I spend a lot of my time in the car. I live where there is no public transportation and, once again, I have my 70–80 minute (one way) commute twice a day (but only 3 days a week now). So, cars are kind of a big part of my life. From my first little mini Honda wagon to my current mini-SUV my cars have all had character. I got to know them before there were things like “check engine” lights. I knew their “healthy” and “unhealthy” sounds, smells and shudders. My recent change in vehicles promoted this post.
The best of them all–The Empress
“The Empress” as the 1938 Packard Super Eight convertible was named, not only carried the crew of Harvard friends and their girlfriends, it became scholarship boy George’s prized possession. This book is so fabulous I cannot put truly into words all that it is to me. I love it–I’ve read it several times and it makes me want to know and hug all of the characters including that car. The Last Convertible By Anton Myrer is very, very sadly (and wrongly) out-of-print but widely available used for a reasonable price. The tv mini-series was good, too.
The Family Car
“Foolish Carriage” was the name efficiency expert (industrial engineer) Frank B. Gilbreth, Sr., gave to the family’s cantankerous touring car. He alone could start the engine. The others had to just hop in and hold on for dear life. Foolish Carriage has a role throughout the first book, Cheaper by the Dozen, and a cameo at the start of the second book, Bells on Their Toes, both by two of Gilbreth’s twelve children (11 of whom lived to adulthood), Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. The original Cheaper by the Dozen movie with Clifton Webb is good. The Belles on Their Toes movie is also good, but takes more liberties with the story. Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.
The Magical, Flying Car
James Bond creator Ian Fleming, who wrote the original James Bond novels, became a father fairly late in life and by today’s terms he pretty much sucked at it. He and his wife left their son in London with nanny while they went to Jamaica each winter so he could write the new book. Their son tragically died of a drug overdoes. The one moment of parenting greatness that Fleming had was writing Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang for son Caspar. Today, it has been bastardized into a series–like so many once great stand-alone children’s books. That always makes me sad. If the original author had wanted a series he or she would have written a series. I like this cover best for it echos the vintage sports car Fleming owned and loved. Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang The Magical Car by Ian Fleming.
The Other Magical, Flying Car
Seriously, did anyone NOT love Ron and Harry’s joy ride in The Chamber of Secrets? Mr. Weasley’s car was the star of the show to me. The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling.
The Original Mom-mobile that became an Icon
Not every car gets an actual biography written about it. Confession time: I am a VW bus freak. I own this “biography” and have dipped into it from time-to-time. It is surprisingly readable. I will finish, and review it, eventually. [See the bottom of this post for more on my love of the VW bus]. The VW Camper Van: A Biography by Mike Harding.
The One I Want to Read
This is likely much more about the drivers, but….. Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler’s Best by Neal Bascomb.
Do you have a favorite book with a car as a character–or almost a character? Leave me a comment or a link to your own post.
Other Car Posts
Life Magazine cover found here