Adding to the Morgue
Let’s face it, most of us are packrats. While many MoparMAX readers likely have a large stash of car parts tucked away here and there, I must confess that several moves and the basic instability of freelance living caused me to get out of the automotive hardware business some years ago. Though I mentioned a couple of months ago that my son, John, now 15, may be the impetus that puts some vintage Chrysler tin back in the garage, at this point, I confess I am presently a geek collecting books.
Okay, maybe it isn’t so bad. To be able to delve into history, I need this stuff, right? Of course, I can use the web for research to some extent, but the real hardcore material comes from the vintage publications of the past. The magazines that were done each month during the heyday of the supercar era are full of information waiting to be uncovered again. So much so, in fact, that a lot of times when I am digging through, looking for some vague memory, I turn up material I had not expected. At my age, sometimes it’s stuff I even used to remember! But I digress.
A ‘morgue’ is how newspapers and magazines refer to their back issue storage for reference, and it can take time to build a good one from scratch. However, even now, 30 years later, finding the higher circulation periodicals is pretty easy. Hot Rod was the most generic of the bunch, but covered a wide gamut of info and printed about a million copies (literally) a month. Car Craft actually did more in-depth analysis of Detroit’s performance, in my opinion. Popular Hot Rodding was okay but not earth-shattering in its content, while Super Stock & Drag Illustrated (published out of Virginia) under Jim McCraw, the late John Raffa, the late Steve Collison, and MoparMax.com Publisher, Jeff Burk, were among the most in-depth in terms of detail. Then there were the assorted titles like CARS and Speed & Supercar that Marty Schorr and his crew in New York put together. This stuff was always a bit more edgy than the West Coast books, and fun to read. While I have a few holes in these collections, they are empty simply because I haven’t tried to fill them, not because of any huge rarity. Five bucks each could fill all of them; the only real high dollar issues are the 1964-early 1965 Super Stocks, a series which is already complete.
What I have been buying this year is CAR LIFE, a smaller circulation west coast book that I had only a rudimentary batch of until recently. Printed on nice paper, there are a lot of good road tests from this title, plus more drag racing features than I had originally thought. It was in the same vein editorially as, say, Car and Driver, but it was in on the American muscle scene pretty early. One nice thing was that they tested 383” cars and similar mid-range performance vehicles during the early years, though Hemi iron prevails in some of the post 1966 issues. Car and Driver between 1967 and 1971 is also good reading, while Motor Trend usually followed Hot Rod in term of brevity; lots of ads bit fairly short articles. There are others, but these are the big guys.