Whether you’re shopping for a car enthusiast in your life or for yourself, a book always makes for a great stocking stuffer. Although ebooks have grown in popularity over recent years, nothing beats a nice hardcover or paperback book you can hold in your hands. Best of all, many of these car books serve as great coffee table books to show off just how much of an automotive enthusiast you really are.
For our picks, we looked for a variety of topics as well as some specialty books which focus on a particular vehicle make and model. From Formula 1 race cars to classic automobiles, this list will give you some solid gift ideas or you may even find something that interests you.
For more information on the best books for car enthusiasts, refer to our table of contents.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: How Cars Work by Tom Newton
- 2. The Complete Book of Ford Mustang by Mike Mueller
- 3. Car: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile by DK
- 4. How to Build a Car by Adrian Newey
- 5. The Complete Book of Porsche 911 by Randy Leffingwell
- 6. The Art of the Automobile: The 100 Greatest Cars by Dennis Adler
- 7. The Art of the Formula 1 Race Car by Stuart Codling
- 8. Jeep: The History of America's Greatest Vehicle by Patrick Foster
- 9. Million Dollar Classics: The World's Most Expensive Cars by Martin Derrick and Simon Clay
- 10. Porsche 70 Years: There is No Substitute by Randy Leffingwell
- 11. Speed Reads: Supercar by Basem Wasef
1. Editor's Pick: How Cars Work by Tom Newton
How Cars Work by Tom Newton is a great book for novice car enthusiasts who want to learn more. Don’t expect to find a lot of advanced or in-depth material, but this book is an illustrated guide that goes over 250 of the most important car parts and how they work. It includes simple line drawings and clear language to describe the automotive systems that drive a car, providing the reader with the basic vocabulary and mechanical knowledge they need so they can start understanding more complex books such as shop manuals.
It’s an easy-to-follow book with a “one topic per page” format, delivering information in digestible pieces, ideal for teenagers. This book is also often used by automotive service managers and mechanics to help customers understand repairs. An ideal gift for an aspiring car enthusiast who is ready to learn how a car works.
2. The Complete Book of Ford Mustang by Mike Mueller
If you, or the person you’re shopping for is a Ford Mustang enthusiast, Mike Mueller’s book should be at the top of your shopping list. Taking a deep look into the Mustang’s 50-plus years of production, this book is heavily illustrated and provides concise yet detailed text about one of America’s most iconic sports cars. It’s not only about the history of the Mustang and how it has visually changed over the years, but also covers data and facts about how the Mustang has changed from generation to generation.
The book doesn’t get too technical, so it won’t be a bore to read, but does deliver a detailed story behind each Mustang model throughout the years. It’s nicely organized, starting with the Mustang’s early beginnings—since 1964.5—to 2015. It doesn’t cover the most recent Mustang model, but this book is still our recommendation for Mustang lovers worldwide.
3. Car: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile by DK
The history of the automobile dates back to the late 1800s, and even the most knowledgeable of car enthusiasts is unlikely to know the history in its entirety. That’s where Car: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile makes for a great gift. Starting with a look at pioneering vehicles and early production-line cars, this book covers the Ford Model T, early Cadillac years, and the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, before hopping into decades of beautiful machines of the 1920s.
Some of the cars highlighted by this book include the Bugatti Type 358, Lancia Lambda, Alfa Romeo 6C 1750, Jaguar XK, first-generation Volkswagen Beetle, Jaguar E-Type, and more. It also takes a look at some of the cars that have shaped automotive history over the years, such as the DeLorean DMC-12, Ferrari F40, and Mazda MX-5. A perfect gift for car enthusiasts looking to learn more about the history of automobiles.
4. How to Build a Car by Adrian Newey
If you follow Formula One or IndyCar, you have likely heard of Adrian Newey. How to Build a Car: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Formula 1 Designer is a fascinating memoir of Newey, who is arguably one of Britain’s greatest engineers. This book explores Newey’s 35-year career in Formula One, taking a detailed look at cars he has designed, the drivers he has worked with, and the races he’s been involved in.
Among the many different illustrations throughout the book, there are never-before-seen-drawings, many of which detail Newey’s greatest creations. As the current chief technical officer of the Red Bull Racing Formula One team, Newey has won 10 Formula One Constructors’ titles and has contributed to some of the world’s most famous racers to the Drivers’ Championship.
5. The Complete Book of Porsche 911 by Randy Leffingwell
From author and photographer Randy Leffingwell comes The Complete Book of Porsche 911, which delivers a year-by-year overview of the German automaker’s most famous car. Starting from the original 901 prototype and continuing through to today’s GT2 and GT3 track-ready street cars, Leffingwell also details racing, prototype, and limited production 911 models. If you’re a hardcore Porsche 911 fan or know someone who is, this book goes through the air-cooled 911s of 1963 to 1998, before detailing the water-cooled 911s of 1998 to present.
From the 911 Classic to the 964, 993, 996, and 997, this Porsche 911 book covers it all. There are even some seldom-told snippets on the evolution of the iconic sports car, illustrated with photos from Porsche’s own historical archives.
6. The Art of the Automobile: The 100 Greatest Cars by Dennis Adler
Featuring over 200 stunning photos, The Art of the Automobile: The 100 Greatest Cars by Dennis Adler is a must have for any automotive enthusiast. Adler is an award-winning historian, author, and photographer, and in this book he’ll take you on a journey as he details 100 of the greatest cars ever built. From the 1886 Benz Patent Motorwage to the Hispano-Suiza and Hudson, this book covers it all.
The book also highlights Adler’s pick of the top 10 cars of all time, in accordance with the world’s leading automotive designers, collectors, and authorities. These 10 cars are widely considered the motoring icons of the 20th century. Not only does this book cover why these vehicles have left a mark on the industry, but also why (and how) they became so important to the history of the automobile itself.
7. The Art of the Formula 1 Race Car by Stuart Codling
Want to learn more about Formula One race cars? Alongside Adrian Newey’s autobiography, The Art of the Formula 1 Race Car by Stuart Codling is another bit of required reading. Contributing to the book is photographer James Mann, who brought a selection of Formula 1 race cars into the studio to show off their engineering brilliance, and inherent beauty. Mann also covers some of Formula One’s most historically significant entries, from the Alfa Romeo 158 that Guiseppe Farina piloted to the first championship in 195, all the way to some of today’s most fascinating machines from Mercedes-Benz, Lotus, Ferrari, Maserati, and McLaren.
Author Stuart Codling contributes to this book with historical and technological profiles, while insightful commentary is added from designer Gordon Murray, who has created multiple championship-winning cars himself.
8. Jeep: The History of America's Greatest Vehicle by Patrick Foster
Not everyone is a sports car fan. With off-roading growing significantly in popularity over the recent years, there’s a good chance you have a Jeep lover in your life. Arguably the automaker that paved the way by going off-road, Jeep: The History of America’s Great Vehicle by Patrick Foster covers over 70 years of Jeep vehicle design and production.
Starting with the Jeep as an important piece of the American World War II fleet, Foster chronicles the American automaker’s corporate shifts, financial struggles and successes, close calls, not to mention all of the machines that have made the brand so iconic in modern day. With over 300 color and black-and-white photos, this book will give you all the insight you need about Jeep, from the olive drab World War II military relics to the iconic Wrangler you see on the road today.
9. Million Dollar Classics: The World's Most Expensive Cars by Martin Derrick and Simon Clay
A relatively select few will ever have the opportunity to own a million-dollar car—which is why they’re so heavily admired from afar by automotive enthusiasts around the globe. From Martin Derrick and Simon Clay is Million Dollar Classics: The World’s Most Expensive Cars, a compendium of the most sought after models that have crossed the auction block in recent years.
If you follow any of the famous auction houses, such as Barrett-Jackson, you’ve likely heard of cars fetching well over $1 million. All the cars featured in this lavish photographic collection are some of the most expensive cars ever, captured on camera by Simon Clay himself. The photos are accompanied by informative text that details the specs, history, and other tidbits of information of these dream vehicles.
It’s the ideal book for any car enthusiast, and even better if you have a collector in your life.
10. Porsche 70 Years: There is No Substitute by Randy Leffingwell
Porsche is much more than just about the 911 sports car. If you want to learn more about the German automaker, author Randy Leffingwell also offers Porsche 70 Years: There is No Substitute. This book is a richly illustrated and detailed book that covers the full story of Porsche, and includes rare historical images along with beautiful, contemporary photos.
Along with taking a look at the 911, this book also features the 356, 904, 917, 928, 935, 956, and others. Highlights focus on milestone cars and events throughout the brand’s history along with in-depth analysis. This is an ideal gift for a Porsche owner or fan, who may not necessarily own a 911 sports car.
11. Speed Reads: Supercar by Basem Wasef
Basem Wasef is an automotive journalist who writes for some of the world’s most prestigious publications and he gets to travel the globe to drive some of the fastest and most exclusive supercars. He’s also the nicest and most humble guy you’ll ever meet. His new book gives you the scoop on the history, technology, and design of the fast, beautiful, and expensive cars that capture his imagination. This would be a great book for any automotive enthusiast, as supercars represent the pinnacle of what the automotive industry is capable of.
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