First Gear Book Reviews: Mercs, Muscle Cars & Other Automotive Exotica

Muscle Cars by Mikes Mueller

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for this review. I did not receive any payment and was not required to write a positive review. Links marked with (eBay⇒) or (Amazon⇒) are affiliate links. This means I get paid a small commission if you buy something after clicking on the links. This money helps to pay for the running of the website.

Muscle Cars, by Mike Mueller (RRP £12.99 – Buy on Amazon (Amazon⇒))

There’s nothing like an American muscle car – and the 1960s and 70s saw some of the greatest, most brutal cars of all time hit American roads – many of them surprisingly affordably priced. Fuel costs, emissions law and changing fashions eventually put the breed into hibernation, but muscle cars are making a comeback at present and their appeal remains as strong as ever.

In Muscle Cars, expert author Mike Mueller presents 50 of the greatest American muscle cars of all time, starting with the Chrysler C-300 and finishing up with the 2010 reincarnation of the legendary Chevrolet Camaro. In between, he takes a close look at all the cars that defined the muscle era – cars such as the original Pontiac GTO, the Dodge Challenger, the Plymouth Barracuda and many more. Custom and homologation models are included, too, making this a great starting point for anyone wanting to learn about (and enjoy) muscle cars.

The book is packed full of superb, clear photos – almost every car has exterior, interior and under bonnet shots. What more could you ask for?

Title: Muscle Cars
Author: Mike Mueller
Publisher: Motorbooks
ISBN: 978-0760338377

Camaro, by David NewhardtCamaro by David Newhardt (RRP £12.99 – Buy on Amazon (Amazon⇒))

The Chevrolet Camaro was developed by General Motors as an urgent response to the remarkable early success of the Ford Mustang. Suddently, affordable, usable performance with muscle style was big business in the US car market – and GM needed a piece of it. The Camaro was launched in 1967 and was continuously produced (through four model generations) until 2002. It then made a comeback in 2010 and instantly provided tough competition for the long-lived Ford Mustang.

In this book, David Newhardt photographs and writes about no fewer than 46 Camaro variants – including some of the special editions created by notable Camaro tuners such as Yenko and Nickey.  Camaro is packed with technical details, interesting trivia and more than 350 colour photos.

Title: Camaro
Author: David Newhardt
Publisher: Motorbooks
ISBN: 978-0760335888

Exotic Cars by John LammExotic Cars by John Lamm (RRP £12.99 – Buy on Amazon (Amazon⇒))

Ever since the car was first invented (see Mercedes-Benz, below!) car enthusiasts have been striving to set new standards in performance and luxury. Exotic Cars is firmly aimed at the performance camp and covers 75 of the greatest supercars of the past and present. In common with all of these books, it is written by an American for the American market, and this does occasionally become disconcerting for the European reader, who is not used to thinking about wheelbases in inches or weights in pounds. Despite this (and despite a mystifying reference to 7-times F1 champ Michael Schumacher as “World Driving Champion”), Exotic Cars is an enjoyable read.

Filled with more than 350 colour photos, it contains just about every piece of automotive exotica I’ve ever heard of and a few I haven’t. Exotic Cars is divided into three main sections; Classics, front-engined models and mid-engined models. Each of these categories contains an A-Z of supercars – from the Alfa Romeos through to the Vector Avtech WX8, which I’d never heard of before.

Well worth a browse for the photos alone.

Title: Exotic Cars
Author: John Lamm
Publisher: Motorbooks
ISBN: 978-0760332610

Mercedes-Benz by Dennis AdlerMercedes-Benz by Dennis Adler (RRP £9.99 – Buy on Amazon (Amazon⇒))

In 1885, Karl Benz was the first person to successfully incorporate an engine into a wheeled vehicle, thus inventing the car. Since then, his invention has become a fundamental part of our lives and his company – Mercedes-Benz – has established and maintained a position as one of the finest car manufacturers in the world.

Mercedes-Benz tells the story of the creation of this remarkable firm and in so doing, also tells much of the story of the invention and development of the automobile. Daimler and Benz were instrumental in developing the modern car in the first decade of the 20th century and their subsequent merger (in 1926) created a company whose products are coveted by drivers the world over.

I found Mercedes-Benz an interesting read, especially the first half of the book, which covers the period from 1885 until 1939, when the car as a product developed and matured rapidly. The photos are superb and there are shots of many rare and unusual Mercedes-Benz models that you are unlikely to ever be able to see, even in a museum. Mercedes’ historic ties with top-level motorsport are also documented – indeed, the Mercedes brand name is a poignant legacy of the firm’s very early involvement in motor racing.

Title: Mercedes-Benz
Author: Dennis Adler
Publisher: Motorbooks
ISBN: 978-0760333723

Ford Mustang by Brad BowlingFord Mustang by Brad Bowling (RRP £17.99 – Buy on Amazon (Amazon⇒))

With more than 350 colour photos, 54 different Mustang variants and 40+ years of Mustang history, Ford Mustang‘s credentials as a worthy guide to the history of this legendary car are not in doubt. This book introduces the Ford Mustang and traces its evolution from an affordable, youth-oriented sports car through to today’s retro-styled fifth-generation model.

Following its introduction in 1964, Ford sold one million Mustangs in the first two years of production – a feat which established the car as part of American automotive history. The Mustang model has remained continuously in production ever since – no mean feat – and remains relatively affordable, by European standards at least – the base 2010 model (including a 4-litre V6) costs just $20,995 and the GT model, complete with V8 engine, can be had for $27,995.

Like the other First Gear books I’ve reviewed, Ford Mustang is lavishly illustrated with hundred of great colour photos – making the book a pleasure to read.

Title: Ford Mustang
Author: Brad Bowling
Publisher: Motorbooks
ISBN: 978-0760338087

All of the books reviewed in this article are published by Motorbooks – visit for more information.

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