Whoever came up with the old saying didn’t work in publishing. Truth is, good covers draw more readers, further disadvantaging small-timers with limited design budgets. We peruse every new book that comes our way, regardless of coffee-table appeal. Here are some books with unfortunate covers that are still well worth flipping open. — David Zenlea
Neil’s Book: The 356A Porsche
By Neil Goldberg
Goldberg, a southeast Michigan Porsche restorer, photographically documents the key attributes of a pristine, original 1958 Porsche 356A. Intended as a guide by which other examples can be restored and judged, the spiral-bound book is also an affordable fix for Porsche-philes, who will no doubt drool over close-up shots of the car’s original toolkit and revel in details, such as, “The seat rail nuts were painted black.”
Evan Wilson’s Giulietta Book
By Evan Wilson
The introduction explains that publishers wanted Wilson to broaden his focus from just the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Giulia, add color photos, and charge more. However, he wanted to publish a “useful guide for serious enthusiasts.” His eponymous work, now in its fourth edition, is exactly that. The text–as dense as an old Wall Street Journal — isn’t for casual fans but is pure gold for the truly devoted Alfa nut.
Pro Stock Drag Racing
By Lou Hart
Who can say no to 150-plus pages of Camaros, Darts, Mustangs, AMXs, ‘Cudas, and GTOs wrinkling their rear tires? Certainly not us. Hart’s extensive captions on Pro Stock drag racing, mostly from the 1960s and ’70s, have a loving, “I was there” authenticity to them and are filled with bits of trivia that middle-schoolers can clandestinely memorize during class. (Kids do still sneak car books into school, right?)
Porsche 956 & 962: Immortal Endurance Racers 1982-1994
Introduction by Karl Ludvigsen
This is much lighter fare than Ludvigsen’s seminal (and beautifully packaged) Porsche: Excellence Was Expected, but then, it doesn’t cost $300. There’s still a satisfying dose of the storytelling and insider voices that we expect from the legendary journalist, along with dozens of full-page photos following the development and careers of the 956 and 962 racing cars, which dominated Le Mans in the early ’80s.
Jensen 1934-1965: Road Test Portfolio
Compiled by R. M. Clarke
Brooklands Books, $40
Even in the digital age, it’s tough to find contemporary road tests of vintage cars, especially imports. Brooklands has been serving this niche for nearly sixty years. The publisher compiles road tests on hundreds of cars — everything from the Datsun 280Z to Hispano-Suiza products. This recent release on Jensens, which features sixty-one road tests, is typical both for its unattractive design and its wealth of useful information.
1. American Station Wagons
2. America’s Coolest Station Wagons
1. By Norm Mort Veloce, $30
2. By Scotty Gosson CarTech, $30
It wouldn’t be right if books about the humble station wagon were attractive. The first provides a straightforward history of American wagons from their postwar peak through the cancellation of the Dodge Magnum. America’s Coolest Wagons zeros in on more warped interpretations, including — why not? — a 1960 Rambler with a drivetrain from a Ferrari 360 Modena.