Stocking fillers for petrolheads

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A couple of new books from UK specialist publisher Haynes - best known for its excellent maintenance guides for just about every vehicle under the sun (including spacecraft!) - turned up at TGD Towers this week. These are a little different from the usual stripdown manuals in that they're handy reference guides for folks keen to know more about how to identify different models and what to look out for when buying a used car.

First up is the second edition of Jaguar: All the Cars, by Nigel Thorley, who's probably written more books on Jags than any other author, so he knows what he's talking about.

This book sets out to provide a complete reference for all Jaguar models from the earliest SS cars to the 2010 model year XF and XJ, supported by facts, figures and photographs. Information provided includes technical specifications, production changes, chassis numbers, production quantities, colour schemes, options and accessories.

I only spotted one mistake - the transmission in the 1998 supercharged XJR is wrongly listed as a ZF unit, when it's actually sourced from Mercedes Benz. I only know this because, as many owners discovered to their cost, the Merc box has a propensity to blow up expensively.

But apart from this, the 320 page hardback book with 500 color illustrations is extremely well produced and contains everything you need to identify the big cat that's just left you in a cloud of dust on the freeway. If you only ever buy one book on Jags - and there's a lot of them out there - this is the one to go for. It's priced at $40.

Liz Turner's Mazda Miata (MX-5) Enthusiast's Guide is the ideal companion to what is arguably the most popular sports car ever made, with its appealing looks, excellent handling and all-round fun. It's the sports car the British industry completely failed to build despite years of trying.

The author lists every model, from its launch 20 years ago to today's Mk3, complete with a chapter covering the numerous special editions. Supporting the historical background are extensive sections on the practical aspects of ownership - buying guidance, modifying and accessories, and maintenance essentials.

Again excellently-designed, this attractive 184 page book containing 250 color illustrations should be required reading for all MX-5/Miata enthusiasts.  It'll set you back around thirty bucks.

You can find details of these and other Haynes books here - but be warned, you'll also find a lot more stuff to spend your money on…