It’s been a really good period for acquiring stacks of old car magazines just lately. Jason (the chippy just across from my vehicle emporium) swapped me a huge pile of 1960s Hot Rod in return for using my broadband.
These are a funny mix of highly technical features on the latest V8 engines, endless stories on chrome-laden dragsters and hot rods mixed with adverts for the latest muscle cars that make me realise how little I know about American cars.
To be honest, it all turns into a big boring gloop in my brain what with all the different engine sizes, options (I’m still not clear what a Hurst Shifter really does) and all written in the sort of slick patter that makes me bilious.
Among them is a cache of the primitive English equivalent called Drag Racing and Hot Rod from 1965-'68.
These slim little magazines from the earliest days of the hobby in the UK had a wider brief than the US equivalent, covering pure dragsters, hopped up A35s, Jag-powered Austin Sevens and drag bikes.
There’s even a story about Roy Orbison who visited the Racing Car Show and told a Drag Racing and Hot Rod reporter about his personal collection which included, among the custom cars, a pair of vintage Bentleys.
The best reading in the collection comes in the form of 10 late-'60s copies of Car with their beautifully contrived front cover imagery (what’s wrong with showing cars standing still?) and truly inspired writing from the likes of Doug Blain, LJKS etc.
Literate, informed and fearlessly critical they made me pine for the days when I couldn’t wait for this magazine to appear on the newsagent’s shelf.
Mike, the book dealer who shares the mill with me, is another source of odd magazines.
The late 1930s part-work on vehicle repairs he gave me the other day (lead image) is written in the Cholmondeley-Warner style as are the three or four issues of The Sketch and The London Illustrated News he dug out.
Yet I love them for their stiff upper lip adverts for Humbers and Daimlers.
The Sketch from 1937 features a quarter-page advert for Park Ward Coachbuilders, and the rather rakish Hudson Eight with Tickford Foursome Coupe bodywork. ‘On pleasant days,’ runs the copy, ‘the choice of two hood positions makes instantly available the advantages of a superlatively comfortable open tourer’.
They don’t write 'em like that any longer.