In an earlier blog entry, I shared some scans from the March 1967 issue of Car and Driver magazine, my first issue after my father had gifted me with a subscription. However, this is not the oldest issue of C&D in my possession. All during the ‘80s and ‘90s, while attending automotive flea markets, I added to the collection by purchasing older issues.
For this posting, I pulled out one of the more infamous issues, from March of 1964. Note that the cover illustration is a painting, not a photo. That is because the acts it depicts, a Ferrari GTO racing a Pontiac GTO, is a work of fiction. But that, combined with the headline, created quite a stir among performance car fans. How can you not appreciate the audacity of this subtitle: “Ferrari never built enough GTOs to earn the name anyway – just to be on the safe side, though, Pontiac built a faster one”.
The complete road test is reprinted here for your reading pleasure. It is interesting how the editors did not shy away from some truths, first, that they did indeed make concerted efforts to arrange a side-by-side comparison of these iconic automobiles, but were unable to coordinate it; and an outright admission that their test cars had been “modified” by a Michigan dealer, Royal Pontiac, who made changes to carburetion, compression, and ignition timing. Still, a published 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds for an American car in 1964 is impressive.
Other highlights from the March ’64 issue:
- Letters to the Editor including missives from a Mr. Moss and a Mr. Purdy:
- A Chevrolet Corvette ad in which the copy takes up more space than the single photo, with the text a defense of the Corvette as a true sports car as compared to its European competition:
- A Chrysler ad featuring the Airflow as an argument in favor of the corporation’s advanced engineering:
- The back cover is an ad for the Volvo 1800-S (note the bull horn front bumper, and a sticker price of $3995, while the GTO has an as-tested price of $3377)
Scans are from the March 1964 edition of Car and Driver magazine which is in the author’s personal collection.
3 thoughts on “Back to print: the March 1964 issue of Car and Driver magazine”
Vintage ’60s C&D: devoid of objectivity and good judgment, using gimmicks like GTO vs. GTO to create a phony controversy and boost circulation. Interesting that none of their writers was brave enough to offer his byline as the author of this piece. The anecdote about “cruising through a pitch black Florida night..” at ninety on a secondary road along with their snotty reply to a respected writer like Ken Purdy tells you all you need to know about the yahoos who were running the magazine at that time. At least the Volvo ad quotes Road & Track so there was some trace of journalistic credibility in evidence in this particular issue.
Not that I have any strong opinions on the subject……..
Editor David E Davis Jr used this feature story to separate C/D from the heard of sports car magazines and Motor Trend. Even though they had absolutely no access to the Ferrari in the illustration and the two Pontiacs were totally bogus with 421 cubic inch Royal Bobcat V-8 engines, the strategy worked perfectly and C/D soon assumed a notably higher orbit. Twenty years later Csaba Csere and I reenacted the test using real cars in collaboration with Dan Gurney. Of course the Ferrari walked away from the Pontiac, DEDjr was also the editor then and came totally clean on the subject. One interesting sidelight of the original ‘test’ was that John Jerome quit in discuss shortly thereafter opening the door for Brock Yates to join the editorial staff.
Mr Sherman! A pleasure to know you’ve visited my blog and found a reason to comment. Your insight on this story is most welcome. I’ve enjoyed your contributions through the years too. As an aside, I’ve had the good fortune to be acquainted with a Mr. Rich Taylor for the past 20 years or so; I’ve participated in no fewer than 10 of his New England 1000 rallies (in 4 different cars no less), and you can read about some of those exploits within. Rich has shared the occasional C&D backstory with me. Would love to see you sign up to follow my blog. All the best, Richard.