As promised, here are the tips, tricks, and books of the week. We should have something for everyone – gift ideas, travel tips, classic American and British cars, digital photography, and even a bank failure.
Before we get started a quick update for those who have been following the exploits of Dale and Grant, the adventuresome tour guide and irrepressible newscaster from Australia, on their Route 66 odyssey. The Cadillac bit the dust near Albuquerque but as of a couple hours ago they were on the road in a Lincoln.
First on the list is a couple of travel tips. If you find yourself in the Springfield, Missouri area and are searching for quality lodging at a reasonable rate my suggestion would be the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven. Clean, centrally located on a former alignment of Route 66, and, as a bonus, historic with some units dating back sixty years.
Now, a great place to eat. Porto’s Bakery & Cafe in Burbank. The swarming crowds were our first hint that this was some place special. The smells of the coffees, the pastries, and the delightful food were second.
We discovered this little gem on our first visit to Auto Books – Aero Books in 2008. Pastries from this wonderful bakery are the treats offered at my favorite book store on Saturday mornings.
On our last trip we decided to brave the chill, grab some lunch at Porto’s, and take advantage of the sidewalk seating under towering old trees. After what seemed an eternity of staring at their varied and fascinating menu, we settled on a large plate of Empanada de Pollo.
These almost bite size pastries at $.99 each, washed down with a delicious Horchata and green tea smoothie, were absolutely delicious. I can not vouch for the outlets in Glendale or Downey but as Burbank is becoming a regular stop, we will return to Porto’s as I have my eye on trying the Torta de Pollo.
This takes us to books and it would be impossible to mention books but not Auto Books – Aero Books in Burbank. Old books, new books, old magazines, new magazines, on line ordering, they have it all. The bonus to all of this would be to shop on Saturday morning when they offer pastries for Porto’s!
All of these books are available through or the publishers website. However, if you want the personal touch, a book store where they remember the customer, don’t forget my friends in Burbank.
Okay, the first review of the day is for those who love their classic automotive styling with a British touch. This little gem from Veloce Publishing “The Publisher of Fine Automotive Books” is entitled Art Deco and British Car Design, The Airline Cars of the 1930s
At 9 7/8 inches by 8 1/8 inches and 144 pages this isn’t exactly a coffee table book even though most of the 214 illustrations would lend themselves well to such a publication. No, this is a book for automotive enthusiasts.
Author Barrie Down provides clear, concise histories of the cars and the evolution of their design. The illustrations, color photos, reproduction of vintage advertisement, and even line drawings from the design studios merely add dimension to his informative work.
Now, for a coffee table version of this, but with an American slant, it would be impossible to beat American Auto Legends with stunning museum quality photos by Michael Furman and informative text by Tracy Powell of Automobile Quarterly.
More than 200 hard bound pages of photographs presenting legends of the American auto industry and the intricate details, such as dash boards and emblems, that make these cars true artistic masterpieces. Vintage advertisement and historic photographs add incredible depth to the overall work.
From the 1911 Buick to the LaSalle 303 roadster of 1927, from the 1939 Lincoln Zephyr to the 1969 Corvette Stingray and 2008 Pontiac Solstice, American Auto Legends, Classics of Style and Design chronicles a century of automotive artistry.
For those who seek automotive beauty under the hood, and for those who get so excited they tinkle when presented with the opportunity to get grease under the fingernails while improving on what automobile manufacturers have wrought, I present another great title in the Motorbooks Workshop series. This one is for fans of the diesel engine as it appears in trucks and SUV’s.
Authored by Ben Watson who has been an automotive and truck mechanic, as well as instructor, for more than thirty years, Diesel Performance Handbook for Pickups and SUVs is far more than a how to guide for those who wish to tweak an engine. It is a concise, well illustrated, easy to understand course in how to increase horsepower, improve fuel economy, and upgrade intake and exhaust systems.
For the more advanced and serious tinkerer there are also sections on the installation of turbochargers and engine management systems. If you own diesel powered truck or SUV, enjoy working on it, and want to give it your personal touch under the hood, Diesel Performance Handbook for Pickups and SUVs is a must for the garage library.
The next offering is from the Cartech “How To” series. This particular title is for those interested in making a buck while attending car shows or that just wants to create a wish book of vehicles for the office wall.
How to Digitally Photograph Cars, written by Jason Siu, the former west coast editor for Modified Magazine, and Josh Mackey, a world renowned automotive photographer, will give the rank amateur the confidence to imitate a professional and a professional photographer the tips needed to move the quality of their work up another notch.
The text is concise and informative. The illustrations are crisp with captions that provide the detail on how the photograph was captured. The topics range from static and action photography to photo manipulation, equipment selection, and composition.
As a result, How to Digitally Photograph Cars a must have title for anyone with more than a passing interest into transforming snap shots at the car show into prize winning artistry.
Last, but not least in the book department is a title I have plugged previously. However, its relative content, and the importance of the subject matter led me to again bring this book to your attention.
If you want a better understanding of how the American financial system functions, without the technical detail, this book is a must read. If you are curious as to how this second Grest depression ends, you might want to read this book.
History that reads as a novel is the highly recommended Breaking the Banks in Motor City, The Auto Industry, The 1933 Detroit Banking Crisis, and the Start of the New Deal by Darwyn Lumley. I suppose you might say it is the ghost of Christmas past that could very well become the ghost of Christmas future.
The last item of the day pertains to the Christmas season, or holiday season for those who prefer a more generic approach to life, I give you some great Christmas ideas for those who long for the open road, specifically a road trip on legendary Route 66. I would also suggest you take a look at the authorized merchandise from Route 66 Chronicles accessed from the Gift Shop tab at the top of the page.

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