In the fall of 1985, a new type of car magazine first appeared on the bookshelves of America. It was bold, brash, irreverent, and very, very different. Cars Illustrated, first published as the Schneider Performance Series from CSK Publishing, came into a market at a time when most car magazines were concerned with custom paint, chrome supercharger intakes, and car show detailing tips. Seeing a need in the industry for hardcore, straight line action, Cars Illustrated staffed their pages with authentic street racing veterans who knew what it took to service a serious social encounter. Written in a smash-mouth style that only a New York City publishing company could promote, Cars Illustrated set a new standard for what automotive enthusiasts should expect from their monthly car magazines.
Reprinted here in its entirety is the first editorial from the Premier Issue of Cars Illustrated, Vol. 3 No. 4. In it, Editor Cliff Gromer outlines the philosophy that formed Cars Illustrated and the attitude that would allow it to stand on its own 30 years after the first copy hit the magazine rack.
Cars Illustrated Vol. 3 No. 4 (Premier Issue)
Get in, buckle up, and let’s burn some rubber
OK, let me tell you right up front how we’re different from other car magazines. For one thing, we have balls. What other magazine borrows a Corvette from Chevrolet, drives it from New York to Miami in 18 hours, just for a magazine article? What other magazine runs an article on how to do burnouts on the street? What other magazine is taking you street racing?
Answer? Us. That’s it. The other magazines would like to run articles like this but for many different reasons, they don’t have the balls. It’s as simple as that.
Mostly, the reason is that the other car magazines are written to please the advertisers in the magazine. You’ll find many articles praising many products in the other magazines. But when was the last time you read anything negative about any product in any car magazine? Probably never. In fact, Motor Trend is known in the industry as the magazine that never met a car it didn’t like. All the other magazines depend on advertising to pay the bills including the editor’s salary. So, they’re afraid to offend any advertisers who might be so offended that he pulls his ads out of the magazine.
We’re written to please the reader, not the advertiser. We depend on the reader to pay our bills including my salary. So I want to please you so you’ll buy the magazine. I’m more concerned with putting out the magazine that you want rather than the magazine some advertiser wants.
The theory is simple. We put out a great car magazine that attracts lots and lots of readers. Soon advertisers catch on to the fact that millions and millions of car enthusiasts are buying Cars Illustrated. They want to sell their products to these car enthusiasts, so they advertise in Cars Illustrated. We believe that’s the formula for success in this business. And that’s why we’ll always cater to you first, advertisers second.
Which leads us to the type of articles we’ve got for you in this and upcoming issues. First, there will be lots of great cars to look at and read about. They’ll run the gamut from ’86 musclecars out of Detroit to street rods, street machines and classic musclecars from the 1960s. What’s more, we’ll be road testing many of these cars. There aren’t to many car magazines around running actual road test of ’65 tripower GTOs and Hemi Barracudas but we’ll be doing just that.
We’ll also be running street racing stuff. Lots of it. That includes reports of the biggest street races on both coasts and in the Midwest and we’ll even be participating in some of them. We’ll name names and places, too, so if you want to join in on the fun, you’ll be able to find it. Lots of other magazines write about “cruising”. We think cruising around in a car at 25 mph is boring. We think blasting from light to light and getting rubber in second gear is fun. Guess what one we’ll be doing more of.
We’ll be running how-to stuff, too. But we think you’ll find our articles here better than the other magazines too. Stuff that’s going to help you launch off the line on the street, not on the track; stuff that’ll help you from light to light, not just on the dragstrip; and stuff that is going to turn heads in the White Castle parking lot. That’s where we’re coming from.
And we’re going to run articles that no other magazine will touch. Hey, we know you’re interested in this kind of stuff. Like in this issue, we have an article on how to do a burnout. You’d be surprised how many guys out there would love to know how to burn up the rear tires and let others suck their smoke. It’s neat, but they don’t know how. Let us teach you.
Yeah, we know a lot of the stuff we’ll be writing about is not exactly done in the upper social circles. And we know that some of it will be looked on by the establishment books as stupid or boorish or macho or childish. That’s because they don’t have the balls to do it. We all know that this is the fun stuff of hot rodding and high performance cars. This is what makes owning a hot car fun. This is what it’s all about. So we’re not going to hide our heads in the sand and pretend that street racing and burnouts and speeding doesn’t exist. We know it exists and lots of you guys – and us – do it. So why not have a magazine about it?
Yes, some of it is even gong to be illegal. Oh, horrors, Dudley, go change your diaper now. Plenty of things you do everyday are illegal. But you do them. So why not admit it? Some things that are illegal are necessary and/or fun, and part of everyday life. No on lives by the book unless he’s a dork and a nerd.
So do you want to be a nerd or do you want to be with us? We’re the new guy on the block, but we’re going to be the hot rockin’, flamethrowing, fuel injected, supercharged car magazine of the eighties. Now get in, buckle up, and let’s burn some rubber.