Currently reading: How to get your motoring fix at home: Books
Looking for some automotive fun to keep you occupied while sitting round the house? Of course you are. Here are the best car-themed books that you can read to pass the time

As coronavirus lockdown continues, the traditional ways of feeding your passion for cars, such as driving, are becoming more tricky. But never fear - travelling on roads may be limited, but there are still plenty of things you can do to placate your inner petrolhead.

How to get your motoring fix at home: Films and TV | websites | computer games | books

One solution is to get your snout into car-related books. Without further ado, these are the automotive reads that will satisfy your appetite for motoring during this difficult time.

A Racing Driver's World by Rudolf Caracciola

A racing drivers world   rudolf caracciola

Few early grand prix drivers survived long enough to pen autobiographies, but Rudolf Caracciola’s is pretty special. The hugely talented German raced for Alfa Romeo and Mercedes-Benz between the 1920s and 1950s, won six German grands prix as well as a hard-fought Mille Miglia in 1931 and survived numerous crashes. He had a brilliant turn of phrase: “A man is a racing driver as another is a hunter.” Or: “After each accident they look for new safety measures, but death finds ever new ways to catch his victims.”

Hello World by Hannah Fry

Hello world   hannah fry

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Okay, so this isn’t technically about cars, but a significant chunk of Hannah Fry’s brilliantly accessible book is given over to autonomous vehicles. Delving into the theory, the technology and, most fascinatingly, the psychology of driverless cars, this carefully researched account reveals that we’re further away from letting the machines take over than some areas of the industry would have you think.

Car Guys vs Bean Counters by Bob Lutz

Car guys vs bean counters   bob lutz

Maximum Bob was always a journalist’s dream, ready to shoot from the hip and mouth off at anyone and anything. What’s more, he was (usually) forgiven for some of his less well-judged commentary on account of whatever he said coming from the heart, as well as the perspective of a car guy. Lutz’s written works are prolific, so there are a few to choose from, but this tale built on how he helped turn around General Motors by focusing on decent profit rather than big margins is a belter.

The Unfair Advantage by Mark Donohue

The unfair advantage   mark donohue

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Mark Donohue’s life story is told through the prism of all the cars he raced in formulae from Trans-Am to Indy, Can-Am to F1. The clarity of the man’s brain is mind-boggling, while the phlegmatic descriptions of the cars he drove make them appear somehow even more magical. It’s a book about a superb engineer, incredible driver and fine human being, tinged with the sadness of knowing he would lose his life so soon after it was completed.

Bangernomics Bible by James Ruppert

Bangernomics bible   james ruppert

Come worship at the high priest’s altar with the one and only, truly original paean to buying a second-hand car that won’t break the bank and which you’ll fall in love with. James Ruppert himself describes it as “futureproof and universe-friendly”, by which we think he means that everything you read in it will be as true tomorrow as it is today. So popular was this genre-definer that not even Ruppert has any copies left today – but he will sell you a “thoroughly modern PDF” for a scarcely believable £1.97 via his Bangernomics website.

How to Build a Car by Adrian Newey

How to build a car   adrian newey

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How you would begin to design something so incredibly complex as a car is mystifying to most of us, and even more so when it comes to the pinnacle of motorsport. Who better to hear about it from, then, than F1’s most successful designer ever? Part autobiography part handbook, and spanning from March 881 to Red Bull RB8, How to Build a Car lifts the curtain on factory goings-on, analyses key elements of car design and describes engineering innovations in understandable terms, aided by clear technical drawings.

Haynes manuals

Porsche 956 haynes manual

Come clean now: how long has the Haynes manual for your slightly problematic, ageing motor been sitting on the bookshelf untouched? Now’s the time to dust off the cobwebs and get to serious grips with fixes for your car. Once you’ve run out of inspiration there, Haynes now offers advice on an array of subjects, ranging from ‘Vegan Man’ (yes, really) to the International Space Station. You know you’re tempted. RB

High Performance by Peter Grimsdale

High performance   peter grimsdale

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When I was a lad on a website called 4Car, Peter Grimsdale was the nice man at Channel 4 who supported the site greatly. What I didn’t know then is what a great storyteller he is. High Performance is a ripping yarn of Britain’s motoring exploits in the glory years. Recommended.

Cars: Accelerating the Modern World by Brendan Cormier

Cars accelerating the modern world

Those of you who have visited the V&A’s Cars: Accelerating the Modern World will know how utterly captivating the exhibition is. Here’s the next best thing: this coffee-table book curates the highlights of the show, ranging from the rise of Fordism to the early days of racing at Brooklands in the 1920s to the Firebird 1 concept car of 1953, intended to look like a jet fighter. Finally, it brings us to the modern day, considering the place of electric and autonomous vehicles in society.

Driving with the Devil by Neal Thompson

Driving with the devil

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This book digs into the fascinating relationship between early stock car racing and moonshine running in America’s Deep South, focusing on a handful of complex, colourful characters who have long been left in the margins of Nascar history. Come for crazy tales of illegal alcohol deliveries and early oval racing, stay for the political battle that led to the rise of America’s biggest motorsport. Think F1 politics with added southern drawls and guns.


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289 12 April 2020

Can I recommend 'Touch Wood' by Duncan Hamilton

This is a damn good read from an era when drivers took themselves less seriously - but definitely took their racing seriously .....hilarious and insightful - Duncan Hamilton's 'Touch Wood' 

Duncan most famously won Le Mans in the C Type with Rolt in 53, but his life was full on and very eventful.

If you order a copy from Duncan Hamilton cars you wont pay through the nose, and I am sure Duncan's son Adrian will also sign the book for you!

I would also reccomend 'Bugatti Queen' the story of Helle Nice (Miranda Seymour), a fantastic female driver in a very male dominated era, and 'Early one Morning'  (Robert Ryan) a gripping novel based around the exploits of William Grover-Williams and Robert Benoist 1920's Bugatti Grand Prix drivers whose luck finally deserted them  during the war whilst utilising their heroism in the SOE assisting the French Resistance.


abkq 12 April 2020

I love those technical line

I love those technical line drawings in American car mags (Car and Driver? Cant remember) that accompany car reviews (must be a long time ago), these drawings are on a gridded background of the profile of the car that gives the overall dimensions, wheelbase, ground clearance etc. as well as showing the cabin layout with seat height, headroom, seat dimensions etc. They are works of art and should be available for sale as prints!
Beastie_Boy 12 April 2020

I’d strongly recommend the new Le Mans aphid novel.

Based on the Steve McQueen Le Mans movie and released in 2 halfs.

The artwork is amazing. 

Beastie_Boy 12 April 2020

That’s “Graphic Novels” btw...

damn sausage fingers...