Reading these old Road & Tracks is about more than just the automotive history you absorb and the old races you relive. It’s also about remembering things that happened when you were young.
I’ve loved cars since I was old enough to remember. Some of my oldest toys in my parents’ house are old Matchbox cars (well, that and Star Wars figures… and people wonder why I came out how I did).
Even though I was alive (and able to walk) I can’t say I remember the races described in the magazines from the late seventies. The oldest races I remember watching date from around 1983. But I do remember the cars.
In fact, the earliest cars I remember our family having date from this era, a light blue Chevy Nova (brand new in 1979) and a used and yellow Gremlin X. The Gremlin, in particular, gets mentioned a lot by R&T since they were always in favor of small, efficient cars, and the Gremlin is much smaller than pretty much anything else Detroit was selling when it was launched.
But this month’s cover car hit much closer to home.
December 1977’s cover car, apart from the round US-Spec headlights, is one of the cars my family bought when we moved to Switzerland after three Gremlin-running years in the States. Of course it wasn’t called the 5000 there, but the Audi 100. And ours was a medium-dark grey metallic tone. But this is the car I recall from when I was six years old. And it’s on the cover of Road & Track. The other car my family bought after the move was a red Fiat Panda. A Fiat Panda will never, unless something truly unusual happens, appear on the cover of an enthusiasts magazine.
It’s a cool feeling, like having the table next to a celebrity in a restaurant. Vicarious notoriety. And they said nice things about it in the article.
But unless you’re a former Audi 100 / 5000 child, this issue will have little to recommend it. There are a couple of Grand Prix reports by Rob Walker and Innes Ireland (we’ll need to talk about Innes at some point) and quite a bit of other competition-related goodies, but the road-car side is mainly sedans, running the gamut from economy-minded imports to luxury Jaguars, but nothing too hugely exciting.
Still, I’m enjoying the chance to wallow in the seventies (not many of the 1970s ones left before the decade turns) and when the cover car is one I’ve ridden in so often, it’s even better.
Gustavo Bondoni’s latest novel is a fast-paced romp through a monster-infested stretch of Russian countryside. Test Site Horror is available to purchase here.