Who We Are
If you are an automotive enthusiast who is passionate about learning, researching, recording and reading automotive history. We invite you to join the Society of Automotive Historians with a membership that spans over 20 countries around the globe.
Autohistory.org reflects our varied interests and has a “members only” component with digital records of past SAH publications as well as high definition photography of vehicles from around the world.
Nearly all significant automotive authors past and present have been or are members.
External Review of SAH
What To See On This Site
The MEMBERS LIBRARY page provides digital copies of all publications of the Society of Automotive Historians over the past half-century. Included is an index. There are also over 7,000 high definition images of automobiles from around the globe available to member authors to use permission free in their publications. In addition there are unpublished manuscripts and self-publishing guides with more material being added on a regular basis. A guide to logging in so as to access the Members Library is HERE
Automobile Quarterly Back Issues
Ever wondered what happened to the back issues of Automobile Quarterly after the AQ went out of business in 2012? Well SAH has tracked them down and they are available by clicking Here
Fourth International Drive History
Conference 2020 POSTPONED
With the Corona virus concerns it is prudent that this event be postponed to April 22 – 24, 2021. To maintain your interest, we reflect some of what we missed but will be available next year.
Included with this Conference were plans for a personally hosted tour by Dr. Simeone of the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum with a feature of “Ford vs. Ferrari”. Further details are available HERE.
The other unique aspect of this gathering of enthusiasts is that participants get a chance to actually drive or be driven in antique cars and this year a Tucker was planned be part of this experience. Learn more HERE.
Registration Modifications Further details of transferring existing registration to the 2021 conference or refunds can be found HERE
Come See the Society of Automotive Historians At Hershey
Please Note 2020 Meet Cancelled
Wednesday Oct. 6 – Friday Oct. 8, 2021
AACA Hershey Fall Meet, Hershey, PA
Orange Field OBB 16 – 19
Hours Book Signing
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Thursday, Oct. 7th, 12:30 PM to 3:00 PM.
Third International Drive History Conference
For a recap of the Third International Drive History Conference held by the Historic Vehicle Association in Allentown, Pennsylvania celebrating the 50th Anniversary of SAH can be found HERE.
Second European History Conference
For a recap of the Second European Automotive History Conference held at Louman Museum at The Hague can be found HERE.
$20 Digital Membership Introduced
The SAH has added “digital member” to its list of member categories. A digital member has all SAH member rights and privileges, but all media and communication is delivered (via email) and available electronically (via the website: autohistory.org). For example, this means that a digital member receives the bimonthly SAH Journal and the Automotive History Review as downloadable PDF files via email and will not receive hard copies in the mail. However, the digital versions of these publications are available and sent while the printing process is underway, so the digital versions are not subject to the added time it takes to print, mail and deliver the printed versions. Annual digital membership, regardless of domicile, is $20.
Please note: while annual membership dues for North America (U.S. / Canada / Mexico) remains at $50, given ever increasing postage expenses, annual “Overseas” membership (all territories beyond U.S. / Canada / Mexico) has been set at $60.
Like all members, digital members have full access to the “members only” section of the website, which includes all the past issues of the SAH Journal and the Automotive History Review. From time-to-time the SAH produces a printed member directory—while digital members will not receive a printed copy, the website has a member directory with full search capabilities. If digital members wish to purchase a directory as well as issues of other SAH publications, they are available at their given price plus postage.
New Member Benefits (Publisher Discounts!): we are pleased to announce that our members can now purchase books from Veloce Publishers (see: veloce.co.uk) at a 35% discount, and books from Racemaker Press (see: racemaker.com) at a 15% discount. Just use your SAH member number when ordering. Recognizing that our members are car and book enthusiasts, we will try to add more publishers to this list.
Website Benefits: all members are entitled to access the “members only” section of the SAH website: autohistory.org. There, you will find portals to access all the issues of the SAH Journal and the Automotive History Review as well as other features, like the photos and images library; and the website will continue to expand its features and benefits.
Honor Roll and Member Profiles
When accepting the Friend of Automotive History Award, Karl prepared the following: “Although I began my career as a writer about current events in the car world, I was always interested in what had gone before. I stood, as they say, on the shoulders of the men – and they were chiefly men – who had taken the trouble to research that history. Two who stand out are Griff Borgeson and Laurence Pomeroy. Since then I’ve seldom discarded anything I found to do with cars, which is why I had to move house to the country!”
Combining a proclivity for math and science with his artistic talent, Ludvigsen set his sites on studying mechanical engineering at MIT. Exeter “over-prepared me for MIT,” he admits. “I coasted through my first year but it was a mixed blessing.” After two years Ludvigsen left to pursue industrial design studies at Pratt Institute in New York City. He started his automobile industry career in 1956 as a stylist for General Motors, working on an early prototype of a front-wheel-drive car. He later held public relations, governmental affairs and other executive positions at General Motors, Fiat and Ford.
In addition to his motor industry activities, 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.
Since 1997 Ludvigsen has been drawing on the photographic resources of the Ludvigsen Library to write and illustrate books on the great racing drivers. His first title in this series was Stirling Moss – Racing with the Maestro. He followed this with Jackie Stewart – Triple-Crowned King of Speed and Juan Manuel Fangio – Motor Racing’s Grand Master. Fourth in this series for Haynes Publishing was Dan Gurney – The Ultimate Racer and fifth was Alberto Ascari – Ferrari’s First Double Champion. Next came Bruce McLaren – Life and Legend of Excellence and Emerson Fittipaldi — Heart of a Racer.
Also in the field of motor sports Karl Ludvigsen has written about road racing in America, the cars of the Can-Am series, the AAR Eagle racing cars, the GT40 Fords and Prime Movers, the story of Britain’s Ilmor Engineering. His introduction to At Speed, a book of Jesse Alexander’s racing photography, won the Ken W. Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism.
Other motors-sports titles include Classic Grand Prix Cars, a history of the front-engined G.P. racer, and Classic Racing Engines, Karl’s personal selection of 50 notable power units. Ludvigsen has written the story of BRM’s ill-fated Formula 1 V16 and the saga of the great 200 horsepower Benz racers, two of which were nicknamed “Blitzen Benz”.
Four of Karl Ludvigsen’s books concern the Chevrolet Corvette, one of them an industry best-seller. He has written three times about Mercedes-Benz, twice about its racing cars. His books on the latter subject have won the Montagu Trophy (once) and the Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot Award (twice), both recognising outstanding automotive historical writing.
In 2001 Karl again received the Cugnot award from the Society of Automotive Historians for his book about the early years of the Volkswagen and its controversial factory, Battle for the Beetle, a Robert Bentley publication. In 2002 the Society gave him its highest accolade, Friend of Automotive History.
Karl Ludvigsen is also the author of the definitive histories of Porsche and Opel. His Porsche history, Excellence was Expected, is considered by many to be a model of the researching and writing of the history of an auto company. He has updated it in three volumes for Bentley Publishers for the new Millennium. A further update for 2008 is in preparation.
At the request of Ernst Piëch, a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, Ludvigsen has researched the early life and work of that great engineer. The result, a book titled Porsche — Genesis of Genius, is published by Bentley in 2008. It has won both the Montagu Trophy and the Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot Award. An accompanying book, titled Sublime Creations, describes cars in Mr. Piëch’s personal collection.
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 and 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.
Ludvigsen’s understanding of the Ferrari world combined with his Library’s holding of the Rodolfo Mailander photo archive to produce Ferrari by Mailander in 2005, a Dalton Watson publication. Its launch was accompanied by major exhibitions in Turin and Pebble Beach of selected photos from the book.
The year 2008 sees the publication by Haynes of a history of the battles between Ferrari and Maserati from the 1940s to the 1960s, titled Red-Hot Rivals. Ludvigsen is also the author of a series of monographs on great Maserati cars.
In co-operation with publisher Iconografix, Ludvigsen has established the Ludvigsen Library Series of 128-page books drawing on the holdings of the Ludvigsen Library. The series now numbers 19 titles, including books on Indy racing cars of 1911 to 1939, the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the Indy Novis, Chevrolet’s Corvair and Corvette, Jaguar XK120, XK140 and XK150, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL of 1952 and 1954-1964, the 300SLR of 1955, two books on Porsche Spyders, the Porsche 917, the Ferrari factory and American sports-racers: the Cunninghams, Chaparrals and Can-Am racing cars. More titles are in preparation.
Karl’s Ludvigsen Library is also active in the provision of photographs and research material for authors, publishers of books and periodicals, and collectors and enthusiasts. It holds extensive original negatives and transparencies from the 1950s forward with special strengths in motor sports, American cars and sports cars. As well it holds original photos and glass negatives from the dawn of the automotive era.
On motor-industry topics Karl Ludvigsen has written books about high-performance engines, the Wankel rotary engine and the histories of American auto makers. His latest book on power units is The V12 Engine, published by Haynes in 2005. He was editor of The Future of the Automobile, the report of the 1981-1984 study of the world auto industry by M.I.T. This was named one of the best business books of the year by Business Week.
In 1996 publishers in Britain and the United States launched Karl Ludvigsen’s book on motor industry management, Creating the Customer-Driven Car Company. It draws on his industry experience and in-depth research to advise industry personnel on customer-pleasing best practice.
From 1989 to 1998 Karl Ludvigsen edited and contributed to numerous studies published by Euromotor Reports Limited, a leading researcher of special reports and studies about the European motor industry and market. Resident in England since 1980, Mr Ludvigsen is respected as a close and knowledgeable observer of, and participant in, the world motor industry.
Leading periodicals also publish Karl Ludvigsen’s writings. He is a former technical editor of Sports Cars Illustrated (1956-57), editor of Car and Driver (1960-1962) and east coast editor of Motor Trend (1970s). His articles about cars, companies and motoring personalities are published in America by Automobile Quarterly, among others, while in Europe he writes frequently for The Automobile. He is a regular writer and columnist for Hemmings Sports & Exotic Cars, 911 & Porsche World and Just-Auto.com.
Karl’s automotive tastes are fascinating. Like any self respecting enthusiast of his era, he started with an MG TC, followed by a Triumph TR2. But when shipped to Germany on Military Service he bought a new three-speed Renault Dauphine, due to the high fuel costs. The plan was to buy an Alfa Romeo to take home, but his moonlight writing while in the services enabled him to buy a used Mercedes-Benz Gullwing 300SL. He even convinced the Gullwing’s owner to take the Dauphine in trade for his wife. Once home, New York City placed limitations on the 300SL so to complement the Gullwing, a Citroën 2CV provided transportation from 0 to 50 mph, with the Gullwing filling the 50 mph to 150 mph slot. When rust prompted the sale of the Mercedes-Benz, the rust resitant wooden structure justified the purchase of a Morgan while employed by GM. After being rear-ended by a truck, the Morgan bowed to a Chevrolet Nova SS. Currently the Ludvigsen stable includes a Riley and a Cord.