners, then I'd very strongly recommend Carroll Smith's Tune to Win. If you read those two books... you'll surely be hooked and you'll definitely want to read Carroll Smith's Engineer to Win. Realistically, unless you go racing you probably won't be able to apply much of Smith's information... but I think Smith made these subjects incredibly interesting reading.

Prepare to Win by Carroll Smith
Copyright: 1975.
Published by: Aero Publishers.
Pages: 174 (8.5" x 11" paperback)
ISBN: ?

Tune to Win by Carroll Smith
Copyright: 1978.
Published by: Aero Publishers.
Pages: 172 (8.5" x 11" paperback)
ISBN: ?

Engineer to Win by Carroll Smith
Copyright: 1984.
Published by: Motorbooks International.
Pages: 279 (8.5" x 11" paperback)
ISBN: 0-87938-186-8



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2009 03:05PM by Moderator.


Moderator
Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4475 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Favorite Books about Cars, Hot-Rodding, Racing, etc.
Posted by: Moderator
Date: January 21, 2010 03:05PM

Mike mentioned the Fred Puhn "handling" book... Today I learned that Fred Puhn originally got started with suspension and chassis design by building a racecar around an Olds 215 aluminum V8!!!

Quote:
We used that lovely aluminum engine...

It's a great little story, told here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=oZempfWXoe4C&pg=PT122&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U2ktEv93oK4K2JobVAZqpi0xNZamw&w=685

and continued here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=oZempfWXoe4C&pg=PT123&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U27tA98DKxwyNGmqeY8Jvhmhbhs6w&w=685

The above pages are excerpted from the book Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1969, by Harold Pace and Mark Brinker.

Incidentally, in the interview above Fred Puhn mentioned the little book Racing and Sports Car Chassis Design by Costin and Phipps, copyright 1961. That's certainly a book I'd add to my short list of recommendations. Long out of print, and sometimes selling for as much as $200 used, I found a copy without dust jacket for about $30 on eBay. It's about as elegantly written and illustrated as any car book you'll ever find. You could easily read it in one afternoon, and it's not particularly technical - but what it teaches it teaches very, very well. I think most anyone interested in its topic would find it memorable and enjoyable.


HealeyRick
Rick Neville

(474 posts)

Registered:
12/19/2007 05:01PM

Main British Car:
1963 Austin-Healey 3000 Ford 5.0L

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Re: Favorite Books about Cars, Hot-Rodding, Racing, etc.
Posted by: HealeyRick
Date: January 23, 2010 05:48PM

THE RED CAR - Don Stanford

Amazon.com $26.24
# Hardcover: 256 pages
# Publisher: Buccaneer Books (January 2000)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1568497318
# ISBN-13: 978-1568497310

Catcher in the Rye without the angst for sports car guys. This book was sold by Scholastic Books to countless junior high and high school students and tells the story of Hap, a high school guy that fixes a wrecked MG-TF and goes racing. Written in 1954, it really takes you back to those simpler times. Just start a conversation with guys in their 50s and above and see how many of them were turned on to LBCs by this book.

THE LAST OPEN ROAD
Burt B.S Levy

Amazon.com $16.50
# Hardcover: 354 pages
# Publisher: Think Fast Ink; Revised edition (May 1998)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 096421072X
# ISBN-13: 978-0964210721

No question in my mind that Burt Levy was a member of The Red Car club. Story of Buddy Palumbo, a young New Jersey gas station mechanic who gets immersed in sports car racing in the 50s. First in a series of four (and a fifth soon to be published). Buddy "Forrest Gumps" his way from local hill climbs to some of the greatest races and racing characters of the time. Fun to pick out some of the thinly disguised personalities of racing


mowog1
Rick Ingram
Central Illinois
(1502 posts)

Registered:
10/17/2007 09:36PM

Main British Car:
1974.5 MGB/GT 3.9l Rover

authors avatar
Re: Favorite Books about Cars, Hot-Rodding, Racing, etc.
Posted by: mowog1
Date: January 23, 2010 06:26PM

x2 on both of those, Rick!

Addionallly....the complete Last Open Road series....and soon to be released "200mph Steamroller".


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