We just learned today that Kjell Qvale has died. He was 94. Our deep condolences to Rita, his sons, and his entire family. The automobile community has lost one of its titans.
12-31-2012. The first reviews of Lunches With Mr. Q: An Auto Industry Titan on Business, Life and Sports Car Dreams, are starting to come in, and the response has been extraordinarily positive. Here are some excerpts and comments from reviewers and readers:
Arv Voss, writing on Iveho.com: “Lunches With Mr. Q by author Kevin Nelson is the delightful and entertaining account of a series of lunches and meetings with Kjell Qvale, a self-made multimillionaire auto industry titan…Nelson has managed to capture the charm, wit and humor of Qvale in this entertaining narrative…A fully compelling story that is insightful, often funny, and sometimes poignant.” For the entire review, click here.
Sabu Advani, at SpeedReaders.info: “Nelson’s writing style is fluid, brisk, engaging…From its carbon fiber-style dust jacket to the colorful almost splashy interior, the book is beautifully designed. It is also impeccably typeset, proofreand and printed—and still comes at an absurdly low price, a rare combination any day, but these days in particular.” For the complete review, click here.
Malcolm Margolin, publisher of Heyday Books: “There are a couple of truly unique and astounding characters in this book. One is Mr. Q, the other is Kevin Nelson. This is not only a splendid piece of writing, but a splendid piece of publishing as well.”
Lee Raskin, author of James Dean At Speed: “Lunches with Mr. Q is outstanding. Well-written, entertaining, and jam-packed with great motorsports stories.”
Jon Rosner, at British Marque, Gearshift and other websites: “Marvelous…The book is a very thorough and well-researched delving into the life of Kjell Qvale, his planting, nurturing and growing, from nascent shoots, the import car business on the West Coast.”
Steve Kirby, in Jaguar Tales: ” A very good read about a fascinating life.”
David Swig, “Wheels” columnist for the Nob Hill Gazette: “The book, incidentally, is dedicated to my father, Martin Swig. It’s well worth a read; Qvale’s wisdom and lessons extend far beyond the car business.” For the complete review, see right here.
Lunches With Mr. Q is now available as an e-book for $9.95 at Amazon’s Kindle Store. You can read it on all your Kindle e-readers, including the Kindle Fire. Click here and it will be delivered to you within minutes!
Lunches With Mr. Q will soon be available on the iPad and Nook e-readers as well.
Various auto industry people, writers and others have received early advance electronic copies of Lunches With Mr. Q, and so far the response to the book—which isn’t even out yet—has been outstanding. One of the most complimentary has been Bob Lutz, above, the former chairman of General Motors and a bestselling author. Here are the three comments, starting with Lutz:
“This book needed to be written. It chronicles the life of one of America’s original and greatest ‘car guys’, who made the whole West Coast (and thus the nation) aware of the motoring joy that could be found in European sports cars.” —Bob Lutz
“A must read for every Jaguar owner. Mr. Q is a mythical figure to many of us.”— Steve Kirby, President of the Jaguar Club of Los Angeles/Orange County
“This is nice work and the story is clearly meant to be the star rather than the writer (which in my view is the way it should be done). For the reader, the ability to learn about the emergence of the ‘sporty car’ market, before there was such a thing, while learning from one of its essential West Coast motivators is worth the read alone. But the book is more than that, because Mr. Q’s various personal pearls of wisdom do not just play in terms of automotive sales, but life as well (particularly given all the turbulence we’re facing these days). My favorite chapter is “Race Today, Sell Tomorrow” if for no other reason than the facing shot of the 1964 MG Liquid Suspension Special at Indy. As it happened my Dad took me to the 500 that year, and of all of the cars on the track that year, the car’s setup was the one I always wanted to see up close. All in all; a lovely and artful experience across the board. Oh, nice layout and graphical formatting as well, very classy indeed. Hope y’all sell a million of ‘em.”—Rick Carlton, Senior Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
As word gets out about the upcoming publication of a biography about Kjell Qvale, people who know him are responding with expressions of interest and memories. Here is one such recollection from an MG owner:
I first met “Mr. Q” when, at 18 years old, I went to see him in his office in San Francisco for an application to enter my car—a 1937 Buick Roadmaster—in Golden Gate Park’s Road Race Concours of 1953. My very snazzy Buick stood between a LeBaron aluminum bodied dual cowl 1930s Chrysler phaeton and a 1934 original owner Pierce Arrow. I felt rather humble, but the two owners were incredibly gracious to this brash kid. No, I didn’t win.
And more memories are certain to come.
Here are two photographs, separated by fifty years: At top is a 1960s shot of Mr. Q in a Jaguar XKE (which served as the cover image for Lunches With Mr. Q). Below it is a publicity shot of Mr. Q, taken this summer, also in a Jaguar XKE from that era. Times have changed, but that amazing car—largely the creation of Sir William Lyons, a friend of Mr. Q’s, now passed—remains as beautiful as ever.
Lunches With Mr. Q won’t be released until November, but on Saturday, September 15, Golden Gate Fields in Albany will hold a special day to honor Mr. Q and his sixty years in horse racing. Already a member of the California Racing Hall of Fame, Mr. Q—Kjell Qvale—was also recently honored as the co-recipient of an annual award that recognizes outstanding contributions to thoroughbred racing. One of the many champion horses he has owned over the years is the popular people’s champion of years past, Silky Sullivan, shown below in action.
Kevin Nelson’s previous book on automobiles, Wheels of Change, won the Valentine Memorial Award for Excellence in Automotive History, and was a Los Angeles Motor Press Guild finalist for Best Book of the Year. Here are a few of the things the critics said about it:
“Wheels of Change is a great read that makes the history of the automobile come alive with human interest and a rare energy.”—James Heitmann, Professor of History, University of Dayton and a leading automobile expert
“A great deal of fun and full of information. Author Nelson writes beautifully, with an air of wonder, enthusiasm and appreciation.”—American Library Association
“Packed with superbly entertaining tales…A must for anyone with even a passing interest in West Coast car culture.”—Classic and Sports Car Magazine
“Fantastic. If books such as this had been required reading in high school, I definitely would have made better grades in history.”—Brad Bowling, Car and Parts Magazine
“Four stars. Excellent.”—Jim Donnelly, Hemmings Motor News