October Book Club: The Auto Lover’s Library

Every October, we here at KHACHILIFE turn our attentions to all things design-related. And when it comes to centuries of design innovations, there are few inventions that changed civilization quite like the automobile. Its advent established a more interconnected, faster world, and paved the way for modern business and travel. 

Here we take a look at the books dedicated to the history and design of the finest vehicles ever built or imagined — from luxury brands like Porsche and Ferrari to the concept cars of the future, the books on this list are required reading for any autophile. 

Porsche: Origin of the Species

Who knew that funny man Jerry Seinfeld is an aficionado when it comes to all things Porsche? According to Porsche Road and Race, the comedian owns one of the most sought-after Porsches in the world: number 040 (of an exclusive 52 built between 1948 and 1950) of the original handmade Gmünd Coupe 356/2s, produced by the brand before moving production from the humble hills of Austria to Stuttgart. Seinfeld writes the foreword for this book, which features stunning photography by acclaimed automative photographer Michael Furman and a detailed history of the brand, written by automative historian Karl Ludvigsen. 

Ferrari: Under the Skin

Established in Italy during the final days of WWII, Ferrari was the eponymous company founded by Enzo Ferrari, an ambitious motor racing driver from Modena. The iconic prancing horse of its shield was created by Italian fighter pilot Francesco Baracca, who gifted Ferrari with a necklace bearing the symbol before takeoff; he was later shot and killed, and Ferrari permanently adopted the emblem in memory of his friend. This book provides a comprehensive understanding of the brand’s history and identity, using personal ephemera, technical drawings, master models, product shots, and more to shed light upon one of the world’s most distinguished carmakers. 

Concept Car Design: Driving the Dream

There’s nothing like a good concept car to stir the imagination and interest of auto lovers; from Tesla’s new pick up truck to the Infinity Prototype 9, we keep an eye on all the latest plans and pipe dreams of the world’s leading carmakers. This book, written by Jonathan Bell, takes an in-depth look at exactly where the ideas for these often wild concept cars come from. Examining the process of designing, sourcing inspiration, and mock-up methodology (sketches, wireframe, clay modelling, etc.), Bell provides a window into the minds of those who envision — and implement — the future of automative design. And if you’re curious about how even the most futuristic of cars can evolve from the seed of an idea to a finished product on the road, this book will make for an immensely satisfying read.  

Bellissimo! The Italian Automotive Renaissance 1940 to 1975

Lamborghini, Maserati, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo — Italian companies have long dominated in the world of luxury vehicles, and this beautifully photographed volume celebrates the country’s automotive design renaissance. Focusing on the post-WWII era and taking us up to 1975, Bellissima! delves into just how influential the Italian automotive industry has been on mid-century industrial design, architecture, aeronautics, furniture, fashion, and more. Prepare to pore over striking photographs and lose yourself in illuminating passages from some of the world’s most well-respected auto writers; this book will have you rethinking your dream car again and again. 

 The Aston Martin Book

We love Aston Martin, and we keep an eye on all the latest offerings from this versatile, multifaceted company — everything from its cars to its yachts to, yes, its fashion collaborations leaves us wanting more. This volume from respected publishers teNeues was originally published in 2013 to celebrate Aston Martin’s 100th anniversary. Photographer Rene Staud, known for his past books focusing on the esteemed Mercedes 300 SL and the very sexy Porsche 911, makes automotive photography a “sensual experience” here and offers readers a visual feast of the iconic British classic. We’re guessing that placing this on the coffee table will be the perfect daily reminder to book a trip to Le Mans. 

The Art of the Muscle Car: Collector’s Edition

There is perhaps no more quintessentially American vehicle than the muscle car. The process of souping up a hot rod seems to harken the very essence of the American dream — start small, aspire to bigger and better things; take a small car and deck it out with a humungous engine. There’s also a straightforwardness to the vintage American muscle cars; they’re built for straight-line speed and ranked by brute force. The very best of the best are featured here in this sleek volume: Camaro and Chevelle SS, the Hemi and 440-6 ’Cuda, Challenger, Roadrunner, Super Bee, GTX, Super Bird, Daytona Charger, Super Cobra Jet and Boss Mustang, Talladega Torino, Buick GSX and W30 Oldsmobile 442, and AMX Javelin… These are the sort of throwback rides you’ll see as you turn the pages on a pictorial journey of American muscle car history. 

A-Z of 21st-Century Cars

The publishers of A-Z of 21st-Century Cars tote it as “the most comprehensive guide available to the international automobile industry of the last decade.” Published in 2011, this book takes an in-depth look at the first ten years of the new millennium and the drastic metamorphosis of car design and manufacturing. Featuring 1500 photographs and focusing on 150 specific models, author Tony Lewin presents us with some of the most innovative vehicle features, performance breakthroughs, stylistic trends, and more. Designer profiles, technical specifications, company chronologies, and both production and concept models grace these pages, making it a comprehensive must-have for any lovers of modern automotive design. 

The Supercar Book

There are cars — and then there are supercars. And once you’ve sat behind the wheel of one of these exclusive, lightening-fast beauties, there’s simply no going back. The Supercar Book is another comprehensive guide that belongs in an autophile’s home (or garage!) library. Beginning with an introduction from the David Coulthard, the F1 racing legend, this book is a self-professed tour de force that starts with the iconic 1954 Mercedes Gullwing and transports us at a considerable pace through the decades that followed, presenting us with the supercars that captured the collective imagination and brought racing to new speeds. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Pagani, McLaren, Porsche — your favourite luxury carmakers are all here and ready to impress. 

Car: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile

While the other comprehensive guides make our list for their ability to contextualize and celebrate a particular type of car or era, this book is the quintessential overview of the history of the automobile. From those first primitive prototypes to the speedy super cars of the present, Cars: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile walks us (er, drives us?) through the history of vehicle design and manufacturing, shining a light on the cultural backdrops in which some of the world’s most iconic models were created. Advertised as “the most lavishly illustrated treatment of the subject on the market,” this book excels in its uniquely international perspective on automative chronology, ripping world-changing vehicles from the pages of history and placing them firmly and relevantly in the present. 

Concept Cars: Designing for the Future

There’s a reason why not one, but two books on concept cars make our list; as much as we love to wax nostalgic for those Ferrari 250 GTOs, Studebaker Avantis, and Lamborghini Miuras of the past, our eyes are fixed firmly on the future and all that the automotive industry has in store. Concept cars have always held some delicious future promise, even if the vehicle was never realized; sometimes it’s simply the vision that counts. This volume features 70 carefully curated concept vehicles in a beautifully illustrated, hardcover edition. Examining everything from the cars inspired by mid-century science fiction to the bells and whistles and smart capabilities of our modern vehicles, Concept Cars: Designing for the Future is all about pushing boundaries. Innovative, extraordinary, or just plain strange, the concepts presented here range from the realized (VS Beetle, Porsche Boxster) to those that will likely never come to fruition. This one will keep the imagination burning and those figurative wheels turning.