In October 2017, Matt Hranek celebrated the publication of his first book, A Man & his watch. True to its title, the volume captured the alluring nature of the watch through vignettes that focused on the owners and the allure of their respective timepieces. with the subsequent commercial and critical popularity of the work, a follow-up publication was a foregone conclusion. But while the story of one guy’s doll candy can be compelling, Hranek knew that stories about what’s sitting in the driveway or garage had the potential to be truly epic.
Now, three years later, Hranek is making good on that promise. released on October 13, a man & His Car explores the personal connection between an eclectic mix of gentlemen and his prized rides, from celebrities to collectors to the everyday man who fell fast and hard for a certain four-wheeler. The author, who is also a photographer, director, and founding editor of WM Brown, recently shared with Robb Report his inspiration for the project, the selection process, and whether he thinks the allure of the automobile will ever fade. /p>
When did your love for cars develop?
since I was a child. It goes back to my dad, who was a car and motorcycle man. he loved well-built machines. whether it was little machines on his wrist or machines that went 200 mph, he was into it. but he was not crazy; he was an esthete, and I am essentially the same character. I know how a car works, but I am motivated by the idea of the car, its aesthetics and its design history.
Reading: A man and his car review
what was your dream machine when you were younger?
My eyes widened, my heart pounded, and I sweated every time I saw a [porsche] 911. my mom had vw bugs, and this was a much sexier version of that car. Of course, she loved Ferrari and American Muscle, but it was the 911, the Porsche, that somehow excited the kind of car in me. it was the design, it was those clumsy, exaggerated eyes, that rotund butt. it had the potential to be very ugly, but it is not. everything works.
When I was a kid, the poster on my wall was a 911, probably a 930 whaletail turbo because I was a kid from the 1980s. Basically, now I have my dream car. would i like a [ferrari] dino or an aston db in the garage? of course. but having the one I dreamed of as a kid sitting in my barn right now is terribly exciting for me.
when did you first get the idea of a man & the car of him?
The watch book was such an amazing success, especially in the eyes of my publisher, who thought it was a good idea but didn’t realize how it would resonate. they wanted to know what was next and I immediately, without hesitation, said: “he is a man & his car. very rarely do you meet men who love watches but don’t love cars, that’s just the way it is. so for me, it was a very natural transition. and, again, it started with my own story.
In your opinion, why is there such a strong connection between watches and cars?
I think if you look at the male psyche, there’s a connection between aesthetics and what they mean: what a watch says about you and what a car says about you, and how you want it to be presented. like, if i wear a submariner because i have a fantasy that i’m james bond or i think i’m a navy diver, or i drive a jaguar because i imagine i’m steve mcqueen, those things are very much in the male psyche.
what was the biggest challenge with this book?
I knew I had to shoot this one because, logistically, it was going to be a nightmare. we couldn’t just fedex the cars to the studio, it was going to involve a lot of travel. I had a 20 year career in photography and I know how to shoot cars. I wanted them the way we see them, which is in daylight, we don’t see them under studio lights. and I wanted them in profile, front and back, not up. the designers are not thinking about how you see a car above your head, but how you see it parked, approaching and receding.
I also wanted to stay consistent with the graphics in the watch book, so I came up with a mobile studio that was basically this 30′ x 30′ black ripstop nylon background. Particularly challenging was having a $4 million car, the wind picks up to 35 mph, and now you have a sail. It was hilarious at the end of a year and a half taking it around the world, I literally wanted to pour gasoline on it and burn it.
describe the selection process for the vehicles included.
I would go to car shows and contests, and meet people on the street or meet a neighbor, but first I had to be interested in the car and then be captivated by the story. that’s where I would fall in love, and that’s when I knew if I would do the edit or not. for example, he had access to any car in the ralph lauren collection, but he didn’t want the bugatti. I wanted the story that was the most personal and had the most connective tissue for the owner. and it turned out to be the [1971 mercedes-benz] 280se cabriolet. it was the family car he bought when he got his first investment in the company.
and then for the petersen museum section, I was allowed into the archive and my head was spinning. there were all these iconic cars that you remember as a kid, or that you saw in the movies and on TV. I wanted a delorean, and they had the 24 karat gold delorean from american express. They have Jaguar and Magnum from McQueen, Ferrari 308 from P.I. are you kidding? I still want one of those cars because of the impression it made on me. the selection was very much driven by my unique point of view in terms of why I like cars. that was the only way that made sense to me. I apologize to the automotive community, I know I missed a million great stories, but I had to pick a lane.
Who surprised you the most, either because of their participation or because of their story?
I sat down with Jay Leno and discovered that he is one of the sweetest and most generous characters. he tells me the story of his buick roadmaster, and how he found it in the pennysaver when he hit the ground in los angeles. he just made me laugh (it was guttural) and understand the intimacy of his interest in cars from earliest memories of him.
And then there are many mortals who don’t have celebrity status but have a great love story. when I talked to the guys about their watches, it required a little bit of help and massage in terms of getting that story out, because they hadn’t really thought about it with that kind of intimacy. but car guys, they come out of the box with why they have it and how they chased it their whole lives; they’ve been thinking about it for a long time.
what is your current daily driver?
I’m a land rover guy. I’ve been driving some version of the Discovery for 20 years. I’m a city mouse/country mouse, and they make that transition seamlessly.
what do you look for in a car when you add it to your collection?
above all, its aesthetics. second: what is the emotional reference point for it? we always ask the question in our family; “are you in love with him?” that’s an interesting approach to objects, whether it’s watches, art, cars, you name it. I usually don’t buy them so much for their performance as for what it’s the benchmark for me personally.
Is there a favorite car in your collection?
I have a very modest small group and I always have a car in exchange: I sell one to buy another. But the Porsche 911 Carrera from 1987, that one is not going anywhere. It is something absolutely magical to have in my life.
If you could add any vehicle to your collection, what would it be?
If I had all the money in the world, I’d have one of those little [ferrari] dinosaurs. That’s probably why I also like the [ferrari] 308, because it kind of nods to something in that design. when I see those cars, I am amazed at the simplicity and history. that would be a dream come true.
Are you worried about the future of car culture?
I’m not. I’m raising a 17 year old daughter and she’s just as crazy about cars as I am. I think the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels will change things for the next generation. But there is a guy who builds electric powered Land Rover Series IIs and IIIs in Australia; people will always be attracted by the aesthetics of vintage cars. As for the sustainability of fossil fuels, who the hell knows? but, at this time, it is not affecting vintage car collection.
a man & his car will be released on October 13. It is now available for pre-order on amazon.