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Forgotten Fiberglass - September 15, 2014

Book Review: Karl Ludvigsen's "Corvette - America's Star-Spangled Sports Car"

Hi Gang...

This marks the first time that I have been given an opportunity to do a book review - with a bonus for each of you at the end of this story. More about that "bonus" later.

As Rick D'Louhy and I have continued our research into the early postwar years of building your own sports car, we've had the opportunity to learn from some of the best authors in the field. One of the authors that we have come to greatly appreciate is Karl Ludvigsen - an automotive expert, journalist, writer and friend of fiberglass.

Karl's list of significant works in the automotive field is impressive. Click here to read an excellent review of Karl's achievements in this area. The areas that we have had the opportunity to work with Karl have been with the study of the early years of fiberglass leading up to GM's choice as the composite material for use in the Corvette. And it was his book titled, "Corvette - America's Star Spangled Sports Car" where he took the time to carefully outline this history for all to review.

It's hard to believe that the book was first released in 1973 - just 20 years into the production of the Corvette. The book was last updated in 1978, so it was with great excitement that I heard from Karl several years ago that he was working on a new revision to his book and wanted to include an update and expansion on the early years of fiberglass in the automobile industry.

Review of the Book:

I'm pleased to announce that his revised book is now available - and what an impressive job it is. It's been just over 40 years since his first book was released in 1973, and the update is significant and brings in new information learned these past many years and additional years of Corvette history too.

Karl dedicated the book to the "Corvette Enthusiast" and I would extend this to any of us that want a thorough and complete review of the use of fiberglass in automobiles in the early postwar years.

The first three chapters are of most interest to readers of Forgotten Fiberglass. These are the chapters that focus on the history of fiberglass sports cars and the build up and rationale for the choice of this material by General Motors for the Chevrolet Corvette.

Moreover, here are my thoughts on Karl's book:

"While it would be challenging enough for most authors to write about the complete history of a car or marque, Karl Ludvigsen takes this "challenge" to a new level. In order to have his readers fully appreciate the decisions that led GM to choosing "fiberglass" as the material for their new sports car in 1953, Karl take the time to delineate the American sports car heritage in the early postwar years which sets the stage for one of the Big Three to come forward with a car of their own made of this material.

Where he excels and goes above and beyond those before him is explaining how this new material - "fiberglass" - was the "carbon fiber" of its day. The use of this material transformed - in fact actually created - the cottage industry of building your own sports car in America. Early sports car designers like Bill Tritt of Glasspar and Eric Irwin of Lancer had a profound impact on GM's understanding of how to successfully use this material in automobile bodies.

For these reasons alone, this book is worthy of being on the shelf of any dedicated sports car guy or gal in America - and this is based on just the review of the first three chapters. The remaining 700+ pages are a testimony to the effort Karl put forth in making this update a reality. A "must have" for anyone who appreciates history and detail for such an important American sports car story."

Geoff Hacker
Forgotten Fiberglass

Review from and courtesy of Forgotten Fiberglass - September 15, 2014


Karl Ludvigsen
Karl Ludvigsen

In addition to his motor industry activities as an executive (with GM, Fiat and Ford) and head of a consulting company, Karl Ludvigsen has been active for over 50 years as an author and historian. As an author, co-author or editor he has some four dozen books to his credit. Needless to say, they are all about cars and the motor industry, Karl's life-long passion.

More about Karl Ludvigsen