Probably my most important general reference book on car styling history is A Century of Automotive Style by Michael Lamm and the late David Holls.
Holls was a leading member of General Motors' styling staff for many years as well as a student of design history. Lamm is perhaps best known for founding "Special-Interest Autos" magazine in the early 1970s and editing it for two periods. He wrote an extremely important set of articles on automobile history 1930-1960, based as much as possible on interviews with men involved with design and engineering of featured cars. This provided readers with plenty of "why" along with some of the usual "what" found in other publications, something I greatly appreciated.
An excerpt from an email Lamm sent me recently:
"Just want to let you know that I’ve reprinted A Century of Automotive Style....
"The reprint is a limited edition - only 500 copies - of the original hardcover book. I’ve included a few corrections, but it’s essentially the same as its two predecessors, one hardcover and one soft-.
"Here are the basics: 308 pages, 900+ photos and illustrations, 9x12-inch format, glossy stock; full design histories of major American automakers, ditto coachbuilders, personality profiles of significant designers and design managers plus, of course, a very readable account of the science and art of domestic automobile design, 1896 to 1996.
The book has received generous praise and warm reviews over the years from such notables as Automobile Quarterly’s Scott Bailey, Automobile Magazine’s David E. Davis Jr. and Robert Cumberford, Ford’s Jack Telnack, Chrysler’s Tom Gale GM’s Chuck Jordan as well as Scientific American and The New Yorker. In 1997, “Style” also won the Society of Automotive Historians’ prestigious Cugnot Award.
A Century of Automotive Style is currently available through Amazon.com and www.LammMorada.com. Price is $69.95."