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Great Car Books to Read Now That You Have Time

If not now, when?

They say boring people are always bored, but these days, it's easy to run out of stuff to do at home—even if you sell beer for Dos Equis. We're here to help with this list of the some of the best automotive books around. Some leap from (or onto) the pages of pop culture, while others are ripped from history—but no matter which you start with, our list should keep at least the next few weeks of stay-at-home boredom at bay.

 

Sometimes the best motorsports stories are the ones you've never encountered before, and Irish racer Tommy Byrne fits the bill, and then some. He was (and is) immensely naturally gifted, and he won the 1982 British Formula 3 championship, and just barely—and briefly—made it to Formula 1, among other accomplishments. But it's his rough-and-tumble semi-wild beginnings, no-bullshit attitude, and no tolerance for the politics of European racing and racing drivers that make this an absolutely gut-busting and fascinating read for anyone interested in cars, racing, and race car drivers.

Like Byrne, McCarthy has more than a few beyond-fascinating and hilarious stories about trying to make it to the top of professional racing, perhaps thwarted mostly—like all of us (wink)—by who-you-know deals and a lack of funds. He had a farcical shot at Formula 1 in the early '90s, multiple attempts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans … and then became famous (after the fact) as the original Stig on the smash show "Top Gear," which you can stream here. This is an absolute must-read for anyone who enjoys a good speed-infused tale about the wild road life usually takes.

 

"Speed Secrets" by Ross Bentley

Keen on driving well? Enjoy developing your craft even though you're already an accomplished driver? Want to learn the basics before you develop bad habits? No matter where you are in your journey as a performance driver, this book is worth spending some time with—or revisiting.

"How to Build a Car" by Adrian Newey

For those who don't know the name offhand, Newey is perhaps the most legendary vehicle designer and aerodynamicist in Formula 1 in history—certainly the most famous of the modern era. Want to know more about him and how he designs cars? Here you go.

If the movie "Ford vs. Ferrari" got you excited, how about the much more in-depth, even more colorful original take on the story—in book form? Baime's novelization of the drama between Ford and Ferrari in the 1960s is as well-researched as it is entertaining.

"Hurley: From the Beginning" by Hurley Haywood and Sean Cridland

Hurley Haywood is an incredible driver, and with this book, you'll get a chance to relive some of his greatest triumphs and challenges through his eyes. With wins at Daytona, Le Mans, and Sebring among his many victories, there is no shortage of brilliant anecdotes or engaging tales.

"The Complete Book of Porsche 911" by Randy Leffingwell

Fancy yourself a Porschephile? Then consider this a core text, tracing the history and development of the brand's most famous model from its roots through the 901 prototype to the modern era. Filled with year-to-year changes and facts about each model's production and racing history, and much more, this is a book for the detail-oriented looking to bolster their collection of factoids, but it also has plenty to draw in the more casual reader, as well.

"Ford Bronco: A History of Ford's Legendary 4x4" by Todd Zuercher

The Ford Bronco is returning soon—in some ways, it's already back—so why not bone up on your Bronco background?

"Speed Read Supercar" by Basem Wasef

You may recognize Wasef's name from right here at Automobile; he's a regular contributor. His entry into the Speed Read series of car books covering supercars of all types is a welcome respite from the somber sobriety filling most of our days, providing a ready escape for your starved imagination.

 

Yes, this is that Emily Post. But before she built a legendary reputation answering questions of etiquette, she wrote this travel log of driving from New York to the Golden Gate Bridge just to see if it was possible to do so "in comfort"—in 1915.

Racing has always been a dangerous endeavor, but in the 1930s it was incredibly dangerous—and exciting. Bascomb manages to recapture that thrill and convey it, at the same time weaving an engaging narrative and riveting characters throughout.

Beautifully illustrated, this deep-dive into the American car's history and design gives insight into the people and processes that shaped the look and image of the automobile throughout the course of the 20th century.