Car and Driver 60th Anniversary Reader Stories, Part II

60th-Editors-Letter-Eddie-Alterman

As we’re sure you’re becoming aware, this July the celebration for our 60th anniversary kicks off in ernest. Big deal, we know, but this momentous occasion isn’t really about us—it’s about you. Our readers are the reason Car and Driver has thrived, and they’re the reason we do what we do. You’ve had a huge hand in shaping an incredible six decades, and we want to hear from you. So far, we’ve published a handful of your stories covering everything from your first brush with the mag to your favorite (or least favorite) car or cars, and more questions are coming! For now, we have a fresh batch of your responses for you: 

To recap, here’s what we want to know:

• Your favorite car you or your family has owned, and your favorite story about it.

-• Your favorite car of the past 60 years.

-• When you first discovered Car and Driver.

More questions are coming, but remember to please share your stories in the Backfires comments here, on this page, or via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook using the hashtag #CD60Feel free to share multiple stories with us. Now, on to the stories:


Your Favorite Car (Or Cars) of the Past 60 Years

Shared by: michaeljbruceusa via Instagram

Congrats C&D! #CD60 #savethemanuals #MJBUSAFOTO

A photo posted by Michael Bruce (@michaeljbruceusa) on May 7, 2015 at 3:45pm PDT


1968 Ford Falcon Futura Wagon

Favorite Personal Boss Wagon Project, Inspired by C/D

Shared by: Gerald M.

Car and Driver‘s influence on me (and my brother Mark) goes way back, to around 1968–69. I get your love for wagons as well. I not only remember but loved your Boss Wagon concepts and while in high school actually convinced (subliminally) my parents to modify one of our family rides, a 1968 Ford Falcon Futura Wagon. It was equipped with the 200 CID 6 cylinder engine (3.3L) hooked to a three-speed Select shift transmission.

It was not a big car for the time, but I suspect now it is larger than a Mercedes E-class wagon. It weighed 3480 pounds but once we convinced Dad of the mods we might have trimmed that. (Including quick removal back seats for certain events.) Not being real sophisticated back then (although I wonder if I still am not), we convinced dad in the interest of fuel economy to add dual exhaust headers with glass packs that we further modified . . . by cutting the rear of the packs off and welding old stove pipes in its place. We never even thought about the fact that doing so would blow all of packing out of the mufflers and essence not only giving us straight pipes, but ones that would make a BNSF locomotive proud. We also added Bilstein shocks, Addco sway bars, Helwig Overloads (one ton capacity!) HR60 – 14 radial tires (bias plies were common back then) and modified a shift kit to the tranny. Because it was a Futura, we had to upgrade the interior as well. We applied wood-grained linoleum that we cut to fit pieces with the jigsaw for the dash and added Pioneer Supertuner audio; a very nice (four it’s time) eight track player and a separate cassette player; and we added Jensen coaxial speakers Powered by additional amps.

Dad never knew (I think) that we would race it on Mulholland Drive after high school football games, and when we started rallying along dirt roads near the Angeles Crest highway, we added more overloads to keep us and our friends suspended while we sometimes caught air. Three hairy occasions come to mind; first when we really jumped over a steep RR crossing in Simi Valley (3 feet with four aboard), the time we slid into a mountain while rallying (surprisingly left no damage) and the worst that we got caught on was when we went mud romping after heavy rains. When we got home at 1 a.m. that morning, we moved the car over to the side lawn to wash the mud off. (My naïve neighbor thought it was so nice that we were washing Dad’s car for the weekend.) It never occurred to us to hose off the engine as well. When my dad opened the hood the next morning to check the oil and water, all he saw was a brown compartment and my one brother who we usually never take ratted us out. I remember being grounded for a long time for that one.

Miraculously, I think it was my guardian angels who were driving as I surprisingly never wrecked that car. Seatbelts were not common back then and my friends would slide around in the backseat saying “I have complete confidence in Gerald’s driving. He is an excellent driver.” That car never let us down, saw racing, rallying, off roading, mud womping, extreme loaded camping, and more that many SUVs today would not have survived. I never rebuilt the motor, and when I left the house we still had the car in the family with close to 300,000 miles on it. To this day, Mark and I still remember that one car the best and I call it “one Boss wagon”. Thanks Dad for being a really cool dad and putting up with all of our crap, and thanks to Car and Driver for giving a couple of teenagers a clean channel of hero worship. Hey C/D, how about taking a wagon of today (if you could find one) or SUV or CUV that is not common and build a BOSS for these times in honor of your heritage. (Mazda CX-5?) Do not forget to add some unforgettable and maybe hilarious engine mods please.  


Ferrari's Fiorano Test Track

When Did You First Discover Car and Driver?

Shared by: Gabriel B.

This is not so much a story since I am still young and my stories are being made right now. However, throughout my life, there are a few things that remain consistent. As sure as I draw air into my lungs, my love for cars remains alive, present, and violently kicking. I have been a subscriber to Car and Driver since the time that I told people my age using my fingers. I’m not sure why Car and Driver was my choice, but I think it has something to do with the character and voice. After all, there is nothing more sad to open a magazine, see all those horsepower numbers and zero to sixty figures, and see writing as dry as stale bran cereal to back it up.

Good automotive journalism comes from people who legitimately love cars and pour their passion out onto the pages. They don’t do it for the paycheck, they do it because everything makes sense to them when they are sitting behind the wheel. I am one of the passionate ones who was bitten by the car lover’s bug in the womb. To make up for my lack of stories, I’ll leave you with an attempt to put my love of cars into words: 

There is an electric feeling that I get when cars are the topic of conversation. Much like Beethoven saw the universe in a piano and was able to just play and resonate with that intricate box of wood, I see the universe and all of its life expressed in a well-crafted pile of metal, cloth, rubber, and hopefully, carbon fiber. I don’t know if it’s the maniacal laugh that I have when I pitch my car into a hard corner and get some tire smoke and a satisfying screech, or if it’s the pure glee that pours from my eyes when I nail the throttle on a 300 horsepower loaner car from a dealership, but to me, in these moments, I feel the raw beauty of life, so rich and so dense that many times it literally brings tears to my eyes. I can’t get enough, I want more, I get out of the car, a mess of post-o****m chemicals rushing through my brain, and just want to jump back in.

When you’re smitten with the car bug, you spend hours watching YouTube videos of Paganis, Lamborghinis, and Subarus. You see the time, emotion, and passion that is put into a car by some crazy dreamer. You sign up to study abroad in Italy, fully knowing that it’s a beautiful country with many things to offer, but in your head and in your heart, you go there because Modena is there, or Mecca to us initiated ones. You approach the outskirts of Modena and shudder when you hear a V-8 Ferrari rev to the stratosphere, and despite having your credit card stolen in some obscure bar in Amsterdam, you use your last 200 Euros to pay for a ride in one of those Rosso red beasts with the knowledge that you will likely not eat for a few days because of this. But no matter, I have tasted food before, but not the acceleration of a Ferrari. I also want to mention this much: thank you Car and Driver staff, even Peggy in Human Resources. Thank you for producing a piece of paper month after month to be delivered to my door so I can indulge my passion. It’s a strange thing when you realize that a car moves all of us physically, but to us initiated folk, it moves us emotionally and spiritually, too.  


Flippin’ a Bug

My Favorite Non-Ownership Car Story

Shared by Jay Scheifer

I’ve been a reader of C and D since the SCI days. And in fact, Brock Yates’ columns helped shape my career as a writer and I still own an original setting sun Cannonball Run jacket patch. As to my most memorable car story, it involved a car I followed down the road one time. It was an authentic ’60s vintage, hippie-powered VW Bug, flower power paint job et al, which I drove behind down a decreasing radius exit ramp off Brooklyn’s Belt Parkway. To my horror, the Bug lost it in the turn and flipped over on its roof, wheels struggling for traction in the air, just as a dying bug would. Then, unbelievably, the two long hairs inside wriggled out the windows, ran around to one side, and simply flipped the Vee Dub back onto its wheels. By this time, I was out of my car and urgently questioning them, “are you guys OK? Should I call an ambulance?” To which one hippie smiled at me and replied as he climbed back in, “Thanks, man, but no problem. Does this all the time.”  


When did you first discover Car and Driver?

Shared by: Andres Torres

I started reading Mexico’s C/D in Spanish when I was around 10 years old and my brother [then around 13] had begun buying the magazines at the corner’s newspaper shop. At first they included some market-specific articles written by Mexican ‘reviewers’ along with translations from the original U.S. publication, and, as was common on old car mags, a big wall poster which my brother and I used to fight for. It was the 3rd magazine I placed my hands on every month, after locals Automovil Panamericano [current market share leader] and 4Ruedas [the first automotive mag in Mexico]. Then Mexico’s C/D became a full translation from the U.S. issues, continuously having mistakes while at translating . . . I guess C/D‘s local office couldn’t afford having their own writers to fight those two Mexican magazines. The worst part is that those translations were around 2 months behind the U.S. publication, which I knew because I had noticed the U.S. version was available at ”Sanborn’s,”, a Mexican have-it-all department shop. So I started buying the magazine there, the only place where they ‘imported’ the original U.S. issue. It was an expensive purchase for a 15-year-old, but the read was worth it, even if it didn’t came with the poster.

At 20-ish, well into college years and already owner of my first car [2000 Contour LX, 2.5L V-6 5-speed Manual], I decided to give it a shot and try to subscribe using the sneaked-in-between-pages coupon. I was successful and have been receiving my monthly issue for the last 10 years from MI to Mexico City. I keep all my old issues neatly stacked so that they are kept the best way possible for future reference. I am also subscribed to Automovil Panamericano and funny thing, that one gets stolen more often than C/D by the [read with C/D usual sarcasm] Excellent Mexican Postal Service . . . I guess they don’t know English, or they want to read local reviews of the 10-or-more-year-old-legacy-vehicles-which-pass-no-safety-regulations-at-all cars we get down here. Anyway, Congratulations on your 60th year! As a Mechanical Engineer who works in the automotive industry, I enjoy every single issue even if your charts are sometimes difficult to read (even for a square-minded engineer), even if you don’t offer posters (my wife wouldn’t allow me to paste them to our walls anyway), and even when the comparos don’t always seem to be fair or my fav car didn’t win. It still provides useful info and keeps my Supercar-owning fantasies alive. Thanks!  


1963 Austin Cambridge

Favorite Car of the Past 60 Years

Shared by: von Zipper.

When I was going to Uni, I had an Austin Cambridge, a ’63 model, well used. It worked fine, except for the starter, the wipers and a few other items. Fortunately, it had a crank, so I could still start the wretched thing. As for the wipers, one had to go into the glove box and pull on the wires, causing the wipers to wipe a single time. Named it Pookie, and it consumed more oil than gasoline, but it took me everywhere I needed to go to. The differential was quite noisy, so when I sold it, I filled the cavity with bananas, so it would be silent. Miss the old jalopy. Those were simpler times.  


  Escape From Baja

Maybe that whole “Baja” thing wasn’t such a great idea . . .

When did you first discover Car and Driver?

Shared by: Todd V

I began reading C/D when I was 11 or 12 years old. This was about 1976, when many of the cars were not very good. The magazine has helped influence many car choices over the years. I think the best story I ever read in the magazine absolutely has to be the trip to Baja California in the early 80’s when things got so screwed up and the writers spent copious amounts of time drinking tequila. I don’t have kids of my own, so perhaps the best thing for me is that my 13-year-old nephew picked up his love of cars from me and is now an avid reader of your magazine. Congrats and thanks for 60 years of fantastic automotive journalism!  


 When did you first discover Car and Driver?

Shared by: Terry Shea

I was introduced to Car and Driver and other car magazines in 1965, when I was 12 years old. A guy friend of my older sister’s would give me his car mags after he’d read them. I was hooked, especially by the columns. Besides Davis and the other well-known columnists, I remember Warren Weith (correct spelling) and Jean Shepherd. I always loved the magazine’s irreverant tone. I read Road & Track, too, and liked it, but it was a bit staid for me. Car and Driver was then and remains a bit of the “wild child” in the automotive press.  

My favorite story was the Yates piece on the first Cannonball race, where he and Dan Gurney drove a Ferrari 365 GTB4 Daytona coast to coast, setting a new record. I believe there was a great scene where they’re cruising out west somewhere, going fast, maybe 100 mph or so, when they’re challenged by some kids in an Olds 442. They drive side by side a bit, then Yates or Gurney, don’t remember who was driving, decides enough is enough and downshifts two gears, leaving the stunned kids in their dust. I’m now 61 and still get a kick out of that! 

Car and Driver fed my sports car fever, for sure. My first car, at 17 years old, was a used 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider, grey with a wine red interior. That was followed by a 1973 BMW 2002, long before BMWs were status symbols. I took the car through New Jersey inspection and the guy had no idea what it was, but asked what I paid. I told him $5,300. He was stunned and said, “Wow, you could have bought a Buick for that!”

The 2002 took me into marriage—my wife learned to drive a manual on it and today drives a manual Mini Cooper S. But with family came an ’81 Saab Turbo four-door, followed by a series of cars purchased from family members, including an ’82 Mercedes 300SD, ’84 BMW 533i, two different 80s-era Mercedes wagons (I still own my dad’s ’84 E320 wagon, the last car he ever drove). Today, daily transportation is a ’13 Audi A4 manual, sport package. My wife hates the sport seats. And there’s a 1960 Triumph TR3A in the garage that actually runs once in a while. And I’m happy to note that my two sons caught the sports car bug, a rarity among today’s generation. One has been through two Miatas, the other drives a Subaru BRZ—all of this without a doubt influenced by Car and Driver. Thanks, guys! Here’s to another 60! Cheers!  


Shelby Cobra 427 and Ferrari Daytona Spider   Not pictured: Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster  Total Vehicle Cost: $250,000  Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 22%

When did you first discover Car and Driver?

Shared by: Kelly Schrock

I’ve been a car/truck/anything-with-an-engine nut for as long as I can remember. I remember being 4 years old and somehow “knowing” that if a car had chrome wheels, was jacked up in the rear end, had either dual or chrome exhaust, or was loud, it was good. I talked my mom into taking us (brothers and me) to see Gumball Rally at the drive-in when I was 9. Probably the first time I’d seen a Ferrari was in that movie.   I wasn’t aware of Car & Driver magazine until 9th grade, but I haven’t stopped reading it since finding it in the school library. It’s been feeding part of my fascination with machines (and more) for a very long time. I formed opinions about good writing based in part on what I read in C/D. Other car magazines just seemed either boring, or like they were trying too hard.  

Some things in life are more or less constants. Car and Driver is one of those things for me. Whenever I read one of those Throwback-Thursday retro reviews on the site, it’s like hearing a song I haven’t heard in years. I read it, and invariably something jumps out that I remember from the first time I read it.  So, thanks for all that. As to stories, I’ve got one. Kind of boring. I once blew the engine in a ’73 Vega I paid $80 for. After hearing a “bang” followed by a lot of clattering, I opened the hood to find a chunk of a piston lying in the battery tray. Instead of leaving by the side of the road, I decided to try and get the last bit of value out of it. Oil pressure was very low at that point, which stops the fuel pump on a Vega. Shorting across the connection brings it back to life, so I did that, and drove it another three miles before the engine seized hard enough to lock up the rear tires. THEN I parked it. Best car: Either my s2000, or the Integra GS-R I used to drive. Can’t decide which. Worst car: The aforementioned Vega, or the 1995 Ford Contour I bought in 1995. (Note: Never buy version 1.0 of anything.)  


When Did You First Discover Car and Driver

Shared by: Mike Overly via Facebook

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#CD60 I found you discarded in a bag full of magazines in the parking lot of a grocery store when I was 17. You were a…

Posted by Mike Overly on Thursday, May 7, 2015


What is your favorite worst car story from the past 60 years?

Shared by: John P.

I’ve subscribed to C/D (and SCI) since I was in high school—a long time ago.

My worst car was a 1972 Vega GT wagon. I had to upgrade the radiator, increasing the number of vertical tubes from two to three to keep it cool in the hot weather. I also replaced the short block with one with cast iron liners. The reverse lock-out cable broke while we were in Spokane, Washington for the World’s Fair, necessitating a very careful 900-mile drive home—without backing!

Best car was either my 1965 Olds 442 or my 2000 C5 Corvette.

C/D always has the best writers – thanks!

John

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