If you know the world of cars, and automotive history, and appreciate a really inspired read, you probably already know about Karl Ludvigsen. And if you don’t, you really ought to change that fact. Karl, put simply, is at the zenith of the pantheon when it comes to the history of cars. A Michigan native who studied at MIT, he was a prolific magazine writer and editor before he got a position in the public relations department at Ford of Britain. Over his lifetime, Karl has collected and collated historic photos and technical data on cars, both production and racing, and on the companies that produced them. Karl is semiretired now, and most of his vast archives of the Revs Institute, the acclaimed collection in Naples, Florida. But Karl’s still writing books, really exclusive titles for true enthusiasts. One of his most recent titles received a major honor, as did Karl.
His two-volume set Reid Railton: Man of Speed, introduced to the public last year by Evro Publishing, was presented the Thomas McKean Memorial Cup by the Antique Automobile Club of America during its annual winter meeting in Philadelphia last weekend. The books tell the tale of the British sportsman, engineer, car builder (big Railton saloons were powered by brawny U.S.-built Hudson straight-sixes during the 1930s) and world Land Speed Record assailant. The set is, by far, the most exhaustive study ever written on this influential figure in U.K. motoring history. The McKean Cup is the sixth major award that the Railton biography has garnered since its publication, which may well be a record for a book of this type. In his 65-year career, Karl has written more than 60 books. I’ve gotten to know him in my career and can tell you he’s a wonderful guy who’s reached the pinnacle in his field of study. His latest four-volume edition of Porsche: Excellence was Expected is simply the most authoritative marque history ever published. Karl’s latest book, Fast Friends, about the lifetime of acquaintances he made in the auto industry, is out now and available through Delius Klasing.