Recommended Reading

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Hot rod, custom, racing, and general auto interest books from the Kustomrama library. On this list, you will find newly released books, books we're currently reading, and books from our library and archive. Books about hot rods, custom cars, builders, dragsters, dry lakes racing, concept cars, and general auto interest. Use this list to start building your own library.

Hot Cars in Cool California by Henrik U. Forss Hot Cars in Cool California by Henrik U. Forss is a visual journey that captures the spirit of a bygone era through the lens of a modern-day observer. Recommended: The Automotive Alchemist by Andy Saunders The Automotive Alchemist dives into the universe of UK master fabricator Andy Saunders. A tapestry of inspiration, resilience, and craftsmanship unfolds over 464 pages adorned with 1,055 behind-the-scenes photographs, telling the story of a young man from Poole with an endless imagination. 50 Automotive History Books Every Car Enthusiast Must Read Are you a gearhead or an automotive enthusiast looking to expand your knowledge on hot rods, custom cars, and the rich history of the automobile? Look no further! Recommended: Peter Sukalac: Photo Journalist Thanks to Peter Sukalac, Northwest hot rods and customs started appearing in national magazines back in the 1950s. Thanks to Albert Drake, the history of the man behind the photos has now finally been documented and preserved. News: Early Kustom Kulture: Kustoms and Hot Rods Photographed by George Barris George Barris is indisputably the "King of the Kustomizers," the most phenomenal kustom car builder ever. This book collects the incredible photos of early hot rods and custom cars taken by George Barris in the 1950s to early '60s. Recommended: The Birth of Hot Rodding 18 years have passed since Kustomrama contributor Robert Genat flabbergasted us with his book The Birth of Hot Rodding. The beautiful photography of Don Cox makes this book a winner. Recommended: Spokane Hot Rodding Spokane, Washington hot rod and custom car history at its best. In a perfect world, there would be a John Gunsaulis and a book like this covering the hot rod and custom car scene in every little small town of America. News: Reflections in a Spinner Hubcap: Authentic Tales of Hot Rods, Custom Cars & Nostalgia From Albert Drake comes a selection of essays that celebrates the people who made hot rodding an American culture. Rediscover the fun of racing, hanging out, flirting, and driving from the voice of someone who experienced the 1950s and has a passion for telling the story of old metal. Recommended: Middletown Pacemakers: The Story of an Ohio Hot Rod Club Author Ron Roberson is a third-generation Middletown Pacemaker member. His father and grandfather were founding members of the club, and Ron has been attending club meetings as long as he can remember. Ron became the youngest member of the club, and he hung around until it disbanded when he was 16. Recommended: GO with MOON! - 1950-2010 GO with MOON! - 1950-2010 is a full-color book filled with photos from the Moon archive. The journey starts in New Richland, Minnesota, and we get a little glimpse of Dean's life prior to moving to California in 1934. Recommended: Iacocca: An Autobiography The father of the Ford Mustang tells us how he changed the automobile industry in the 1960s and how he went on to save Chrysler. Recommended: Cool Cars, High Art: The Rise of Kustom Kulture John DeWitt grew up in Stamford, Connecticut in the 1950s, and like so many other teenagers back then, he would start getting ready for Friday nights early in the afternoon; "I would pull my car into the driveway, turn on the radio, get the soap and polish ready, and turn on the hose. I attended to the hygiene of my car with an attention to detail I never applied to my room." News: Hot Rod Gallery II Throughout his 40-plus year career, Pat Ganahl has accumulated more than 30,000 images. 350 of "some" of the most interesting and best photos have found their way to this book.


Street Rod & Custom Showtime
Street Rod & Custom Showtime is a hardcover book that documents the history of Britain's indoor hot rod and custom car shows. We all know the history about how hot rodding started in California nearly hundred years ago, and how it spread to become a worldwide phenomenon. What not so many people know, is how and when hot rodding started in the UK. This book tells the story from the humble beginnings in the 1950s, to the victorious 1980s. Click here for more information.


King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris
After 5 years of hard work, Brett Barris and Douglas Nason's book "King of the Kustomizers: The Art of George Barris" is finally out. A huge release party and book signing was held at Gaslpin Auto Sports September 1, 2015. The hardcover book containing nearly 500 pages jam-packed with never-before-seen photos and design illustrations, illuminating how Barris’ creations helped redefine the automobile’s place in American culture. Click here for more information.


Inside Hot Rodding: The Tex Smith Autobiography
LeRoi Tex Smith was a passionate builder and racer. He was also a great storyteller, and in addition to publishing several books on the subject, he spent much of his life working for magazines such as Hot Rod Magazine, Street Rodder and Rod Action. Unfortunately, Tex passed away June 11, 2015. Luckily for us, he was able to complete his autobiography before he left us. Published by Graffiti Publications, the 256 pages hardcover book was released August 1, 2015. Click here for more information.


Lost Hot Rods
Lost Hot Rods is a book by Pat Ganahl that tells the remarkable stories on how a handful of lost hot rods and customs were lost and rediscovered. In the book you can read all about how historic cars such as the X-Sonic, Jimmy Summers' 1940 Mercury, and Tom Pollard's 1929 Ford Model A Roadster were lost and found. If you're into old hot rods and customs, you better make room for yet another Pat Ganahl book.
Click here to order the book from


Watson's Custom Car Confessions
Watson's Custom Car Confessions is a book by Thom Taylor and Larry Watson covering Larry Watson's own personal cars. In addition to the cars, the book also has a lot of great stories about cruising the streets of Bellflower picking up girls, and fighting Johhny Law.


Dean Jeffries 50 Fabulous Years in Hot Rods, Racing and Film
Dean Jeffries 50 Fabulous Years in Hot Rods, Racing and Film is a book about legendary painter, pinstriper hot rod, custom and show car builder Dean Jeffries from Motorbooks. The book details the multiple careers Jeffries mastered at once, from custom painting and pinstriping to metal shaping and design.
Click here to buy the book from


Cole Foster and Salinas Boyz Customs: Style. Substance.
Cole Foster and Salinas Boyz Customs: Style. Substance. is a book about legendary Hot Rod and Kustom car builder Cole Foster. The book, that is published by Motorbooks, contains an inside look at the genius behind the vehicles.

Click here to order this book from


Kustomland: The Custom Car Photography of James Potter, 1955-1959
Kustomland, written by car designer Thom Taylor, features loads of color pictures of kustom cars taken by James Potter between 1955 and 1959. The car has a chapter dedicated to Larry Watson and features many kustom cars painted by legendary Larry Watson. So if you are planning a wild scallops or panel paint job on your car, this would be a great place to start.

Click here to buy this book from


The Legendary Custom Cars And Hot Rods of Gene Winfield
Gene Winfield is definitively one of the coolest guys around. After 81 years, the guy is still going strong doing what he knows best, building smooth kustom cars and fast hot rods. David Grant has summarized the life of this legendary builder, and the result is a well written book full of old pictures from the Gene Winfield photo archive. This book is a must for everyone interested in the kustom kulture, and the guys that made it what it is today.

Click here to buy this book on


Kustom Graphics - Hot Rods, Burlesque and Rock n Roll
Fusing the impact and visual energy of rock'n'roll with the speed and roar of hot rods, and a healthy dose of naked chicks thrown in for good measure. Kustom Graphics presents 250 pages of eye-poping designs from the raucous and rebellious world of lowbrow. Specially commissioned silver foil, gloss black and embossed cover design from Peter "PG" Gustafsson.

Buy Kustom Graphics from the publisher

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