Reviews

Best Car Books: Find a Great Gift for the Gearhead in Your Life

These car books are an excellent gift for the automobile lover in your life

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  • Product Network

    19 Products

  • Clock

    10 Hours

  • Reviews

    13 Reviews

How We Decided

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PUBLISHED ON January 28, 2020

If you’re struggling to come up with a gift idea for the automobile lover in your family, one of these car books will always be a welcome addition to their library. Covering everything from automotive history to some of the coolest cars ever to roll off the assembly line, these books are sure to earn a smile—and plenty of dog-eared pages. Of course, once you get your hands on one, you may decide to keep it for yourself.

  • Best Overall
    Car: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile
    Summary
    Summary

    Offering a broad pictorial overview of the history of cars, this book covers everything from their cultural impact to the people who made them great. Oh, and it’s beautiful to look at, too.

    Pros
    Pros

    In addition to having stunning photos of just about every important car ever made, it does a good job of giving you technical information as well. Plus, the pages are high-quality enough that the book should last for years, even with heavy use.

    Cons
    Cons

    There’s a heavy emphasis on European cars, so American auto lovers may feel short-changed. There are a few factual errors that eagle-eyed readers may spot as well.

  • Best Value
    Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans
    Summary
    Summary

    The tale of how a storied race saved a beloved car company from extinction, this book reads more like a fictional thriller than a real-life tale. Sports car aficionados will learn something about their favorite cars (but they may lose a few hours of sleep turning pages every night).

    Pros
    Pros

    The book vividly captures the stylish world of auto racing in the 1960s, all while constantly ramping up the human drama. This makes it accessible for non-car lovers as well as dedicated gearheads. 

    Cons
    Cons

    It skimps a bit on the technical aspects of the cars involved, which could be frustrating for history buffs. The included photographs do little to flesh out the story.

  • Honorable Mention
    Car Science: An Under-the-Hood, Behind-the-Dash Look at How Cars Work
    Summary
    Summary

    Anyone wanting to learn what makes cars run will appreciate this reference guide, as it shows readers exactly what’s going on under the hood. It includes everything from diagrams and cutaways to detailed explanations of the physics involved.

    Pros
    Pros

    This is a great starter book for kids, or anyone who’s tired of not knowing how a car works. It’s written by one of the hosts of the popular TV show “Top Gear,” so it’s also an excellent gift for fans of that series.

    Cons
    Cons

    The information inside may be old hat to experienced mechanics. Some of the more educational aspects may be daunting to younger readers as well.

Why Trust Us


All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Tips

  • There are car books on virtually any topic under the sun, so consider what subjects your recipient is most interested in before making a purchase.
  • If you’re going to invest in a coffee table-style book, make sure the binding and pages are durable enough to withstand lots of pawing and manhandling.
  • Many books are either heavy on photographs or technical details, so spend a little time looking around until you find one that contains both equally.

FAQs

Q: Is hardcover or paperback better?

A: It depends on how you expect it will be used. Paperbacks are certainly easier to read (not to mention less expensive), but hardcovers make much more attractive decorations.

Q: What topics should I focus on?

A: If you have no idea what the intended recipient is interested in, there are many general-interest guides about cars that cover a wide range of makes and models. However, if you know what they like, then it’s almost guaranteed that there are a few books out there dedicated to that particular subject.

Q: I don’t know anything about cars. What should I look for in a car book? 

A: Don’t worry about what you know or don’t know—think about what the recipient would like to know. As long as they’re interested in the general topic, the gift should be appreciated—even if you don’t fully understand your own gift.

Final Thoughts

Car: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile offers an incredibly comprehensive look at the subject matter, and should be appreciated by just about any car lover, regardless of age.

Anyone who wants their history mixed with drama will love Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans, as it recounts an incredible true story while also covering the vehicles involved in loving detail.