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A quick review of a new book about working on older cars

FlashDriveFilms video book review- June 23, 2013

We're going to try something a little bit different this time: it's a book review. And I want to say up front that this is a book that I bought myself, and did not receive a review copy or any kind of payment for my endorsement. That said, it's exactly the kind of book that if you subscribe to my YouTube channel and you're interested in repairing old cars I think you'll really enjoy this one.

It's called "Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic" and it's by Rob Siegel and it just came out in 2013. One thing that's kind of interesting is that it's actually published by Bentley Publishers. Now this isn't Bentley the people who build cars, this is Bentley the people who print car service manuals.

Even though it's a fairly thick book, it's got about 410 pages, he's got about 60 chapters in there. Each chapter is fairly short, they're only a few pages so it's easy to just dive in and read through a couple of chapters at a time or you can read it cover to cover if you'd like. The other thing that's neat is that some of the sections are called "actual useful stuff", they'll have a little wrench and a gray bar on the side. Then he talks about things that are specific about selecting tools or your work environment in your garage.

There are some photos in the center, in black and white, of adventures he's had over the years and of course, a picture in the back of that beautiful 3.0 CS that he's restored over the years.

Now there's a recurring chapter theme in here that's called "Why I Don't Work On Other People's Cars" and there's a part one, a part two, a part three and he gives examples and various stories and anecdotes of times that he did work on other cars and it's something I can certainly identify with. I've generally found that there's the people that work on cars for money and people that work on their own cars for the love of it and I'm not saying that one is better or worse than the other but there is sort of a dividing line and he explores some of that in the book.

Now the subtitle is "How Fixing Broken BMW's Helped Make Me Whole" and there's a sort of narrative thread throughout the whole book of him imagining that he's at a therapist and he's talking about his addictions and obsessions with older cars and trying to explain them in the context of his whole life.

So if you've read and enjoyed books like "Shop Class As Soulcraft" or certainly one of my favorites, "How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive" or "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", these are all books that Rob mentions in his. These are more about the philosophy of working on cars, not just about tightening bolts or checking point gaps or things, it's sort of what motivation and understanding that goes into working on older cars and doing those repairs yourself.

So there it is: "Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic: How Fixing Broken BMW's Helped Make Me Whole". It's going to set you back a little bit more than an Andrew Jackson any place you buy books online or in the store. I'd like to give this five stars but I'm going to have to bring one of those stars back and that is because throughout the book he does drop the F-bomb regularly and I realize that adds authenticity to the tale; however I know in my own experience when I was about fifteen years old and trying to absorb everything I could read about cars, if I'd asked my parents for this book they would have banned it, they would have said absolutely not. And so that would deprived me of reading a really excellent narrative about cars and sort of the philosophy behind working on older cars. So instead of five stars, I gotta give it four only because he diminished his audience that might be part of the most appreciative.

So there's our book review. I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps we'll do some book reviews about car books in the future. Catch you next time.

Book review and transcript from and courtesy of FlashDriveFilms - http://youtu.be/W8HJOoiI0TQ