— story by Dean Case
In the days before the internet (when people bought books in bookstores), the single biggest event for those who loved and collected car books was the annual Society of Automotive Historians (SAH) Literature Faire and Exchange, held the last Sunday of every June. When I first attended, in the late 1980’s, it was held in the parking lot of Pasadena City College – after the original venue, the Briggs Cunningham Museum closed. It was a big deal. The event was lucrative enough in sales that book dealers from the East Coast would drive cross country with literal tons of paper to sell. This was the Pebble Beach of car book nerds. It was the place that I first met Jay Leno, before he hosted the Tonight Show.
While there were always new books for sale, the real attraction was the rare and obscure. Need an original shop manual for a 1938 Studebaker? You might find it here. Looking for a program from the 1921 Indy 500? Odds are someone at the Lit Faire would have it. This was a gathering for car “stuff” – beyond books there was everything from car models to original artwork to sales brochures and press kits. LOTS of press kits. But NO car parts. It was a Lit Faire, not a parts swap meet.
The internet in general — eBay in particular — reduced the relevance for the Lit Faire, but lacked the ability to look, linger, and hang out with car geek friends.
After many years at the Pasadena City College, Doug Stokes brought the event to Irwindale Speedway. From Irwindale it went to the NHRA Museum, and the Automobile Driving Museum and then a lapse when the local SAH struggled for volunteers. But the Faire is back for 2016. The reformed Southern California Chapter of SAH has teamed up with the Automotive Research Library of the HCFI, and the NHRA Motorsports Museum to stage what could be the 28th and final Lit Faire. Success beyond this year depends upon people like the MPG members coming out to support the people who buy car books and subscribe to magazines.
- The event is FREE to attend for buyers.
- Spaces for sellers are just $30 for a 10’ x 20’ space. First come first served. Cash only.
- Museum admission is not included, but well worth the time and money.
Reasons to attend:
- You like to read.
- You need that one piece of critical information to restore your car to exact factory specs.
- You like to hang out with cool people.
- You need to clear out space in your office/den/garage
- You need research material for a book or article that you are writing
I’m going to be there for reasons numbers 1, 3, and 4. Whatever I don’t sell will likely be donated to a car museum with a proper library, likely the Nethercutt Collection.
Hope to see you there on the 26th. Get there early as it tends to be rather hot in Pomona in June.