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The Need to Read

One of the Best Automotive Bookstores Around

James Maxwell - September 05, 2013 10:00 AM

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A retro gas-pump themed candy machine greets you as you enter the premises. This is not a place you can just walk into and have a quick walk around.

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Now back at its original location at Magnolia and Catalina, Autobooks/Aerobooks is a popular weekend gathering place.

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A couple of examples of books for flathead fans includes The 1949-50-51 Ford Book : A Restorer’s Guide and The Complete Ford Flathead V8 Engine Manual.

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A growing part of their fast-moving store stock is DVD sales. Two popular discs include George Barris’ Photography and Once Upon a Wheel, which features the Snake and Mongoose circa 1971.

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Ultimate Autos of the Sixties is a coffee table volume that features numerous photos of American cars from the 1960s, not intended to be technical or historically accurate.

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Author Patrick R. Foster captures the essence of the 1970s in his 304-page Super ’70s B&W book, a trip down memory lane for automotive and pop culture buffs.

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Featuring rare assembly line photos and publicity press photography from the files of the Hudson archives, Hudson History may be small at 36 pages, but offers a glimpse of this independent automaker.

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Published by Autocraft Publications, Cobra Replicas by Ian Stent features 148 pages covering UKs “Top 10” manufacturers, including road tests and company profiles.

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For specific marques, there are “Parts Locating Guides” with valued information, like this one for Cadillacs.

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Several of the HPBooks technical manuals are offered, including “how-to” issues for Holley, Rochester and SU carburetors.

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It took a year to compile and was published just before the subject’s death in May 2012. Carroll Shelby: The Authorized Biography, written by Rinsey Mills, is a deeply researched narrative that runs 464 pages, jam-packed with facts and stories about everything the legendary Shelby had put his hands on in his life.

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Any book about Steve McQueen is likely to be found on these shelves.

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Inside the 200 pages of Route 66 Sightings is a collection of portfolio images from well-known mother road photographers Jerry McClanahan, Jim Ross and Shellee Graham, spanning over 30 years.

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Preston Tucker & Others covers what the author feels are “the greatest inventions in motoring history”.

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During our Saturday afternoon visit, Jay Leno came wheeling around the corner in his 1906 Stanley Steamer. He’s been a customer there for over 25 years.

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Author Michael Holmes (Speed Merchants of Venice) stopped by the store during our visit and brought along his GT40 “continuation car”.

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It’s like Fort Knox for automotive readers.

Autobooks/Aerobooks has been in the Los Angeles area (Burbank) since 1951, providing a large variety of hard-to-find automotive publications of all types for the reading needs and desires of car fanatics.

Harry Morrow, a racer, mechanical engineer and writer, started the unique store all those years ago. Despite changes in ownership, the feel of the store has always remained the same. It is a haven for those who adore anything and everything about automobiles!

Aeronautic books were added during the 1980s to help round out the inventory (plus to attract another customer base). In 2007, a pair of serious lifelong car enthusiasts (husband-and-wife team of Tina Van Curen and Chuck Forward) came along and purchased it.

In addition to the typically 7,000 books in the store (filling the wall-to-wall shelving inside the 3,500 square foot building), there is a rapidly moving inventory of related magazines (new and used), including international editions hard to find on American soil. Many of the books and manuals are extremely rare publications not commercially available elsewhere. With their entire inventory now available for online purchases at www.autobooks-aerobooks.com, they are shipping books daily worldwide.

The store staff is knowledgeable and helpful and the aisles are neatly organized. Every Saturday morning, there’s a miniature car show out in front of the store as the place opens at 9 a.m. with free coffee and pastries. Throughout the year, the store keeps a busy schedule with continual book signings from authors on new releases. The store is a real treasure for car book collectors, but also features an assortment of automotive-theme gifts, calendars and items such as postcards, belt buckles and other novelty items.

It takes an hour or longer to completely check out all the aisles of books and manuals. When you factor in the wall of new and used magazines, a car fanatic could spend the better part of a half day in these friendly surroundings!

No matter what genre of the car world is of interest, there’s something for everybody at 2900 W. Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank, California.

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