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Customer Spotlight - Tom Lukas

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - Customer Tom Lukas

Spycar (yes, it's equipped with a theatrical smoke screen machine)

by Tom Lukas


I call it "The world's fastest independent bookstore," crafted from a 1972 p1800 in order to promote my debut thriller Special Operations, which is first in my Seethrough Spy Series, published at age fifty two. Prior to fiction writing I was a master carpenter and licensed homebuilder. These days, after a long writing session, I find no better way to unwind than to take on a knotty mechanical project -- during which my best story ideas magically surface and problems of the keyboard get mysteriously decoded.

You might wish to see the video trailer I created to announce my novel, the Spycar, and my Summer 2014 Spycar Book Tour from Seattle to Boston, then south to Washington D.C. and then Charlottesville, Virginia.  

The Spycar / Summer 2014 Book Tour video is at this url on YouTube:

It was at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville that I learned to write, was inspired by Dante to base my fiction on his Inferno, and earned my degree in English Literature and American Studies with High Distinction, Phi Beta  Kappa at age thirty-seven.

On my web site ( you will find pictures of the Spycar conversion, as well as essays and fragments about how I came back to school, and to fiction writing over the course of many years.

Briefly:  Since my first job at a Cape Cod newspaper in 1980 I've wanted to write a novel that would appeal equally to literary readers as well as guys like me who eat their lunch sitting on sawhorses.  From readers' responses, it seems I've more or less fulfilled that goal!

I learned about Swedish steel and Volvos while growing up in the nineteen sixties as the seventh son and ninth child of a home maker and steel maker in Worcester, Massachusetts. There's a strong settlement of Swedes in Worcester, evident in the specialized steel manufacturing companies there. 

My father was the tempering supervisor at the New England High Carbon Wire Company, owned and run by Swedes, and often spoke of the craftsmanship they had brought to Worcester, to produce some of the best steel produced anywhere, ever. The High Carbon Wire Company specialized in producing wire used for valve springs in almost every American car.  My father was no slouch himself; he could look at a piece of white-hot steel and tell you its temperature within a few degrees.

Having lived through the Depression, my parents never bought a new car, nor financed anything.  I think the best car they ever owned was a '67 Chevrolet Biscayne wagon. But I do remember them saying they wished one day they could buy a Volvo: "I hear those things run forever." During WWII my father had served on a carrier for two years in the South Pacific, and like lot of folks during that era, to consider a foreign car was a bit off-limits. So there had to be something very special about the Volvo in the way they talked about those cars.  

Meantime, during the late sixties, I was smitten whenever I saw a Volvo p1800  -- if from a distance.

Later, in 1983 my brother Steve bought a 240 wagon while a college student at the University of Massachusetts.  I will never forget how I felt so solidly connected to the road. All of those conversations with my father about Swedish craftsmanship made sense! 

To celebrate my B.A. degree, earned at age 37, I bought myself a 1999 V70 R AWD turbo. At 6'6" it was the most accommodating car I'd encountered.

After I finished writing my novel two years ago I began to get this idea of a Spycar, and immediately thought of the p1800. Somehow, magically, I came across this one, at Kim Micklesen's All Volvo in Ballard, Seattle WA  -- and there I was. Kim's an Volvo maestro, and had recently gotten the car into shape -- leaving customizing the Spycar to me.

So from June 30 till mid August my wife and I will be on the road, behind the wheel of my 1972 p1800e, stopping in 25 cities to read at bookstores, put on "flash" events, and sell enough books to buy parts to make the Spycar a more irresistible marketing vehicle.

Dates and details of the book tour are at:

In September I begin writing my sequel Blood Rain, set in Rome -- now fully laid out as a 150 page outline. 

I will also, throughout, continue to improve the Spycar, with the hope of making it a working man's super car. 

After all, this is part of my work -- since my favorite character, the FBI Textual Forensics consultant / English Professor Canon Nailor has "access" to a different super car in each episode of the trilogy.  He's a man of taste and precision, with ties to the powerful and dangerous.  In Special Operations Nailor drives a McLaren F1. In the sequel Blood Rain it'll be a Pagani Zonda.

Here are a couple of clips of the Pagani Zonda:

Thus the absolute necessity for the humble writer to own, build, and drive his own p1800e Spycar!


I hope to see you out on the road.

Until then. . . 

Enjoy the ride!

Tom Lukas



We love featuring some of the great Volvo stories that come across our desk. We plan on doing this on a regular basis so if you have a project car, helpful tech tip or other cool Volvo related story, share it with us and we’ll likely feature you in a future customer spotlight.

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