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My First Car.

Motorbooks.

Matt Stone.
ISBN-13: 978-0-7603-3534-5
First Published 2011 (Hardback, 223 pages).
Book cover

UK RRP 16.99

Buy this Book:
If there's one thing almost guaranteed to get even the mildest of petrolheads a little misty-eyed, it's when the topic of first cars comes into the conversation. Strictly speaking my first car was a rusty Triumph that had an engine full (yes full, to the brim) of oil, with little of the floors and sills remaining, and a paintjob that wouldn't look out of place on a derelict Russian submarine. This wasn't a runner though, at the time anyway. My first roadworthy car was an Austin A40, a car bought new by relatives in 1960 and one in which I took (and passed) my driving test. I still own the A40, although it requires a lot of work, and the Triumph - a Mk3 Spitfire - also survives, albeit in a new owner's hands. We do correspond from time to time though, as do one or two other owners of my previous jalopies.
This book, titled "My First Car" and written by Matt Stone, compiles similar recollections from a large cross-section of people, all of whom have fond memories of their first automobile. Matt lives in California, so as you'd expect the emphasis tends to be on American cars, and the majority of the contributors to this book's 223 pages hail from that side of the Atlantic. Because of this, many of the names mean little to me. Stirling Moss, Gordon Murray, Paul Newman, Mario Andretti and Steve McQueen will be familiar to most people regardless of where they live though.
Not knowing many of the contributors though doesn't matter a great deal, as the stories are such that in many cases it doesn't really matter who they relate to, they're worth a read just for the sake of reading about other people's automotive memories. The author's first steed was an Oldsmobile 4-4-2 of 1971. Despite many of the contributors not being British, a good number of British cars do feature within this book's pages. These include a brace of Hillman Minxes, a 1936 Morgan, Triumph TR6, a 1963 Morris Mini, MG TCs and an Austin-Healey 100/6, so quite a few references to cars I was familiar with, even if some of the people are unknown.
This book points out that despite future wealth and success, many of the people included in this book started out in really quite humble motor-cars, just as many visitors to this site will have done no doubt. A certain tennis player for instance, remembered for both his skills with the racket and outbursts during matches, started out in a "very beat up" $100 Ford Pinto. He didn't have to endure this old shed for too long mind, three years later he bought himself a brand new Mercedes 450SL.
Chapter one describes some of the vehicles owned by a selection of names associated with motor racing, where Dan Gurney, Danny Sullivan and Danica Patrick to name just three, look back at their first cars. Chapter two moves over to some of the big names of the motor world, including for example Bob Lutz, Carroll Shelby, Piero Ferrari and George Barris.
Chapter three features people who are stars of stage, screen and sound, and because of this are well known beyond the shores of the US. For that reason, this was - for me - the most interesting chapter. A couple of First Car stories relate to people no longer with us (Newman, McQueen Snr.), while others take a fond look at the first rides of characters such as Jay Leno, Robert Wagner, Morgan Freeman, and Mike Love of The Beach Boys.
The following chapter includes the stories of some sporting personalities, while the final chapter contains a random assortment of people, ranging from John Glenn (former US Marine Corps pilot and astronaut) and a variety of US motoring journalists, to people such as artist Andy Warhol, and Hugh Hefner (pictured with suitably glamorous companion).
This is an interesting book to dip in and out of, although I must admit to glossing over some of the people I didn't really have a great deal of interest in. For this reason I'd think twice about paying the 16.99 RRP for this book, but hunting around should turn up new copies for 10-12 or so, and at that price makes it a worthwhile, affordable, and often entertaining and interesting, addition to the bookshelf. Buyers in the US though ($25 RRP) will probably find that more of the stories and personalities strike a chord with them, than perhaps they would to a non-US reader.
RJ
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