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History's Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed

James Dean's Killer Porsche, NASCAR's Fastest Monkey, Bonnie and Clyde's Getaway Car, and More

History's Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed

Matt Stone

Format: Hardcover, 256 Pages
Item: 194764
ISBN: 9780760342602
Publisher: Motorbooks
Illustrations: 68 color & 80 b/w photos
Size: 6.25 x 9.25
Weight: 1.5 lb.
Edition: First
Published: November 30th 2012
List Price: $26.00 $19.50
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Rumors, myths, and fantastic stories have swirled around the automobile since the first car appeared over 100 years ago.

Did you know that after James Dean’s death behind the wheel of his Porsche 550 Spyder, parts of the car were sold off, and said parts then cursed their new owners? Or did they? Did you know Bonnie and Clyde stole Ford V-8s almost exclusively as getaway cars because they were the fastest cars of their day? Or that Clyde Barrow wrote Henry Ford a “thank-you” note for building the cars that made escaping his bank heists so successful?  NASCAR has been the source of countless myths and legends. Did you know, for example, that a monkey by the name of Jocko Flocko once won a Grand National race? (Hall of Fame driver Tim Flock helped.) Or that one of the most famous stock cars in NASCAR lore—a Chevelle built by legendary rules-bender Smokey Yunick—never actually turned a lap on a racetrack? Did you ever hear the one about the 1964 Impala that flew into a cliff—at 350 miles per hour—in the Arizona desert, thereby winning the inaugural Darwin Award? How about the Ford Pinto that flew like a bird? Or the 68-horsepower Hyundai Excel that maxed out at 115 miles per hour while speeding Rodney King to a rendezvous that would eventually lead to the L.A. Riots? What was the first car to break the sound barrier? Who won the first Indy 500? What kind of car was dancer Isadora Duncan in when she was killed? What car performed the most spectacular stunt in the James Bond movie oeuvre? In all of these cases, the answers may not be what you think.

These are just a few of the automotive world’s crazy stories, mysteries, myths, and legends. History’s Greatest Automotive Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed compiles a juicy selection covering subjects from racing to automakers, crime to pop culture, and historical to modern day. Read it and be amazed!

Matt Stone (Glendale, CA), former executive editor of Motor Trend magazine, has been a professional automotive journalist and photographer since 1985.  He has authored and photographed several books, including the best-selling My First Car, 365 Cars You Must Drive and McQueen’s Machines, all from Motorbooks.

Preston Lerner (Burbank, CA), a regular contributor to Automobile Magazine, has written about motorsports for publications ranging from Sports Illustrated to The New York Times. He’s the author of the race car marque history, Scarab, for Motorbooks and one novel, Fools on the Hill. He also club-races a Spec Miata and Nissan 240SX with the SCCA and NASA.


"... chock-full of amusing car-related trivia and miscellany - perfect for dipping onto on drowsy, cloudy winter afternoons." - Detroit News
"... an interesting read...they weave entertaining stories of vehicular crime, racing, moviemaking and various mishaps and mayhem." - The New York Times
"Authors Matt Stone and Preston Lerner are seasoned automotive writers and the book reads with the insider intrigue of two scribes talking to friends over beers." - San Diego Union Tribune“… chock-full of amusing car-related trivia and miscellany – perfect for dipping onto on drowsy, cloudy winter afternoons.” - Detroit News"The answers are here, one question and answer per chapter. Authors Stone and Lerner, both auto magazine writers, know how to weave a compelling tale. Each chapter's brief length and unconnected nature make this the perfect book to read, put down and come back to. It's a guilty pleasure; one that's hard to put down for good and is certainly my favorite book this year." - Boston Herald
“Maybe you grew up liking the Ripleys’ Believe it Or Not panels that ran in your local paper’s comic section. If so, the format and content of this interesting exercise in debunking the past may genuinely catch your interest… it’s an entertaining read.” - Hemmings Motor News
"A good deal of the fun here is in following the authors’ steps as they sought to prove or disprove the various tales." - Auto Restorer
"The topics are interesting; the research is impressive, and the writing is clear and informative." - RV Life
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1. Urban Legends
The Rocket Car vs. the Mountain
Rodney King’s 115-Miles-per-Hour Hyundai
The Edsel, a.k.a. the Mongoose Civique
2. Crime
Shaken, Stirred, and Dumped in the Ocean
Transsexual Liz Carmichael and the Deceptive Dale
Swimming with the Fishes
Thanks for the Great Getaway Cars, Henry
3. Racing
Who Won the First Indianapolis 500?
Taking a Fall: Did Varzi and Nuvolari Rig the Race?
The Rocket Car That Broke—or Didn’t Break—the Sound Barrier
Smokey Yunick’s Three-Quarter-Scale
Chevelle and Other Cheats
Jocko Flocko, NASCAR’s Only
Race-Winning Monkey
4. Hollywood
You Drive Like Steve McQueen
Paul Newman Was Just a Poseur on the Racetrack
James Bond’s High-Flying Hornet
5. Death
Death Comes for the Bishop
The Bloody Legend of James Dean’s Deadly Porsche
The 300-Horsepower Coffin
The Dancer and the Deadly Bugatti
6. Inside the Industry
The Norseman on the Andrea Doria
When Pintos Fly
Who Killed the Electric Car?
If I Only Had Wings
Unintended Acceleration
Black Is Beautiful