Books 1

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

21

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Fast Friends – Stars and Heroes in the World of Cars

Karl Ludvigsen
Published by Delius Klasing, £14
ISBN 978-3-667-11457-0

During a lifetime in the motor industry as both an executive – a vice president of Ford – and a consultant to among others GM and John DeLorean, Karl Ludvigsen became prominent through his extensive photographic and factual archive, as a journalist, and through his writings as a historian of cars and racing. With some four dozen titles behind him he has established himself as a painstaking researcher with a deep understanding of the engineering of both manufacturing and racing cars.

In his five decades in the industry he has met, worked with and befriended many of the key figures in both aspects of the business, and it is his recollections of 23 of these which he has assembled into this book. Some were indeed ‘fast friends’, and some colleagues and associates, but all are people Karl knew, and though not all the pen pictures are first-hand – he draws on other memoirs, too – they are all informed by personal contact.

The subtitle Stars and Heroes in the World of Cars is a valid distinction: among the famous characters – John DeLorean, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Phil Hill – there are also people who influenced the industry but whose names are scarcely remembered, such as Stefan Habsburg, who shaped GM’s design in the 1950s and beyond. (Karl adds that Habsburg was technically an Archduke and a descendant of Queen Victoria!)

Divided into Executives, Designers, Engineers, Racers and just plain Car Guys, his list starts with his own father, who fed his interests in engineering and design, before jumping in with Ferry Porsche, whom he knew from the 1950s. “It was fascinating,” he notes, “to discuss Porsche’s affairs with a man who had driven the Auto Unions and shaken hands with Hitler”. Ludvigsen is known for his research into the German motor industry and discussions with Ferry Porsche were a major part of that. Some of it appears here, such as that during WWII Porsche schemed a small V10 sports car “so we would have something to do after the war”, and that they quietly kept improving the Volkswagen design during WWII by describing upgrades as ‘for military use’. When Ferry muses on the company’s history, Ludvigsen remarks “that was typical Ferry, second-guessing past decisions” – the sort of shading you don’t get from a simple marque history.

He continues with a portrait of Ferry’s sister, the powerful Louise Piëch, who ran Volkswagen distribution in Austria and was the mother of Audi/VW Group leader Ferdinand Piëch. It’s a complex history but the remarkable Louise had an immensely profound effect on keeping the family businesses together. She memorably claimed “I have only ever driven my family’s cars: first those of my father, then those of my brother, and now those of my son”.

Controversial to the end, John Z DeLorean gets a lot of attention from Ludvigsen's new book

Although the book is concerned chiefly with people, there’s plenty to learn about machines too, about the various incarnations of Mercedes C111 and a stillborn early ’50s project from the aforementioned Habsburg for a GM front-drive machine with CVT and a rear wing/airbrake.

Elsewhere in this issue we describe the pretty little BMW 1602 (see page 142); that car thrived because of another man pictured in the book, Alex von Falkenhausen, whom Ludvigsen calls “BMW’s engine Pope”. Racer, engineer and later head of BMW motor sport, von Falkenhausen conceived the tough little four that powered the Neue Klasse cars which founded a new chapter for the firm, and that same basic engine went on to produce the mad 1200bhp of the turbo F1 years, garnering a driver’s title in a Brabham. Alex von F also expanded it into the famous six that brought so many race successes, so this is a prime example of what this volume does well – a brief portrait of someone whose significance might be overlooked.

“When The Telegraph headed DeLorean’s obituary ‘Dodgy car manufacturer’ I knew it was cut-down time”

In contrast, we’ve all heard of John Z DeLorean. Ludvigsen classes him as engineer rather than an executive, citing how he revitalised Pontiac and Chevrolet in the 1970s. Ludvigsen was an advisor to John Z after he left GM, so it’s no surprise that he is sympathetic to a man whose media legacy is not kind. “When The Daily Telegraph headed its obituary ‘Dodgy car manufacturer who relieved successive British governments of £78m of taxpayers’ money’ I knew it was cut-down time,” he laments. I can’t say I know enough about the affair to either fire or deflect bullets, but even if it does rather gloss over the cocaine sting this chapter is a rare balance to the popular view of a man who was undoubtedly a marketing visionary.

Drivers included are Fangio, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Phil Hill, with all of whom Ludvigsen had at least some connection, Hill especially. Reporting his racing as a journalist from 1957 on, Karl was there in 1966 as the laid-back Chaparral team got the 2D coupé ready at the Nordschleife “with a lethargic casualness that frustrated the tightly wound Hill. ‘Don’t you guys realise this is the goddamn Nürburgring?’ he exclaimed”. From his own book on Fittipaldi comes the Brazilian’s memory of his maiden win at Watkins Glen in 1970: “I had seen photographs of Chapman throwing his hat in the air for Jimmy Clark, then Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt. And now it was for me. When I stopped at the pit I couldn’t remember a word of English!”

While none of the sections pretend to offer complete biographies, they shine a worthwhile light on his choices, with many nuggets to be found – including that Rudi Uhlenhaut was born in Muswell Hill!


For the latest motoring books, visit Hortons Books

You may also like

Related products