The Car Book and Igniting a Passion

Browsing those pages as a child is the first introduction many of us have to cars and it spawns a whole new passion thereafter

1w ago

C​ar culture is a broad church. For some it's the aesthetics that grab their attention, for others it's the moving parts, or it may be through the bastion of motorsport that you get your kicks. Despite the variety of the destinations that us car bores may end up, there's a strong chance that the embers of our love for all things four-wheeled began on the glossy pages of a book or magazine.

The Formation of Taste

I​ can distinctly remember my first car book: 'Performance Cars' by Jonathan wood played a pretty significant part in shaping some of the car-based preferences I have today. I can vividly remember the images of British performance machines like the Aston Martin V8 Vantage V600, Jaguar XK8 and McLaren F1 drawing my eye. From that very first introduction to today, my gaze can be turned by any image of those very same chariots. Beyond the oddly patriotic tendencies of my childhood self, I was equally enamoured by the brash American muscle cars, like the Dodge Viper and Plymouth Superbird.

It's only in recent years that I've become more aware of just how much influence that initial exposure to certain cars shaped me. In the same we feel nostalgic about the cars of our parents, the images of seemingly space-age cars can pluck the same emotional strings - regardless of the fact they only ever existed on paper at that point in our lives. Performance and setup were secondary, what we felt as we first set eyes upon those images set the course for our obsession later down the line.

T​op Trumps

The images of certain cars may have made the first impression, but performance figures would help peel back - or in some cases add too - the mystery surrounding these evocative shapes. My own experience of reading that the McLaren F1 could do "Over 231 mph" further fuelled my fascination, and led to a period of obsession when it came to car stats. On the other end of the spectrum the "Not available" top speed of the Subaru Impreza 22B-STi sparked a curiosity about what, in comparison, seemed like a hum-drum looking car; one that was fed further by a cultural icon of my youth - Colin McRae.

I​t's these figures that not only deepen our relationship with certain cars, but begin to nurture an interest in just how their achieved. If the images triggered our emotional response to cars, the performance figures gave birth to what could well become engineering passion.

R​evisiting the Forgotten

P​erhaps the very thing that drove me to write this article was rediscovering that very same car book of my youth, and being reminded of cars that both myself and much of the world forgot. Cars that seemed like just another page in the book have now gained a status of rarity that would make them priceless collectors' items. Despite not paying them much attention as a child, their scarcity now adds a significance to those images that previously didn't exist.

F​licking back through those old pages, I found myself stopping at images of images of the Venturi Atlantique 300, Jensen S-V8, AC Aceca, Bentley Hunaudières... The list of what has disappeared into the pages of history, but remains just the same in pages of an old car book, could go on. At the other end of spectrum, cars that I completely overlooked as a child but now would think about for week if I saw one in the wild (Alfa GTV, Fiat Coupe, etc) may not be uncommon, but provide cause for reflecting on how our preferences grow with us.

A​ Changed Landscape

A​s much as the car book or magazine still with us, the way in which this passion is discovered and consumed for the enthusiasts of the future has been usurped by new forms of media. The irony of this article being shared using one of those mediums is not lost on me, and these new forms have media have provided the opportunity for the car community to reach so many others. But there is certainly something to be said for discovering a brand-new passion, one page at a time.

W​here did your passion start?

I​f you've managed to find your way to end of this gush-fest why not share how your passion for cars started?

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Comments (7)

  • It certainly wasn't the start of my car passion, but my dad's copy of "MG: The Book Of The Car" by Anders Ditlev Clasuager added fuel to the fire. In particular, I spent hours gazing at the photos of the MGB GT. Fast-forward 40 years, and I have my own GT, as well as my own copy of the Clausager book.

      5 days ago
  • My first car book was a book about muscle cars

      5 days ago
  • For me it was the A-Z of cars with the AC 3000ME in it that fostered my interest, and was built upon by Hot Wheels cars and our family Audi quattro...

      6 days ago
  • For me, f40 rc toy is start point of my passion.

      7 days ago
  • I just rememebered I've got a Jonathan Wood book - The Enthusiast's Guide to British Post-war Classic Cars. It's good fun to flip through like it's 1980 and you're about to buy a Silver Cloud.

      7 days ago