The Classic Cars Book
“Naturally, any selection of classic cars is a balancing act: everyone has his or her preferences, nourished by memories and dreams—people revere some vehicles, respect others, and look down on still others as they ask themselves why others find them so extraordinary.”
(English, German, French, Russian and Chinese) With the above caveat in mind, imagine you’re being invited to a car collection to see 31 models up close and personal. Pretty much on your own, with only those little placards by the cars to guide you. That’s this book!
German auto journalist Jürgen Lewandowski provides the text and fellow countryman René Staud the photos. Both are established names in the car world. The cars are shown in alphabetical order by marque, and within that chronologically, on 3–9 pages each. In a museum, you’d lean in close, take a few steps back, maybe crouch low or stand on your tiptoes or look down on the car from a gallery, you’d walk around it, maybe open a door or pop the hood (off with your head!). This is just the sort of tour this book takes you on. At the end of each photo section is a short commentary of about 200–300 words highlighting design features, technical tidbits, or other particularly noteworthy information. All the cars make a short appearance at the end of the book in the form of one photo and a listing of specs, and the book ends with remarks about the photographer. Unless you are completely new to the world of car photography it is almost inconceivable not to know Staud’s work. He has a distinctive style and all the gear a photographer’s photographer could dream of; he’s even invented his own lighting system. So as to not repeat ourselves we direct the reader to other reviews of Staud’s work and here simply say that his compositions are top shelf.
Not to make too much of it but eagle-eyed readers will call it unnecessary gimmickry to populate the Acknowledgements with references to legitimate car folk such as W.O. Bentley and Carl Benz but also Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
So, who is the ideal reader of this book—the person who already knows everything or the person who is just starting to get curious about “them classic cars”? There is no right answer, but since the book is not cheap—$125—you’ll want to be sure that it’s the right one for you. Even simply finding a home somewhere for this oversize tome (almost 12 x 15 inches) on a bookshelf or table requires a commitment!
That the book in physical terms is high in production values is a given, considering who the publisher is: super premium paper, highly styled layout, very good photo reproduction, substantial binding, and let’s not forget its sheer size and heft. If you like pretty cars and pretty books this is about as upscale as it gets.
Copyright 2014, Sabu Advani (speedreaders.info).