The HVA’s Answer Man, Glenn Arlt, gives his recommendations on three “must-have” titles for every restoration and research library. Around the offices of the Historic Vehicle Association, everyone pretty much agrees that what Glenn Arlt doesn’t know about old vehicles probably isn’t worth knowing. HVA members who have phoned in with questions—everything from identifying vehicles in old photos to help finding sources for rare parts—come away wondering how one man can become so wise and all-knowing. Arlt’s answer to that is simple: The Answer Man is also a bookworm.
“I have an entire room in my house with car guy stuff,” says Arlt. “It’s a library with around eighty automotive books on the shelves.”
While the answer to almost any question can be found on the Internet, you have to know the right words to put into a search block to get there. Books are fun, says Arlt, because they open up surprising worlds of knowledge and areas of interest you maybe didn’t set out to explore.
If Arlt was ever stranded on an automotive desert island, here are three of the titles he would want to take with him:
Encyclopedia of American Cars
“While newer copies of this title exist, my personal copy is from 2001. It’s a pretty darn cool book that has the history of each brand, pictures, engine specifications, sales numbers, hundreds of color and black-and-white photos and histories of every model.
American Car Spotter’s Bible 1940-1980
“This is a beautiful book with thousands of illustrations—an indispensible book for the collector and restorer because of the rear, side, and interior views of cars from 250 different U.S. manufacturers. It also provides technical specifications, including weight, horsepower, length and factory prices, a good overall portrait of cars from prewar to 1980.
100 Years of the American Auto
“This book is over 600 pages and goes back to the really old stuff, a complete volume of information relating to automotive racing, general history, trivia—everything related to cars—all the way back to 1893. It’s unique because it covers individual model years. Brands are secondary. Learning exactly what was happening in the world during that model year and how it impacted the automotive world gives you a unique reminder of the era your favorite car came from.”