The Atlas of Car Design: The World’s Most Iconic Cars (Onyx Edition)

Phaidon. Sept. 2023. 569p. ISBN 9781838665999. $150. REF
British journalist Barlow (editor-at-large, BBC Top Gear magazine) selected 663 cars and light-duty trucks from around the world to profile in this ready reference. Each is given a brief description and illustrated with a photograph or artwork, including some historical ads. The authors use British automotive terms; for example, fenders are wings, a hood is a bonnet, and a trunk is a boot. Organized as an atlas, the book is divided by continents; Europe, North America and Asia garner most of the attention, and vehicles are presented chronologically within each country. Many of the models were significant in their own nations but unknown elsewhere. Besides design, the discussion is about technical innovation, sales success, and influence. Some luxury and competition machines are now considered works of art, valued in the millions of dollars. An essay by Brett Berk outlines U.S. leadership in auto manufacturing and marketing during the 20th century. It also describes its decline as Detroit executives clung to outmoded products. A time line with thumbnail images traces the evolution of the car.
VERDICT This may be the only automotive book to combine worldwide scope with historical perspective. It’s a veritable showcase of vehicles.
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