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"They tend to be the type of stories that get told in a shop over a beer or two or from behind the bumper of a car at a car show as people sit in a circle of old car guys in lawn chairs.  So, there are stories that will make you laugh or maybe shed a tear or two."


David Dickinson, Author of The Old Car Nut Book 

by Ziva Allen


Old Car Nut 11David Dickinson has worn many hats over the years.  And of course all of those hats have had something to do with the automotive industry and cars, specifically classic cars.  Currently Dickinson is in the process of publishing The Old Car Nut Book series.  With the first two already published, Dickinson is hard at work compiling stories for the upcoming third book in the series.  Take a look below at our Q & A with Dickinson and learn more about the man behind the fascinating stories.


Q.  Tell us about The Old Car Nut book series.


A.  From the beginning, The Old Car Nut Book has been about sharing.  Everyone has stories and what started out as one book has become a series.  While most written publications seek to provide articles about the coolest, most expensive cars and iconic people in what has become a huge industry, these books focus on the everyday people involved in the old car hobby and their stories from the time that cars first caught their eye to their latest project...and they tell their stories in first person, not as articles written about them.  The Old Car Nut Books ask people to dig deep into their memories and old photos and tell their unique stories from their own perspective.


In addition, where an article in a magazine gets lost in a stack, these books tend to retain a place on the bed stand or coffee table.  I’ve had people tell me they bought a second copy because the first one got loaned out and never returned.


Q.  How many books are in the series and what about each book is different?


A.  There will be five or possibly six books.  A sixth book might be done as a “Best of…” volume.  So far, two books have been published and are similar in that there were no boundaries for the stories other than not too long or not too short.  They tend to be the type of stories that get told in a shop over a beer or two or from behind the bumper of a car at a car show as people sit in a circle of old car guys in lawn chairs.  So, there are stories that will make you laugh or maybe shed a tear or two.  Each of these stories will take you a step or two into the past.


Book three, which will be published in the spring of 2015, focuses on Road Trips and the length constraint was thrown out the window because of two pieces that I wanted to use, but were longer than I used in the first two books.  The Road Trip book will cover A Century of Travel Across America, beginning with a story written in 1915 that includes photographs and details a trip from Watertown, SD to Portland, OR in a Model T Touring car.


Book four will focus on racing and track stories and asks the question of people that might want to share their story… “Where did/do you like to go fast?”  Book five will cover our Greatest Generation.  People born before 1946 are encouraged to share what it was like in the early days of hot rodding, travel, racing, or whatever bound them to the world of and the love of cars.


Q.  How did you come about creating this series and why?


A.  I had lofty dreams of starting a social networking site to connect car people.  It was going to cover every aspect I could imagine and connect people from all over the world, providing open channels for people to connect and share in a way that still doesn’t exist.  I was going to call it The Old Car Nut National Registry. We register our collector cars and share background information on them.  Why not about ourselves?  Well, it was just too big of a project to fund and operate on my own, so I decided to take the most important element of the idea and implement it.  I wanted to create that platform for people to share stories.  So, I scaled down my thinking to something manageable and started asking people to share their stories for The Old Car Nut Book.  The idea took off so well, that I just haven’t quit collecting stories.


Q.  Do you have any one or two stories that are your favorite?  Who wrote them?  What are they about?


A.  I’ve thought about that and have been asked that a number of times.  In reality, they are all my favorites and I invest a great deal of time into most of them. Many come well written but need grammar, spelling, sentence structure, or flow of story help.  Some stories come to me looking like text messages from teenagers.  But in each submission there is a heart and soul of a story begging to be told, needing to be shared.  Sometimes, I need to ask questions and dig deeper to get to the real story.  As an example, a man wrote to me and expressed that he hoped I would write an article about his truck.  Obviously, these aren’t articles written by me, but stories written by old car guys.  Turns out, after some dialogue with this gentleman, that he went to school with George Lucas of American Graffiti fame and much of what was in the movie is described in his story.  It was a real revelation and a story that people have enjoyed.  There are stories of cars lost and found, friends bonding over cars, cars bringing family members closer together, and the proverbial barn finds and cars that got away.  Each and every story is my favorite and I still haven’t tired of opening any of the books to a given page and enjoying the read… over and over.  I still laugh out loud or even shed a tear when I revisit these personal tales.


Q.  About how long does it take for you to compile each book in the series?


A.  The first book took a little over a year to find my way and figure out what it was going to entail to gain an audience and convey my message.  During that first year, I designed the graphics that would give the books and marketing materials a face and I collected stories.  And I edited and I edited.  At one point, I stopped and realized I had better figure out how big the book should be and if I had enough content.  Turned out that I needed to set aside some of the stories for another book because I had the first one in front of me.  Several months of final editing, compiling, formatting, and figuring out the self-publishing world (a field that will continue to evolve) brought me to a day when I was ready to hit the Publish button.  The thrill of holding that first copy, the Proof copy that came in the mail, is a day I will never forget.


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Book two came one year later and now that ball is rolling.  Book three about Road Trips will have taken about eight months from book two.  Of course, I have been collecting those stories even as I was doing book two.  Just like I am collecting racing and track stories for book four while I am compiling book three.



Q.  I’m assuming you must find quite a bit of enthusiasm around the project as I think people generally do feel nostalgic when it comes to memories and experiences they’ve had around their cars.  Can you tell us about some of the feedback you’ve gotten?


A.  I get told in conversation and through emails all the time how a certain story touched someone and took them back into their own past.  There have been several times that people have expressed that the books have reinvigorated them and inspired them to get back to a project that had languished or how reading the books have inspired them to share their own stories.  That is where many of the stories come from; those people that have become inspired by the books.


The reviews on Amazon have really blown me away.  It takes effort on the part of someone choosing to sit down at their computer and write a review.  So when I see the 5 star reviews getting posted and the positive comments that people share, it really causes me to believe I am doing the right thing.  Part of my motivation is the desire to help younger people to understand what their grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts or the old boy down the street are made of and why they seem so passionate about an old car.  When someone tells me they read these stories to their kids as bedtime stories, I know I’ve made a mark.


Q.  Tell us about your background.  Tell us about some of the projects and careers you were involved in prior to publishing this series?


A.  I graduated from high school in 1970 and knew that I wasn’t ready to go to college.  I had been very bored with school and just wanted to “start my life” so I joined the US Navy.  I actually got to travel the world and see things that I would never have otherwise.  Once my service was over, I dabbled in insurance but that wasn’t a career for me.  I was in real estate for a number of years but a move to Texas in the late 80s, when the market had been overbuilt, caused me to look at the investment banking field.  Without a college degree, I made my way through the maze of tests to become a licensed stockbroker and started gathering a client base just days before the crash in October of 1987.  I’ve always liked a challenge.  Of course, this was the days before computers and everything was done over the phone. After about four years of smiling and dialing, I needed something less intense that didn’t require gluing a phone to my head for twelve plus hours a day.


I had always had a passion for cars so I went into auto sales.  I did very well there among the cars and the people, rising quickly through the ranks, until one day a man came to me and asked if I would come to his store, take a look around, and offer up any marketing tips.  The store was a classic car dealership. It looked like a candy store to me.  We talked and looked around together, discussing what he had done to get it started six months before and me interjecting some ideas of my own.  He must have liked what I offered up because the next thing I knew, I was signing a contract as the new General Manager and given free run to take it to the next level.



Old Car Nut 10When the business sold several years later, I moved on and dabbled in some home based business ideas, landing on the idea of using my car expertise to help people that wanted to market their own cars and avoid low trade in amounts of costly dealer fees.  I didn’t want to start an advertising site or become a broker/dealer.  I wanted to serve as an advocate and facilitator for private party sellers.  I created effective advertising strategies, motivating ad copy (text) and professional quality photo presentations to create maximum profit for my sellers.  I took the photos, wrote the ads, posted the ads, and then remained in the background to help as they took the phone calls and answered the emails.  I did the things that the average guy doesn’t know how to do, but the sellers stayed in control.  It was difficult to convey what this service offered however.  Most people would immediately assume that I was a broker or advertising site chasing them and would immediately turn off.  So all of my business came from repeats and referrals.  People that used me were delighted and sold their cars for more money, in less time and with less hassle.  Getting enough people to understand my message and to make doing it financially worthwhile was the hardest part.  What I do still provide to help people is… “a tutorial guide to help you sell your classic car for the most amount of money with the least amount of hassle!” in the form of my Amazon eBook, FSBO Auto Advisor’s Guide to Selling Your Classic Car”. There is an edition for Late Model cars, as well.



Q.  What was it like being the General Manager of a Classic Auto Dealership?  Can you tell us about one or two cars that came through there and/or any of the customers you dealt with.


A.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  I was truly in my element around the old cars and the people that are a part of that world.  I decided early on that the place didn’t need to be run like a used car dealership.  It was my goal to make it a destination that people would feel at ease coming to.  These old cars speak for themselves and the people that are interested in them have no qualms about asking questions if they are interested.  It wasn’t my position to tell them they needed a particular car.  They would know it when they found it.  I was just there to help them make it their own.



Because the internet was just coming into its own, I had a whole new world to explore and a way to reach customers across the country and around the world.  I realized that my approach would be to give as much information and pictures as I could so that a buyer in New York or Hong Kong could make a decision just as if they were standing in my showroom.  Many of the techniques I use today began there and have been adopted by others over the years.  Many of the internet advertising sites that dealers use to advertise on today are sites that I was on first.  It was an exciting time and I sold cars all over the U.S. and across the world.  I remember one really cool classic truck that went to Guam.  This is old hat these days, but it was all new back then. I also remember a 23 Window VW bus that was completely restored and the guy wanted over $20,000 for it. It seemed like a lot of money to me, but it sold and now that same bus might sell for over $200,000.  Go figure.


Q.  Were you interested in cars during your childhood?  What are your earliest memories of cars?


A.  I have always been interested in cars and I suspect that there is something in the DNA of people that are fascinated with old cars.  When I was a kid in the ‘50s, I remember the dealers covering their showroom windows and sneaking in the new model year cars under darkness of night.  It was always a big deal and I got caught up in the excitement. 



Q.  Can you share any one or two favorite memories of a family car from your childhood and what about it makes it one of your favorite childhood cars?


A.  The short answer sits in my brother’s garage.  He bought the house we grew up in and our dad’s 1956 Chevrolet is still there.  It is the car I took my driver’s test in and subsequently got in hot water with.  In one of The Old Car Nut Books I tell the story, “I Couldn’t Catch a Break,” which chronicles some of the adventures and trouble I got into in that car.


Q.  What is your all-time favorite car that you’ve owned and why?


A.  That’s a tough question and I’m going to dodge the answer by saying that they are all favorites in their own way.  The list of cars I wished I had never owned is a very short list.  The list of cars I wish I still had is long and full of variety…from sports cars to muscle cars and trucks to vans, foreign to domestic.  They all were a part of the life I was living at any given moment and I never discount the impact a car might have had on directions I went in or decisions I made.  Cars have a huge impact on us.  We move to or don’t move to a house because of parking or garage space available or the room to set up a shop.  Sometimes we sell a car because we need more room, not because we don’t like the car.  We will buy a car at age 60 because it’s just like the one we had when we were 20.  I hope this dodges the answer to your question appropriately.


Q.  So I know you’ve got a book coming that will contain stories from the Greatest Generation.  Please tell us about that.  Anything you can tell us about any one or two particular stories?  I imagine there must be some exceptional nostalgia going on there!


A.  I just recently made the announcement that I would do that book but I haven’t actually started gathering those stories yet.  Time is of the essence, however, because none of us are getting any younger and I want to preserve as many stories as I can before we look back and realize that all the old guys are gone. I am talking about people born before 1946.  These are the guys who came back from the war and started building cars from nothing, using the skills they had learned in the field.  It also includes some of the sons and daughters of those guys and the stories of watching it all happen.  The history is 

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rich and important to preserve.  Of course, because of the nature of these books, I want the stories from the horse’s mouth.  I will leave it to other publications to have a third party write about them later.  So, tell your dad or your grandpa to get ahold of me right away, please.


Q.  And the fourth book in the series will be a collection of stories from racers.  With the majority of our readers being non-competitive everyday track drivers, I need to ask – will you be entertaining any submissions for this particular installment from HPDE folks who might have some very entertaining, interesting, edge-of-the-seat track stories to tell, although not racing specific?


A.  The subtitle to this book would read something like “Where do you like to go fast?”  This would encompass all drivers, from strip to oval to drifting, to track, and will include all drivers, whether they be competing against other racers or simply out for a test-and-tune or enjoying an HPDE track weekend. I want to hear from all of them.  If you like to go fast, I want to hear about your thrilling ride.  I think that your audience can certainly have a place in The Old Car Nut Books.  All they have to do is step up and share.


Come back soon to read one of the stories being published in Dickinson’s upcoming third edition entitled The Old Car Nut Book # 3 - Road Trips Edition.  You will be treated to a short story written by Mark Greene, past President of Griot’s Garage and podcast extraordinaire of  In the story, soon to be published in the Road Trips edition, Greene recounts a trip he took with his then 8 year old son from Long Beach California to Gig Harbor in his newly bought Beck Spyder (replica of the Porsche 550 Spyder James Dean drove and died in).  Stay tuned!


Contact David Dickinson, creator, editor, and publisher of The Old Car Nut Books at [email protected] or call 206-354-8347.  Find out more about the books, read reviews and sample stories, or find out How To Submit at


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