Monday, July 6, 2009

Car and Driver: Rocketing out of a Ditch

If anyone doubts the speed of change nowadays, I direct you to your local surviving magazine stand, where you will find issues of the newly-out-of-its-rut Car and Driver. Just weeks after every employee at that publication dropped everything to read this blog over and over after binding it in gold-gilded leather, new editor Eddie Alterman and Co. have remade the book into what it once was and should forevermore be: a car magazine that isn't afraid to sing the praises and flaws of a 200-grand Ferrari just pages over from similar treatment of the next new small Ford that you can actually afford.

A car magazine that's always about more than what the magazine is about and not afraid to imply so 10 times fast.

A car magazine that at least every few years lets an editor drive drunk on a closed circuit in the interest of science.

The latest issue of the new and better-in-every-way C/D dumps the Fruit Stripe gum road test data panels, ran-out-of-things-to-write-about-ages-ago columnists, and (so far ... we're holding our breath) sports car track tests that forget they're sports car track tests half-way through and award first place to the car with the most trunk space.

Post-CC C/D treats new-age automotive powerplants not with obscure tech-rambling, but with pictures, prose, and pragmatic pros & cons. Perfect.

Editor Alterman introduced himself a few issues back using the Standing on the Shoulders of Giants platform – then invited the giants up on stage.

David E. Davis is back at Car and Driver in top form, leaving the snooty wine and cheese affectations from his Automobile days behind and recently gruffly asking the world why he didn't get the call for the Car Czar job. (Sorry, sir. Jobs like Car Czar don't go to guys waiting around for a telephone call. They go to anonymous bloggers who simply proclaim themselves to be the Car Czar and then start popping off about cars, drivers, and any subject not related to cars and drivers that amuses them).

Malcolm Bricklin gets the back page of the latest C/D to explain the failure of his SV-1 and Yugo projects, among others. Against today's backdrop of multi-billion-buck companies who can't figure the car business out either, Mr. Bricklin comes across as one of those one-man car entities that history should look kindly upon, if only for not losing billions, not trying to sell cocaine, and not barricading himself in his factory while dressed in a Big Bird costume.

John Phillips III gets a column in the front of the book. Hooray.

It's only a matter of time before this newly reconstituted motorhead magazine unwittingly tests a shockingly quick Chevy Volt that some PR guy has secretly stuffed with a motor from a Citroen GT. Then Car and Driver will be a motorhead magazine ... finally ... for real. (Those peaky, noisy, reciprocating powerplants from those quaint old Detroit car companies were engines, not motors. Ask any old coot from back before readers began loosing their train of thought on the internets and misusing words with abandon).


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