When Road & Track Met Burt Rutan

Those of you following along know that two of my great passions are cars and science fiction. These two almost never intersect, however. Science fiction people are not, as a rule (there are honorable, glorious exceptions) people who enjoy cars in the traditional way. They might like the Tesla’s features, but that’s about it. It’s not really about the cars.

So when Road & Track collided with science fiction, it was always going to be on the hardware side of things, and indirectly. Specifically, this mag in 1987 had a feature article aboutBurt Rutan’s VOyager plane and its round-the-world flight, written by my favorite automotive scribe of all time (and one of my favorite writers, period) Peter Egan.

Rutan, of course, has always been at the cutting edge of air and space technology, and he really came into his own, science-fiction-wise when his Spaceship One won the X Prize in 2004. That vehicle has since evolved into Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two.

The rest of the issue was a little closer to standard R&T fare. The cover story was a bit of a stretch, the road tests were fun because there was a Sterling in it (the whole Honda/Rover union was always interesting). Also, despite zero F1 coverage due to the offseason, there was a delightful Innes Ireland article about his participation in the Daytona 500. The Salon was the World Championship Vanwall, as driven by one of it’s period rivals, Phil Hill.

Anyhow, this one was mainly notable for the SF link, and that’s probably what I’ll remember most about it.

Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer whose latest book is a comic romp through heroic-era Greece (with assorted monsters). It’s called The Malakiad and it’s available on Amazon, here.

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