Road & Track Turns 40

Apparently, at 40 car magazines, like humans, are entering their golden age. Long past are youthful growing pains and insecurities, and there are still a couple of vigorous decades left before the decline. In Road & Track‘s case, its 40th anniversary was right before a nearly perfect era of car magazine glory. In my opinion, the three years from January 1988 to round December 1990 make up a truly glorious era for this magazine.

The 40th anniversary issue itself is quite special. Perfect bound (all the earlier ones I have were saddle-stitched, although the mag went to full perfect-binding in the second half of 1989) and with a fold-out cover, it was the longest issue in the mag’s history so far.

As one would expect, the retrospective articles looking back at the mag’s history and characters were the best part of the issue while the rest was pretty much standard fare in the mid-80s R&T idiom. But those retrospective articles really make this issue. The characters that made up the magazine, in particular, are as charming when looking back as they are when reading their stories in old issues. It’s like watching a family evolve, meeting new people and watching some old friends fade out of the pages (and eventually discovering the obituary a few years later).

It’s a fascinating roundup of the trip I’ve been on with these mags, and it made for a very good opportunity to stop and think abut the tapestry that is this very specific piece of the past.

Still a couple more 1987s to read, and then I’ll be done with the huge pile of R&T’s I bought a couple of years ago… and out looking for more magazines to fill the holes in my collection!

Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer. His latest novel is a comic romp through heroic-era Greece. The heroes, when not involved in drunken fistfights (or sword fights, or spear fights or…) are off doing horrendous things to monsters who are minding their own business. You can check out The Malakiad here.

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