In the previous edition of the Big Buff Book Cover-Up series, we looked at the Cumberford Martinique, a BMW & Citroen based retro roadster designed by a small startup that never got beyond prototypes or demonstrators.
The last of the three-part series shows (for starts) that you don’t have to be a small startup for your concept to stall at the prototype stage.
You can be a small British luxury marque with a storied but financially checkered past. (Read More…)
TTAC readers, the Best and the Brightest, seemed to have liked the first Magazine Memories so I started to sort and organize the boxes of old buff books in the basement, with an eye towards another column for you guys. The first piece was about a Sports Car Graphic from 1969, a golden age for both performance cars and auto racing. I thought it would be interesting, by way of contrast, to look at an era of less worthy automobiles, the “malaise era”, so named because of a speech given by Jimmy Carter during his presidency that attempted to address a sense of national lethargy. Though Carter never actually used the word malaise, the tag stuck. Looking at magazines from the middle of the Carter years, the winter of 1980-81, though, the cars were so boring and mediocre that I thought it’d be too much of a challenge to even joke about how boring and mediocre they were.
In the basement are boxes of historic newspapers and old car magazines that I’ve saved since the late 1960s. The oldest items date to the Detroit Tigers’ 1968 World Series victory and the Armstrong/Aldrin moon landing the following year. The automotive publications are mostly from the early 1970s through the late 1980s, primarily Road & Track and Car and Driver from the US and CAR from the UK, plus a few odds and ends.
While looking for the newspapers on the moon landing I came across the November 1969 issue of Sports Car Graphic. SCG’s content was aimed more at the string-back glove set and road racing fans than Robert Peteresen’s other titles like Hot Rod & Motor Trend. I guess SCG was staking out a niche between C&D and Autoweek. I believe that TTAC contributor, Stephan Wilkinson was an editor at Sports Car Graphic during the 1970s so perhaps he can give us some historical background on the publication.
Picking up and reading a 40 year old car magazine evokes a range of thoughts and feelings. The physical object is both an artifact as well as historical source material. Certainly there’s a sense of nostalgia, as well as curiosity to look at the table of contents for cool cars. You read an old magazine differently than you’d read one that came through your mail chute today. If you still subscribe to C&D or R&T, you flip past the TireRack ads as fast as you can. With an old magazine you savor even the advertising copy, wondering if IECO still makes Corvair parts or even exists. Thinking Francophonically, there is an enduring sense not of déjà vu but rather of plus que change.