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About California Bill’s Automotive Handbooks

The name of our company pays tribute to “California Bill” Fisher, an early hotrodder and automotive book publisher in southern California.


Left: Early Logo   Right: Later Logo

In 1946, Bill Fisher was a student at the University of Southern California. As it came time to write his Master's thesis, he decided to combine his love of automobiles and English. He wrote How to Construct a Hot Rod For High School Auto Shop Classes. This thesis was the basis of his first published automobile book. Later, in 1948, Bill Fisher had a speed equipment shop in Eagle Rock, California and supplied speed parts to racers competing at Bonneville, El Mirage, and Muroc Dry Lakes. This was in addition to his flourishing mail-order automotive book business. Parts as well as books were sold to hot rodding enthusiasts across the country.

First Annual Bonneville Speed Trials Souvenir Program, August 22 to 27th, 1949 featuring California Bill advertisement.


Left: Hot Rod Magazine, April 1950.   Right: Hop Up Magazine, September 1952 with lead article by California Bill.

Left: Hot Rod Magazine Ad, 1950   Right: Hot Rod Magazine Ad

During this era he wrote and published several Speed Manuals that he advertised in Hot Rod, Motor Trend and Road and Track. These ads featured drawings by his friend Tom Medley. These nostalgic books became popular again forty years later when more aficionados took interest in recapturing the history, styles, and techniques of the late 1940s and early 1950s. As a result we have republished some of these early books.


Left: Ad, March. 1950   Right: Hot Rod Magazine Ad, November 1949

A long-time six-cylinder fan, his favorite engines were the Chevy and GMC sixes. His history as one of the owners and manufacturers of the famous twelve-port head are recounted in the history found at Inliners where he was one of the initial members.

From Left to Right: Chuck Glaviano, Bill Fisher, and Nick Glaviano; founder of Nicson Manifolds.


Custom automotive parts manufactured by Bill Fisher in the 1950's. 

In 1964 he started HPBooks, initially with one title, How to Hotrod Corvair Engines. In the late sixties and early seventies the list was greatly expanded with How to Hotrod Volkswagen Engines, Holley Carburetors, Turbochargers, How to Hotrod Small-block Chevrolets, How to Hotrod Big-block Chevrolets, and dozens more. The list of automotive titles grew along with bestselling cookbooks, photography, gardening, and other how-to-do-it books. HPBooks was sold to Knight-Ridder Newspapers in 1979, resold to Price, Stern, Sloan in 1984, and later sold to Penguin. HPBooks automotive titles continue to be revised and kept current.

1979 Buick Skyhawk coupe owned by H.P. Books (Tucson) and Doug Roe Engineering (Phoenix) set two new records at the 1978 Bonneville Nationals Speed Trials at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The C Gas Coupe Record was moved from 189 to 203 mph by Doug Roe; the C Altered Coupe record was moved from 195 to 208 mph by Ron Armstrong. Both men were accepted into the 200 mph club as a result of setting these over-200-mph records. Shown here from left to right are Bill Fisher, co-owner; Doug Roe, co-owner and record setter; Ron Armstrong, mechanic and record setter; and Jim Ruggles, Mechanic.

Bill Fisher put together a Bonneville team campaigning the HPBooks Buick Skyhawk. This car enabled four drivers to enter the Bonneville 200 MPH club (must set a class record over 200 mph) by changing engine displacement and fuel combinations. Bill gained his lifetime entry into the club with a 1981 two-pass speed of 207.287.


He later started another publishing company Fisher Books in 1987 creating many lifestyle and automotive titles. Bill Fisher battled cancer for ten years and finally passed away in May, 1999.


After selling the lifestyle titles to Perseus Publishing in 2000, the Fisher family retained its automotive titles and renamed the remaining publishing entity in honor of “California Bill” Fisher.


We now publish a number of automotive books on subjects we love, especially nostalgia, customizing, and hot rodding.


You’ll find a variety of books about Ford and Chevrolet history, automotive nostalgia from the fifties, and the latest in custom auto upholstery titles.