By on December 16, 2008

We hear via Jalopnik that Car and Driver Editor-in-Chief Csaba Csere has resigned. No word is immediately available on his reasons for departing the magazine he has served since joining as Technical Editor in 1980. Former TTAC and C&D scribe Brock Yates was unaware that his former boss was departing, but had only kind words for the man who once trekked to the Yates family kitchen to fire him. “A nice fellow,” is how Yates describes Csere. Csaba was “not a particularly good writer, but a good editor,” Yates told me this morning, as I was awaiting a shellacking for identifying myself as part of the TTAC team. He had “strong ties to Detroit,” according to the Cannonball legend, but was a “nice fellow” all the same. Apparently it bore repeating. So what if, as Yates wrote in his first TTAC editorial, “Car and Driver had become a pale shadow of its former self,” and “like Detroit’s carmakers, Csere and his team had refused to recognize reality.” When all is said and done, people remember people. Not a debilitating addiction to comparo tests, a blindering enthusiasm for all things Detroit, or an embarassing public nap. No, regardless of any perceived shortcomings (and man, do we all have them) Csere is a giant figure in American automotive journalism. If nearly 30 years of high-profile print journalism happen to have left Csere with the urge to express his feelings on the industry in a more open, free-wheeling environment, we invite him to send his thoughts our way. We will always have room for an experienced industry-watcher with a mind for truth-telling.

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45 Comments on “Csaba Csere Resigns As Editor Of Car And Driver...”


  • avatar
    Cicero

    Since I could never figure out how to pronounce his name, I’m not sorry to see him go.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    Csaba Csere on TTAC? Now that would be interesting.

    However, what is Car and Driver without him?

  • avatar
    Adub

    After they fired Brock Yates, the redesign two years ago was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The new writers are not as good as the old ones, and their website is a poorly-laid-out joke.

    Whoever is in charge had better figure out what they want the magazine to be, because right now it looks like GM is running it.

    Given all the GM ads in the mag, that may be true.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    A guy who calls himself Cicero can’t pronounce “Csere”?

    Anyway, not knowing anything about the situation here are some random guesses as to what drives an Editor in Chief to resign (or, uh, “resign” with air-quotes):
    – the print magazine is losing a ton of money
    – advertising is falling through the floor
    – it’s about to go Web-only, like all the other magazines I used to subscribe to.

  • avatar
    brettc

    It’s pronounced as “Chabuh Cheduh”. Kind of like how a Lieutenant is called “Leftenant” in some countries (like Canada). It makes no sense when you look at the spelling, but that’s the way she goes.

    As for him leaving Car and Driver, that’s fascinating. I had no idea that paper magazines about cars were still published.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    If he goes to C&D’s sister, R&T…then is may get a little better. Both magazines have gone downhill a bit over the years, but no worse than Motor Trend. Automobile is somewhere in between, but at least better than it’s stablemate(s).

  • avatar
    Verbal

    It would seem that jet lag is a bitch when doing the industry junket crawl.

    Having subscribed to C&D for nearly three decades, I concur with the sentiment that they lean too heavily on comparison tests. I pride myself on how closely I can guess the finish order before I look at the results. And why does it seem that every other comparison test includes the 3-series? Which inevitably wins?

    Overall, C&D is still the best U.S. car mag. Motor Trend is too glossy, too Hollywood, too precious. Automobile seemed like a platform for David E. Davis to talk about all the rich friends he had. And Road & Track is automotive pornography — cars that you can’t even buy in this country, let alone afford.

  • avatar
    shabatski

    C&D used to have me laughing out loud with the old writing staff back in the day (probably 10 years ago at this point.) I liked their roundups, their simple summary info, and the bazaar road trips that they would undertake. Now that the old group is long gone I have no idea why i continue to subscribe… Maybe hoping for that by-gone day. But then again, looking at all the pretty pictures in the bathroom is easier than on my Trio.

    For $10/year, I guess I’m still hooked.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Will their magazine get better with no editor? Maybe they can get Angus Young to moonlight? It’s Angus Young, right?

  • avatar
    wmba

    I’ll kinda miss Chubby Cherry. Didn’t ever miss Yates — he became irrelevant years before being sent out to pasture. Only column I’d skip in C/D, and he didn’t last long here, now did he? Became too engulfed in his own “importance”, and thought that meant everyone would hang on his every word.

    Back to C/D. Cherry was a fair writer. The rest of the roster are laughably awful (except for Philips), and cannot spell, e.g. populous used as in “the Chinese populous” in a headline. Tortuous sentence construction is another C/D exclusive these days.

    Ah well, all good things come to an end, and the dumbing down of C/D is just one of them.

  • avatar
    geeber

    I attended a National Motorists’ Association in event in Detroit, and Mr. Csere was the keynote speaker at the dinner. He was a good speaker, and took the time to answer our questions after his speech. He was a gracious and kind person.

    And while Car and Driver may not be the publication it once was, neither are plenty of other magazines (and not all of them car-related, either).

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Let us not forget Patrick Bedard:

    The last half of the book [Who Invented the Computer, by Alice Rowe Burks] is devoted to an academic bitchfest in which Burks talks about all of the hacks who don’t credit [John V.] Atanasoff [a physicist at Iowa State University in the 1930s] Atanasoff. It is interesting mostly for its discussion of exhibits at the Smithsonian and PBS documentaries. Sperry funded these projects and the non-profits obligingly ignored or downplayed Atanasoff’s contributions in favor of Eckert and Mauchly. The only publication that couldn’t be bought and wouldn’t be intimidated by threats of legal action was … Car and Driver magazine. Atanasoff was a hero to Car and Driver writer Patrick Bedard because he testified that a late night high-speed drive in 1937 in a V8 Ford and a few drinks in a roadhouse in Illinois had inspired a couple of the critical designs in the ABC. Bedard speculated “Atanasoff didn’t get nearly the credit due him because the [court] decision was issued just one day before the Watergrate-inspired ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ and it lacked the combination of inconsequentiality and putrescence necessary to compete for media attention.”

    Link

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    After they fired Brock Yates, the redesign two years ago was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Truthfully, Yates wasn’t helping C&D at that point. He and Pat Bedard–and Csere, in his later editorials–were becoming anachronisms. Yates was the worst because of how thin on the ground in terms of content his writing was. It was approaching demagoguery towards the end. The “Walmart Masses versus the Intellectual Elite” in which he (a very well-off man) put himself in the former was asinine.

    Yates et al are preaching to the choir. And the choir is getting smaller. They need to find a way to get new readers, because the old subscriber base (fifty-year old car nuts with engineering degrees) is getting smaller, not larger

    Now, John Phillips, his stuff is gold.

    The new writers are not as good as the old ones, and their website is a poorly-laid-out joke.

    They were trying to make the magazine “relevant in the internet era”. You can see what they were aiming for; they wanted to be Edmunds+Inside Line. The problem is, even Edmunds doesn’t make much money, and they’re much more technically astute. Print is dead. Making print look the web is not going to revive it.

    People do not pay for content on-line unless it’s very compelling, and even if it’s compelling they won’t use it if there’s no value, and they’ll gladly go on-line instead of going to printed media. There is a reason why I can count the number of magazines and newspapers that make money on-line with one hand: they haven’t figured this out. The web isn’t a sad supplement to the printed version, or a vehicle for advertising: it’s a new medium entirely. To make it work you need to make it:
    * Easy to find content
    * Easy to comment on content
    * Engaging and rapidly changing

    Have a look at Consumer Reports or Parkers.co.uk: it’s quick and easy to find a review, road test or ratings. Now, try the same on Edmunds: the interface gets in the way. Try it at C&D and you just give up before you find the article.**

    Csere’s job should have been to fix this, but I think he was out of his depth when it came to dealing with new media. The impression I got is that he just rolled over and let H&FM’s wizards have their way with things; he’d have done better, I think, if he’d stepped back to writing (which he’s good at; as technical editor his stuff was always well-done) and let someone else take the reigns.

  • avatar
    DonLuc

    If this is confirmed to be true, it’s truly upsetting to see him leave. I think the whole car culture is in a bit of a slump right now and for him to dip out the back door at a moment like this is unnerving. No, he wasn’t a very eloquent writer, but he was an engineer and he covered his topics-at-hand very well. I never like Brock Yates’ columns because towards the end, they just rambled on about his personal cars and his justification for owning them. And honestly, I didn’t care about him or his lifestyle enough to care which car he drove to work that morning. John Phillips’ work still holds it own against anything else on the car-magazine rack. When he leaves, I guess it’ll be time to pick up shop and head on out. The new writers are competent, but are still in the sophomoric phase. The comparison tests are fun to read if only for the statistics that are gleaned, not necessarily for the writing. Sad but true, the magazine is not what it once was. That being said, if they’d like to hire me as a writer, I’m game. Call me…

  • avatar
    Hippo

    I used to read them when I was young.

    The one thing I never forgot was Bruce McCall and the “Denbeigh Motor Co”. Pure genius.
    Watching the failed 2.x real life imitates fiction now.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Ah yes, the Denbeighs series was classic. I recall one installment where Denbeigh was considering a 50/50 joint venture with an Indonesian automaker, but they couldn’t agree on who would build the left half of the car and who would build the right.

  • avatar
    autonut

    It is sad to see Csaba Csere gone. Csaba was always at C&D, even after his mentor (Davis) started a new rag. Hopefully, he’ll find new home, perhaps news program somewhere. He had a decent rep as an expert.
    Also, he authored some great articles on how car technology works. Better then wikipedia.

  • avatar
    Dragophire

    Perhaps he will be car czar the government. I liked him alot..Loved the name. even my wife thought it was memorable to the point when now she sees his name and she always remembers his face.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Csaba’s “mentor” was in fact Don Sherman, not David E.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Memory recalls the phonetic spelling of the Cheddar chap as: Chubbah Cheddah or sumpthin’ akin to that.

    Sigh…..

    reveled in C&D in the 70s and 80s but something changed with the magazine.

    I noted a “turning up of the nose” as the “priveleged ones” drove cars the unwashed masses would never be able to drive.

    Then I noticed the cars constantly written about…. Audi, Audi, Audi, Audi, Mercedes, Lambo or Maserati, then some affordable conveyence of the type the vast majority of the readership could afford followed by a few more Audis, etc.

    The blue-collar crowd was left in the dust.

    For years I gave up on my subscription to C&D.

    Around 4 years ago I turned in some “bonus points” earned elsewhere and cashed them in on a C&D subscription.

    When that ran out I had no desire to spend ten of my own bucks for a mag that, in my opinion, its writers looked down their noses at the “common folks.”

    Last year, the OFFER arrived in the mail. Must be desperation. Five bucks for a year’s subscription.

    Oh heck, five bucks? Okay. The rag/mag is cheap bathroom reading material.

    And that’s where it resides.

    I still revel when finding old C&D copies from what I consider its “glory years” in the thrift store. The old ads, the cars from the 60s and 70s, the writing style of the writers back then and the cars they wrote about…. enjoyed that. Along with the lack of a sense that my “betters” are looking down upon me from their lofty heights, sneering at the meer commoners who should be worshipping those who are able to run around in “real cars.”

    When the latest subscription runs out, even if it’s only five bucks to re-up…. am unsure if the bathroom is that desparate for reading material.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    “It makes no sense when you look at the spelling, but that’s the way she goes.”

    It makes sense if you know that he is of Hungarian descent. Hungarian spelling is funky, but it makes sense. Phonemically, /’[email protected] [email protected]/.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I grew up reading Car&Driver. It’s real golden age was the very early 70s when they had Jean Shepherd and Dick Smothers writing for them. The magazine has been flat-out awful for the last ten years. I was never a fan of Bedard, a man who had more than his share of stupid ideas. I still subscribe to R&T, mostly for Peter Egan’s column which, frankly, would fit right in in The New Yorker or the like. The new car stuff? Not all that interesting except for the occasional photo of an Alfa 8C or the like.

    As an avid motorcyclist, I also subscribe to Cycle World where Kevin Cameron and Peter Egan (again) write columns that I never miss. New bikes are much more interesting than new cars these days in any case.

    The one car magazine I really look forward to each month is Hot Rod. There’s more interesting stuff in a single issue than in ten years worth of C&D. What Cycle Word (via their American Flyers series) and Hot Rod have in common is a celebration of what is happening in garages around the world, something that really interests me more than what’s going on in Ingolstadt or Zuffenhausen.

    But then my other favorite magazines are Audio Express (for people who build their own hi-fi gear), Kitplanes and various woodworking magazines. There’s a pattern here…

  • avatar
    Victell

    John Phillip’s Car and Driver review of the Cadillac Escalade EXT back in 2002 was outstanding. Truly TTAC material, but unfortunately rare.

    I agree C&D has changed, or maybe it’s me. I started to recognize that automotive reviews never really condemned a new car. Sure once in a while they would dance around calling something a turkey, but mostly praise for all new cars. The only time reviewers would admit faults and failures of a vehicle is when the model was updated or the next generation released. Then it’s all, “the dead steering of the previous model has been improved”, or “gone are the horrible seats, now they are supportive.”

    Unfortunately this is not exclusive to car mags. Almost all magazines are veiled advertisements and catalogs for their own industries.

  • avatar
    Emro

    Victell: “John Phillip’s Car and Driver review of the Cadillac Escalade EXT back in 2002 was outstanding.”

    funniest vehicle review ever written! i still have a paper copy of it in my desk drawer at work… long live John P!

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    This is in my gold-plated Porsche book, so it may be old news to some, but when I wrote a totally negative review of the Datsun F10 when I was the editor of C/D, I got called on the executive-suite carpet.

    “How COULD you say this this and this when the Datsun ad in the same issue [riffle riffle riffle through the pages to the ad] says THIS?” yelled executive VP Brad Briggs in my face.

    “Well, I think the readers deserve to know that this is an awful car,” I meekly answered.

    “FUCK THE READERS!”Briggs shouted, and soon thereafter fired me.

    Don Sherman got fired several years later as editor when he wrote a negative review of some new Jaguar and refused management’s demand that he retract his words and apologize in the next issue.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    And yes, John Phillips remains my sole good friend still at C/D. We traded wolf photos a couple of days ago. Sherman’s my oldest car-mag pal, but of course he hasn’t been at C/D for years.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    So, can anyone explain the Csere/Yates beef? Seems to be Hollywood-stuff…

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Hardly. Even back in my day–the mid-1970s–we were wrestling with the problem of whether or not Yates had outlived his usefulness. (He once angrily told me that one word of his was worth more than an entire article by some of our other writers.) 20 years later, Csere simply decided that he had. Not the stuff of Hollywood, and really not a beef, just an editorial decision, for better or worse.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Oh Great. Where am I gonna go now to get a decent minivan shoot-out?

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Brock Yates seems like one of those on again/off again types. I seem to recall he was fired ten years ago, and was then taken back? Or was it fifteen years ago? 25? I can’t remember all the twists and turns, as I only read american car magazines most sporadically. Anyway, Yates is by far the most memorable american writer I have come across, with Csere in second place.

    Come to think of it, memorable auto writers could be a perfect topic for an editorial. What is the Best & Brightest auto scribes that america has produced over the years? How? And Why? Quotes are mandatory…

  • avatar
    CarmaoKid

    Not at all sad to see him go…

    Under his leadership C&D had become completely predictable and boring to read… I (like everyone else) cancelled my subscription about 2 years ago…

    The only people left reading that rag were BMW 3 series drivers.

    I’ve owned a 328… they weren’t half as good as Car and Driver made them out to be…

    His attempt to make his magazine political and to “pick sides” in the last Presidential election was also ill advised and stupid… Even worse since he picked the wrong horse.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Csaba’s staunch the customers-be-damned defensive of C&D’s horrid redesign should have gotten him fired. Good riddance.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I still have subscriptions to most of them… heck, with the cheap rates it works out to something like $0.60 per issue which is probably less than the cost in electricity to boot up my PC to peruse TTAC. I doubt my subscription even covers the cost to mail me the magazine. I also like getting something besides bills in my mail and magazine time of the month just gives me a little bit of joy.

    Personally, I believe that most of the new car magazines have gotten boring because the industry has gotten so good. Even in the 1980s they would sometimes have cars implode during tests. These days the comparisons usually come down miniscule points like cup holder placements, manual overrides for automatic transmissions, etc.

    The articles I find most entertaining are the ones where a bunch of editors each get $2k to buy some old bomber for a drive across the country or the “what would you buy with $12k” articles that mirror what my car enthusiast friends talk about, and the like.

    The comparison tests are good for research when one is in-market to buy a car. And, in these cases, the print magazine web sites seem to do a horrendous job at getting these articles indexed for search as I can’t remember the last time a Car and Driver or Road & Track test came up on during a Google search.

    I really enjoy my subscriptions to some of the smaller circulation and more specialized magazines like Sports Car Market and Classic Motorsports… they pack a lot of interesting research into their issues.

    I agree on the motorcycle magazine (and Peter Egan) comments. However I have to admit that I usually skip over the sportbike comparison tests as I could care less about whether one bike can run Willow Springs in 0.02 seconds less than another one… I probably couldn’t come within a minute of a professional riders’ time on a 2 minute track anyway.

    Yes, print has been dying a slow death for a long time, but I would argue that the print magazines still have a better shot at getting brand-advertising dollars than online properties which, if they get any ad revenue at all are getting pennies per click. The problem is that with the auto industry and everything else in the toilet there are just fewer dollars to be had. My last issue of C&D looked like a church pamphlet it was so thin.

    Oh yeah, and it’s inconvenient to take a laptop into the bathroom.

  • avatar
    Adub

    Many of Yates’ editorials were repetitive, but his comments in car reviews were golden. Phillips is the best writer still on the payroll. Csere and Bedard are always writing about toll roads, hybrids, government taxes, etc. It gets very old after a while.

    The redesign was the equivalent of the Aztek. Somebody should have had their ass handed to them. This is like Bush firing Rumsfeld *after* the election.

    Say what you will about Csere politicizing the magazine, but if Obama carries through on half his promises I don’t want to hear any bitching. Especially if he launches a bailout for print media…

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Csaba’s staunch the customers-be-damned defensive of C&D’s horrid redesign should have gotten him fired. Good riddance.

    I don’t think that was him, I think it was H&FM trying to window-dress the decontenting of the magazine in general, as well as an attempt to win younger readers who were either going to the web, or to Sport Compact Car (or whatever…).

    In short: the print media version of giving a fifty-year-old man a nip, tuck and new wardrobe.

    I suspect he was told to justify it, or just run interference. Redesigns happen, but this one coincided with a wholesale gutting of content, both on-line and in print. Csaba got put in an awful position: squeezed between editorial integrity, market reality, retrograde readership and a dearth of new blood. I don’t envy him at all.

    His attempt to make his magazine political and to “pick sides” in the last Presidential election was also ill advised and stupid… Even worse since he picked the wrong horse.

    Yes, well, that was demagoguery for you. I think this was another corporate ploy, trying to generate controversy for the sake of readership stats.

    The problem is that Csere really is too smart (and too dry, and too even-handed) a writer to be a demagogue. Bedard can do it better; Yates did that kind of anti-intellectual rah-rah’ing it in his sleep. Csere’s writing never seemed comfortable with it; he was forcing it and/or didn’t really believe it. You have to believe it, even if you’re wrong, to pull that kind of thing off.

    Again, if they wanted an angry old man to play Automotive Rush Limbaugh, they should have brought Yates back.

    Oh yeah, and it’s inconvenient to take a laptop into the bathroom.

    BlackBerries and iPhones, let me tell ya…

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I would argue that the print magazines still have a better shot at getting brand-advertising dollars than online properties which, if they get any ad revenue at all are getting pennies per click.

    What’s happening to the print media, as well as click-rates and the gutting of broadcast TV should be a big, fat message to Old Media:

    The Advertising Age Is Dead

    It doesn’t matter if print ads or commercial spots net a few more dollars when you’re not covering costs. The newspapers are finding this out (the Tribune is just the tip of the iceberg). So are the networks, if you’ve followed NBC. Hell, have you seen what the ass-kicking of click-through has done to Yahoo?

    Media consolidation has made this worse: now, instead of individual market papers or stations that make themselves relevant locally and still be worth it, and can be bought and sold and floated for little money by local interests, you instead have these gigantic entities with huge operating costs and no potential for profit. When they die, they fall hard and leave a big crater.

    Also of note is that we’re seeing a whole generation of people coming into the market who either are either immune to advertising by virtue of cynicism and hypersaturation, or actively dislike being marketed at and react negatively to attempts to do so. There’s an ugly distrust of media that we haven’t seen since the rise of (spit) “Objective Journalism” post-war, and it’s going to make life real hard on the old guard. Advertisers are going to have to find a way to sell to these people, and I don’t think they’re going to be able to do it; they’re going to have to fall back on making decent products and building reputations more solidly, instead of image-whoring, because consumers are so much more empowered in terms of information, and a whole lot less empowered in terms of actual buying ability.

    Brands are still important, that’s no doubt, but it’s going to take more than ad copy and puff pieces in magazines like C&D to keep them up, especially when the blogosphere can tear your brand a new one in twenty-four hours.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Where am I gonna go now to get a decent minivan shoot-out?

    Consumer Reports?

    (speaking of sites with a sustainable business model…)

  • avatar
    mtypex

    TTAC car reviews work nicely for me. I flip through the print mags at the bookstore and leave them on the table before I walk out.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    For me C&D died somewhere in the mid/late 80s.

    (yes, I started reading for politically incorrect PJ, waayyyy back in the day)

    The shilling just got too painfully transparent.

    Sure it was ok when you’re a preteen, but you get a little bit older and start to figure it out. Especially after reading a glowing review of some early 80’s GM/Chrysler turd, that nobody could ever like. Let alone praise with a straight face. Unless the junkets were really lucrative.

    Csaba has been on the boob tube a lot lately, still shilling the DET party line that ‘they just need some time and some cubic dollars and they’ll be back..’

    We’re all whores to some extent but most of us have that line we won’t cross. I hope.

    As somebody who has to know better, perhaps he couldn’t look himself in the mirror any more. I know I certainly couldn’t.

  • avatar
    kamm

    “It makes sense if you know that he is of Hungarian descent. Hungarian spelling is funky, but it makes sense. Phonemically, /’[email protected] [email protected]/.”

    Sorry but as a native speaker I must say you’re not as wrong as the earlier try but still a bit far… :)
    Hungarian is not only NOT funky but it is actually one of the most logical languages – however thanks to its sophisticated grammar and the fact that it’s unrelated to any major languages (linguistically it is an archaic Uralic language, more closely Finno-Ugric (Ugric vs modern Finnish etc) the correct pronunciation is usually difficult to learn for Westerners, even despite being a fonetic language (the idea of American ‘spelling bee’ contests are always great source of jokes for us, Magyar (Hungarian in Hungarian) immigrants here because aside of some (still logical) exceptions when we hear a word we already know how to write it.;p)

    His first name is Chu-bah – similar to ‘chubby’ minus one ‘b’ ( interestingly enough ‘chuby’ is the correct pronunciation of Csaba’s nick version Csabi) – and last name is Che- (like in Cze/ch) -reh (‘r’ is open-sounding, like in Spanish).
    All syllabus pronounced clearly and emphasis on the first ones here.
    Oh and in Hungarian family name comes first (told you it’s a very logical language): Csere Csaba

    If you’re more interested there’s a great online guide, written for English speakers by an English guy: http://www.hungarianreference.com/

  • avatar
    kamm

    PS: forgot to mention last night that your very own Robert Farago should know all of this – Farago (Carver in English) is another common Hungarian family name…

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Stephan-

    “…when I wrote a totally negative review of the Datsun F10..”

    I remember that you described it as a “strange visitor from another planet.”

    Your review sticks in my memory more than the car itself. Nice work!

  • avatar
    lewissalem

    Cheap netbooks are killing print.

  • avatar
    robertplattbell

    Csaba Csere is pronouncd “Chubby Checker” as I recall.

    C&D and R&T and frankly, all car mags, are a bit lame and always have been, at least for the last few decades.

    C&D and R&T used to play this silly game where they would “dis” each other in the letters to the editor page, like we all didn’t know they were both owned by the same company. It’s like MAD taking a piss on CRACKED. Who cares?

    Most car mags are beholden to the advertisers. So the Dodge Omni or Chevy Citation gets listed as “car of the decade” or whatever because they PAID for it. No one believes that nonsense.

    C&D did an article claiming the BMW M3 was a better car than a Ferrari or Lamborghini. In the scoring, the other cars all beat the M3 soundly. But by adding a “comfort and convenience factor” to the test, they can boost the scores to make the M3 win.

    The same is true of GM vehicles. They throw in “price”, “value” and “cupholders” or whatever, until a Chevy Cobalt beats the BMW.

    Remember the “Pontiac GTO vrs. Ferrari GTO” test? It was fixed, of course. But that started the whole trend. And no, a family sedan with a truck engine is not faster and does not handle better than a Ferrari.

    The “scribes” or as one wag calls them “auto-journos” all like to think they are the next Hunter S. Thompson, and frankly, you get tired a little of their ego-centric articles and use of words like “Bespoke”.

    They columnists like to BAIT the readers with “controversial” comments to generate letters to the editor. They all do that, from Autoweek, to Automobile, to the Roundel.

    So you have Cory Farley advocating riding the left lane to block traffic. Why? Because he’s an arsehole? (Well, Maybe). No, it is to get people to write in outraged letters to the editor, ad nauseum.

    The letters section is full of people passionately advocating pro and con for this or that, interspersed with wry remarks from “ed.”. After a while, it’s like “WTF cares whether some bone-brain thinks the “M” brand is being diluted?”

    Once you get tired of being marketed to and baited, there is little left for you to read in these car mags.

    As the population of the USA ages, so will “enthusiast” interest. Kids are all ga-ga about cars, because they don’t have them (or don’t have nice ones) and they want them. Once you have had your fill, they are just a commodity item sucking money out of your bank account that should go to your 401(k) or kids college fund.

    I mean, who cares if I can get a new Camaro with a sticker package and slightly stiffer shocks? It still ain’t a race car.

    The BIG MISTAKE the car mags made was not pandering to the younger “Rice Racers” and “Drifters” etc. They are NOW trying to appease this group, too little, too late. This is the core audience – teens and pre-teens that companies want to build a brand identity with.

    40-60 year old editors and writers can’t write for that market.

    Car mags are kids mags. You have to hire kids to write them and run them.

    I’ll bet Rice Racer Monthly is selling briskly.

    (And then you have sites like this, which are also taking away readers).

  • avatar
    robertplattbell

    “His attempt to make his magazine political and to “pick sides” in the last Presidential election was also ill advised and stupid… Even worse since he picked the wrong horse.”

    Yea, I din’t get that either. Like if you love cars, you have to be a Republican? Huh?

    When you stray from the core business (cars) you get into trouble.

    “Yes, well, that was demagoguery for you. I think this was another corporate ploy, trying to generate controversy for the sake of readership stats.”

    OK, so its not just me. They “bait” the readers, trying to get a reaction out of you. It gets tiring.

    It’s like that line from Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts:

    “50% of listeners LOVE Howard Stern and listen for an average of 1.5 hours. Most common reason given? They want to hear what he’ll say next.”

    “50% of listeners HATE Howard Stern and listen for an average of 2.5 hours. Most common reason given? They want to hear what he’ll say next.”

    Sometimes pissing off your audience is a way to get a reaction. However, I think over time, you just end up driving them away as people get tires of anger and controversy.

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