I remember when I found out that there was a whole sub-genre of romance novels set against a NASCAR backdrop. “Huh,” I think I thought, “That’s pretty weird.” Really, though, I had no idea. There’s a huge, little-known subgenre of automotive-related romance novels that’s been around for years. Here’s five of the most amazing ones.

I’m told the He’s My Friend’s Mechanic series is one of the most popular, and lurid, in a very traditional way. The series is divided into four groups, one for drivetrain issues, one for suspension, one for fuel/electrical systems, and one for bodywork.

Just to show how long this genre has been around, here’s one from the early ‘50s. The genre started as a way to make automotive repair manuals appealing to women who wanted to work on their own cars, and these early ones really do read like a mashup of a romance novel and repair manual. In fact, the male love interest will often give long, tedious ‘speeches’ of copy pulled directly from the engine’s factory service manual. The best one here is where he describes how to adjust the valves while they make passionate love under a boat tarp.

The Body Shop series comes from the late 1990s, when America was gripped with auto-body-repair-mania. Remember fashion respirators and “Body Bondo” shower gel? This is right out of that era.

There was a pretty blatant attempt to copy “Chick Lit” trends and themes around 2008-2009 in the genre, with many more youth-targeted books like this. This one was targeted at an urban Latina market, which is why it focused on cars like the Chevy Impala, popular in Lowrider communities.

This one seems pretty traditionally-romance novel, but it was supposed to be the big breakout/crossover hit. Sadly, a planned movie deal never materialized, and it’s widely regarded as something of a failure. Even so, it still remains the best source of comprehensive bulb charts for turn indicators for almost every major European car from 1950-1980.

Also, I may have made all these up.

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