Book Review—

December 1, 2010 | By Ted Kade

American Auto Legends

YOU’LL OFTEN HEAR people referring to vintage vehicles as “rolling sculpture” or “art in motion,” and folks who truly enjoy cars tend to agree with those descriptions. Generally speaking, however, when people refer to cars as “sculpture” or “art,” they’re describing cars of the ’30s, and maybe some from the ’40s…a Duesenberg, certain Packards and the Auburn Speedster immediately come to mind as examples.

And while you’ll find those cars represented in this book, it’s refreshing to note that the subject matter isn’t limited to just the products of a decade or two or even to high-end-only vehicles either.

The book starts with a brief history of the auto industry. (There’s a nit I’ll have to pick here… The text says the Ford Motor Co. introduced the first moving assembly line at its factory in Dearborn, Michigan, when actually that took place at Ford’s Highland Park, Michigan, plant.)

After that, the book goes chronologically from 1903, starting with the Cadillac Model A, and runs through 2008 where it spotlights the Cadillac CTS, Corvette and the Pontiac Solstice. In each instance, there’s brief text describing the car and its role in the automotive marketplace of its day, but what really sets this book apart is the photography, which makes you see each vehicle as you’ve quite likely never seen it before. In each case, there are two or three large images of the featured car and each image is completely outlined, like the ’57 Chevy on this page that was taken from the book. This process lets you concentrate solely on the car, dwelling only on its lines and trim, with no distractions whatsoever.

So, yes, you’ll sit and stare at the 1940 Lincoln Continental Convertible and the 1931 Pierce Arrow Club Sedan, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself gaining a new appreciation for the artful styling of cars such as the 1914 Model T Runabout, the ’51 Hudson Hornet, the ’67 Shelby GT500 and even the high winged 1970 Plymouth Superbird.

And who knows, once you find yourself with a greater-than-ever appreciation for cars as art, you may even be inspired to grab your camera and take some new photos of those rolling sculptures that inhabit your very own garage.

—Ted Kade

Merrell Publishers— ($49.95)