Keith Harman, freelance writer and photographer
I started writing as a freelancer in late 2002, having left the regular motor trade after 25 years in car sales with various franchises, with my first feature in Classic American appearing way back in 2004. I’ve always considered myself as a writer that takes pictures, rather than an actual photographer, though I’ve shot many events and quite a few features in various magazines since, so I must be doing something right! It’s always been fun, meeting owners and ‘celebs’ of the car world, and being able to get close up and personal with some cool cars. I did a stint as an announcer at Shakespeare County Raceway for a while, and even wrote a book once, a full colour hot rod book for an American publisher – going into a shop in the US and seeing your name on the shelf was quite a buzz!
I can actually trace my interest in American cars to the very first car books I had as a child. They just looked so much more exciting than the British and European cars in the early to midSixties, and I don’t recall seeing any American iron around our area at the time. TV was also a big influence in the Sixties and Seventies, then in 1973 I was taken to a drag racing event at Blackbushe Airport, and with American Graffiti hitting the cinema screens soon after, I was hooked. Once I was driving at last, I happened to fall in with the custom van crowd which was great fun, so my first ‘Yank’ was a ’68 Chevy stepside pick-up, followed by a 1955 Ford F100 panel van imported by Real Steel when they first started up. The appreciation of the style and solid simplicity of old American trucks means I’m still messing around with them today.
My liking for V8s and earlier body styles has always drawn me to hot rodding. A Model A Roadster and T Sedan, both Rover V8-powered, have gone through my hands and in 2006, a trip to the US saw me finding and importing my ’34 five-window coupe from Tennessee. In the last 15 years I’ve made it my own and it’s taken me to shows in Europe, down the quarter mile at two UK drag strips, up the exclusive hill climb track at Prescott, around Goodwood circuit, and down the beach at Pendine at more than 100mph, as well as the regular weekend shows. shows Yes, I prefer driving it to polishing it! It’s recently been joined by a 1929 Model A Roadster, also 327-powered, making a nice complement of early Fords in my garage. I guess my ‘dealing’ days aren’t quite over yet either, as I enjoy finding older vehicles in the US and importing them, mostly vintage trucks, as I’m lucky to have some good contacts over there. For the future? I still haven’t owned a Tri-Chevy yet; still, no rush, I’ve only wanted one since I saw ‘Graffiti’ in 1974...