READING MATTERS – REVIEW: A MAN & HIS CAR: Iconic Cars & Stories from the Men Who Love Them

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by Matt Hranek – Published by Artisan; £30. Hardback

‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ – an often-used phrase but in the case of Matt Hranek’s  “A Man & His Car (published by Artisan, New York), the reader can! A beautifully embossed photograph of an old Land Rover Defender is all that features on the front cover of this unique hardback, and from its subject matter, creates instant curiosity. As per the sub-title, Matt journeys with ‘Iconic Cars & Stories from the Men Who Love Them’, which is a wonderful homage to what’s probably man’s prize possession, and an obsession even. And no, it’s not the least bit sexist! It’s a book for everyone to enjoy.

The author, who is the founder/editor of the men’s lifestyle magazine WM Brown, managed to gain access to personal collections owned by top names in business and entertainment, some of which are on exhibit in museums or locked behind closed doors and temperature controlled under protective covers. As with each set of photos, an interesting explanation of the car and how it was acquired is well written and edited.

Cars of all shapes, sizes and age profiles are featured here within the 240 pages and all beautifully photographed. US TV Chat-Show host Jay Leno, an ardent car collector, is one of the well-known names mentioned and his 1955 Buick Roadmaster sets the tone for the other celebratories honoured. Veteran movie star Kevin Costner, who’s recent Yellowstone TV series is enjoying world-wide acclaim, had his heart set on a 1968 Shelby Mustang GT350 Convertible after driving one on the set in the movie Bill Durham. Steve McQueen’s favourite car was in fact a 1956 Jaguar XKSS and not a Ford Mustang that the film star is most famously associated with. Ralph Lauren’s pride and joy is a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Cabriolet.

To beat that, Matt relayed examples from some of the most prominent and special collections in the world, ranging from Henry Ford’s Museum Archives to the home of Alfa-Romeo and Fiat in Turin.

By the way, Matt’s dream car is a 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera Targa, which he owns, having adorned same from a poster on his wall at high school.

There is such a wonderful collection and selection of likeable cars featured here, many obscure and unheard of, mixed with popular models such as the Fiat Panda and the 131 Mirafiori, all playing significant roles in automotive history.

The Irish connection mentioned is mainly through Henry Ford & Son and that rather special Gold-plated DeLorean DMC-12 from 1980, one of five special editions that were made at Dunmurray, Belfast. This particular one was sold through an American Express promotion and is on exhibit at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

The New Yorker’s other title was ‘A Man & His Watch’, a best-seller; Wonder what his next subject will be? A Man & His Sport?

Jarlath Sweeney