Lunches with Mr. Q

THE MAN they call “mr. q”

The “Mr. Q” of Lunches With Mr. Q is Kjell Qvale, who was ninety-two years old when he first met the author. But what surprised Kevin Nelson the most about Mr. Q — as his friends and employees call him — was how youthful he was.

“Here was perhaps the biggest difference of all between us,” writes Nelson. “Within shouting distance of his ninety-second birthday, he had a more forward-looking and yes, youthful view of life than I did.”

Mr. Q hard at work

In Lunches With Mr. Q, the writer and Mr. Q get know each other in a series of lunches and adventures together. In the process Mr. Q, a millionaire many times over, shares his philosophy of automobiles, business, and life.

“Don’t worry,” Mr. Q tells the author. “I had a lot of ideas my whole life. Not all of them were perfect.”

Born in Norway, Kjell Qvale (pronounced Shell Cavalli) came to this country as a boy on the eve of the Great Depression and achieved the American Dream. An entrepreneur and a pioneer in the automotive industry, he has sold millions of imported automobiles, becoming one of the first to bring the Volkswagen Beetle to America as well as Jaguar and MG. He has also manufactured the Jensen Healey and other cars, built racecars that have run at the Indianapolis 500 and other prestigious races, started and run companies, and owned champion thoroughbred racehorses.


“I don’t want people to think I’m smarter than everybody else because that’s not it,” Mr. Q says. “It’s just that I have different problems and I have to solve the problems in a different way.”

Well past his 70th birthday, when others thought he should retire, the former World War II pilot and top collegiate sprinter — he once ran 9.7 seconds in the 100-yard dash, only three seconds above the world record at the time — faced a big problem. A bank he had invested in was failing. Mr. Q responded by throwing himself totally into the venture, and his efforts turned the bank into a winner and made him millions in the process.

Mr. Q and his Jaguar XKE

A born salesman with a passion for life and cars, Mr. Q has always tried new things and been open to the possibility that someone could walk in the door one day, have an idea, and something good — no, great — could come out of it.

This was what happened when Nelson showed up in his San Francisco office one day to interview him. Mr. Q opened up and shared his personal and professional story, and the delightful, unexpected result is Lunches With Mr. Q: An Auto Industry Titan on Business, Life and Sports Car Dreams.

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