These Are The Best Books We Read In March
If there is one constant that holds true in communication, it’s that people are always looking for new ways to tell old stories: a new angle, some fresh information, or even just the feat of compiling all of it together in a novel way will always be among the siren calls drawing writers toward their next project. Of course, one might think that with so many treatments of our favorite automotive stories to contend with, that the challenge of adding a true supplement into the existing froth of narratives might be one not worth pursuing. Time and time again this is proven to be incorrect.
With each wave of enthusiasts comes another audience eager for the media produced by the storytellers of their era, and when coupled with the increasing interconnectedness of people that accommodates the spreading of new or privileged information, the outcome is always going to be more books. In keeping with this, last month we stocked our shelves with three titles offering refreshed takes on some old favorites.
Publisher: Delius Klasing
Format: Hardcover, 199-pages
Few cars—or really anything that falls within a very liberal definition of “vehicle”—can be considered as culturally definitive as the VW Type 2 was and still is. Capturing and symbolizing the zeitgeist of the psychedelic ‘60s, being used as a modest moving basecamp for travelers the world over, the location of many a “first,” or simply used as a weekend novelty cruiser in the modern age, the VW Bulli has almost as many occupations as it does variants and monikers. This is one of those rare cars that would earn a spot in humanity’s time capsule, as little else can achieve the kind of universal appeal that transforms a significant car into a significant thing.
The wide-ranging draw and charm of the VW Type 2’s multitudinous versions results in an vast network of owners and admirers that each have a unique and passionate connection to the famous Volkswagen. This concept of an icon being created through a mountain of small, individual experiences is explored in Bulli Love through a curated yet extensive collection of moving stories about the places and paths in life viewed through the windshield of a Bulli.
This book is composed of these stories—which range from Porsche-engined track busses (which if that string of words doesn’t make you smile, maybe some bright-hued Type 2s in a hippie commune will do the trick) to decked-out exploration rigs, that as a whole gets as close as possible to delineating just what it is about the DNA of the Type 2 that has made it mean so many different things to so many different people.
From the most common to the least, from the patina’d to the pristine, Bulli Love is a heaping helping of personal stories that prove that the machines we make can sometimes return the favor. Written from the perspectives of owners, enthusiasts, journalists, and more, the far-reaching cumulative spread of the stories and photographs within the 200-page hardcover should bring delight to anyone interested in not just the Type 2, but in how we as people choose and use the artifacts of our culture.
Porsche 901: The Roots of a Legend
Author: Jürgen Lewandowski
Publisher: Delius Klasing
Format: Hardcover, 176-pages
Yes, the first generation of the 911 is arguably one of the most studied and (perhaps overly) pored-over subjects of all time, at least in the slice of the world that includes automotive lit. And with so many of said treatments of the legendary car being toted as various synonyms of “definitive,” any skepticism toward another book on the topic is valid and likely appropriate. However, Jürgen Lewandowski’s latest treatment of the origins of the famous 911 chassis contains more than enough value to challenge both the assumptions surrounding the validity of another book about the car, as well as those about the subject matter itself. In Porsche 901: The Roots of a Legend, the exhaustive backstory has been collected, sifted, and presented as a beautifully arranged hardcover that plunges new depths of the complex history of one of the world’s most recognizable cars. Accompanied by illustrative, in-period photos, records, and anecdotes to bolster the story, Lewandowski’s compiled genesis story weaves through seemingly every moment, personality, design sketch, argument, and engineering proposal that led to the creation of the 911.
It is important to remember that while its development was taking place, the then-contemporary world of the 1950s and ‘60s was not bestowed (burdened?) with the levels and abilities of record-keeping that seemingly propel so much of today’s world. Because looking this far into the past is inevitably done so through some rather opaque lenses, the work that went into making this book is all the more impressive. Filled with information and photographs of the various prototypes that defined the growing pains of the iconic car, this book makes for a seriously cool complement to any library that contains works on Porsche 911s or the marque as a whole.
If you’re interested in the winding and knotty tale of a legendary car that at times looked like it may have never become any kind at all, this account of the people, places, and ideas that ultimately led to its being might just be the end-all book on the subject.
Giorgetto Giugiaro: The Genius of Design
Author: Giuliano Molineri
Publisher: Rizzoli New York
Format: Hardcover, 478-pages
When it comes to wedges, no one pens a better one than Giorgetto Giugiaro. Though to pigeon-hole the influential designer to just the spotlit works that have earned him his deserved acclaim is to ignore the layers of thoughtfulness and insight that make Giugiaro such an adept force of style. Ruminating on the intellectual snares that abound in industrial design, revisiting an illustrious stint with the famed design juggernaut Bertone, and everything else that has gone into the lauded life of a man who’s responsible for so many of the cars we love to ogle, Giorgetto Giugiaro: The Genius of Design traces out the long and well-lived path of a living legend.
Giuliano Molineri has fastidiously combed through history to bring us an encyclopedic 478-page map of the journey taken by the designer up to this point. With hundreds of vintage photographs and the kinds of documents that give credence to the term “behind the scenes,” there is likely no better rendition of the evolution of one of the world’s foremost automotive design talents.
Responsible for such staples of beauty as the perfectly proportioned Alfa Romeo Giulia GT and the blade of a supercar that wore the name “M1,” the products of Giugiaro’s pen will likely grace the pages of art school textbooks until the entropic end of time itself. The fact that he would go on to form his own design house, Italdesign, seems like an inevitability proving itself as true, but aren’t you curious as to what went into the decision? Isn’t that why we read books like this; to take the stories and people and cars that have been canonized to such an extent that we just have to know every detail of what was going on at the time?
This book will slake your thirst for everything you’ve been curious to know about the Italian maestro. Want pages upon pages of sketches and concept car photos that show off the best of the best when it comes to strong angular design? You’re covered. Looking to learn more about the ins and outs of starting and managing a design firm? Yup, that’s here too, as is so much else.
Design as an idea can be thought of as an ever-moving process of refining the tools we use and enjoy, or as a collection of discrete objects. This book is both; at once a compendium of Giugiaro’s many projects, as well as a singular narrative about the vast influence that can propagate from just one great mind.
View our complete selection of automotive literature in the Petrolicious Shop’s Books Section