Whether you're looking for technical instruction, historical documentation, or just a really compelling car story, these are the required texts of the automotive hobby.
Any automotive reading list must contain R&T's Peter Egan. His monthly Side Glances column was insightful, inspiring, and often hilarious. Anyone who's taken a disastrous road trip, restored a cantankerous old basketcase, or simply admired the beauty of a well-designed automobile will find something to relate to. Volume One covers Egan's columns from 1983 to 1992.
Volume Two of the Side Glances series covers Egan's columns from 1992 to 1997, including some of his most hilarious material. Like "Ace Mechanic, Car Detective," or the deeply relatable "How to Tell When It's the End of the Racing Season."
Volume 3 of the series includes Egan's columns from 1998 to 2002, and also offers some of Egan's most noteworthy feature-length R&T articles: "By the Time We Got to Woodstock," from the November, 1998 issue, and "Rectified Spirits," published in September, 2000.
Puzzlingly, the fourth and final volume of hardbound Egan columns is titled simply "Side Glances." But this book covers the most recent of Egan's R&T columns, spanning from 2002 to 2006. It also includes Egan's April Fools road test of a Zamboni from 2005, and the delightful road trip story "A Jaguar in Moose Country," where Peter and wife Barb drove his recently-restored Jaguar E-Type as far north into Canada as the road would take them.
Perhaps the most trusted driving technique handbook ever published, Speed Secrets is the first of master instructor Ross Bentley's series on how to improve your driving. More than just a handbook on where to brake and how to turn, it's a guide for preparing yourself mentally, physically, and financially for the world of racing, either as a hobby or a career.
Stick with me on this one. This is a fiction novel, told from the point of view of a dog named Enzo. Sounds crazy, but it works. Enzo witnesses his owner's journey through love, heartbreak, fear, and redemption. You don't have to love cars to love this story—but it's chock full of details to make a gearhead grin.
This is the fascinating story of Tire Rack founder Peter Veldman, who came to the US shortly after WWII, fought in the Korean War, and worked lots of jobs before becoming a tire giant.
This is one of the coolest automotive books to come out this year. It's a beautifully put together look at the life and work of Erich Strenger, Porsche's in-house graphic designer and photographer from the early 1950s to the late 1980s. There's tons of full-color posters and Christophorus covers reprinted here that Porsche geeks will love.
Road & Track's longtime European Editor Paul Frère wrote one of the definitive books on how to drive fast. This, along with Ross Bentley's Speed Secrets, is essential for anyone looking to get into racing, or just trying to be faster and safer at their local track days.
Tons of racers have written autobiographies, but few are totally essential, like Jackie Stewart's. Besides being a triple world champ, Stewart has been a longtime advocate for increasing safety in motorsports, so his perspective is enlightening.
In his far-too-brief career Mark Donohue was The Man in US motorsports. He won the Indy 500 and totally dominated both Can-Am and Trans-Am driving for Roger Penske. He was also a brilliant engineer who knew how to get he most out of a car, so his insight is fascinating.
Richard Porter was the script editor for Top Gear and currently works on The Grand Tour. This look inside Top Gear is incredible fun to read and a real insight into the most successful motoring show the world has ever seen.
We're suckers for a visual history of the automobile, and this collection is one of the best out there.
Have a kid? Want that kid to love cars? Then this classic from Richard Scarry is required reading.