There was a time in my life when I had a total of zero car magazines at my house. Check the mailbox, search the coffee table, rummage through the basement—nothing. It was car-free. But that all changed around 2002 when I learned about a thing called a subscription. I was nine.
Growing up, my brother played travel soccer. As a result, we had to go to all sorts of places to watch the games. It was drudgery for me who, at that point, would have rather been anywhere else in the world (maybe even the dentist!) Well, on one hot summer day, I was sitting next to the field, doing absolutely nothing, when another soccer sibling walked up to me. He was a number of years older, and he was accompanied by his mother.
“What’s up, Joey?” he asked.
“Nothing,” I replied.
“Well, I’m doing a fundraiser for school where we’re selling magazine subscriptions.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know, you pick out a magazine you like and they’ll deliver it to your mailbox every month.”
“Yep, every month. Here’s a list of ’em.”
I was baffled. I knew about magazines and I knew they showed up somehow. I spent plenty of time in the school library reading BMX Plus! and others. I had just started learning about cars but, until he handed me that list, I didn’t put it together that it was even possible to get my hands on a car magazine without going to the local Borders or Barnes & Noble.
I pored over the list as if it contained the location of the Holy Grail. Hot Rod, Street Rodder, Rod & Custom, Car Craft…all the big ones were there in the aptly named “Automotive” section. Each had a little blurb explaining what they were about with the know-nothing reader (me) in mind. I read the text carefully. New terms flew at me from all sides. In the barrage of verbiage, I came across three that I could latch on to.
Muscle car. Hot rod. Horsepower. “Say no more,” I thought. These three buzzwords were injected into the Car Craft summary, and as soon as I read them, I chose CC. Or did CC choose me? I relayed this information to my mom, who was happy to write the $10 check to support my newest reading interest.
It’s amazing to see how far magazines have come since the late-’40s, and there certainly isn’t enough room to talk about it here. Much like our hobby, they’re constantly changing—sometimes for the better and other times for the worse. At the end of the day, a select few provide the information we seek—information that’s difficult, if not impossible, to find anywhere else.
So I’ll ask you this: do you remember subscribing to your first car magazine? If so, what was it?