I have several Ford T books but of course they are all very Ford focused. I'm reading through Anthony Yanik's book, Maxwell Motor and the making of Chrysler and I'm really enjoying the broad history in terms of the relationships between individuals who bounced around between Old's, Buick, Stanley, Maxwell etc. I was wondering if anyone could suggest any other books covering similar information of the earliest auto makers in the US?
Years ago Olds gave their workers a large hardbound well done book called Sitting The Pace. Very nice and i think they can be bought cheap on the used book sites.I think the best Ford book ever is Tin Lizzie by Stern which can also be bought cheap or the new paperback.Bud.
How early do you want to go? I can post some titles that give background on the really early years.
In terms of reading the history, really I just like the pre-1910, 1915 era. It's interesting reading about the early development and innovation as everyone was trying to carve out a niche in the developing auto market. ALAM members vs AMCMA group. It's interesting reading about business people and engineers that bounced around between multiple companies as opinions varied on the direction to go with auto design.
I'll post a couple of books before I go to bed tonight that you may have read or will like.
Rick, auto history has been a life long passion of mine and I have amassed a substantial library of books. But, what I have found is that there are very few really good books that can adequately cover the massive subject. Instead, I have found that if you get some really good books covering a single marque or topic or aspect of auto history, you'll be far better off and learn a lot more.
Hope that helps
I found in my possession by way of a discontinued library book "History of the Motor Car" by Marco Matteucci printed in 1970. Some of the information is dated when dealing with some of the modern cars of the 1970s, but it is a good read of the development of the car as it relates to invention, production, and racing with racing being an integral part in the development of the automobile as we know it today. It includes many large color as well as black and white photos of the early cars, and by early I mean 1890s and up. Also since it is a British publication, there is a British style of writing and expression.
Not exactly an early automotive history book, but when I was in college I was required to read "One Man's Vision" by Marjorie Teetor Meyer. It's the biography of Ralph R. Teetor. He invented cruise control and was president of the Perfect Circle Corporation. He was an engineering genius, despite being blind since the age of five.
I also truly enjoyed Charles Kettering's biography. In case you didn't know him, he invented the electric starter and the distributor-style ignition system that became an industry standard. He formed Delco, and worked for GM for a long time.
The biography of Kettering is titled "Professional Amateur" by T. A. Boyd. An interesting side note, Kettering learned to fly from Orville Wright and for a good part of his life he had logged more air-miles than anyone in this country. Many of these miles were logged when no airports existed.
A great read!
It's postwar, but a great read is The Reckoning by David Halberstam. It tells the story of the auto industry through two companies, Ford and Nissan, and details how Japan overtook Detroit. It was 800 pages that I couldn't put down.
Horseless Carriage Days by Hiram Percy Maxim, 1890's to early 1900's
Motoring in America, The early Years,Edited by Frank Oppel. Covers about the same era.
Got very late when I remembered and found the two books.
I too have a large collection of automotive related history books and totally agree with Marty, the subject is simply to large to be adequately covered in one place.
There are several good book that cover different aspects of the industry.
Here are a few: "Monopoly on Wheels" (definitive treatise on the Selden Patent, a little dry, but fascinating), "Automotive Giants of America" (brief histories of twenty early automotive magnates), "Men, Money and Motors" (general history of the industry), and "A Financial History of the American Automobile Industry" (A little dry, but if you like numbers and complete details of the financial history of an industry this book is great).
A general comment about Ford related books; Most of them seem have a bias one way or the other.
In my view by far the best unbiased Ford related history is Allan Nevins and Frank Hill's three part Ford Trilogy (commissioned by HF II to Columbia University with full access to the company and without restriction to content); "Ford, The Times, The Man, The Company", "Expansion and Challenge" 1915-1933, and "Decline and Rebirth"