By on July 11, 2006

pintowagon2.jpgFrank Williams came to TTAC's attention after he cc'ed us on an email to Car & Driver.  The long time C&D reader was all het up about Brock Yate's summary execution– I mean, dismissal.  Reading Williams' take-no-prisoners diatribe against the banal buff book, I immediately recognized Frank as a kindred spirit: a car guy with fire in his belly and an itchy keyboard.  Since his TTAC debut, Frank's gone on to become one of our most prolific and entertaining talents. Today's anti-nostalgic deconstruction of a 70's icon offers yet more proof that the net is giving voice to a whole new generation of automotive writing talent– even if it's not exactly a younger generation.  And speaking of voice, here's Frank's…

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18 Comments on “Meet Frank Williams...”


  • avatar
    IronEagle

    Great interview. I enjoyed it very much. I was the same way as a kid. Loved to go to the car dealerships and sit in the cars as I am sure many here did. I wonder if Frank ever owned a Miata? I had a Red/Black ’92 for a year back in 94. I know many former MG drivers loved the first gen MX-5.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Fifty feet!!

    I love it.

    Welcome aboard.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    Thanks, guys!

    IronEagle, I never owned a Miata. I thought about getting one but after the MG I decided I’d be better off sticking to cars that were a bit easier to get into and out of and had more room around the pedals for my size 14 combat boots.

    Frank

  • avatar

    So…buying an Acura is getting in touch with your feminine side, eh Farago?

    I mean, in context, stepping down from a Ferrari to an Acura could seem that way. But I love my TSX…so consider me in touch with my fem side.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    I don’t know why I didn’t say it in the interview, but the Acura he traded the Ferrari on was an NSX. Still kind of a strange progression, though.

  • avatar

    Mr. Williams,

    Definitely an odd progression…I just want to give Mr. Farago a rub. Oh, and by the way, I thoroughly enjoyed the interview, and your article. I can’t wait to see what’s next…

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I was going to ask if it was an NSX.

    Depending on the year, that makes a whole lot of sense, as the NSX would have handled better, been faster and 100 to 750 times more reliable… and not a whole lot cheaper.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    I don’t remember what model Ferrari he had. I just know we all thought it strange he’d trade it on an NSX. Of course, none of us had to pay for the maintenance on it.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    Not to nitpick, but it would be Brock Yates’ not Brock Yate’s as his last name is Yates not Yate.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    A few folks have emailed me asking what I said in the letter to Car and Driver that caught Farago’s attention. Here it is in its entirety:

    I once had a beloved Doberman. She was smart, fiercely loyal, and my constant companion. Alas, as things tend to go, she too soon came to the end of her days. She started losing her eyesight, only wanted to lay on the couch, and in the end began having seizures and became incontinent. She was no longer the loyal companion I once knew. I knew it was time to let her go. I cried on the way home from the vet’s office.

    I once had a favorite car magazine. It was smart, irreverent, fiercely independent, and it was the only source I needed for automotive information. Alas, as things tend to go, though, it fell into the mainstream. It stopped building off-the-wall project cars like Boss Wagons and dual-engine CRXs, and started reporting on overpriced tuner cars where the only price of admission is too little taste and too much money. It no longer provides in-depth road tests and analytical reports, but now wastes its efforts on flashy page layouts with no real content and 2-page-long “preview tests” written by PR departments. It once offered biting editorial content but now its editorial pages read more like term papers written by first-year engineering students. It was once the home to satirical masterpieces like the Denbeigh Super Chauvinist Saloon, the “Dan Gurney for President” campaign, and the Anti-Destination League. Now the best it can do is piddle on the couch with content like the pathetic Ford Futura wagon spoof and whining over the size of cup holders or the absence of a telescoping steering wheel. And now the bean counters are running the show, having fired Brock “The Assassin” Yates. I can’t continue to watch it slide into the pit of mediocrity. It’s time to let go. This time, though, I’m not crying.

    When my subscription runs out, I won’t be renewing. I’ll check the newsstands from time to time to see if anything has changed, but I’m not holding a lot of hope for a miracle. I enjoyed my many years with Car and Driver. It’s too bad it no longer exists.

    And no, they never published or even acknowledged it.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    HAHAH… decapitated turtle

  • avatar

    Fantastic letter…but now I’m questioning my subscription to C&D and R&T, which started only a few months ago (first time). Then again, I got 3 years of each for a total of $7 off of ebay. My impetus was that it was super cheap, and I was tired of seeing the mags in doc’s offices and never getting to finish a damn article…this was after a recent dentist trip.

    So C&D used to have an edge? It’s a shame I missed that…

  • avatar

    Ronin317:

    eBay is your friend. You’re safe with any Car and Drivers between 1961 and 1993 or so. Maybe up to 1995.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    As for Car and Driver, whenever a publication gets more concerned with advertising revenue, than good writing, it is going to go downhill. Many people feel that David E. Davis “saved” Car and Driver; personally, I think he started its slide, many years ago, by focusing too much on getting on Detroit’s good side, rather than focusing on good writing. The best C/Ds were when Leon Mandel was editor; and Brock Yates worked side-by-side with him. Now that Brock has been jetisoned, it remains for a new generation of writers to try to take the magazine forward. But here’s the deal: they don’t really care about the printed magazine. They just hired three new editors for the web edition. And many of those of us who subscribe have gotten queries asking us first, if we knew that the entire magazine is now on-line, and second, if we would pay to (simply) get the magazine delivered to our e-mail boxes. (That way, Hachette-Fillipachi can save money on USPS delivery and printing costs.) So yes, TTAC and other web sites have gotten noticed, because H-F can see that the competition is coming from the Internet.
    But hardly any Internet sites pay writers enough to get the best. Writers have bills, girlfriends (wives?), boyfriends, lovers, companion animals, rent and mortgages to pay. The best writers want to do it – writing that is – all the time. What makes a person a good writer, also makes them poor performers at other jobs. (That observation came from the writing of the late Hunter S. Thompson and he was one hundred percent correct.)
    But the key thing is people who put together web sites – not the Farago family but dimbulbs such as CarDomain.com and Edmunds – need to understand what truly good writing is and stop calling it by that soul-less name of “content.” I stood next to two Internet empty suits at an Independence Day picnic, two weeks ago, and heard one of them discussing “the importance of content.” I resisted the urge to turn to him and tell him, “It’s writing, you moron. And you wouldn’t likely know good writing if it came up and bit you on the ass!”
    Same as it ever was.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    To me, the piece that personified the “classic” C&D attitude was their road test of the Opel Kadette wagon in, if memory serves me, February 1968. In their review they described it as “a never-ending stream of the third-rate and the underdone, a rolling potpourri of mediocrity.” They openly said the car was junk, and to drive home their point all of the photos of the car that accompanied the article were taken in a junk yard and shot in B&W. This was their “flying vagina” moment. It pissed off GM and they pulled all their ads from C&D and every other mag published by the parent company. You sure wouldn’t find C&D (or hardly any other print magazine) taking a stance like that today!

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    Wait a minute, Terry… did you say some internet sites pay their writers????

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Uh oh….

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