Daily Podcast: Death To The Car Mag

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Like most people under the age of 40, I never read car magazines. Actually that’s not true. I’ve been stealing copies of Auto Motor und Sport from my dad for years. Even after its long trip across the Atlantic, the anal-retentive German’s anal-retentive car magazine still manages to scoop the American mags on many of the most compelling industry developments. But the real draw is the mag’s road testing, which really confirms every stereotype of Teutonic attention to detail. No metric is too mundane to be measured, graphed and scored… think Consumer Reports for people who actually like cars and think OCD medication is for the weak. On the other side of the equation is evo magazine, which is hands-down the best enthusiast-oriented car magazine.

In contrast to AM und S’s technical dissection, evo splashes gorgeous photography across the classiest paper stock in the business. Sure, a year’s subscription costs $100 when delivered to the US, but each issue looks and feels like the Sultan of Brunei’s own in-house car catalog. And, as an unabashed enthusiast mag, evo’s mission is to find real enthusiast options among new and used cars, from major OEMs and cottage industry wackos alike. These two magazines exemplify two approaches to automotive print journalism that really work: the high-end enthusiast bible and the on-point news/analysis monster. And yet none of the US buff books have been able to work either of these proven lines of attack. Like profitable automakers, good car magazines exist… just not in this country.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Niky Niky on Jul 18, 2009
    Robert Schwartz : July 17th, 2009 at 10:01 pm The British mags are fun, but their version of English is hard to read (I have less trouble with Chaucer), and they seem to have curious disinclination towards publishing some basic stats about the cars they discuss, like length and weight. Length only matters when you're parking the car. The European magazines publish weight in kilograms. - I'm an avid reader of EVO, and enjoy the odd AutoCar and CAR issue... Driver's Republic (online only) is also fun, being made up of ex-EVO and ex-Autocar staffers. I pick up MOTOR (Australian) whenever I can find it... Nice magazine, too. I think the appeal of magazines like EVO is the fact that they concentrate less on the mundanities that most automotive reviews need to touch on (due to their demographics, five paragraphs on cupholders and stereo are a must for any regular magazine) and focus solely on the driving experience... which, to be honest, is all you really care about as an enthusiast.
  • Kristjan Ambroz Kristjan Ambroz on Jul 18, 2009

    I am a big fan of Evo and think they do many things right. The photography is one, the style and quality of writing another. I also like the no advertising perfect photo cover page if you are a subscriber - really do not understand why more mags don't do it. I also subscribe to Autocar, which has some very good writing as well, and is more up to date - given the weekly format. On the subject of AMS my opinion is deeply divided. I used to love it as a kid and have been subscribed for a very long time. Back in the day I also prefered it to English publications for exactly the reasons mentioned - it seemed much more scientific and in the pre-driving days I could not fully grasp the difference in the description of how the cars felt like to drive. When I started driving myself and living in the UK, my opinion changed. I really started enjoying Car, Autocar and Performance Car (predecessor to Evo). Top Gear, not so much that came later for me. Looking at it from that perspective AMS slowly started to look a lot less appealing. In the old days I would simply assume that plenty of data equalled reliable results. And that German cars were so much better at everything that thywould have to win every test, which at AMS at tha time they inevitably did. There were clear favourites when it came to manufacturers as well. Reading more magazines made me appreciate how contrived the conclusions and justifications for AMS results sometimes were. Nowadays I only read AMS on the occasional trip to Germany and often just skip through large sections. The data is still good but I just cannot bring myself to really trust any of the conclusions, plus the quality of writing in the English seaking mags is just so much better. Octane has me completely divided - I enjoy some of the topics but feel the writing is not up to scratch on average ad that it doesn't justify a subscription. Overall internet has not really in any way changed the number of car mags that I read or the fact that I read them at all. I get the up to date news online, then read the car mags on the train to and from work.

  • Pk1 Pk1 on Jul 18, 2009

    I grew up reading my dad's copies of ams. or better, looking at the pics before I could read. When it comes to impartiality, there is a reason why it used to be called "Audi, Mercedes und Sport." I still like ams, but the Italian Quattroruote beats it for technical graphs, explanations, and data. Evo is great, Car used to be great. What I like about both magazines, is, that my girlfriend - who is not the least bit interested in cars - can still be entertained by reading the articles and the pics. This is the problem with Octane: the featured cars and images are great, but the layout is b-o-r-i-n-g, misses any non literal artistic communication, enthusiasm, and the writing is ok at best, very, very, predictable. Top Gear magazine is not the best one in the WORLD. Road&Track, Car and Driver: Used to read them as a teenager. They are orders of magnitude too close to Consumer Report compared to Car and the like. Just watch the TV shows they produce: Yawn! My ultimate car magazine? The writing and visuals from Car and Evo, technical graphs and discussions from Quattroruote, discussions from Auto&Design, clever appreciation of each car's strengths from Automobiles Classiques. Oh, and I spent all my teenage pocket money on the latter two, by the way.

  • Spyspeed Spyspeed on Jul 18, 2009

    @commando1 There are many forum threads dedicated to free magazine subscription offers. I follow this one, but you might also check sites such as fatwallet and slickdeals. Note, the offers usually expire within two weeks or less.