Video games like Forza or Gran Turismo can teach many about a variety of different vehicles. An entire generation of motorsport enthusiasts learned about the lesser models playing the original Gran Turismo on the first Playstation console; since then, they’ve only become better and more comprehensive. But there’s one problem with them: They’re virtual. They don’t offer the deep dive you can only get from a book.
You won’t get the same hands-on experience, but put down that controller for a sec. There are some things that just can’t be taught without some critical thought and gorgeous pictures. Publishing company Motorbooks has dedicated itself to this pursuit, and we’re happy to feature four note-worthy examples from their vast stash of grease monkey literature.
Whether you’re in it for yourself or looking for a good gift idea, they’ve got it all — from Mustangs to Murcialagos.
1. Lamborghini Supercars
Lamborghini is, without a doubt, one of the loudest automotive brands out there. If you’re afraid of being lost in the crowd in your Aventador or Huracan, than you can order it in neon green or headache-inducing yellow. Lamborghinis are loud, brash, and unapologetic about it to the point that you’d forget they were once exclusively a manufacturer of farm equipment.
Walk through Lamborghini’s fascinating history, laced with gorgeously appointed photos and commentary. You probably can’t afford an actual Lamborghini, so consider this your cheaper alternative to hold you over.
2. The Art of the Mustang
America’s blue-collar muscle car hero gets some Red-Carpet-worthy camera time with Tom Loeser, its history catalogued since 1964 until the near-present. The Art of the Mustang is exactly what you’d expect from the title — it’s an emphasis on the design of the car, which tends to get lost in the shuffle to see what’s under the hood. It’s a perfect coffee-table companion for the former U.A.W. employee in the family or any fan of fast American iron.
3. Steve McQueen: Full Throttle Cool
You may have seen all of Steve McQueen’s movies, but have you seen the Steve McQueen graphic novel biography? Full Throttle Cool solves a problem we didn’t know we had by using a powerful medium to discuss McQueen’s life outside of his public persona.
From his childhood (did you know that he had an abusive step-father?) to his career as an actor and avid car enthusiast, author Dwight Jon Zimmerman spins the story of the life of one of Hollywood’s best and most passionate gearheads of the 20th century.
4. Barn Find Road Trip
We’ve pondered publicly about what the term “barn find” means nowadays, but Barn Find Road Trip essentially answers that question. Travel with the authors as they look for — and often find — old relics that have been consigned to the lawns, dumps, and scrap yards of the U.S. They’re just about everywhere, hidden in plain sight, or just plain hidden. Either way, it’s a fun read that makes you want to make a scavenging road trip of your own.
5. Ford GT: How Ford Silenced Critics, Humbled Ferrari, and Conquered Le Mans
Step inside one of the greatest racing stories out there: Ferrari’s rebuff of Ford and Ferrari’s subsequent trouncing at the hands of the Ford GT. Ford GT is a comprehensive review of how this icon of American engineering was initially created. If you know a gearhead with a penchant for American cars, it’s a must-have companion to that engine block coffee table in his or her living room.