Clive Cussler passed away.

On the 24th.

I read dozens upon dozens of sites and stories and headlines every day.

Saw this yesterday afternoon.

That old cars are time machines and ready catalysts for fantasy is well known to enthusiasts, but the stock in trade of the late Clive Cussler—author of adventure novels and noted car collector—was spreading those experiences to the otherwise uninitiated. Cussler, who died Monday, February 24, at the age of 88, was perhaps best known for his larger-than-life character Dirk Pitt, a scuba-diving scientist for the fictional National Underwater and Marine Agency who was forever discovering ancient artifacts, solving historic mysteries, and generally having to rely on his brains, fists, and the occasional deus ex machina to escape the nefarious plots of various international schemers.

Pitt, like his creator, was a connoisseur of vintage machines, particularly ships, aircraft, trains, and of course automobiles—many of which he acquired during his adventures. While Pitt kept his collection in a 1930s aircraft hangar in Washington, D.C., Cussler, with his wife Janet, was a resident of Paradise Valley, Arizona. In fact, he had recently opened his home to a meeting of officials of the Classic Car Club of America during Scottsdale Auction Week. Cussler’s cars were also regularly seen on the field at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, most recently a Pathfinder 14A Touring in the 2019 Prewar Preservation class.

A chance meeting at a car show led to Cussler’s 1931 Ford Model A De Luxe Roadster (complete with twin Winfield carburetors!) being featured in our Model A Ford 2015 Calendar.

Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels were published between 1976 and 2003 and since have been co-written with Cussler’s son, also named Dirk. Two of the stories have been made into films—Raise the Titanic in 1980 and Sahara in 2005, the latter of which starred low-key car guy Matthew McConaughey as Pitt (and a 1936 Voisin C38 as a significant plot point).

Other works by Cussler included the NUMA Files series and the Oregon Files stories, both of which center on NUMA and have similar themes to the Pitt books; the quasi-steampunk Isaac Bell universe, featuring a fictional detective working in the early 20th Century; the Fargo Adventures, about a husband-and-wife treasure-hunting team; two children’s books; and several non-fiction works about his writing, his interest in undersea exploration, and about classic cars.

Thanks to his frequent collaboration with other writers, including his son, we expect to see Cussler’s endearing characters continue to appear on bookshelves nationwide, but their creator with his sense of humor and endlessly inventive worldbuilding, will be greatly missed.

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  1. bogsidebunny says:

    I read all of his Clive Cussler books in the 1980’s. I enjoyed the fantasy entwined with history genre he managed to use successfully. The series went down hill however when he eventually brought in a co-author.

  2. Michael Bohannon says:

    I am truly sad about his passing. I hope his son continues publishing books. I am sure hie is in heaven driving his ’34 Auburn Boat tail speedster!

  3. Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH B Woodman says:

    Fair winds and following seas.
    I need to let the wife know about this. He is/was one of her favorite authors.

  4. Kenneth Lee says:

    One of my favorite writers. RIP.

  5. Drew45.8 says:

    Aww, that’s a shame. Agree with Boggy; I read all his stuff until he went with co-authors. At that point they became almost mechanical, even though the Isaac Bell stories are pretty good.

    Cussler is the guy who found the Confederate submarine Hunley, which was raised and preserved, and only recently was proven to have been an unknowing suicide mission against the Housatonic. They didn’t know that the problematic delayed fuse had been replaced with a contact fuse, so their limpet mine “torpedo” exploded when the Hunley was less than 10 yards away, igniting 2 tons of gunpowder in the Housatonic. Major explosion. The pressure wave killed them all instantly, and the blast caused a leak which sunk the sub soon after. There is now a Hunley museum, courtesy of Cussler and his vast wealth.

  6. taminator013 says:

    Clive may be gone, but Dirk Pitt will be a great legacy………..

    RIP, Mr. Cussler……….

  7. TX Nick77 says:

    He, and Tom Clancy, were my two favorite authors. As Boggy said, his books, like Clancy’s, went downhill after they brought on co-writers. My only complaint about Clive was that he bought into the “Gore-Bull Worming” shtick in “Arctic Drift.”

    R.I.P. Clive. Go have a drink with Tom.

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