With his biography of Reid Railton, Karl Eric Ludvigsen adds a third notable engineer to his oeuvre of some five dozen titles. Railton’s predecessors are Volkswagen creator Ferdinand Porsche, in two volumes, and Lotus founder Colin Chapman. Other biographical subjects have been racing drivers Stirling Moss, Juan Fangio, Bruce McLaren, Emerson Fittipaldi, Dan Gurney, Jackie Stewart and Alberto Ascari.
For Ludvigsen authorship has been an integral part of a 65-year career that saw his first book — MG Guide — published in 1958. A passion for cars led to senior posts in the motor industry at General Motors, Fiat Motors of North America and Ford of Europe, the last requiring his move from America to Britain in 1980. In London he founded a management-consulting company, Ludvigsen Associates Limited, that he headed for 15 years.
Since 2000 Karl Ludvigsen has concentrated on authorship. Four of his books have received the Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot Award from the Society of Automotive Historians, which in 2002 gave him its highest accolade, Friend of Automotive History. He is a three-time winner of the Montagu Trophy of the Guild of Motoring Writers and received the Ken W. Purdy Award for his book on the Mercedes-Benz racing cars.
Ludvigsen is considered an authority on the history of Porsche, its people and its cars as well as Chevrolet’s Corvette sports car. Significant works include books about high-performance engines, the Wankel rotary engine, the history of the V-12 engine and the Rolls-Royce and Bentley V-8 engine. His work as a consultant led Ludvigsen to write a book on motor-industry management, published in the UK, the USA and Germany.
In co-operation with publisher Iconografix, Karl established the Ludvigsen Library Series of 128-page books drawing on the holdings of his photographic library. The series ultimately numbered 25 titles. For several decades the Ludvigsen Library was a leading source of reference and images for all branches of the automotive world before its sale to The Revs Institute, through which its images — including Karl’s — remain available.
In 1997 Ludvigsen researched and wrote the catalogue for a special exhibition of Ferrari technological innovations on the occasion of the company’s 50th anniversary. He also contributed a major section to the company’s official 50-year history. For Ferrari’s 60th anniversary he was commissioned by them to research and write a major over-arching history of Ferrari’s technical innovations.
Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1934, Ludvigsen attended Phillips Exeter Academy, studied mechanical engineering at MIT and industrial design at Pratt Institute. His career in magazine management included technical editorship of Sports Cars Illustrated and the editorship of Car and Driver. In addition to his work as an author and historian he is a contributor to leading periodicals.
Karl has been a Member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) since 1960 and is currently a member of its Mobility History Committee. He is a Companion of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a founder member of the International Motor Press Association. Karl is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University.
Ludvigsen is a member of the Society of Authors, the Society of Automotive Historians, the Newcomen Society, the Society For the History of Technology and the Guild of Motoring Writers as well as the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) and other auto-related clubs. He is a member of the RAC Technical Committee that assesses and chooses candidates for the Dewar Trophy and Simms Medal.
Karl Ludvigsen lives in Hawkedon, Suffolk with his wife Annette and two classic cars.