Book recommendations for grade school aged kid who loves cars

Hello Car Talk Community!

We just got this note from an aunt who’s looking for books for her nephew. Ray’s on vacation, so I was hoping you could help out!

Here’s her note:

Last year, I bought a book for my nephew who is in grade school. It’s titled Exhaust Systems by Mike Mavrigian published in 2014. He loved the book. I loved the book and I know nothing about cars except to drive and bring in for oil changes and make sure the tires are property inflated.

However, my young nephew is a real car enthusiast and I want to get him another book, but I’m not a car maven. Most of the books are 5, 10, and even 15 years old. I don’t want to get him a book of out-of-date information. So the question is on which subjects can I go back a few years, i.e. wiring & electrical systems, tires, engines, how a car works, etc. or do I just wait for a newly published book so that all the info is up-to-date?

Thanks for your help.

I just looked up that book (Performance Exhaust Systems), that’s a pretty advanced book, great that he likes it. One simple way to get some more along the same line is to go to Amazon and look up the book, then look at “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” part of the listing. There are a number of current books listed there. Since he already has one on exhaust systems, one on fuel injection would be good. Does he have any books on hot rods? Put that in the search box at Amazon, lots of options there. Or is he more interested in car racing?

And how old is this budding car nut?

p.s. - don’t worry about a book’s age, the basic concepts never get old, and older cars are still around, anyway.

Not technical, but one of my favorites.

I’d suggest going to the hobby store (or online) and buying him a “Visible V8 Engine” model. It’ll be more costly than a book, but I cannot think of a better way for him to learn. He’ll get to actually put an engine together and see how it works.

I built both that and the “slant six” models when I was a young kid, and I learned a great deal from them.

This is just my opinion (based on an undergraduate major in history), but I think that knowing the history of the car industry worldwide is important if one wants to understand modern automotive technology.

Below is a link to a book that I got when I was 15 years old, and I still refer to it occasionally as a result of its comprehensive history of the automobile and its display of models from essentially every manufacturer in every country. Because it was published in 1964, obviously none of the information is contemporary, but I still think that it is fascinating and it would teach that kid an incredible wealth of information:

Here’s a good one on the fundamentals -

I believe they still have things called Library’s. If you talk nice they will loan books to you and that way you do not waste money on a book that does not meet your needs.

Yeah I was going to say go to Barnes & Noble and get a $35 book on auto history with lots of pics, especially from the 50’s and 60’s.


The book that I recommended above sells for $9.50 (+ $3.99 for shipping), and it includes the complete history of the automobile from its earliest experimenters through the early '60s, and–as far as I can tell–includes illustrations of models from every manufacturer in every country up through the early '60s. There is also a section covering auto racing in its earlier days.

There is no reason to spend $35 for a book that very likely doesn’t include as much as the one that I recommended.

From the time I was about 9 years old, I’ve had a subscription to Car and Driver. Not really technical, but it would definitely be up to date.

Shoot,get Him all of Henry Gregor Felsens books-out of date ,but real meat for a young car nut(fiction)

Do you have a ‘Half Price Books’ or something similar near you? Used books are fine, too.

VDC, when I looked at the link, the only new one was $164 with the rest used ranging from $5 to $99. Looks like a good book though so I might get a couple but I kinda like looking in the book store and have seen some nice ones there.

"get Him all of Henry Gregor Felsens books-out of date ,but real meat for a young car nut" That really brings back memories for me! When I was in elementary school and the first couple of years of high school, I remember reading some of Felsen's books, and I really loved them. Their auto-related tales include teenaged protagonists, so kids and teens can really find interest in his books.

Thanks all!

If he likes computers and likes to read about the science and engineering aspects about car engines, I think a book about how the engine computer uses the various sensors to calculate the fuel injector pulses would be interesting to him. I saw one at the local Barnes and Noble’s (in the transportation section) titled something like “OBD II diagnostics and performance enhancements”.

Another idea, Popular Mechanics publishes a book on how to maintain your car. Deals with modern electronic fuel injected cars. They have that book at the local Barnes and Noble too. It has little less scientific lingo than the one above. And it’s more likely to be found at a library than the one above.

If instead he’d prefer just something car related, but fun to read, when I was a kid in elementary school my favorite car-book was this one: