It’s not every day that I find myself actually wanting to place a bid on an item that pops up on Bring A Trailer, but this past week, one of the finest auctions to ever hit the site was set to end, and I couldn’t resist myself. But as it turned out, this is BaT, so even a collection of 643 automotive and motorsport books can sell for a truly goofy amount of money.
Yep. This formidable library of books came straight from the shelves of John Lamm, an automotive journalist who spent nearly four decades developing a truly iconic career at Road & Track. Lamm died in October of 2020, leaving behind generations of automotive writers inspired by his work. And, on behalf of his estate, BaT was provided the opportunity to auction off his truly mind-blowing collection of books.
If you’ve followed my writing for any period of time, you can probably guess that I’m a sucker for a good car book. As soon as I got my first debit card, I started collecting out-of-print biographies of race car drivers or incredible machines, and I recently had the pleasure of acquiring a hefty stack of great car literature that spanned quite a range of decades, with the oldest book being published in the 1930s. It’s always been my dream to have my own personal automotive library, so I figured, what the hell? I’ll place a bid. I’ll even be willing to bid a stupid amount of money, because when is this opportunity ever going to happen again? If I were to collect all these books individually, I’d be spending quite a pretty penny.
Unfortunately, this auction went well beyond my budget range. As in, it was sold to a buyer for $US50,000 ($64,130). That’s new car money. That’s collector car money. That’s down-payment-on-a-house money. That’s my PhD money. No sir, I could not justify attempting to outbid the winner.
Which is a damn shame, because the book list is incredible. There are so many out-of-print books, so many copies of magazines from decades ago that you’ll never find. There are autographed copies of books by Carroll Shelby and Phil Hill. There are full collections of foreign-language magazines. And plenty of these books were annotated by Lamm, which is a truly priceless gift in and of itself; I love seeing where folks’ minds go when they’re reading and researching.
My heart is broken. May I suddenly become disgustingly rich so I can throw my money at car books.