Be sure to check out Karl Ludvigsen’s well-written personal accounts and stories on his new website, Why Cars Are So Bad. What we have here is a summary of each post.—Gary

Why Cars Are So Bad

I’ve had that headline in my mind for years and finally decided to use it for the Substack postings that I began at the beginning of 2022. Not every post contributes to this theme, but many will. Anyway, it’s punchy!—Karl Ludvigsen

I started out with Bugatti and Auto Age, a personal story that’s almost unbelievable. My speculation about the design of a future Bugatti Grand Prix car was never published. Even so, its serendipity and two perceptive editors sparked my engine as an automotive journalist.

Bill Lear’s Steam Obsession was my next outing. Thanks to my friend Bill Moore, who was working for Lear, I had the honor and pleasure of working for and with this amazing engineer and personality. I even drove his steam-powered bus! That was during a spell when the Rankine Cycle—as it was technically known—was thought the answer to low emissions.

I reached back to the 1950s to describe my trip to Long Island and my day spent Faffing Around with Frick. I was the only journalist to go on the record about Bill Frick’s creation of a namesake auto with a Vignale body on a Cadillac-powered Studebaker chassis. It was my cover story on Sports Cars Illustrated for May 1956.

I was pretty sure that people would be interested in The Ferry Porsche I Knew and I was right. Lots of folks logged in for my recollections of this remarkable man, who was regarded by everyone at Porsche as Their Customer. What Ferry liked and didn’t like was built into every Porsche.

The big interest in hydrogen as a fuel for trucks, cars, planes and trains encouraged me to look up what I said about this wonder gas in 2006. Stepping on the (Hydrogen) Gas was the post that resulted. It originally appeared in Winding Road, the web magazine headed by my friend David E. Davis, Jr.

Ron Sieber asked me to write a foreword to his book, Classic Speedsters. The result was Thinking About Speedsters, which I reprised for my Substack fans. It’s a nice book and a nice theme, for what could be better than Speedsters? It was right up my alley with Porsche Speedsters being on my agenda.

I turned to another memorable personality with a Substack story about Bill Milliken’s White-Knuckle Ride. Until he died at 101 years Bill was a close friend and colleague on all things to do with car engineering and performance. We had some adventures together, not least the famous Astro Spiral jump and Motor Trend’s Car of the Year.

I have plenty to say about John DeLorean; I profiled him for Signature magazine. But in my Substack I focused on my involvement with his personal book about life at General Motors. My story of The Book of John (Z) includes some of his views that speak to the subject of Why Cars Are So Bad.

First of the Dream Cars: Buick’s Y-Job takes us back to the world of Harley Earl and his creation of a car that had a profound influence on the future shapes of cars in general as well as those of General Motors. Besides, speaking of Speedsters, it was and remains a classy addition to that genre, even if it lacks the name.

  1. Norman Gaines Jr.

    re: the Bugatti, The “Bugatti” concept was ahead of its time in parts. Also of its time was a French lack of proper finance or pre-race testing. The overall idea was great. But all the hope in the world would have had a hard time with the Lancia D50 or Mercedes 196. I would love to have seen it run.

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