Acquired from the estate of a friend and fellow ‘car guy’. Currently out of print.
The Crestline Automotive Series of books are regarded as just about essential to a serious library on cars. With this in mind, the first review for AutoBookBlog is Sixty Years of Chevrolet, by George Dammann. Dammann founded Crestline Publishing, and was the driving force in creating a series of books that attempted to present the most comprehensive histories of American-made cars. Dammann himself wrote many of them.
Regardless of author, each book in the series (and there are many) follows a format. That format is simple… so simple that this book’s title explains exactly what you’ll get. The first chapter of a couple of pages presents a pre-Chevrolet background, a brief story of how Chevrolet the car company came to exist – the Chevrolet brothers and William Durant, Republic Motors and The Little Motor Car Company – the early days for a cornerstone in what would become the General Motors empire. That is followed by 60 more chapters, named 1912, 1913, and so on up to 1972… literally 60 years of Chevrolet.
The Chevrolet Motor Company was incorporated on Nov. 3, 1911,
and shortly thereafter its first production cars began to roll off the floor…
Sixty Years of Chevrolet
The year-by-year accounts are comprised of a few pages of narrative, covering such topics as significant corporate happenings, model introductions, changes and innovations, and general sales figures and pricing information. Accompanying the story are numerous photos and illustrations of the year’s offerings. In this respect, this book is an important and valuable reference tool.
Each year, each model, gets the same type of coverage. There are no sidebars that focus on 1957 Bel Airs, SS Chevelles or any other collectible Chev. After all, in 1972, a 5-year-old Camaro was just another used car, and certainly didn’t hold the type of enthusiast appeal we see today. In that respect, Dammann covers the Corvair sedan with the same respect as any Corvette – each is another small part of the overall history of Chevrolet.
Make no mistake, this book is not what one would consider a modern publication, nor the only reference one would ever need. The photos are all in black-and-white, and many are dark, sometimes obviously hand-trimmed. A great number are archival General Motors promotional shots. It’s a representative though not exhaustive showing of Chevrolet’s offerings. Looking for a specific model? There’s a good chance it’s shown, though specific options may differ from the car your granddad drove. The captions are informative, though sometimes brief. If one were looking for information concerning option codes, paint colours and the like, this is not the place to find it. And though it is apparent that many hours were put into researching and assembling this book, there are a number of typos and minor factual errors.
Compared to books you’d find today, Sixty Years of Chevrolet doesn’t fare well. For the casual automotive reader, it can make for some tedious reading. But, for those who enjoy leafing through history, or who want to see period-correct photos of old cars, this is a great book to have around. For the more hardcore motorhead, who revels in knowing exactly when the name Master Deluxe debuted, or when the Custom Coupe roofline was first offered on the Impala, this is a must-have.
Pros: numerous pictures, simple layout, fairly comprehensive for the period it covers
Cons: tedious reading for those with a casual interest, only goes up to 1972
Where to find it: Amazon, ebay, used bookstores, estate collections
Note: An updated version, 75 Years of Chevrolet, was released in 1987. It follows the same format, and information up to 1972 remains the same.
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Illustrated Camaro Buyers Guide
Legendary Corvettes: ‘Vettes Made Famous on Track and Screen