Sign in to follow this  
X-Frame

Motor Trend Magazine - junk?

Recommended Posts

I used to get those cookies, candies, and popcorn tin boxes, just full of goodies from Quill Company. These were for buying all of those reams of paper in my editor days. Anybody need any popcorn tins? :D

I have wanted 1 or 2 of those big popcorn tins for quite a while, I use them for wastebaskets and my old ones are getting all rusty and battered. They always came out around Christmas so I went to Walmart to get some but was disappointed. They had some but they were only half the size of the old ones and cost $10 bucks. I bought one anyway and am eating my way thru the caramel corn as we speak.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only Subscribe to Hemming Classic Cars now. I used to take Auto Restorer but the cost became prohibitive. I picked up the latest issue of Road and Track in the Walgreens the other day while waiting for a prescription and couldn't even make sense of it. I wondered what happened to Peter Egan, I see above he had retired. Even 15 years ago he was the best thing in it. I gave up Autoweek in the early 80's as well. My tastes changed after my two older kids were born and it was not until the 90's that I regained any interest in cars and by then it was Classics not sports cars. When I began looking at magazines again I was surprised how much different they had become. Now as many of you do I seen to spend most of my Car reading time here and several other Old Car sites.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still try to keep abreast of new cars as much a possible, and subscribe to Autoweek. I was about to defend them as one of the lesser commercially influenced magazines until last night, when between last minute present wrapping I picked up the 12/15 issue. Normally there is not as much fawning for each new car as there is in the other major rags, but this one took the cake.

It was cover-to-cover a Dodge brochure. All the "articles" and all the ads were for Dodge, and there was little if anything to distinguish between the two. Not that I have anything against Dodge, but I was disgusted. I don't spend money on a magazine to read promotional literature.

If you want to learn about new cars, read Consumer Reports. Their reviews are clinically objective, and lean more to the enthusiast bent on appropriate vehicles than most people realize.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some unknown person that knows me gave me a subscription to a car magazine and it is all pretty much new sports and utility types combined. I go for a walk every day, so on my way past the local barber shop, I drop them off for the customers to read. I never even open them to read them anymore. I never saw so many ads and stuff that did not interest me all in one car magazine!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first car magazines I managed to get my parents to buy for me were the "green tint" Hot Rod Magazines. Then came Motor Trend, back when it was a highly-regarded magazine and their "Car of the Year" award really meant something. That particular award has seen many evolutions and orientations, over the years, which seem to have diminished its value every so often. Unfortunately, their COTY award has gone to some "significant dud" vehicles, although they seemed very neat at the time, usually due to how they determined which vehicles would be eligible each year.

The neighborhood grocer was my main source of car magazines. I always checked out the magazine racks when we went to the store! As mother shopped, I'd browse magazines. I still have those magazines, too.

I strongly concur with Bernie on CAR LIFE magazine! I liked the spec charts, their accurate commentaries, and they usually tried to maintain a reasonable "equality" standard of how they tested vehicles. I was mad at Petersen Publishing for absorbing them in the early 1970s! Back then, Petersen Publications was very well respected in the industry, as others tried to compete with their "properties".

As life progressed, Hot Rod fell from favor, as did MT. I had some Sports Car Graphic magazines with articles on American cars in them. CAR AND DRIVER was more import brand oriented back then, so they didn't compare to MT (to me), but there were some great articles on radial tires and shock absorbers as they started their transition into more USA brand vehicles being tested. By the '90s, though, Hondas were their "chosen brand" and everything had to compare to them. It seemed that they were wearing "Honda-colored" glasses! David E. Davis was a character, but worth reading. CAR AND DRIVER was the last car magazine I had a subscription to. One reason I finally let it lapse had to do with both their editorial orientations (although they produced some of the most consistent road test numbers of any magazine, until their road tester was killed doing a high-speed top speed test in a Mercedes) AND the fact my storage spaces were quickly being maxed-out. I chose, instead, to purchase "as desired" rather than a blanket yearly subscription.

For the broad-based appeal to younger people which many car magazines might hope to have, I was highly-surprised when I started seeing "sexual enhancement" ads in the back pages of them! Used to see those things ONLY in the back pages of Argosy or other "men's magazines", not in a car magazine which might make its way into a public school library!

Consumer Reports has had its ups and downs. Many consumers still like it, but there can be some orientations creeping in there every so often, by observation, dependent upon who's running things and how "daring" they might desire to be. Ragging on a Dodge Charger for the way its rear door sheet metal might restrict a child's view out of the window isn't a "defect", especially when the kid's probably going to be watching a DVD or playing video games (rather than looking at the scenery pass by, as WE did).

When I rented a Honda Accord DE in the middle 2000s, I was appalled at the lack of low-end torque in that 4cylinder engine. To compensate, the trans had a really deep low gear, but needed to downshift just to go from 60mph to 62mph with the cruise control "accel" function. Once past 3000rpm, even at part throttle, the power "came on" significantly. I was surprised to have NOT read about that in CAR AND DRIVER, as they were so "in love" with Hondas back then. It did have other redeeming values, though, and I could see why people liked them so much, even with the powertrain's "delivery" quirks.

The problem with many "comparison tests" is that some of the "losers" aren't really losers, just not quite as good as some of the other vehicles in the test group. PLUS, how things end up can be due to the way the vehicles are equipped/configured in relation to the others, by observation. Even tire choice can make or break some performances! But they still have their place. Only thing is that a high-scoring vehicles ownership experience can be locally-influenced by the dealer network and how customers are taken care of ... or not taken care of . . . which can make a 3rd, 4th, or 5th place finisher a better choice for some consumers.

As things have transpired, I still look at some of them, but now know that the writers "aren't all-knowing" as the great writers of the '60s and earlier '70s seemed to be, in most cases. The great ones were not replaced by similarly great ones, it seems, especially as things progressed into the 2000s! Not unlike what "network news", much less "cable news", has seemed to become.

Regarding electronic media, the www.wildaboutcarsonline.com website and its Automotive History Project are archiving a huge amount of older car magazines on their website. Not to forget about the huge amount of car ads and dealer training videos on YouTube! Ahhhhh, the memories!

Enjoy!

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Car magazines I subscribe to and like:

Antique Automobile - AACA's own magazine for members, which is superb.

Collectible Automobile - A very classy independent antique auto enthusiast magazine, very nice quality, good in-depth articles, nice photography: http://www.amazon.com/Collectible-Automobile/dp/B000060MJ6

HMN - The "Old Original" mostly-classified-ads one which I still enjoy, plus HMN Sports & Exotics, plus HMN Classic Car (though probably going to drop Classic Car; I've never subscribed to the "Muscle Machines" third of the glossy trio, but I imagine it's probably very good also).

AutoWeek - Often just the right "bite-sized" portion of automotive news. I like it.

Hot VWs (old VW enthusiast scene for the US), and VolksWorld (old VW enthusiast scene for England & Europe). Both decent, but sometimes get rather "trendy"...

Beyond those, just various club publications, such as 356 Registry, Buick Bugle, and a few others of varying size & scope...

EDIT: Oh yeah, like a number of others have mentioned here, I also subscribe to and read Consumer Reports. It's always good to have more info than less, and the variety of different sources also adds to the interest. And another point that was just raised by TexRiv below is that I also find it easier & more preferable to read text on a printed page rather than on the computer screen.

Edited by stock_steve (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do NOT think Motor Trend magazine is junk, I have been a continuous subscriber since the mid 60s and just renewed for two more years. I am surprised at the negativity shown here for this magazine and many others from a group of supposed "car nuts". I will admit to being seriously car-obsessed my whole life. I currently get, and read, Motor Trend, Hot rod, Car Craft, HMN, HMN Classic Car, HMN Muscle Machines, Auto Restorer, Skinned Knuckles, Antique Automobile, and club publications from OCA, PAC, and PAS. I also get Consumer Reports and read a daily newspaper! The only publication I am not happy with is Car Craft which I will be dropping. Being 66 years old, I like the feel of a magazine in my hand rather than reading it online, although I am active in four online forums including this one and watch Motor Trend's very good YouTube channel. I am retired so I have time for all of this, but I did about 90% of it even when I still worked.

While my hobby car focus is old cars I have never limited my interest to one narrow field. I am fascinated with new cars and their technology for the same reason I am interested in old cars and their history. It is true that Motor Trend does a number of features on expensive exotic cars but they also do many comparison tests on normal family cars and trucks along with their yearly Car of the Year and Truck of the Year competitions. Are they biased by advertising? Possibly a bit but I can read Consumer Reports for a totally unbiased look - the problem there is that is kind of boring, I'd rather read both. And even though I will never own a Ferrari or Lamborghini I love learning about them!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got tired of the smart-ass holier-than-thou tone a lot of the editors took. Add in they'd slam an American-built car for the exact same performance an Asian or European car delivered, and it just got old. Autoweek and C&D (same editorship coincidentally) were the absolute worst for that. I curtly cancelled C&D over the phone some 30 years ago, was how bad it pissed me off to read it. Wouldn't even let the remaining subscription expire- I wanted my money back if that dreck was the best they could deliver, and told them so.

I get way too many magazines (I have a rather wide range of interests) but all the car magazines I get now are AA, Collectible Automobile, Hemmings Classic Car (Muscle Machines got too caught up in the mega-bucks aspect of the hobby to suit me) and Auto Restorer. I still get OCW because once in a while they'll have a true jewel of an article.

Hot Rod, MT and others of that ilk? Boring. How many of us can realistically say we can afford the stuff they review? I sure can't.

Edited by rocketraider (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With reference to the last post...years ago Consumer Reports had raised American car bashing to an art form. I can remember an article where they rated the 2001 Toyota Corolla above the (virtually identical) 2001 Chevrolet Prizm because they "liked the Toyota dashboard layout a little better". Give me a break. Incidentally, my 2001 Prizm is getting ready to turn 100K miles. Bulletproof transportation. And a great dashboard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gave up my Motor Trend and Automobile magazine subscriptions this year, and I have been a subscriber to Automobile for 27-years. They kept getting smaller and smaller, fewer pages I mean, and were so far behind the online sources I use that each issue already felt outdated by the time it arrived. I realized I don't just want "news" type magazines because of this and switched to those featuring actual journalism and long format articles that were well researched. Basically that meant buying European magazines such as Octane (you guys have to check it out if you like fine old Euro steel), Classic Mercedes and other similar types. They are costlier, usually $9-12 per issue which was probably what I paid for a full year or the others, but now I actually take the whole month to read through each issue thoroughly and most articles interest me in some way, as compared to flipping through the US magazines once, maybe reading two short articles and recycling it immediately afterwards.

Edited by MarrsCars
spelling/grammar (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In a 1981 Car and Driver they had road tests of the new VW Rabbit and Chrysler Imperial. The Imperial, with fuel injection 318 V8, got the same highway mileage as the 4 cylinder 1500cc VW. They loved the VW, hated the Chrysler.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I as a kid, used to see the 8-page bible, haven't seen one in years, hehe.

I get Hot Rod, & Street Rodder, plus AutoWeek digital.

Dale in Indy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I got tired of the smart-ass holier-than-thou tone a lot of the editors took. Add in they'd slam an American-built car for the exact same performance an Asian or European car delivered, and it just got old. Autoweek and C&D (same editorship coincidentally) were the absolute worst for that. I curtly cancelled C&D over the phone some 30 years ago, was how bad it pissed me off to read it. Wouldn't even let the remaining subscription expire- I wanted my money back if that dreck was the best they could deliver, and told them so.

I get way too many magazines (I have a rather wide range of interests) but all the car magazines I get now are AA, Collectible Automobile, Hemmings Classic Car (Muscle Machines got too caught up in the mega-bucks aspect of the hobby to suit me) and Auto Restorer. I still get OCW because once in a while they'll have a true jewel of an article.

Hot Rod, MT and others of that ilk? Boring. How many of us can realistically say we can afford the stuff they review? I sure can't.

I have to agree with the opinion about car reviews. On subjective issues such as ride quality, it seems like their butt cheeks get ultra sensitive when rating domestic vehicles. Consumer Reports is even more guilty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The MT car of the year has been a joke from the beginning. Some of the highlights:

1960 Chevy Corvair

1961 Pontiac Tempest (with the "magic fingers" slant four and rope drive)

1971 Chevy Vega

1972 Citroen SM

1973 Chevy Monte Carlo (the large, bloated 1973-77 body style)

1974 Ford Mustang II

1975 Chevy Monza V8 (lift the engine to change the plugs)

1976 Chryco Aspen/Volare (the only cars that rusted faster than the Vega)

1980 Chevy Citation

1983 AMC (Renault) Alliance

1984 Chevy Corvette (with 205 HP and the Nash 4+3 "skip-shift" trans)

1993 Ford Probe GT

There's a Tesla in there, too...

'nuf said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest BillP

I notice a peculiarity with foreign magazines not shared with their domestic brethren. When rummaging through a closet or in the attic in search of some crucial gadget, if I find an old Octane or Classic & Sports Car, it invariably is like finding a brand new edition I've never seen before. I can read it for weeks, finding new insights and ads I'd not seen on the initial go-through. Not so much with an old US brand magazine.

To those who question my advancing senility as a cause more probable than foreigner's editorial acumen, I say, "What's that again?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see a lot of guys think that car magazines a biased against domestic cars, but have you considered the other alternative: domestic cars are inferior (or at least were for many years)? I know I'm probably painting a target on my back with a comment like that, but in defense of the car magazines they all have a "subjective" category that attempts to quantify things that can't be directly measured. My personal experience bears this out. I have a 2005 Audi allroad wagon and a 2012 Cadillac CTS wagon. Both are V6 powered, all-wheel-drive station wagons with leather interiors, more than 250 horsepower, automatic transmissions, etc. It's not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, but it's pretty darned close. Despite having 140,000 miles on it and being a design that's probably 6 or 8 years older than the Cadillac, the Audi is still a superior car. The Cadillac is better on paper (more horsepower, bigger brakes, better cornering, slightly quieter, and gets 2-3 MPG better gas mileage), but the Audi just feels better. How? Why? I can't really say. The suspension is more supple but not mushy, the control efforts are consistent, not light at this speed, heavy at that speed, and while they're both AWD, the Audi always feels like it's actively looking for traction while the Cadillac only activates the AWD when it starts to slip. It's a VERY noticeable difference, particularly in the snow where the Audi is confident and the Cadillac is like a rear-wheel-drive car until things start to get hairy (at which point it may be too late). I paid about the same price for both cars, both had similar stickers when they were new, and both have about the same features and amenities. I bought the Cadillac because it looks like a rock star, but there is no denying that the Audi, even with more miles and being two generations older than the Cadillac, is a better car in ways that don't show up on paper and equal in most other ways.

I might also note that I have already spent more on unscheduled Cadillac repairs in the 14 months that I've owned it than in 9 years of Audi ownership. What was everyone saying about the unreliability of foreign cars? The Audi has never asked for more than routine maintenance, the top-of-the-line Cadillac has been through three wheel bearings, an axle shaft, two stereo head units, a sunroof motor, and a driver's seat bracket which didn't really fix the problem.

GM used to make "numbers" cars that would test really well. C4 Corvettes, for example, were the equal of anything else on the planet at the time--on paper. If you've driven one, particularly back-to-back with, say, a Porsche 911 of the same period, then you'd see that while the Corvette is faster, corners harder, stops shorter, and gets better gas mileage, the experience of driving it is quite inferior. GM was awesome at building cars that were paper champions. The key is balancing quality, performance, and things that can't be easily quantified but definitely matter to the driving "experience."

I think too many of us decide that we like one brand of car and never go outside our comfort zone, but it's always my recommendation to drive everything you can afford and buy the one that makes you feel best. That's true of new cars as much as collector cars. There are HUGE differences today, just as there were decades ago.

So no, I don't believe the magazines are biased against any manufacturers, they're calling them like they see them. Just because it goes against what the numbers are saying and our own preconceived notions doesn't mean they're necessarily wrong. When it all comes down to it, it's opinion, not fact (and at least Car & Driver actually says as much in their tests).

That said, I'm still exhausted each time I try to read their magazines, so I don't bother anymore.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This has been an interesting post. The thing is that we are "car" guys and look at cars differently that what might be considered "the average car owner" to them a car is a thing to get from place to place - that is all. If it does that it is a great car.

Truth is that American car manufacturing was (and is) controlled by accountants and European car companies were controlled by car guys.

The difference shows, in the difficult to quantify subject, "feel" as described by Matt.

I have owned middle of the road American, European and Japanese cars. They each have their own characteristics that defy description when it comes to feel.

I prefer the "feel" of the European cars. That might be because, as has been said, "if they didnt build good handling cars, they could be accused of genocide". (ever drive in Italy, Germany or France?).

So everyone has their own idea of what a "good" car is.

However, I am always amused by the person that says to me: "I have a great car - my mechanic loves it!" Yes, I have been told that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some where in all my junk (oops! Valued treasures..) I have an old issue of MT from 1958. One of the main articles in it

was: "Why the Lincoln will fell and the Edsel will succeed" .

AMF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even before I could drive in the 50's I would bike to the drug store to get the latest issues of MT and Custom Cars, Hot Rod, etc. Today I don't get any. The internet has taken over.

I recently sold a complete set of Special Interest Autos (186 copies) for next to nothing just to make room in my library. Everything I want to read now is right here on the I/net.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. Padavano...re: post #40...no object ever made by man rusted faster than the Vega automobile. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mr. Padavano...re: post #40...no object ever made by man rusted faster than the Vega automobile. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. :rolleyes:

It's been a documented fact that nothing ever rusted as fast as a Renault Dauphine.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRvq2kxue-RxnslobkdQYRWLvmY19X18Z2ZbtciPE4UiacAQjXx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Renault, back then, didn't have enough power to outrun rust.

Key thing is that all car magazines have editorial staffs and orientations which are more aligned with some vehicle purchaser demographics and others might be. What they write is "their orientation" toward a particular vehicle, on a particular day, in a particular location, which might coincide with what a typical owner might encounter or not. In a recent C&D comparison test, the last-gen Chevy Malibu didn't score too well, but when I rented one for a weekend, I found it to be quite an acceptable vehicle. Whether or not the ultimate customer might need extra rear seat leg room is a variable situation, but as I recall, the car lost points for that.

Matt hit on a good point . . . as one manufacturer used to comment . . . "The right car is a matter of feel." This is much more true than any marketing exec (driven by how much of something their car has then another competitor's car might) might ever want to admit to. I used to rent fwd Chrysler 300s and LHSs and liked them a lot. When I rented the first new rwd 300, I was not impressed. It felt big and heavy, in feel and performance (with the same V-6 that now seemed underpowered, at least until I turned off the traction control). But, the last refresh on the Charger has gotten a LOT of the old feel I liked about Chrysler products in it. Same car, different chassis tuning.

Not that MT has become "junk", just that I don't like some of their "new directions". Their COTY award used to be prestigious and cherished, but not there's too many of them. In '66, it was the total Pontiac line of vehicles. In '64, it was the total Ford line of cars and their "Total Performance" orientation. Then came individual models, rather than complete car brand lines (as noted above, with some real "winners", over time). Then it got to be "new for that model year", rather than an improved version of the original vehicle a few years prior. Then we added "Import COTY", "Truck of the Year", and now we have import brands (in the USA) getting the award from a USA magazine!

And, some manufacturers have seemed to game the COTY system by staggering the introduction of their new vehicles. One year, the Chevy Caprice was the COTY, when it was redesigned. Next year, it was a similar Ford, when it got redesigned. It went on that way for several years, in the 1990s.

Over the years, including decades, I feel that MT is not what it used to be. I felt the road test results were unbiased and factual, in general. In the '90s, C&D had some testers who consistently got great "numbers", reliably, in their road tests. Perhaps the prior "perceived honesty" in prior decades of MT has been somewhat masked by their new print format and all of the ads in the back of the magazine? Compare what we now have with some of the archived MT road tests at www.wildaboutcarsonline.com . Not even in the same league, regarding car "action shots" and such? Pictures of interiors (which WERE worth taking pictures of!) and engine compartments (similarly!), for example. Words, pictures, specs . . . it all worked together to inform the reader with real-world-valuable information. Sometimes, though, it seemed that MT didn't get a car that had the right rear axle ratio or engine for the best overall performance, which resulted in some results being skewed somewhat from what was "normal" equipment.

When Petersen Publications was going strong, they had premier publications, period. Others did well, too, generally, but with a "different flavor" of sorts. But by the earlier '70s, the many consolidations/buy-outs were happening, for better or for worse. As with other industrial/retail consolidations, I'm not sure we're better off with many magazines being under the umbrella of "common ownership", as commodities to be "invested in" in an "appliance" sort of way. But if you look at the auto parts suppliers, even OEM suppliers, you'll find many brands under one umbrella, rather as individual companies, just as with many home appliances.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's been a documented fact that nothing ever rusted as fast as a Renault Dauphine.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRvq2kxue-RxnslobkdQYRWLvmY19X18Z2ZbtciPE4UiacAQjXx

One of the best cars I've ever owned was an '83 Renault Alliance. Nearly 200K miles before it got T-boned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mr. Padavano...re: post #40...no object ever made by man rusted faster than the Vega automobile. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. :rolleyes:

Tough call. I did own a Vega when I lived in L.A. The car lived it's entire life in SoCal, yet the TOPS of the front fenders were rusting out. Go figure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tough call. I did own a Vega when I lived in L.A. The car lived it's entire life in SoCal, yet the TOPS of the front fenders were rusting out. Go figure.

My father bought a new Vega, maybe '73 or '74 or so, and only kept it about one year or so, he was so disgusted with the poor quality (and he had been a GM man all his life). Surprisingly, though, he replaced it with a Pontiac Astre (Vega clone but had the "Iron Duke" engine), and seemed pretty happy in general with that one.

The Vega had been the most basic, bare-bones Sedan model, with rubber floormats etc., but the Astre was kind of a spiffed-up little wagon, with whitewalls, shiny trim rings, roof rack, rich metallic brown paint, etc.. Maybe it just made him feel better owning a little bit nicer *looking* car...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this