Recommended Booklist

Thought that I would provide a list (in no particular order) of my favorite car oriented books with a brief description of why I like them:

George Barris' excellent series of 4 books titled "Barris Custom Techniques of the 50's":

volume 1 volume 2

volume 3 volume 4

  1. Top Chops, Sectionning, Dechroming and Fadeaways
  2. Grilles, Scoops, Fins and Frenching
  3. Lights, Skirts, Engines abd Interiors
  4. Flames, Scallops, Paneling and Striping

George has captured the style and spirit of the 50s Kustom scene with beautiful detailed pictures showing how the many historic cars were customized and personel insights into many famous customerizers of the era. This series is truly a work of art. The friendly conversational style and indepth observations throughout the picture comments and text body are priceless.

The Auto Editors of Consumer Guide's 4 book series of

  1. Cars of the Fascinating '40s
  2. Cars of the Fabulous '50s
  3. Cars of Sizzling '60s
  4. Cars of the Sensational '70s

40s 50s

60s 70s

These books go by the trade name of "Bargain Books" and are usually available only at Christmas time or in the bargain book section. They each have about 1500 photographs documenting almost every model of American made car during their respective time period divided by year and make. This series is truly a must for any car nut who wants to identify the subtle changes from year to year. The best part is that they are not expensive. I'm just impatiently waiting for the 30s book to come out.

John Lingenfelter on Modifying Small Block Chevy Engines

john racing

I like this book because of John's no nonsense approach. He really makes you think about what the real use of your engine will be. We all want to have 650 hp engines but he goes to great pains to show you how to build an engine that you will really enjoy and still provide decent streetable hp.

Carrol Smith's Nuts, Bolts, Fasteners and Plumbing Handbook

nuts and bolts

This is a must for anyone like myself who builds car parts from scratch. Carrol lends his decades of experience and insight to documenting the pros and cons of using almost every device used to hold something together on a car. The book is well worth the read and scary in some ways as you realize that maybe using duct tape to hold the tranny in place may not be such a good idea after all...

How to restore Metal Auto Trim by Jeff Lilly

auto trim

This is the bible on restoring chrome pieces, stainless steel and aluminum auto trim. It shows step by step procedures on how to fix, mend and polish auto trim that may otherwise be labelled for the trash bin.

Auto upholstery & interiors by Bruce Caldwell


I particularly like this book on auto upholstery as it covers more than the fabric aspect of restoring interiors. There are quite a few howto upholstery books available but this one talks about the complete restoration of an interior. For example, it details that while the door panels are off, it's a good idea to clean and lubricate the window and door mechanisms, check the rust proofing, etc.. It's much more than an upholstery book but a good common sense step by step guide to restoring the complete interior of your vehicle.

Catalog of Chevy V-8 Engine Casting Numbers 1955-93 and Stamped Numbers by Cars & Parts Magazine

casting numbers

This book is a must if you routinely surf the wreckers or swap meets looking for engine parts. Finding that rare treasure that others have looked over by checking the casting number is a great feeling, what can I say?

Chilton Auto Repair Manual 1954-1963 or any large volume chilton manual like this.


It is so interesting to see how cars were built back then. The many different mechanical solutions to problems and the ability to consult it once in a while to answer some obscure question that someone asks on a newsgroup is just plain fun. The Chilton manual is great reading and I actually found mine through the local auto parts store for $20.

Performance Welding by Richard Finch


I'm a lousy welder. I've been MIG welding for 2 years and finally seem to be getting a handle on it. You know you're a welder when you can't pass a handrail or piece of metal without glancing at the quality of the weld. This book details arc, MIG and TIG welding on various metals and the techniques used to improve your welding.

Basic Automotive Measuring Tools & How to use them by Peterson's Tool Book No.3

measruing tools

So you think you know how to measure engine parts? Think again as this book details the correct way to use the tools and how to get the most accurate measurements.

Classic American Car Ornamentation Brightwork by Ken Steacy


This book lead to my daughter and my hobby of collecting automotive chrome scripts . We have a modest collection of scratched and broken pieces that nobody really wants but us. It sure is a conversation piece in the garage. We've started collecting horn buttons, trunk latch covers emblems and hood ornaments also. It is very interesting to see the artwork that resides on cars after your eyes are opened by this book.

The Encyclopedia of Dream Cars - A celebration of contempory and fantasy cars by Chris Rees

This book has over 900 photographs that emphasizes automobile design after 1976. While it leans towards a Road & Track magazine crowd, it is well put together and an enjoyable read for any auto enthusiast. It documents automanufacturers worldwide and their star design creations, their custom showcars and the designers who were responsible. I personally enjoyed the many pictures of custom showcars and concept cars. My favorite designer is Chrysler's Tom Gale who is most famous for designing the Prowler and the Atlantic concept car.

How to go racing at Bonneville by Steve Smith Autosports


This is a great book that prepares you for visiting and racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats. If you have the inkling to go then this is the book for you.

Chevrolet Inline 6 Power Manual by Leo Santucci

inline 6

Leo Santucci has put together an impressive book on performance tuning the Chevy inline 6. This is great for those of us who like alternative power plants besides the old SBC. Eventually, I will be swapping in an inline 6 of some type just to be different.

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Copyright June 2011 Eugene Blanchard