Gearhead At Large

A Backroad Tour of Automotive History and the Old Car Hobby  

by Steven Rossi


Author Steven Rossi has been immersed in “all things automotive” (and motorcycle, etc.) since practically forever. 

His working life, once he’d earned his mechanical engineering degree, was spent doing “car stuff” for a variety of employers (read different companies as well as different manufacturers) with each job assignment and title continuing the upward trajectory of his career. Then Rossi arrived at a time and place where he could, and did, retire and devote still more time to his ever-growing and diverse assemblage of motorbikes, cars, the odd truck or two, tube-type radios, books, and whatever else happens to catch his fancy. 

But with an ever-restless mind, he also took on writing a regular column for the Antique Automobile Club of America’s bi-monthly magazine Antique Automobile. A selection of forty-eight of those columns (he’s written somewhere north of 100 to date), which in the magazine are published under the banner of “Back to the Future”, are collected in this book. What’s clear, from the diversity of topics and the equally diverse vehicles in his collection today, is the man never stopped or limited his inquiring mind, or his reading and experiencing and learning.

The various columns offered in the book are presented in groups with headings such as “On the Marque”, “Technicalities”, “People and Personalities”, etc. Some talk of some historical matter, others are more whimsical or expressions of the writer’s opinions. All are written in a engaging, entertaining style because, remember, they are for the readers of a magazine. The pages are illustrated with images selected by Antique Automobile’s editor West Peterson.

The page pair shown above is from the chapter ”On the Marque” in which Rossi names his ten most significant American automobiles with his reasons for the selection of each. That particular “On the Marque” segment opens with a particularly engagingly written historical perspective chapter titled “The Halo Around the Hyphen” that examines the various marque’s with hyphenated names. Think Pierce-Arrow, Willys-Knight, Rolls-Royce, and other from lesser known to more commonly known.

The page pair above is from “People and Personalities” but do note that that face in the uppermost right is not that of an automotive industry worker or officer but rather that of poet Robert Frost with Lee Iacocca immediately below. Intrigued? The chapter is titled “My 10 Favorite Car Quotes”. Another chapter pair in this segment presents a dozen men who went “From Office Machines to Automobiles.” 

This next page pair image, above, is one of the entries in the section titled “Technicalities” and addresses that “Persistence Pays Off” with “The V-6 Saga”. If it is a history familiar to you, you’ll enjoy the review. If this is something you haven’t learned or heard before, you’ll greatly enjoy columnist Rossi’s prose as he imparts knowledge to you.

This last page pair, above, is pure nostalgia with its reproduction of vintage postcards and images. It’s found in the chapter “The Automotive Influence on America’s Garden of Eden” (Eden in this case being Florida) in the book’s concluding section titled (with a tip of the cap to Willie) “On the Road Again”.

All in all, cover to cover, Gearhead At Large offers enjoyable auto-oriented reading entertainment.

Gearhead At Large
A Backroad Tour of Automotive History and the Old Car Hobby  
by Steven Rossi
McFarland  & Company, 2021 
355 pages, 187 b/w images, softcover
List Price: $29.95 
ISBN 13: 978 1 4766 8117 7

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