Car & Driver: Page 1
For more than 50 years, the world's most popular automotive magazine, Car and Driver, has placed its readers in a virtual driver's seat. Each month, automobile enthusiasts purchase the magazine to gain information and insight about cars and trucks both domestic and foreign. Car and Driver's articles, reviews, and reports cover everything from new car previews and road tests to industry news and automotive humor.
From muscle to mainstream
Car and Driver magazine was launched in July 1955. Known then as Sports Car Illustrated, the magazine was devoted to sports cars, sports-car racing, rallies, and hill-climbs, basically ignoring most American-made cars. At its premiere, Sports Car Illustrated cost 35 cents on the newsstand; a one-year subscription went for $3.50. By the magazine's eighth issue, however, an American car, the Chevy Corvette, finally appeared on the magazine's cover.
Another milestone occurred with the November 1957 issue, which introduced the magazine's first Buyer's Guide-a list of the 10 most popular sports cars. Among them were two American cars, a Corvette and a Thunderbird. In the October 1960 issue, the tagline, "Magazine of Car and Driver," first appeared under the magazine's logo; the editor explained the change, noting that three of that month's featured cars were not true sports cars. This was a sign of changes to come: with the April 1961 issue, the magazine was rechristened, Car and Driver. This also marked a turning point in the magazine, which would now assume a more general automotive focus, although for much of the 1960s and 1970s muscle cars featured prominently in its pages.
In 1980, when Car and Driver turned 25, the number of its subscribers had climbed to 725,000 subscribers. On its 50th birthday, in 2005, Car and Driver, now owned by Hachette Filipacchi, was the leading American automotive enthusiast magazine, with a total circulation of some 1.3 million.
Today, the magazine's editors and guest experts examine in detail new technology, new directions, and new ideas put forth by the automobile industry. The topics range from the practical ("Matched Boxes: A Test of 4 Best-Selling Minivans") to the exotic ("How Fast is a Ferrari F50?") to the opinionated ("Ten Best Cars"). Coverage also includes sport-utility vehicles, pickups, and minivans. Car and Driver also delivers news on international races, as well as stock and championship car events. In addition, there are in-depth reports on road tests and technical performance, as well as car accessory product reviews and interviews of noteworthy personalities.
One of the things that have always Car and Driver apart from the other automotive publications-such as Road & Track and Motor Trend-is a pervading sense of humor that has often leavened all the sober technical information. During the 1970s, noted humorist P.J. O'Rourke wrote for the magazine. In the 1980s, the magazine boasted an in-house humorist by the name of John Phillips, still a staff member today.
The magazine's monthly features currently include:
- "The Steering Column": commentary from the editor on various topics of interest from an insider's point of view.
- "Upfront": reports on the latest automotive news and also on personalities, government regulations, technical advances, and innovations.
- "Road Tests": evaluations of various vehicles (about 100 per year) by respected engineers and journalists. The results, both the good and the bad, are presented.
- "Comparison Tests": assembles a group of comparable vehicles with similar prices for an evaluation on the road and at the test track. In addition to describing each machine's strengths and weaknesses, each vehicle is rated from first place to last.
- "Sport": gives readers a monthly behind-the-scenes look at a specific area of motor sports.
- "Backfires": presents letters from readers, often accompanied by an editor's reply.
Car and Driver also features some of the best known and most respected journalists in the field of automotive writing. These include:
- Csaba Csere: the editor-in-chief discusses timely technical, business, and regulatory issues of interest to those who love and enjoy the world of cars.
- Patrick Bedard: a writer who has spent three decades at Car and Driver, he is a former professional racer who drove for the factory Jaguar team in endurance racing and for an independent team at Indianapolis. His articles cover a wide range of issues, from the insurance industry and specialty-car builders to automotive safety.
- Brock Yates: perhaps the nation's best-known automotive writer, his often controversial commentary skewers everything and everyone, from the White House to Ralph Nader to the automakers, and sometimes even his fellow auto enthusiasts.
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Written March 12, 2006 exclusively for MagsDirect.com. All right reserved.
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