Thursday, July 23, 2009

Speed Mechanics Magazine

To custom car guys the magazine is sacred. When HotRod magazine hit the news stand in 1948, it created a fever for hot rodding that spread like wildfire. The success of Hot Rod, and the surge of enthusiasm for car customization, opened the print media floodgates, unleashing a wave of magazines aimed at capitalizing on the new trend. One early contender was Speed Mechanics. Based in New York City and edited by the former transportation writer for the New York Times.

Buying old magazines is what you do when the swap meet's not giving up car parts. The first issue I bought, I bought for an article on "corvettizing your Chevy". It was a 1954 issue, not very big, and the cover was more like the Saturday Evening Post. I liked the content so at $3 to $5 a piece I started buying all the older issues.
Content wise, Speed Mechanics has a little Popular Mechanics flavor. Most of the tech is aimed at souping up what ever you have without the luxury of over the top resources. It's aimed a little more at the average do it yourselfer. Great for guys on the starting end of the hobby. Being an east coast magazine, many of it's car features were east coast cars, and a lot of the tech articles were done buy east coast shops. Being an east coast guy myself, it's cool to see where hot rodding was in the early 50's on this side of the country. It gives you a feeling of kinship with the guys on the page.

Over a couple of decades of production, Speed Mechanics slowly blended in with all of the other Rodding magazines and eventualy dissapeared; but the first couple of years shine out and have a style all their own.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The shop truck.

For those of us obsessed with our mechanical endeavors, next to a work space, a shop truck or parts hauler is an absolute necessity. It starts off as simple function, but over time, for many of us, we develop a desire for something that can take advantage of our DIY impulses and our partiality for the vintage aesthetic. I've always been inspired by old photos of shop trucks and push trucks. There utilitarianism seemed to give them soul. They were working class. They had purpose. At the same time they still posessed the stylish lines of old Detroit. So after a little exposure to a friends c10, and a mounting repair list on my 94 silverado, I decided it was time for me to join the ranks and trade out my old/new truck for a new/old truck. I do have a small attachment to the old cow but she was on her mechanical last leg and spending money on a 94 just felt like a waste. Spending money on a pre 70's that seems like a good idea.

Now this can be a problem. I'm not alone in my inspiration. Folks being smitten by the shop truck is all too common. A rash of corny nose-art-esc, fake speed shop door logos, are popping up on spotless yellow f1s, at gold chainer cruise ins all over America. At the same time, other people are grinding off decent paint in favor of fake rust and obvious unnatural patina, humiliating the truck by telling the world it's working history is a lie. Any inclination to follow either one of these paths needs to be avoided. I want a real work truck. Something I'm not scared to use and at the same time conforms a little more to my idea of style.

So I found a 66 c10 shortbed at a good price. Some minor mechanical tinkering, some wide whites and a lower stance and the truck feels right. Now the truck is dependable, practical and presentable. Overtime this truck will probably get nicer. If I see something I think it needs at the right price I'll buy it, but at the end of the day It's a work truck. Function first, style it was born with, and soul that will come with every day use.