Hooniverse Bookshelf: America Edition – "America's Star-Spangled Sports Car"

Happy America day. To celebrate, I’ve lined up three book reviews today that celebrate the speed, ingenuity, and forward-thinking ways that used to typify the American automotive and racing industries. There was at time when we could proudly stand as a nation and see our drivers, cars, and teams taking on the best that the world could throw at us. There’s a bit of that remaining today, but certainly nothing like it was in the 60s and 70s. Racetracks the world over were dominated by our best cars, and driven by our most prolific drivers. This is the second of today’s books. This is an updated and revised and modernized version of Karl Ludvigsen’s original 1973 publication of the same name, “Corvette: America’s Star-Spangled Sports Car”. Obviously, this book extends that 1973 book, adding ten more years up to 1982. There will obviously be a second book to finish out the rest of the car’s history. I’m sure Karl is more than capable of handling the research for that book himself, but perhaps he should call Eric Rood for a bit of help? Anyhow, is this prolific Ludvigsen original worth adding to your own book collection?
As a Porsche fanatic, I’ve been intimately familiar with Ludvigsen’s work through the most prolific volume on the brand “Excellence Was Expected” and his recent historical tome that centers on the earliest of Porsche cars, “Origin of the Species”, focusing solely on the 1948-1950 Gmund-built 356s. Ludvigsen doesn’t cut corners in his work. He spends his time and research finding out every last detail of a car or company’s history and making sure it is included. He is nothing if not thorough. This is not a book to be taken lightly.
Like the Cobra book from this morning, this book is also available at Amazon for about fifty dollars. If you do decide to get this book and enjoy it, get a couple more of Karl’s books. He’s a great guy, a great writer, and a great mind in the field of automotive history. His books are fantastic. You should read them. I guarantee you’ll learn something.
While it would have been easy enough for Karl to take his 1973 book (or the 1978 update of that book) and simply expand on the later years, leaving those first 20 years the same. Fortunately for us, Karl isn’t one to do such a thing, and he comprehensively expanded the section on the earliest years of the Corvette. Like I said, this is a prolific tome. About 750 pages cover only the first 30 years of Corvette production. That’s C1, C2, and C3 only (which is before the Corvette actually started getting good, if you ask my humble opinion as a devout Ford follower). I never thought it would be possible to read that much about a single line of car, let alone write that much about a single line of car, but Karl has done it.
Karl is eloquent and somewhat humorous. He has a knack for getting the reader to keep reading. He’s spent decades perfecting the ‘to be continued’ form of writing. Getting to the end of a chapter at the end of the night, I just wanted to keep going. I never once found myself not wanting to read this book until it was done. It took a while, I’m not going to lie, but I was constantly tied into reading it. That says a lot coming from me, because I tend to not really care about Corvettes until the C4 generation. This story was worth telling, though, as the Corvette has been “America” embodied since it began. This is a car that mirrors the desires of our country’s sports car buyers decade after decade.
Just in case you thought the “mid-engine Corvette” rumors were a new thing…
Full disclosure: Bentley liked my review of Rob Seigel’s “Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic” so much that they asked me if I would like to review Karl’s newest book. Of course I said I would love the opportunity, and graciously accepted this free copy to review.

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  1. PaulE Avatar

    Until you brought it up, I totally forgot that I’ve had a copy of this on the bookshelf for years–it’s one I inherited from one of my older brothers in the 1980s or 90s (mine’s a ‘second edition’, covering the C3s up through 1976). Great reading then. Thanks for the reminder that I need to read it again soon.

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    I have the 1976 (2nd) edition of the book. This was it was published. It wasn’t in the local bookstores, so my mom, who worked for a petroleum magazine, ordered it directly from the publisher. One of my favorite auto books, along with American Racing, by Tom Burnside.