On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff
WHAT WITH the current brouhaha concerning the alternative-fact March 1, 2009, Time magazine cover, I should like to go on record that my eight, possibly nine, covers of R&T are all legit. What’s more, each comes with a story, several of which have already appeared here at SimanaitisSays.
I had just started working at R&T when I drove the Dome P-2 Japanese exotic in 1979. This mid-engine prototype never came to production, though the name Dome lived on with several cars that were raced at Le Mans, 1979–1986.
The cover shoot took place at Orange County International Raceway, not far from our Newport Beach, California, offices. OCIR was also the first home of the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, 1968.
Back in the 1980s, it was no embarrassment in putting mere production cars on the cover, provided, of course, they had sufficient enthusiast’s redeeming social value.
My next cover appearance came in October 1982, with a skidpad shot of the Pontiac 6000STE. (Say, Oldtimer, do you remember GM’s high-performance Pontiac Division?) A bit of the skidpad’s 200-ft.-diameter circle can be seen in the Pontiac photo.
In April 1983, I showed up six times on the cover, the background suggesting OCIR. My best grimace seems to be with the Mercury Capri RS’s oversteer; a car’s worst grimace, the Audi GT Coupe’s extreme push.
The Nissan 300ZX T-Top photo from November 1983 might be a doppelgänger. Those shoulders sure look familiar and the haircut is right. But, alas, I don’t recognize the attractive young lady in the passenger seat.
I’m certain I’m in the oversteering Lotus chasing the Honda Civic CRX in December 1983. I believe the CRX’s driver is editor John Dinkel.
As noted in the cover blurb, the CRX cost $42,000 less than the Lotus, but produced better numbers on both the skidpad (0.813 vs. 0.811) and the slalom (64.0 mph vs. 62.2 mph).
The May 1985 cover was photographed on a Swedish Air Force runway in mid-winter. There, the Saab Turbo 16 EV-1 concept car and I encountered a low-flying Saab Viggen fighter.
So low was the Viggen that I reported “Hell’s own fury… redolent of kerosene and a flash of heat in the sub-zero temperature.”
March 1989 was a twofer for me: I had driven both the all-new Nissan 300ZX and, two different trips actually, the Mazda MX-5 Miata in Japan as part of their world introductions.
I’ve had other non-cover adventures with Miatas, including the Lowes Monte Carlo Caper. (Now there’s a cover!)
My penultimate cover came in 1992, when I drove a Daihatsu X-021 concept car at the company’s proving grounds in Japan. This was at the peak of my Japanese language study. I recall commenting to engineers, in 日本語, that the rain had stopped and, thus, they’d allow the car outside for photography.
The cover shot for R&T’s “Topless Turn-Ons” even earned me a less than complementary letter concerning my Tilley hat, worn to ward off deadly sunstroke. A reader suggested I ditch the “Aunt Bee” headgear.
As the magazine evolved, R&T put more emphasis on sexy exoticars, ads for pheromones, male enhancements, and other stuff. Aunt Bee’s hat and I never made the R&T cover again.
Nor did I ever make Time. It was good fun, though. And it wasn’t phony-baloney. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2017