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Car Hops and Curb Service: A History of American Drive-In Restaurants 1920-1960 Paperback – March 1, 1996

6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Once upon a time in the United States, before the ubiquitous yellow arches of a certain hamburger chain spread like chicken pox, eating on the go was an occasion. Those long-gone days when customer service was number one--and meals were dished up by enthusiastic young women costumed to resemble drum majorettes--are captured in this compilation of vintage photographs and memorabilia, crammed to overflowing with nostalgia.


...a delightfully campy array of menus, postcards, and photographs to illustrate the rise and fall of the drive-in restaurant...Los Angeles Times

--Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1996
Heimann has collected a delightfully campy array of menus, postcards and photographs to illustrate the rise and fall of the drive-in restaurant. The phenomenon began during the second decade of the 20th century and peaked during the '30s, '40s and early '50s. With its vast road system, warm weather and automobile culture, L.A. became the de facto capital of drive-in culture. Alas, only a few drive-ins survive.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811811158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811811156
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,153,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jim Heimann is a resident of Los Angeles, a graphic designer, writer, historian, and instructor at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He is the author of numerous books on architecture, popular culture, and Hollywood history, and serves as a consultant to the entertainment industry.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robin on April 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
The humble drive-in gets the Jim Heimann treatment: well researched, excellent photo and graphics selection, bibliography, index and he designed it, too. Though it was published in 1996 I don't think there is a better book about the subject. Michael Wetzel's `The American Drive-in' (1994, ISBN 0879389192) comes close, with a lot of the same images but I thought his rather too superficial.

Heimann has clearly done a lot of research and I liked the many architectural references. Drive-ins, because of their rather temporary nature, could be designed with latest visual gimmicks and building styles yet could be easily changed to a newer look. Heimann refers to Exaggerated Modern as a suitable name for drive-in style. The book has plenty of historical photos to show the changing face of the eatery, especially in sunny California.

It seems LA was the experimental center of drive-in style with architects like John Lautner, Armet & Davis or Wayne McAllister designing establishments always that little bit different from the competition. Incidentally neither Lautner or Armet & Davis are mentioned in the index of Witzel's book.

Visually the book is a treat. Plenty of really good historical exterior black and whites of establishments backed up with color postcards and graphic material like menus or book matches. All the material is presented in a straightforward layout (and this is another area where the Witzel book falls down: the layout is far too scrappy with too much unused white page space). It is unfortunate though that the captions are set in a rather small type in long lines and frequently they refer to photos on a preceding or following spread.

Heimann has written the definitive book about a little bit of Americana and I bet it will remain in print for many years.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By mrs. cam on January 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Talk about filled with information-this book has all of the pictures and the details behind the car hops. I thought the uniqueness behind the Tam O Shanter was cool. Also, the celebrities that went to the drive inns and what they ordered. The book explains some of the history behind the word "car hop." Just a fun, light read!!! Highly recommended for those people who remember going to the A&W or other drive inn, especially in California.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gwaithmir on October 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Drive-in restaurants were already on the way out when I was growing up in the 1950's. I have only vague memories of my parents taking my siblings and I out for burgers, hot dogs and shakes at some of the local drive-ins that were already well past their prime. By the time I was in high school the few that were still in operation had dropped the car hops in place of service at the window. By the early 1970's, even these were a thing of the past. I found this book to be a fascinating study of colorful eateries of a bygone era. My only objection was the use of the unnecessarily small, double-spaced text used throughout the book--not very eye-friendly to an older reader with bifocals.
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