I would say that the eighties and nineties were the last decades in which the quality of automobiles was uneven among the major manufacturers. There was a real difference between a vehicle of any given type and price range produced by Honda and by Toyota, for example. Today, cars in similar categories except specific high-performance areas are pretty much interchangeable (this isn’t a gripe. Modern cars are so universally competent that consumers have never had it better unless you insist on quirkiness… in which case you’re doomed).
Road & Track was there for us in those days of variability, and they took on the thankless task of choosing the ten best in several categories and price ranges.
Not having a driver’s license in 1987, and not having driven most of the cars from that era, I can’t say whether they were right or wrong. I trust that they were, and that any biases one editor might have had would be canceled out by the fact that so many editors participated in the process.
Still, I should probably look into the editions a couple of months after this one when the enraged letters started pouring in from readers who, invariably, had a specific favorite, regardless of whether they’d actually driven any of the other candidates or not.
Other than the act of bravery represented by doing a “best in the world” article, this magazine was a typical 1987 offering with a really fun bit of GP coverage and the usual road tests. The salon was a delightfully quirky Simca racer, but the real star of the issue has to be the story entitled “The Cabbie Wore Red”, about a race to catch a train in communist Hungary. Wonderful!
The best part of this issue? It, along with the October issue were the only ones I was missing to complete my 1987 collection. So everything after July 1986 is now present except for the more modern stuff which I’m not certain is worth the effort of tracking down, as R&T lost its way later… and I’m not convinced it ever found its way again.
Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer whose latest book is a science fiction thriller entitled Colony. You can check the book out here.