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Car Guy Diary – 2/27/2014 – Vintage Reading

Motor Tend April 1957
Bart R. Orlans Collection

I’ve been talking to you a lot lately about the paper part of the car hobby; owner’s manuals, showroom brochures and the like. Well, here’s one more paper part of the car hobby to take a look at…vintage car magazines.

Vintage car magazines are another great collectible for car folks because like owner’s manuals and brochures, they are relatively cheap, take up very little space and you can enjoy them over and over again. But there’s more to their charm than just practical matters.

Leafing through the pages of a vintage magazine can be like opening a window into the past. Aside from the cars themselves, there are advertisements for long forgotten products, language, styles and fashions contemporary to the magazine’s cover date and a host of other neat little historical nuggets that can take you back in time.

I’ve been collecting them for decades now and concentrate on issues from the late 1950s through the early 1980s. I also tend to look for magazines that have articles on cars and trucks that are of particular interest to me. If I didn’t, the magazine collection could get out of hand pretty easily.

I have found vintage magazines in the obvious places, and some not so obvious. Car shows and swap meets are the obvious places to find vintage automotive reading materials, but some consignment shops and antique stores have also yielded great finds in antique paper. Along with the wide availability, the most I have spent on a vintage car magazine is $10, and that was for a real gem in very good condition.

Like I’ve been saying, the old car hobby is more than just old cars. There is a wide range of items that can add to the fun of your old car or be the fun all by themselves. Vintage car magazines are totally worth another read.

Motor Tend April 1957
Motor Tend April 1957 Bart R. Orlans Collection

Motor Tend April 1957

This is one of the oldest magazines in my collection. The silver car at the bottom right side of the cover showing off its continental kit is the second quickest accelerating car of the model year, a 1957 Rambler Rebel. It's 327-cubic inch Nash engine pushed it to 60 MPH quicker than every other car except the fuel injected Corvette. And you'd know that if you read this issue of Motor Trend.

Motor Trend March 1965
Motor Trend March 1965 Bart R. Orlans Collection

Motor Trend March 1965

This would be my favorite issue of Motor Trend ever. Why? Those two Rambler Marlins on the cover should give you a hint. The editors made the trip from their Los Angeles headquarters to the AMC proving grounds in Wisconsin in the dead of winter to test the then new Marlin. Incidentally, the location and cars in this cover shot were used in the sales brochure for the car by AMC.

Hot Rod June 1965
Hot Rod June 1965 Bart R. Orlans Collection

Hot Rod June 1965

The top headline will again explain my enthusiasm for this particular issue of Hot Rod. The editors flew to Wisconsin and drove a brand new Marlin back to their Los Angeles headquarters, reporting on the new cars performance the whole way. as you can see by the weary looking cover, I have read through this one more than a few times.

Car Life March 1965
Car Life March 1965 Bart R. Orlans Collection

Car Life March 1965

Car Life magazine is long gone, but vintage issues like this one still entertain. Again, Rambler Marlin coverage necessitated my buying it. A real treat within its pages is an article written by the Marlin's designer, Richard Teague who detailed the entire design process of my favorite Rambler.

Super Stock March 1969
Super Stock March 1969 Bart R. Orlans Collection

Super Stock March 1969

Just so you don't get the impression that I am too one dimensional, this issue of Super Stock rang my Pontiac bell loud and clear. Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, MI built some of the quickest Pontiac drag cars in the country and supplied parts and service to help Pontiac owners get the most out of their cars too. The cover story details what they did to make a giant killer out of a plain Jane Firebird.