Auto Biography

Auto Biography : A Classic Car, an Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream

4.05 (110 ratings by Goodreads)
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A brilliant blend of Shop Class as Soulcraft and The Orchid Thief, Earl Swift's wise, funny, and captivating Auto Biography follows an outlaw auto dealer as he struggles to save a rusted '57 Chevy--a car that has already passed through twelve pairs of hands before his--while financial ruin, government bureaucrats and the FBI close in on him.

Slumped among hundreds of other decrepit hulks on a treeless, windswept moor in eastern North Carolina, the Chevy evokes none of the Jet Age mystique that made it the most beloved car to ever roll off an assembly line. It's open to the rain. Birds nest in its seats. Officials of the surrounding county consider it junk.

To Tommy Arney, it's anything but: It's a fossil of the twentieth-century American experience, of a place and a people utterly devoted to the automobile and changed by it in myriad ways. It's a piece of history--especially so because its flaking skin conceals a rare asset: a complete provenance, stretching back more than fifty years.

So, hassled by a growing assortment of challengers, the Chevy's thirteenth owner--an orphan, grade-school dropout and rounder, a felon arrested seventy-odd times, and a man who's been written off as a ruin himself--embarks on a mission to save the car and preserve long record of human experience it carries in its steel and upholstery.

Written for both gearheads and Sunday drivers, Auto Biography charts the shifting nature of the American Dream and our strange and abiding relationship with the automobile, through an iconic classic and an improbable, unforgettable hero.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 355 pages
  • 132.08 x 203.2 x 30.48mm | 272.15g
  • Dey Street Books
  • New York, NY
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0062282689
  • 9780062282682
  • 943,051

Review quote

Full of crackerjack reporting and fuel-injected mirth... Swift s lengthy step-by-step description of the disassembly and recreation process is as nail-biting as any drugstore action-thriller. It s hard to conceive of a more riveting (or unriveting) work on the subject than Auto Biography. --Atlanta Journal-Constitution"
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Back cover copy

An instant classic of automotive literature and a brilliantly unique examination of the modern American experience, Earl Swift's Auto Biography charts the unforgettable odyssey of one iconic 1957 Chevy wagon from gleaming symbol of Jet Age optimism to a rusted hulk--and the car's unlikely savior, a larger-than-life motorhead named Tommy Arney, who embarks on a mission to restore the Chevy to full glory before his own demons--and the FBI--doom him and the car.
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Rating details

110 ratings
4.05 out of 5 stars
5 32% (35)
4 49% (54)
3 14% (15)
2 4% (4)
1 2% (2)
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