American Cars (Book Review)

I couldn’t help but notice The Illustrated Directory of American Cars on the shelf at the Norfolk (Nebraska) Public Library.  It’s so large that it was placed spine up on the shelf.  The cover is dominated by the front of a 1958 Plymouth Fury.  It reminds me of “Christine”, the car in the horror movie of the same name.  Why not bring the book home?

Bruce Wexler’s book is loaded with full-color photos of cars built in the United States, antique to contemporary. Oddly, there are no photographer credits listed.  All I could find was a short disclaimer stating that “No infringement is intended and all copyrights remain with the source.”

Some pictures appear to have been shot at car shows.  Other cars were posed at scenic locations. Still other photos come from ad agency stock. Thankfully, there are no pictures that cover two pages, hence none of the middle of the image gutter distortion that is common to other coffee table type books.  For the most part, the photographs depicted the cars in attractive settings and showed good detail.

Glaring shortcomings are the grey statistics boxes. Some appear apart from the photos and sadly, some of them are imbedded onto photos.  Several of these boxes cover significant portions of the cars.  There is no continuity among the various statistics, for instance, some give a “base price” and others do not.  Evidence that there was little or americancars-02no proofreading of the book is found in some of these boxes. For example, the statistics box for the 1929 Chrysler Imperial L Sedan gave the car’s weight as “$4460”. Such mistakes and oversights detract from the potential quality of the book.

I noticed two glaring mistaken photographs.  On the page for the 1959 Ford Skyliner convertible, the photo is of a 1957 model.  On the double page section for the 1967 Camaro, one of the pictures shows a 1968 Camaro. These flubs make me wonder about the accuracy of the depictions of the less familiar cars in the book.

Regarding the text portions of The Ilustrated Directory of American Cars, there was further evidence that little or no proofreading had taken place prior to publication. I found run-together words, misspellings, lack of capitalization, and bad line breaks that were rampant throughout this book. Some errors had me scratching my head because they made the sentences inaccurate or nonsensical.americancars-03

Atrocious editing aside, I give the text a mixed review. The descriptions of the oldest antique cars are, for the most part, enjoyable, somewhat enlightening reading.  As the book progresses, the text reads more like advertising copy.  This made me wonder if some of it was copied and pasted from the Internet.

I noticed an over emphasis on top of the line and performance model cars.  There are a lot of bright red paint jobs included. Ford Mustangs and Chevrolet Corvettes appear in great abundance at the expense of more memorable, everyday cars.  The book title should probably be something like, “An Illustrated Collection of Noteworthy American Cars”.

I lost interest in the book, about halfway through it.  The flood of “muscle cars” and advertising copy was mind numbing.  I flipped through to the end to find yet another red, hopped up car.

This book is best suited to doctors’ waiting rooms where people just want a casual diversion of some attractive photos. It’s a mediocre coffee table book. A directory, it is not.

{ The Illustrated Directory of American Cars by Bruce Wexler; 432 pages, published May 28, 2016 by Chartwell Books; ISBN:  978-0-7858-3395-6 }

mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness quotes columnist Doug Larson. “If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, cultural highlights, Transportation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to American Cars (Book Review)

  1. GP Cox says:

    This must be a great book!! Nothing like the old cars for classic style.

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