Clive Cussler channels Dirk Pitt for second book of classic cars

G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Life really does imitate art for Clive Cussler. Like his popular hero, Dirk Pitt — protagonist of one of the author’s five bestselling series, Cussler is a collector of classic automobiles.

In his followup to 2011’s Built for Adventure, which highlighted vintage beauties through the 1940s, Cussler opens his garage to view lovingly restored models from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s — and where they might be found in his Dirk Pitt novels — in Built to Thrill.

“After the Dirk Pitt books became bestsellers, I could afford to buy the more exotic examples of classic autos,” Cussler says in Chapter 1: It Doesn’t Take Much to Love Old Cars. “I purchased a 1955 Rolls-Royce that my wife liked because it was new the year we were married. Then came a 1926 Hispano-Suiza Cabriolet that I bought at my first classic car auction after I had three martinis. As more cars were added, I had to buy a warehouse.”

Cussler says he owns around 100 cars and 49 are featured — and lovingly photographed in full color — in Built to Thrill. Each chapter comes with anecdotes and assessments from Cussler. Among the highlights are three from the ’50s, according to press materials:

1951 Daimler DE-36 “Green Goddess” Drophead Coupe — with only four still in existence.

1952 Meteor Roadster — designed by an aerospace engineer.

1958 Buick Series 700 Limited Convertible — “If ever a car was created by designers with dreams of grandeur, it had to be the 1958 Buick Limited the heftiest, highest priced and most opulent monster ever to hit the street in the ’50s,” Cussler says.

Cussler also pays homage to the ’60s classics (check out those fins), including the ’65 Corvette Sting Ray convertible, coveted by every Baby Boomer and would-be Beach Boy.

Need further proof that he loves these machines? Each of Cussler’s author photos is shot in one of his different vintage cars.

Built to Thrill: More Classic Automobiles from Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt

  • By Clive Cussler
  • Photographs by Dayna Cussler and Jason Toft
  • G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $60