Ford Muscle: Street, Stock and Strip by Bill Holder and Phil Kunz
published 2004 by Krause Publishing, Inc.
160 pages, softcover
Received as a Christmas gift
As someone who grew up as a Ford fan, I had high hopes for this book. It’s a nice size, there’s numerous photos. Flipping through it, the chapters seemed logical. Many of the great Ford models were there. And yet, I was left pretty disappointed overall.
For starters, the book is riddled with design and typographical errors. I am a graphic designer and typesetter by profession, so I am probably more sensitive to these types of errors. Missing spaces, incorrectly aligned paragraphs, stray lines… it tends to look sloppy. It really does affect my enjoyment of a printed book. It also makes me wonder – since it seems no one proofread this book, how much of the information in the book is accurate? Seems there are also a number of factual errors. Let’s look at ‘The Thunderbird’ chapter.
- uneven word spacing through the chapter, often extra spaces between words
- the last 10 words on page 23 are repeated as the first 10 words on page 24
- a picture of an engine appears twice – once as an inset and labelled a 430, and on the next page by itself labelled as a 390
- the caption under what is clearly a 1974-76 Thunderbird refers to it as a 1972
- the caption under a 1967-69 Thunderbird refers to it as a 1966
- the text states the Thunderbird was available with a supercharged 3.8L V6 in 1983, but no supercharger was available until the 1989 Super Coupe (the 1980s V6 had no power adder)
- an image of a 1980-82 Thunderbird has a caption that says “The Thunderbird was downsized in the 1990s”, which had actually been happening since the late 1970s (the 1977-79 Tbird dropped 10 inches and 900 pounds from the 1972-76, and the 1980-82 dropped another 17 inches and 1400 pounds still)
- arguably an error in content, while the text discusses the heavy cruiser Thunderbirds of the 1970s to some extent, it virtually ignores the Turbo Coupe and Super Coupe of the 1980s and 1990s, which were much more performance oriented.
Stylistically, I found the book somewhat awkwardly written. Thunderbird and Galaxie follow chronographic style, summarizing a year or 2 of the car. The next chapter, Mustang, does not follow this format. Generally chronological at the start, the focus turns to specialty models, the Boss 302 and 429 of 1969-70, and the Boss 351 of 1971 (though they are arranged as Boss 302, Boss 351, Boss 429). Then follows the Shelby Mustangs of 1965-1970, and then paragraphs about Pace Car Editions. Funny enough, very little is shown of the Fox-body Mustangs, widely seen as a rebirth of Mustang performance. Mustangs of 1994-2003 appear in a much later chapter about ‘Modern Muscle’. The writing style is also somewhat juvenile, sprinkled with exclamation points and mild ‘fan boy’ feeling.
Now, there are some good qualities about this book. It is really fairly well organized into chapters about specific models – Thunderbird, Galaxie, Mustang, Cyclone, Cougar etc. And generally, there’s a lot of decent information that is correct, from technical information to notes about styling to product development and racing history, even if it’s somewhat mixed all together. The racing coverage even includes some powerboat racing and notable Fords such as the Bigfoot monster truck. There are many good quality photos throughout. And, despite earlier criticism, there are chapters on Ford advertising and Ford-centered car clubs which are a little incongruous with the rest of the book, but I found were nice to read.
For the knowledgeable fan, someone who has owned and driven Fords especially, this book will probably disappoint. But, for someone who might have a budding interest in cars, especially old Fords, this can be a good stepping-stone book to begin educating and expanding their base.
Pros: covers a number of models; good pictures; interesting ads and club information
Cons: numerous factual, stylistic and typographic errors; inconsistent flow
Where to find it: Available on Amazon, eBay, used bookstores.