Our Cars: Doug Clark swears by German rides – and he Audi know

Doug Clark grew up in the Motor City and saw “new American steel on every street corner.” So it’s no wonder his neighbors’ German-built automobiles stood out. “They had a son, Bernie, who worked on their Mercedes-Benzes, and that gave me a window into cars that were nothing like what I saw on the road. I loved sitting in the garage with Bernie and watching him work.” Doug also enjoyed riding in his grandparents’ 1975 Volkswagen Beetle whenever he visited their summer cottage. “It was small and old and had a manual transmission. I loved the way it sounded and drove. It was fun and direct – so unlike what I was used to.”

Not surprisingly, when it came time for Doug to buy his first car, he was thinking German. “I voraciously read all the buff books, and when Car and Driver did a five-car comparison of Sport Coupes, I was on the edge of my seat. It was Brock Yates, I think, who wrote the piece, and he explained that everyone would be surprised by the winner … the 1983 Audi Coupe GT.” Doug couldn’t afford a GT then, but he found a used one years later, and “it started me on my auto industry journey” – one that eventually led him to Audi, where he worked for 18 years, and then to Hagerty.

Name: Doug Clark

Position at Hagerty: VP Marketing

Years at Hagerty: 2

Vehicle: 2001 Audi TT Roadster Quattro

Why did you choose a 2001 Audi TT Roadster Quattro? During my stint at Audi, I had the honor and pleasure of being the first brand-dedicated PR manager. Over the years I helped Audi rebuild its fortunes in the U.S. with the launch of many vehicles. The one that captured my heart was the Audi TT Roadster. It reminded me of the original Porsche Speedster – clean lines, Bauhaus styling and open-air joy. I got to take journalists to Gubbio, Italy, for the press launch, and Freeman Thomas, the exterior designer, and Romulus Rost, the interior designer, told us all about the inspiration behind the car.

Everything was just right. The Bauhaus design style – where form follows function … the aluminum accents throughout the vehicle. Audi even spent two years developing an anodization process for these to minimize fingerprints. The Amber Red Optic “baseball glove” leather seats were a limited-production option, launched with the 2001 Roadster. There was nothing else like it on the market, and the fact that a German sports car was celebrating the American pastime just bowled me over. I knew I had to have it.

Years later, when I joined Hagerty, I began looking for my first collector car. The journey was short; I knew it had to be the Audi TT – which was also the first convertible that I took my son for a ride in back in 2000.

Repairs and Modifications: It’s been pretty trouble free, only a new timing belt and tires.

Hobby activities: I love attending the weekly Cars and Caffeine events at Hagerty HQ throughout the summer.

Favorite Drive: M-22 near Traverse City, Mich.

Interesting Car Stories: For me, part of finding just the right car was the road trip that my son Jack and I took to bring it home to Traverse City. I found the car in Vermont, and after a number of emails and phone calls, Jack and I flew there to buy and drive it home. Jack and I shared many stories, and the ferry ride across Lake Champlain with the top down in April will always be a fond memory. Since then I’ve relished driving it with my wife, Kim, and my youngest son, Carson. I’ve even taught Jack to drive the manual transmission. Through the entire process I became one of Hagerty’s many happy customers. Every sunny day is an opportunity to enjoy it.