If you pay attention to ‘the media’ – other than, of course, the enthusiast media – you’d correctly assume that affection for any and all automobiles is essentially dead. The overriding themes include – but are not limited to – kids not caring about cars, autonomy that’s just around the corner, the days of internal combustion powertrains are numbered and – of course – speed kills. A completely different take is available most weekends at area Cars and Coffees, where a multi-generational mix (and their dogs) focus enthusiastically on a wide range of cars, trucks and bikes.
Of course, you can’t plug into a Cars and Coffee every day – or, for that matter, every night after work. You can, however, plug into an automotive library. And while print – and the printed word – may seem archaic, there are few better ways to enjoy a coffee table or couch than with a book. And if that book should feed your automotive appetite, so much the better. Here, then, are our top three choices in automotive lit – at this point in the year – to share with your dad. Or yourself…if, of course, you’re a dad.
THE ART OF BMW MOTORCYCLES by Peter Gantriis. Few products have retained their corporate character as well as BMW motorcycles. Born in a post-World War I Germany hanging by the skin of its economic teeth, BMW provided a singularly automotive design ethos to an industry composed almost entirely of manufacturers installing engines into frames still rooted in bicycle design. The BMW engine was an opposed twin, delivering its power through a longitudinally mounted transmission to its rear wheel via a shaft drive. And while there have been variations to that BMW formula over the last forty years, the flat twin remains BMW’s iconic brot-und-butter.
With text by Peter Gantriis and studio photography provided by Henry von Wartenberg, The Art of BMW Motorcycles provides a compelling overview of both the company history and the company’s products. And if highlighting various models with multi-page spreads, I was pleased the team chose to highlight my second bike, a ’74 BMW R90S. Regrettably, they chose an example in black, which wasn’t – to my knowledge – an available color for the R90S in 1974. With that, photos of BMW’s R60/2 police bike are compelling, as is the pic of BMW’s R100GS. At a suggested retail of $45, it costs no more than seeing a movie (and less than a BMW oil change). And – to date – I don’t think anyone’s made this movie.
CAR MARQUES by Simon Heptinstall. Subtitled A Graphic Guide to Automotive Logos and Emblems, this smallish volume (224 pages) will serve as the perfect reference when encountering your first Perodua, a Malaysian manufacturer founded in 1992. And not only are you given a descriptive of the logo, but also a brief overview of the company behind that logo. With Chinese vehicles at – figuratively – our automotive border, this would be a good time to familiarize yourself with what you’ll be running into. More info on both this and The Art of BMW Motorcycles is available at QuartoKnows.com.
THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein is a study of the human condition (or a few of our human conditions) through a dog’s narration. The dog, Enzo, shares a household with Denny Swift – a tag almost as good as that of this year’s Indy winner, Will Power – as Denny attempts to regain custody of his daughter Zoe while pursuing a racing career. And life, like racing, ain’t easy. But as you’d hope, the lessons imparted in Enzo’s observations are worth reading and worth holding onto. It’s about to become a movie, with Kevin Costner providing the voiceover for Enzo. And while we look forward to the movie, get the book before they put Costner on the cover.