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CarChat with Fred Lindstrom

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CarChat with Fred Lindstrom, founder of FROM in Chicago about his first and favorite cars, his preferred car color, his favorite car brand, as well as recalling a close call in a car accident. We also discuss the quality coming out of Germany and the dramatic shift from Korean manufacturers. He ends with a brief overview of his motorcycles as well as his love of bicycles and reveals what his next car might be.


Question. What was your first car?

Answer. Well, the first car I purchased and the first car I drove are two different things. The first car I drove was my mother's, I believe 1975 Ford Maverick, it was awful. It was forest green, with a white vinyl roof, with beige interior with an automatic shifter on the floor. It was terrible.

The first car I bought was a 1971 Dodge Charger. It also happened to be forrest green but was a little cooler than the Maverick.

Question. What is the favorite car you've ever owned?

Answer. The favorite car I've ever owned is probably... again, it's a bit of a toss-up, and there may be three here. I had an Olds Cutlass 442. I believe it was a late 70s. I had a Volkswagen Beetle that I bought for $150 from my shop teacher in high school that the floor boards were rusted out, it had holes. We used to drive it thru puddles and get wet, and I sold it for $175.

And probably my third favorite would be the car I'm driving right now, a BMW X3.

Question. What color is your favorite car color, and does it change depending on the car type?

Answer. I would have to say, although it's technically not a color, my favorite car color is likely black. And yes, it absolutely changes on the car type. I know for a fact that my interviewer has a preference for silver cars and I would have to agree that that's a great color depending on the vehicle. Those are probably my two favorites.

Question. Have you ever been in a very dangerous car accident or any close call?

Answer. I have. I was home from college in the early 80s, out with my friends. Actually, ironically, the evening before Thanksgiving, which would be today and we were behaving in a manner that really wasn't appropriate, and I ended up driving my car with my friends in tow into someone's lawn off of a tree. That's probably the most frightening moment I've had in a car.

Question. I understand that you are a lover of motorcycles, in fact when we first met, you pulled up in a Darth Vader outfit on a black Ducati Monster which was absolutely stunning. I don't believe you still have that, but can you tell us what you have in your garage today?

Answer. I can. I have a 2001 Ducati 996 which I have a very strong emotional connection to, and I also have a Ducati Paul Smart replica, which is a special motorcycle they did to commemorate Paul Smart's historic win in the 1972 Imola race. It's beautiful. The frame is a sea-fome green and the bodywork is a metallic silver. It's gorgeous.

Question. What car have you owned that you regret selling the most?

Answer. The car I regret selling the most would be... I had a 1980 Triumph Spitfire Convertible and I always wanted a TR6. That was the one I wanted, but I ended up with the Spitfire but it was a really fun car. That would be a fun car to have in the garage still.

Question. What would you say is your best automotive brand, your favorite?

Answer. I would have to say... that's a tough one. That's a really tough one. Top three, no question would be Audi, BMW and Porche. If I were pressed right now, I'd have to go BMW, and I know we're gonna have a nice conversation about BMW vs Audi.

Question. Would you agree that the quality coming out of Germany is different, and in fact better that everywhere else in the world, and if you do agree with that, what do you attribute that to?

Answer. Yes. I would definitely agree with that, and I think that is representative in all the German manufacturers. There's clearly a difference. I mean Japanese cars, just much like their motorcycles are precision oriented, but in that respect, they're almost generic and boring in comparison. I think that the German manufacturers... there is a cultural element, and there is an element of passion that come thru uniquely in each execution, whether it be Audi or BMW or Porsche. But they are definitely distinct of... It's a wonderful thing. It's almost like Italian motorcycles, you can clearly see by the output the love and passion that went into the vehicle.

Question. What do you make of the stunning increase in quality, design and fit-and-finish of Hyundai and Kia, and how do you see that effecting the car industry today.

Answer. I've certainly noticed it on the periphery, I don't know that I've followed it that closely but as a cultural trend, I think it's something that they've done very wisely to create some validity for them in the market amongst the sea of competitors, especially here in the United States, there are lessons that companies have had to learn the hard way, essentially going by past reputation but no longer putting out the quality. In essence, it's gonna force everyone to step up if they want to be a viable company going forward.

Question. Are you into supercars at all?

Answer. I find them interesting. I don't know as much as I'd like to know, but yeah... they're cool.

Question. As we mentioned before, I know that you are a car enthusiast, and a motorcycle enthusiast but I also know that you are an extreme expert in bicycles. And I am wondering if you can tell me what you have in your garage with regards to pedal power?

Answer. Oh my goodness. Too many to mention, much like your garage with cars, but currently I have a beautiful carbon fiber Colnago C50. I have a bike, that although steel isn't fashionable these days, I absolutely love it. It's a Gunner road bike made by the folks in Waterford out of Wisconsin. It feels great, it rides great. It's a great bike.

I have an old Greg Lamond racing bicycle that I've turned into a single speed. I have a couple on mountain bikes and again, too many to mention. I love the bicycle.

Question. What's your next ride?

Answer. Oohhh, you know, counter to what I said earlier, it may very well be an Audi.

Question. Do you have a friend, that has a car that you wish you had?

Answer. As a matter of fact I do.... (fished in, fished in) Oh man.

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