The story of the automobile

Depending on when you were born, the word automobile may bring different pictures to your mind.

You may think of the car your parents owned, the first car you drove, the glittering star of a modern Motor Show, or the restored beauty you are lusting after at the moment.

These vehicles on which we now rely to carry us have been evolving for not much more a century. Today the vast majority are practical transportation with capabilities that improve year by year. But in amongst them are fantastic machines with capabilities way above normal day-to-day needs.

Automobile Year This Magnificent LifeBut never beyond dreams.

The timeline of invention

A precise map of development of the car is difficult to draw. In Europe and America towards the end of the 1800s many contenders were crafting and circling, experimenting with different methods of steering, braking, suspension and propulsion, including steam and electricity.

Automobile Year This Magnificent LifeBut most agree the first rig we would now recognise as a car, a steerable wheeled vehicle with a gasoline engine, was the motorwagen, patented in 1886 by Karl Benz of Germany. In 1899 he produced over 500 units.

By the early 1900s through mass production American Henry Ford made it his business to see that many more folks could get their mitts on a sturdy, fairly reliable beast that would confidently take them from A to B … the Model T Ford.

Automobile Year This Magnificent Life

From there the industry bloomed. Not many of man’s inventions have covered the world with such variety and interest. In every country, adults and kids can rattle off lists of makes and models, affordable and fanciful, and debate hotly their attributes and pecking order.

A magnificent chronicle of the car

A significant milestone in the history of the car came in 1953 with the publication of the first issue of Automobile Year.

It began life in Lausanne in Switzerland appearing in French, German and English. Initial contributors were some of the leading writers about motor racing, car design and production. It called itself The Annual for Car Enthusiasts.

Automobile Year This Magnificent LifeWith a couple of hundred pages, skillfully written and fabulously illustrated by many drawings and photographs, this publication has presented the best of the automobile for over sixty years. Successive editions sum up each season for motorsport, open wheelers, sports cars, rallying and touring … F1, Le Mans, CART, NASCAR are covered in detail. They also take a close look at the models that made their debut in the year and discuss the developing culture of the automobile. The last publication in English appeared in 2015, from Edition #63 (2015-16) the publication is only in French.

A collection could be yours

One of the best collections still in private hands is coming up for auction in Sydney Australia on Saturday 10th December. It features in fine condition the rare Edition #1 (1953/4) in softcover and the even rarer #2 (1954/5) with only 800 copies published. The majority of the later books are in their original wrappers, unopened and unread. This collection only goes to #59, but the latest four to complete a perfect set in English are readily available.

Automobile Year This Magnificent Life

Automobile Year This Magnificent Life
The extremely rare Editions #1 and #2

A treasure trove indeed!

For more information go to www.sydneyrarebookauctions.com.au

You can see more details of this magnificent set of car history at www.hortonsbooks.co.uk or www.automotobookshop.com.au and typing automobile year into the search bar. Or Google automobile year and go down to Imgauto.

Other choice pieces in the sale include a complete set of Wisden, the cricketers’ bible. The early numbers of the set are facsimiles but from 1897 onwards they are original editions including first editions of the rare issues published during the war.

There are lots of antiquarian books including an early edition of the works of St Thomas Aquinas published in 1492. Also included are many fine bindings from the estate of the late Judge Terry Naughton who was an avid collector of fine bindings, photography books and Ancient History books as well as books on Australian history.

Much more to see at www.sydneyrarebookauctions.com.au

*The images here are for illustrative purposes only. They are not reflective of the collection up for auction.

 

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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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