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THE RETURN OF LEN FRANK

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Aug 25, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Old Mobil Gas SignLen Frank has returned, albeit in virtual form. Thought to be long lost, the Len Frank files have been uncovered and are once again prominently displayed in “Look Down the Road: The Writings of Len Frank.” The late Len Frank is best known to So Cal enthusiasts as the irrepressible co-host of KPFK's The Car Show—the longest-running automotive program on the airwaves. From 1979 to 1996, Len dished out his unadulterated opinions on cars and car companies—a practice he shared with his Car Show founding co-host, John Retsek (and carried on by the current co-hosts, Art Gould and Dave Kunz). In addition to his role on The Car Show, Len served on the editorial staff of countless automotive publications and served as the President of the Motor Press Guild. Before his journalism career, he owned a new car dealership (Saab and Peugeot), worked for the western Lotus distributor, ran an Alfa agency, and sold or serviced a number of European car makes. Len was also a pretty accomplished race car driver, spent a year studying transportation design at the Art Center College of Design, and received his master's degree at the University of Oregon. When he passed away in 1996, his friends and family held his memorial service at Willow Springs Raceway. In a ceremony that would have pleased Len, his ashes were released through the sunroof of a Porsche on the raceway's famed Turn Nine. To those who knew Len Frank or heard him over the airwaves, few could match his wealth of information on cars. He was a virtual automotive database before the advent of the Internet. Some of this information was captured on paper and collected onto a posthumous website entitled Look Down The Road (his signature signoff on The Car Show).
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Len Frank and John Retsek, circa 1983

After a few years, the website lost its corporate sponsorship, and, ultimately, was no longer accessible. Subsequently, I ran into colleague Scott Mead, who designed the original Len Frank website. It turns out that all the site files were still kept in a virtual vault by co-colleague Matt Stone, awaiting a new home. LA Car is honored to provide the home for Look Down The Road: The Writings of Len Frank. The site remains true to Scott Mead's original design, but we've added a few new stories. Special thanks to webmaster Erica L. Ruedas, who reconstructed the Len Frank website for LA Car. LA Car actually owes much of its existence to Len Frank and fellow Car Show co-host emeritus John Retsek. The very first LA Car article, The Best Cars to Drive in Rush Hour Traffic, had its beginnings as a letter to The Car Show. Len and John devoted some air time to it, subsequently sponsored my membership into the Motor Press Guild, and the rest (more or less) is history. - Roy Nakano

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Turn Nine at Willow Springs Raceway

To view the Len Frank homepage, go to Look Down The Road: The Writings of Len Frank.

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