Spotter’s Guide To The November 2020 Issue Of Hagerty Drivers Club Magazine

Hagerty’s magazine just keeps getting wider, thicker, and longer. The current format isn’t perfect for those of us who like neat lines of mixed titles on a single bookshelf but it approaches the heft of the English big boys. The staff has put a lot of effort into getting the thing consistently printed well on nice paper despite a rash of unpleasant changes in the actual production business. There are fewer and fewer printers out there in the United States who can make something like this.

Continue Reading →

The End Of The Road… And Track

Maybe we had no right to call it Road&Track in the first place. We had a reason to do so: there were half a million subscribers out there who had already paid for a year’s worth of R&T and expected to receive something with that name on the front cover. What they ended up getting for their money was… definitely not business as usual.

You probably know the story, or at least some of it. In 2012, Hearst moved the magazine from its posh digs in Newport Beach to an anonymous Ann Arbor industrial park. Not a single staffer came along, although they all received some sort of offer. Peter Egan agreed to contribute on an occasional contracted basis, and that was it. The change was made to save money and also to acquire the services of Larry Webster, who had agreed to reboot the magazine from scratch with the best talent he could beg, borrow, or steal from elsewhere.

The resulting magazine was Road&Track in name only — but that was okay, because that name needed a bit of polishing. By 2011, the “book”, as they say in the business, was suffocating under the weight of its own bland momentum. I have a few issues from that period; they’re full of comparison tests in which all the cars managed to be winners, industry news reported a few months too late, and painfully drab historical articles that often transparently relied on a single, already published, source. In his final contribution, published this month, Peter Egan recalls how he and his co-workers would sit in the Newport Beach office and watch the sun set. That’s a pretty good metaphor for what was happening out there in 2011. Much of the magazine could be summed up in the single phrase, “Back then, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them! ‘Gimme five bees for a quarter’, you’d say.”

What happened next was at least different. Now it’s officially dead.

Continue Reading →

Spotter’s Guide To The October 2018 Road&Track

I could take or leave the whole Singer Por-sha phenomenon, but Preston Lerner does some great work tracking the development of their newest take on the air-cooled engine. What’s depressing about the article is that Porsche themselves should be able to do anything that Williams F1 can do. We were told 20 years ago that EU noise regulations were the reason that the air-cooled engine could not continue. The real reason was, most likely, cost. The M96 engine costs half as much as its predecessor, and the current mill is probably cheaper still. Can you imagine a modern GT3RS with the Singer/Williams engine? It’s enough to make me a Por-sha fan again.

Continue Reading →

Spotter’s Guide To The June 2018 Issue of Road&Track

This month’s issue has all sorts of supercar and superstar stuff in it, most notably another sentimental and fascinating piece on Alois Ruf and his work by Sam Smith, but the dedicated reader will eventually work his way back to page 56 where you can read my investigation of a thoroughly diverse luxury trio. Each of them is impressive in its own right but it was the Navigator Black Label that made the strongest argument for a space in my driveway. It could replace the Silverado and a luxury car to be named later. Of course, for the $100,315 sticker price, you could get my Silverado plus a gently used Lexus LS460 or Mercedes S550.

Life is full of tough choices when you’re rich! Since I’m not rich, I’m going to keep the fleet just the way it is. My days of running a pair of brand-new full-sized Germans at any given time are long gone. On the other hand, one of my readers just alerted me to a couple of leftover 2017 Accord V6 6MT coupes in California. Surely there’s no harm in having three of those, right?

Spotter’s Guide To The May 2018 Issue Of Road&Track

If you’re tired of reading “ride-along” reviews of the 2019 ZR1 written by people who weren’t allowed to drive it, today is your lucky day. Last month, I spent two days driving the ZR1 around the NCM West circuit. Was it fast? Yes it was!

How fast was it?

Go look at last year’s Performance Car Of The Year testing. See how fast the AMG GT-R was? It was very fast. The ZR1 is faster. How much faster? I can’t say, at least not yet.

There are plenty of other things that I can tell you about the ZR1, however. They can be found on page 24 of the May 2018 Road&Track. Check it out, why dontcha.