Bibliography on American Automotive History

Essential books on people and companies in the US auto industry.

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Matt Anderson 4 years, 1 month ago.

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February 17, 2016 at 4:54 pm #1918

Matt Anderson

At The Henry Ford, we often get asked to recommend books on the major companies and individuals in the U.S. auto industry. For general histories, I always suggest John Rae’s The American Automobile, James Flink’s The Automobile Age and John Heitmann’s The Automobile in American Life. Steven Watts’ The People’s Tycoon is, I think, the best single-volume Henry Ford biography. Ed Cray’s GM history, Chrome Colossus, is one of the better corporate histories, if now a bit dated.

What books do others recommend? I’m especially interested in recommendations from marque-specific museums. What titles do you suggest for your make? I’d love to put together a brief bibliography with the essential books.

  • This topic was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by  Matt Anderson.
March 5, 2016 at 10:54 pm #1958

Mary Seelhorst

Hi Matt! What a great question.Although I’m not at a museum I’ve worked with a few. Lately I’ve been doing some GM work. Here are some favorites of mine:

The Buick: A Complete History by Terry Dunham and Lawrence Gustin and the staff of AQ

Another of Flink’s books, The Car Culture, is also really good for general history.

Bob Casey’s book The Model T (as you know!) is the best short, readable history of the Model T.

There are so many specialty focus books it’s hard to pick favorites, but Driving Style: GM Design’s First Century is beautiful, well-organized, and digestible in easy chunks.

Billy Durant, Creator of General Motors by Lawrence Gustin

Take ’em for what they’re worth!

March 10, 2016 at 2:11 pm #1959

Matt Anderson

Thanks Mary, these are great suggestions. (And yes, Bob’s book is never far from my desk!) I’ve received a few others, offline, that I’ll share here.

Studebaker: The Postwar Years by Richard M. Langworth
The Studebaker Century by Asa Hall and Richard M. Langworth
Auburn & Cord by Lee Beck and Josh B. Malks
Cord Complete by Josh B. Malks
Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection by Fred Roe

April 25, 2016 at 6:55 pm #2036

Bob Schmitt

Hi Matt –

My library is not large, but I’ve enjoyed the following books on the auto industry:

Birth of a Giant by Richard Crabb
Life of an American Workman by Walter P. Chrysler
Automotive Giants of America by B. C. Forbes and O. D. Foster (1926!)

Related to library organization, my collection is slowly being put on LibraryThing – this online service will usually match your entries to an online source(s) which will have a full description of the book, including catalog data.

These records of your books can be exported to several useful formats, for import into a (true) library system or a Collections Management System. Very useful for a non-librarian. Free to use up to 200 books, modest fees after that.

Bob Schmitt

May 18, 2016 at 7:31 pm #2108

Matt Anderson

Thanks Bob, great tips.

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