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'Tis The Season To Give Car Stuff

What did you expect?

You auto know by now that if I’m involved with the gift guide, there’ll be some wheels in there somewhere. And this time around, some of them are real, some are not.

Let’s get the real ones out of the way first. On and off over the years, and every year since 1995, the world-famous Nieman-Marcus catalog has featured an automobile for sale in limited numbers. This year it’s the 2010 Jaguar XJL Supercharged Neiman Marcus Edition. Only 50 available. With matching luggage. For a mere $105,000. Hmmm…

Assuming you’re not feeling that generous, and like to shop locally, a trip up Delaware Avenue finds a great selection (more than 60 in their online inventory) of the hot new Chevy Camaros on the lot at Paddock Chevrolet. In different colors and trims, prices start at a relatively modest $23,530 and go up to $43,395. And I doubt if anyone will complain if you don’t gift-wrap it.

Another set of real wheels is attached to a much smaller vehicle. It’s the 1/43 scale diecast model of the old Courier-Express delivery truck. Built by Ertl to the specifications of a local entrepreneur, only 250 were made. You can find one for that former Courier-Express employee on your shopping list for just $17.99 at Niagara Hobby and Craft Mart in Cheektowaga.

Anyone who knows me well knows my weakness for books, and there’s no shortage of books about cars and trucks. And, as it turns out, buses and streetcars. Part of the Images of America series, Buffalo’s Historic Street Cars and Buses is chock full of old photos of…do I really have to say it? You’ll learn a bit of history here, as well as bring back a memory or two. Written by local public transportation activist D. David Bregger, it contains many photos from his own private collection, as well as the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority archives.

Car-Free in Buffalo: A Guide to Buffalo’s Neighborhoods, Suburbs, and Public Transportation was written by former Buffalo resident Michael Lewyn and is, in the author’s words, “a reasonably comprehensive guide to both Greater Buffalo’s public transportation system and to the neighborhoods, suburbs, and attractions which it serves.” Although the book is going on 10 years old, it’s a great introduction to anyone new in the area. Even long-time residents will likely find out facts about Western New York they probably never realized. When I came across the passage about North Buffalo and South Buffalo, and how their namings differ from the East Side and the West Side, it make me stop and think—why aren’t they called East Buffalo and West Buffalo, or the North and South Sides? Maybe those answers are in another book somewhere.

The last book I’m suggesting here probably has nothing to do with wheels, other than the fact that the authors had to do a lot of driving around Western New York to gather their material. I liked what I saw of Sign Stories: Buffalo’s Signs and the Stories Behind Them, to put it on my own Christmas gift wish list. Author Patricia Galeza and photographer Karla Levi have put together a great little book which will keep you occupied for hours with both reading the stories behind the signs and enjoying the great photos. Just how many have you spotted yourself on your way to work every day? There’s even a classic Artvoice sign included in the book.

All of these books are on the shelves of Talking Leaves Books right now, waiting to find a place under your Christmas tree.

Read “You Auto Know” every other week in Artvoice and online at AV Daily on

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