Best Coffee Table Books For Petrolheads (And Not Just Them)
Impress your guests and fuel conversations with these coffee table booksby Tudor Rus, on
Reading or simply looking at the pictures in a book is turning into a lost art in the age of internet, but coffee table books have so far managed to elude extinction. The term coffee table book has been around since the beginning of the 19th century in British English, but its origins date way back to the 16h century. Back then, French philosopher Michel de Montaigne expressed his frustration at his essays being only read occasionally and superficially in sitting rooms and shops.
A more modern interpretation of the coffee table book is thought to belong to American environmentalist David Ross Brower. His idea of a coffee table book involved nature photography and complementary bits of text, with the images covering the page entirely. This allows the eye to explore every inch of the picture one at a time, as opposed to capturing everything with a single glance.
Today, a coffee table book often describes a large, generously illustrated book that’s sometimes rather expensive. Such a book is designed for casual reading and entertainment, based on a non-fictional subject with a strong focus on imagery and illustrations.
That being said, we’ve curated 12 coffee table books we believe will make the delight of your guests, whether they’re hardcore petrolheads or not.
The Supercar Book
Martin Roach’s "The Supercar Book" is equally enticing for cultured petrolheads as well as aspiring ones. The book’s introduction was written by F1 racing legend and maestro David Coulthard, and you’ll be taken through the history of some of the car industry’s most desirable and expensive machines.
Starting with the 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, the book looks at 10 big-name supercars built by Pagani, McLaren, Lamborghini, and Bugatti, just to name a few. The book’s 200 color photos coupled with mind-blowing stats and specs are enough to turn anyone into a car fanatic. Available on Amazon ($21.53).
Gumball 3000: 20 Years On The Road
Gumball is a race like no other, born out of Maximillion Cooper’s desire to mix cars, fashion, music, and entertainment. There isn’t such thing as team managers, safety cars, or race officials in Gumball 3000, but a number of stars have joined the race over the years, including the likes of Lewis Hamilton, rapper Xzibit, and supermodel Kate Moss.
Gumball 3000: 20 Years On The Road celebrates the rally’s 20th anniversary with yet unseen photos of the event’s top-tier automobiles and parties, fun facts, and inside info from some of Gumball 3000’s veteran drivers. Available on Amazon ($12.94).
Porsche 911 Book
Few sports cars have survive the harsh test of time and continue to thrill the driver like the Porsche 911. Today, Porsche lovers are part of a growing community on a global level, and as more and more fans join their ranks, the 911’s status gets closer to that of a living legend.
But life wasn’t always milk and honey for the Porsche 911. Ever since its inception, the model had to battle through a naming dispute with Peugeot, financial difficulties at Porsche, and a rapidly changing sports car scene. Whether you know or not what a ducktail is, the Porsche 911 Book is a must-digest. Available on Amazon ($53.53).
On its full name "Spacesuits: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection," this book looks - or more precise, will have you look - at the intricacies of spacesuits.
Using a stunning selection of never-seen-before photos, "Spacesuits" looks at how engineers tested and perfected these protective pieces of clothing, sometimes using unorthodox methods such as playing baseball. Why some spacesuits have gloves with steel fingernails and sharkskin pads? Why are they so fragile? Every question you might have on the topic will get its answer inside this book. Available on Amazon ($32.09).
The Hot Wheels Book
Did you know that over 5 billion Hot Wheels cars have been produced since the concept’s introduction back in 1968? That’s an average of 10 cars sold every second.
Today, however, Hot Wheels is facing big changes, mostly dictated by the digital era we live in. The company had to adapt its operations to now include live events, gaming, and even went the extra mile to tap into the potential of AI software for self-driving cars. But is an autonomous Hot Wheels car just as fun as the old school thing? This book tries to answer that by embarking you on a design journey through the history of Hot Wheels. Available on Amazon ($50.00).
Some People Think I’m A Shoe
The Stan Smith is the best-selling shoe Adidas has ever created. But how many people know that it is named after Stanley Roger Smith, a former world No. 1 American tennis player who also bagged two Grand Slams during his career.
In "Some People Think I’m A Shoe," Stan Smith himself looks at how the sneaker he inspired managed to stay relevant since its inception back in the early 1970s. With a foreword signed by Pharrell Williams, a long-time Adidas ambassador, the book will instantly up your knowledge on tennis and sneakers, so you’re practically nailing two birds with one stone. Available on Amazon ($32.62).
A Passion For Cars - Best Of Ramp
For some (us included), cars are culture. Come to think of it; cars have been around serving us for more than one century, along which they’ve made the transition from goods only the rich could enjoy to bare necessities in the modern citizen’s life.
Just like pretty much everything the occupies a piece of the Earth’s surface, each car has its story, which can be told in words or through photographs. Ramp Magazine’s "A Passion For Cars" take on automotive storytelling is wrapped around the power of images. No, not official press photos provided by carmakers, but skilfully taken ones that don’t need any words attached. Available on Amazon ($49.99).
America By Car: The Limited Edition
It doesn’t matter if you managed to see America or not as long as Lee Friedlander’s work lives on, nicely baked into a marvellous coffee table book simply called "America By Car."
The concept behind the book is quite simple: Friedlander drove across 50 US states in your run-of-the-mill rental car and used the vehicle’s windshield, side windows, and mirrors as frames. This way, he could capture the country’s deepest connections with cars and the universe around them, in a context where America and highways are a better love affair than hamburgers and ground beef. Available on Amazon ($370.39).
The LEGO Architect
Fan of architecture? Well, it’s impossible not to like LEGO, so we’ll take you’re interested in both areas. Which makes "The LEGO Architect" the only book missing from your coffee table.
On a second thought, you don’t have to be a fine connoisseur of all things architecture to enjoy this one. In fact, you could see it as a history book of Art Deco, Modernism, High-Tech, and other four architectural styles through little plastic LEGO bricks. Add the detailed instructions on how to raise your own deck building, and you can consider your next weekends sorted. Available on Amazon ($13.95).
The Art Of The Mustang
Well, where do we even begin on this one? The Ford Mustang is that car we all grew up with on a bedroom poster and a true American icon along with other sensational automobiles born and bred in the US of A, both of old and new.
Now, you might know your Mustang history, and we’re not denying that, but there’s a chance you’ve never ever seen some of the pictures shown in this book. Not to mention it is packed with treats such as Mustang special editions, pace cars, as well as Shelby’s performance-oozing takes on the pony car. Need we say more? Available on Amazon ($37.93).
Off The Grid: Houses For Escape
We get it. Modern cities, especially of the large ilk, are choked by traffic, pollution, noise and well, people. So, it’s only natural that the thought of getting away and settle in the countryside has crossed your mind at least one time.
In that case, know that Dominic Bradbury’s book provides a lot of food for thought by picturing some of the world’s most isolated and at the same time eco-friendly houses out there, from beach villas accessible only by boat to remote mountain cabins. They all share a common ground, though - the focus on renewable energy and keeping a low carbon footprint. Available on Amazon ($20.08).
The NASA Archives: 60 Years In Space
NASA was born in 1958 out of the US government’s need to counter the Soviet Union’s space program that had already sent the Sputnik satellite into orbit in 1957. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, aka NASA, has been sending stuff and people into space for more than six decades and images have been a solid research ground for the agency.
While some of them were made available to the public eye, NASA’s archives are a more top-level clearance affair. This book, however, reveals over 400 historic photographs joined by scientific bits of text from Piers Bizony, former NASA chief historian Roger Launius, and Apollo historian Andrew Chaikin. Available on Amazon ($124.01).