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LOOK DOWN THE ROAD: The Writings of Len Frank

Published on Thu, Sep 24, 2020

By: Roy Nakano

The lost Len Frank collection is found, and now on LACar in all its glory.

The collection was thought to have been lost, after a major overhaul of the LACar website resulted in having a number of the older postings go by the wayside. That included “Look Down the Road: The Writings of Len Frank”—a collection of one of the industry’s legendary journalists.

Portrait of Len Frank (LF collection)
Portrait of Len Frank (LF collection)

Len Frank was the automotive authority that co-hosted the longest airing automotive program (KPFK’s The Car Show). Before becoming known for his writing, Len fixed cars, sold cars, and even owned a dealership. And then he made a living writing about cars. He wrote for numerous publications, including European Car, Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics and Sports Car Graphic. His colleagues elected him President of the Motor Press Guild. He also raced cars, including the 24-hour variety. He even had a hand in the early years of LACar: Both he and the founding Car Show co-host, John Retsek, sponsored my membership into the Motor Press Guild just as I was launching LACar.  

When Len passed away in 1996, it was almost as if the automotive world stood still for a moment. To honor Len, his friends and family gathered at Willow Springs Raceway. They watched as his ashes were released from the sunroof of a Porsche 911 on Turn Nine.

Memorabilia from KPFK’s The Car Show, featuring Len Frank and John Retsek, as spread out on John Retsek’s studio desk at KCET (photo by Roy Nakano)
Memorabilia from KPFK’s The Car Show, featuring Len Frank and John Retsek, as spread out on John Retsek’s studio desk at KCET (photo by Roy Nakano)

You can thank the pandemic for the return of “Look Down The Road.” It was during the early months of the lock down that I found the original files while cleaning up my garage. It was all there: The message from his son, Stefan Frank; the tribute from author Matt Stone, who has been serving as the curator for Len’s works since his passing; Len Frank on “The Car Show”; Len Frank on Len Frank; the assortment of letters from his fans; a myriad of essays on some his favorite subjects, including two-strokes, Alfas, Berkeleys, Cheetahs, English cars, French cars, his Sunbeam Tiger, Volvos, and even an unfinished manuscript, “Luxury Defined”. All together, there are 46 works from the collection.   

One-by-one, we've been re-posting the articles, along with the original photos, plus additional images of higher resolution. So, we are now ready to present the entire collection in all its glory. You can click here to go to a five-page table of contents for all 46 items in the collection. Suppose you don’t want to read all 46 in one sitting, you can always type “Look Down The Road” (with quotation marks) in the LACar Search window at the top, and you’ll be taken back to the 46 stories. Or, you can type “Len Frank” (with or without quotation marks) in the Search window, and you’ll get the 46, plus a few more articles.

In the meantime, don’t forget to look down the road. – Roy Nakano

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