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

Auto Biography: A Classic Car, an Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream Audiobook, by Earl Swift Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Earl Swift Narrator: Greg Itzin, Gregory Itzen Publisher: HarperAudio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2014 ISBN: 9780062333544
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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-genius auto mechanic as he painstakingly attempts to restores a classic 1957 Chevy to its former glory—all while the FBI and local law enforcement close in.

To Tommy Arney, the old cars at Moyock Muscle are archeological artifacts, twentieth-century fossils that represent a place and a people utterly devoted to the automobile and transformed by it. But to his rural North Carolina town, they’re not history; they’re junk. When Tommy acquires a rusted out wreck of an old Chevy and promises to return it to a shiny, chromed work of American art, he sees one last chance to salvage his respect, keep himself out of jail, and save his business. But for this folk hero who is often on the wrong side of the law, the odds of success are long, especially when the FBI, local authorities, and the bank are closing in.

Written for motor heads and automotive novices alike, Auto biography interweaves this improbable hero’s journey with the story of one iconic car to chart the rise, fall, and rebirth of the American Dream. Told in words and eight pages of photos, this wise, charming, and heartbreaking true story is an indelible portrait of a man, a machine, and a nation on the road from a glorious past into an unknown future.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Swift makes for an ideal traveling companion.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “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

  • “The heart of the story is more Bill Bryson than Hunter Thompson. Along the way, Swift lovingly recounts—despite a palpable frustration—Arney’s thoughtful restoration of a classic 1957 Chevy as well as the stories of its dozen owners. Neither arc ends the way readers might expect, which comes as a pleasant surprise. A big, weird, heartfelt book about a badass who could give a damn whether you root for him or not.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “In this engrossing and entertaining book, Swift tells the story of a car—not the story of a classic car model, but the story of a particular 1957 Chevy owned, in the fifty-seven years since its manufacture, by fourteen different people…Swift is a wonderful guide and the stories he relates are engaging in their own right. Yielded together, though, these vignettes take on a fuller meaning, as the restoration becomes social metaphor.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A fascinating dual biography of Tommy Arney—described as ‘a rough customer,’ which is putting it mildly—and of a 1957 Chevrolet which is in Arney’s possession when the book opens…The tale of the ’57 Chevy’s passage from owner to owner until purchased (and laboriously prepared to be sold) by Arney is fittingly contextualized within the central place of the automobile (in particular, this automobile, a classic) in American culture.”


  • ““A good fun read…There’s rust, havoc, renovation, and redemption, for the car and several of its owners…The car talk is interesting and accurate; an easy and well-written read. Swift is a big name, award-winning writer, and his chops show well here.”

    Matt Stone, former editor, Motor Trend Classic

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About the Author

Journalist Earl Swift has written five books, including The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways (2011). Since 2012 he has been a residential fellow of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at the University of Virginia.