A visit to the magazine rack

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I recently found myself (ah, were those four words followed by a period, it might be the most meaningful, perhaps even the most important sentence I’ve ever typed, but — alas — those four words are merely the launching point to say that I was) arriving some 45 minutes early for a luncheon engagement, so I parked my car on the pavement between the restaurant and a neighboring book store and entered the latter because if you have time to murder, what better place to kill the clock than in a book store?

As is my habit in such places, I searched the rack covered with magnetic book marks, hoping but knowing that the ones illustrated with parts of old cars aren’t being made anymore, but hopeful nonetheless that someday I’ll find a store that still has a few in stock.

I also looked at the rack of blank journals to see if the store had any of the brand and size I use for taking my reporter’s notes, and then I wandered among the bargain books, in part to see if any of the books I’ve written have found their way to these remainder sales.

But then I did something very unusual for me, albeit something that once upon a time would have been the first place I’d have headed when entering such a store. I found myself amidst the magazines.

Back when I was a magazine editor, the periodicals racks fascinated me, and not just the shelves with automotive titles, but all sorts of magazines — National Geographic Traveler, Esquire, Wired, Dwell, GQ, Metropolis, Outside, ESPN, Real Simple, Popular Mechanics, a wonderful magazine whose title I cannot remember but it focused on life in the Mackinac Straits region of Michigan, Men’s Journal (but never Men’s Health or Men’s Fitness).

So, $32.34 later, I left the store with a bag that contained the December issues of Octane, Sports Car Market and Hemmings Motor News and the Fall issue of Garage Style.

Why those four among the two or three dozen automotive titles available at the store? I’m really not quite sure, except that each covers some aspect of the classic car hobby (and I already subscribe to Hemmings Classic Car). But since we’re coming up on this website’s first birthday, I thought it might be a good time to see how some of the old-timers cover similar terrain.

Here are the highlights of what I drew my attention as I turned the pages:

In Hemmings a really nice piece by Jeff Koch on the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, who approached the event from the perspective that it costs $300 for a ticket. That ticket entitles you to be on the grounds for 6 1/2 hours, from 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. That’s 390 minutes for $300. Or to put it another way, if you want to see all 216 vehicles, you can spend an average of only 1.8 minutes at each of them and, as Koch points out, “This doesn’t count the inevitable food lines, martini lines, cigar lines or potty lines.”

Koch’s words are part of a 10-page package that includes photographs of around 45 of those 216 vehicles.

I was disappointed not to find any ads in the Hemmings classifieds for Datsun 1600s or 2000s.

Britain’s Octane also covered Pebble Beach in its December issue. It started on page 43 with a commentary about spoiled-brat car owners by Jay Leno, resumed on page 84 with Glen Waddington’s report on Monterey car week, and continued (pages 92-96) with Winston Goodfellow’s insightful article on the surprising best of show winner, and finally concluded (pages 177 and 182) with auction coverage by Dave Kinney.

But there’s much more in Octane’s 258-page December issue. Among the many features, those that caught my attention were Robert Scorch’s piece on Goodwood when it was Royal Air Force base Westhampnett, Robert Coucher’s story on designer Ian Callum’s update on the Jaguar Mk 2, and Martin Gurdon’s story about Donald Campbell’s widow,

Like so many British magazines, there is a wonderful richness to the photography that Octane publishes.

Oh, one more thing: The December issue of Octane is bound with a 74-page issue of Chrono, a magazine about watches. The focus is on watch brands tied to specific automotive marques. Did you know that the only way to obtain Bremont’s newest chronometer is to buy one of the six Jaguar Lightweight E-types? Each of those cars, MSRP reportedly around $2 million, comes with one of the six watches.

Personally, I’ve never really understood the way so many car guys are fascinated by big, clunky, expensive watches.

In Sports Car Market, which I noticed is actually titled Keith Martin’s Sports Car Market, and speaking of my interest in Datsun roadsters, I enjoyed Mr. Martin’s story about his latest classic car acquisition, a 1964 Volvo 1800S.

Also Jeff Zurschmeide’s story about no-longer-affordable classics, though was the Toyota 2000GT ever really affordable? Only a few came to the U.S. and they cost 20 percent more than an XK-E, which cost more than a Stingray.

And I’m captivated by everything that attorney John Draneas writes, or shares at various auction-venue SCM seminars, about the legal or tax implications of collecting classic cars. In this issue, the title of his piece is “When Your Hobby Becomes a Business: You can’t claim to be a dealer to avoid sales tax, and at the same time claim to be an investor to get favorable income tax treatment.”

This was my first exposure to Garage Style, which features a publisher Don Weberg’s column about the hood that Dean Jeffries almost pinstriped.

Just a few pages after his column about man caves, Phil Berg writes a feature about the car-centric home of Denise Sheldon. The piece is titled, “Car Girl: This is how it would look if Martha Stewart was a car nut.” A page later, Michelle Arthur offers a feature on the former Stutz factory that’s been turned into a car museum and studio space for artists in downtown Indianapolis.

The magazine includes features on several other garages and the cars they hold, as well as a story about insuring your garage and its holdings.

Catching my eye were Rick Rader’s story about gas stations designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Matt Stone’s story about the cars — Pontiac Firebirds — used on the Rockford Files TV show and the person who has collected those “Rockbirds,” and Jeremiah McDaniel’s story of Ron Pinkerton, who specializes in photographing at night, in this case in auto junkyards.

So, what do I think after my visit to the magazine rack? I think my money and my time were well spent. I also think I shouldn’t wait quite so long to repeat this exercise.

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