Just like live is awful in those terrible months when there is neither baseball nor football on TV (the unimaginable suffering that has made basketball, of all things, popular), auto magazines from the 1970s are at their dreariest when reporting on the offseason.
The problem is that while motorsport in the mid-seventies was wonderful, dangerous and technologically interesting, road cars were not.
The March edition, which usually came out in February, lands pretty much in the dead center of that offseason, with the result that the only big racing report is on the SCCA Runoffs which, while fun, is not the same as reporting on Formula 1, Le Mans or the Can Am (raise your hand if you think it’s time for another no-rules formula so race cars can actually go fast again).
So the editors of Road & Track dedicated the space to technical articles (the one about hydrogen fuel was very interesting if misguidedly optimistic, the one about insurance truly enlightening), road tests (argh) and the Tokyo Motor Show (not the most optimistic show ever). The fuel crisis, now with more Arabs, was on everyone’s mind, adding to the mess already created by US regulators.
Dark days indeed, but not without their silver lining, which took the form of a profile of James J. Bradley, Head of the Automotive History Collection at the Detroit Public Library (now the National Automotive History Collection). A wonderful article that shows how one man can guide an institution’s collecting philosophy and make it a worldwide treasure.
I now have a reason to visit Detroit someday!
Gustavo Bondoni’s latest book is Jungle Lab Terror in which genetically modified monsters battle communist revolutionaries in the most dangerous place in the Western Hemisphere. If that sounds like fun, you can learn more here.