I vividly remember reading this in the fall of 1969. It’s the kind of feature that was often pioneered by C&D, and then became commonplace. Hang on for the ride…
I also remember reading this at 14 years old and still am very impressed with those cars. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a Super Bee Six Pack in real life. Saw a Road Runner 440 Six Barrel here in Vancouver, BC a few years ago. Unless it was a “clone” it was one of less than 400 4 speed cars built.
The ad for” Motor Honey” caught my attention. I remember a great debate amongst my peer group. I’m thinking circa 69 -71. Some guys swore to reduce blue smoke, and silence a noisy valve train STP was the way to go.
Myself… I was believer in Motor Honey.
Unlike others, I never read this before. For guys who liked to drive, I’ll bet an afternoon with that car was quite the hoot.
This article is a fine example of the “irrelevance” of the editorial staff of “Car & Driver” magazine in general, at particularly that of the editor, the late, David E. Davis, and why C&D was the “go to” car magazine in my Father’s (and later on my) household for over 40 years.
Unfortunately, the current example of C&D is NOTHING like it was in the past. When my long term mail order subscription expires in a few months; I will not be renewing it.
I feel the same way about C&D. One month I’m gonna let it expire, next month there’s an article I might like. My last subscription was 9 bucks a year, so maybe I’ll let it ride.
Do you mean “irreverence”?
Exactly my thoughts
I stopped buying it several years back. It seemed to gradually decline, like they hoped readers wouldn’t notice their standards slipping. Still, I have thirty-odd years of back-issues full of the literary gems and sparkling wit they were once famed for.
This article reads like a real life version of The Dukes of Hazzard. It’s so evocative of a time & place that is probably no longer around. I would second Mark’s post about how C&D was such an irrelevant magazine back in the day. I think that it had the same spirit as the National Lampoon, which also flourished at the same time. It was through the pages of C&D that I first encountered Jean Shepherd when I was a boy.
Speaking of articles on muscle cars, this past weekend Ifound a compilation of Hot Rod Magazine muscle car road tests at a book/media swap held @ my local Council on Aging (the place was a madhouse of people picking up free stuff, but I digress). The cars tested ranged from a 1964 Stude Lark R3 to a 1971 Pontiac GT-37. It was interesting to read what people thought of these cars in the context of the times, especially since many of them have ended up as prime auction fodder.
I think the word you’re looking for is “irreverent”, perhaps?
Dayum you “auto-correct”!
“Car & Driver” was also my first exposure to the witty, hilarious, sarcastic and laugh-out-loud musings of Jean Shepherd.
Jean Shepherd, Brock Yates, David E. Davis, P. J. O’Rourke, Patrick Bedard, Warren Weith, Gene Buterra’s reign as the art director of C& D with his gorgeous, framable pictures, later on Rich Ceppos amused and informed me….SO many talented automotive icons on this magazine that taught me about automobiles and life-it’s-ownself in general.
It seemed like, with each issue of C&D, I learned something new….and not always just about cars.
Today’s C&D reads like a dull, sanitized, dulled-down print version of “Entertainment Tonight”.
About as gripping as a sales brochure.
Great article, and I remember reading it “back in the day.”
Sadly, as already mentioned, C&D is no longer the fun read it once was. Same goes for R&T, and is also true for Automobile. I subscribe to all three, but no longer eagerly anticipate their arrival. They’ve all lost their formerly very different approaches to cars and driving; there’s little reason to read more than one of them anymore.
Maybe some of the issue is me. As a young guy I drooled over a lot of the cars featured, and used the mags as references for the cars I needed and could actually afford. These days, I can buy what I want but no longer find anything lust-worthy; admittedly the dearth of manual gearboxes in new cars also plays a role.
Curious whether Chrysler paid Car and Driver for this article. As it gives the impression of an advertorial. Rather than ‘irreverent’, I find it’s a bit cynical. As it’s selling the car more than anything, with the anti-establishment theme as a backdrop. And to give the car more street credibility. Reminds me of the early 70s Challenger commercials with the ‘heap of trouble, boy!’ southern sheriff. Which this may have inspired. Spawning many 70s movies around this theme. Man and his car versus the ‘feds’.
It reminds me of many Motor Trend articles that gave you the impression their aim was to sell cars, rather than objectively road test them.
I have a different take, the car is too absurd to intricately critique. If you recall from car and driver reviews of the Roadrunner, they criticize the hood scoops, stripes and even Roadrunner motif killing the sleeper aspect of the no frills supercar that they themselves had inspired Chrysler to create. The Six Pack for 69 turned up what they already considered loud image to 11.
They actually do this by making the case that this would probably be a less than ideal runner car, using that outlaw marketing image against it. Between it’s big SIX PACK stickers on the black racing hood scoop and high stance in back, and then go on further to discredit the notion of a runner car by emphasizing through J.B. the sorry state of the practice circa 1969. By the end of the article the Super Bee arrives back, thoroughly hooned by the good ol boys, covered in mud and chicken carcasses, showing the real purpose for this car – mindless mayhem. Even the “it’d be crazy enough to work” line by Bubba at the end reinforces it, he likes the car because it’s a hoot to drive, and only then can he start making rationalizations about its “uses”.
But then I like Every. Single. One. of those man and his car versus the ‘feds’ 70s movies. Really they’re just a contemporary take on the man and his horse versus ‘the Sheriff’ westerns of the day, just different scenery. Any other car could have substituted in something like Vanishing Point, and it still would have been a great movie.
Paul: Thanks for posting this article. It’s been a mental floodgate for me, of what my car-obsessed life was like wayyyyyyyyy back when.
I think that you are doing a dayum-fine job on this site.
If only C/D was still like this. I’d subscribe again
A great example of C&D under David E. Davis. I always thought of him as a retired College Professor who was given a free apartment in a college frat house on the theory that his presence would keep down down the shenanigans. Instead, he used the accumulated knowledge of his years to suggest mischiefs they’d have never dreamt up one their own.
I was in high-school when the 440 Roadrunners hit the scene, for the street racing scene that boomed in my home town during that era, they were the cat’s ass meow. There was only one that I remember, along with Hemi-Charger with Mickey Thompson’s on the back, it ruled. 383 Roadrunners were pretty common, but the high profile act was the brother sister pair; he had a Corvette in with orange stripes and she had a Camaro SS convertible with the same paint scheme. There was a 69 Chevelle SS396 that I really liked, but that didn’t have as much success as I would have liked, and 64 Belvedere with a Max Wedge that still shows up in my dreams….
Cars were more affordable then, but there was also the fact that if you were drafted you could get a car loan on that basis and drive it for the six months or so before you went off to study jungle botany and ballistics.
Our school was lucky in that we had a major interstate under construction nearby and for the few years I was in High School, we had literally miles of straight clean multi-lane empty concrete accessible simply by moving a few barrels. The police never bothered us, I suspect because they knew if they closed ‘the strip’ it would just move somewhere less safe.
Regardless, there were at least five of my classmates killed in high-speed one-car accidents. Two died in a Roadrunner that got airborne somewhere over 100 MPH on a back road, a neighborhood girl and her date (the driver) died in a Corvette that flipped trying ‘Dead Man’s Curve’ (yes, we really had a Dead Man’s Curve) on ‘the low road’.
The most tragic was when the captain of the football team died in the brand new roadrunner which his father-in-law had given his as a wedding present for marrying his pregnant daughter, the head cheerleader. It sounds like a cliché but such were the times in small-town Pennsylvania of the 60’s.
Leon Mendel was the Editor at this time.
Mendel merely continued the editorial style and attitude created by David E. Davis.
The Leon dun good, but it’s still DED’s style.
Classic. Today this would make for a great episode of Roadkill. This is so much like the “what if we” style in so many YouTubers’ vids–tbh I forgot that cool articles like this used to happen.
Boy, this takes me back. I remember reading this at the time. I’d wait for all the car mags to come out, but C/D was the most entertaining.
A few months after this article appeared, a fellow in my high school class who’d gone up to West Virginia for college bought a new ’70 Road Runner in Starburst Yellow. He had a contact up in the Blue Ridge between WVA and Richmond, and would earn a car payment or two by running white lightning into town. Never got caught, but damn that stuff was righteous, like drinking Sunoco 260!
I want to learn about the car–that story was boring nonsense to me.
I guess I was car nerd … I far preferred R&T in this era (not to mention the UK mags, especially MotorSport). At some point in my late teens I woke up and realized C&D was far better written and actually fun. Today, I’ll occasionally skim through some at the library or grocery store and frankly can’t tell them apart. In fact, of the mainstream American mags, the one I despised as a teen is arguably the best. Motor Trend.
As a near-Yinzer who lived in the Deep South for almost a decade, I NEVER heard one refer to anyone else as you-uns (yinz).
It was always ya’ll. I guess the creative writing staff at C/D at the time never got any further South than Pittsburgh…
As others have said, Car and Driver sure ain’t what it used to be. I subscribed from ’75 to sometime in the mid ’80s and looked forward to every new issue. Now an issue might hold my interest for 15 minutes if I’m stuck in airport with no WiFi and Hudson News doesn’t have anything else I haven’t already read. I recall seeing this article somewhere in the past though. I interpreted it as a subtle put down of this type of car and it’ enthusiasts (like me) at the time.
And that was one of the best things about the old C/D, they’d run stuff without worrying who it might offend, manufacturers included. I well remember an article reviewing a Fiat of some sort where one of the editors suggested the best thing an owner could do was “torch the sucker”. In another article the editors chronicled the effects of smoking weed and driving, stating that after trying to obtain permission from whatever government agency to get some medical product they simply decided to “score an ounce from a reputable dealer”. The article did convince me not to toke and drive anymore….
It really was the best car magazine of it’s time.
I subscribed to Car and Driver from about 1978 to 1996. I eagerly awaited each issue. I even had it sent to Japan.
As a teenager, I thought Brock Yates and David E Davis were the coolest guys on the planet.
As you are reprinting selected “Car & Driver” articles (of which I highly approve!); may I suggest:
Perhaps you could reprint the laugh-put-loud, rambling but hilarious “Car & Driver” article about their group road test in Baja and/or the David E. Davis narrative of his long road test of the Fiat Strada? His reference and article build up concerning the song “Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother” and his conversation with a very pregnant waitress had me convulsing and spazzing out on the family sofa.
Truly this automotive epistle’s “irreverence” at it’s best.
so this is how it used to be (literately speaking?) that’s an amazing article with all the components of literary style. i especially enjoyed the window on a different culture both automotive and political. something tells me the southern vs northern divide then and now is not that far apart, nor the urban vs rural one. we’ve become a bit more homogenized but recent political realities have shown us that differences still do exist.
yes, it would have been a stronger article to have more about the car but in reality it was more about the story than the car. some will disapprove and others will enjoy what the story has to offer. i’m in the latter camp.
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