Thoughts of: An Old Auto Mag.

There’s no dust on the pages, just some discoloration from age and a slight curling of the corners where I used to turn the pages.   If the staples on the spine doesn’t give away its age the date and the price do.

June 20, 1988

$1.25 USA   ($1.75 Canada)

It’s an old AutoWeek Magazine with 72 pages ,not counting the cover, full of auto reviews, editorials, classifieds and (for the time) up to the minute racing news.  On the cover is Satch Carlson and Sherman Wolf racing around in a Ferrari.  A 1953 Ferrari 340MM to be exact.  (I know that’s what it is because it says so in the picture.)

I kept the magazine for the story.  Satch is a brilliant writer.  If you’ve never read his work, you should look him up.  His descriptions and emotions really shine in the story.  And lets be honest, he’s driving a million dollar Ferrari through the streets of Italy.  How much more fun can you legally have?

But what I noticed as I thumbed through the mag. Was how so much has progressed since that issue.

Except for the cover, every picture for the story is in black and white.  Even the full page picture showing the starting grid of the classic cars in the race.  (I’m seeing old Bugattis in there and I want to know what color they are!)  If fact, except for three pages featuring a story about lost cars in a Kentucky scrapyard, every picture in every article is in black and white.  Now days, unless it’s for artistic effect, no magazine would dare to post articles with black and white pictures.

Color ink must’ve been expensive then, because even most of the advertising is in black and white.  Only three ads really pop with color.  Goodyear with their two page spread featuring a Ferrari Testarossa ,think Don Johnson, Revel featuring some models of their Corvette and Mustang, and Pontiac hawking their Fiero GT.  (The Fiero ad is the brightest, full of red on red with deep contrasts.  It’s confusing to figure out why they put so much money into the ad when they killed the car that year?)

Camera technology appears to have made light-year leaps in advancement if the cover art holds testament.  What was probably a highly technical photo taken with professional equipment now looks like something that could be taken with a cell phone.  (I will say that the twenty four years of storage could also have stolen the luster from the cover, so I freely withhold final judgment on that just in case the photographer would like to offer up a free reprint for perusal.)

But what’s really amazing is the advancements we’ve made in automobiles since then.  If you wanted fourty miles per gallon in a car, you had to limit yourself to cars like the Ford Escort, VW Golf, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 323, and the Renault 5 if you were in France.  All fun little cars but with an emphasis on little.  There was no fun if you had a grown family or wanted to show off your upper management position.  Nowdays, I can’t even count all the cars that get fourty miles per gallon.  They come in every size and flavor, have safety features not even dreamed of, sound systems that put house entertainment systems of the day to shame, and have horsepower that was reserved for the elite sports cars.

It might be cliché but today is the Golden Era of automobiles.

I’ll probably keep this magazine forever, but you won’t see me lament the passing of most cars.  Todays are much better.  Tomorrows will be better still.

One thought on “Thoughts of: An Old Auto Mag.

  1. I thought you were having a Dirty Harry moment…

    But in all seriousness, you’re right. While I can’t find all that many 40mpg cars out there, it’s because I don’t focus on them. I look at performance vehicles. And an old Ferrari 308 or air-cooled 911isn’t exactly the performance beast it used to be, in today’s world. (Also, I was looking up a review on an old BMW R100S and found a PDF of a magazine article. Noticed the same thing you did about the lack of color pictures.)

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