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MY FIRST CAR MAG was the August 1954 issue of R&T, bought for me by my dad in a valiant effort to keep me out of local street gangs. His plan was only partly successful, as I managed to multi-task reading about sports cars, flying control-line model airplanes, and taking part in other activities left untouched in this narrative.
However, in sorting garage memorabilia, I came upon a car mag more than two years earlier than my first R&T. It’s clear I bought the February 1952 issue of Auto Speed and Sport secondhand: Its cover says thirty-five cents, but it’s marked 25¢ on the page 3 margin.
Using archaeological dating, I suspect I bought the mag in the early 1960s, as it was unearthed layered between official programs for the 1963 and 1964 New York Auto Shows, both of which I managed to attend while at Worcester Poly.
Here are tidbits about this one-of-a-kind magazine in my collection.
Auto-Archives. Details of this ephemeral magazine are given by Auto-Archives, the website of the Automotive & Motor Sport Library and Research Center: “Auto Speed and Sport magazine was published monthly from January 1952 through February 1953…. The publishers were listed as Robert E. Petersen (of Hot Rod fame) and Robert Lindsay.”
Auto-Archive continues, “Petersen positioned this title to cover sports cars and European automobiles. It had Hot Rod for the hot rodding community, Motor Trend for the general automotive reader, and Cycle for motorcycle enthusiasts.”
Petersen’s One-Year Effort Countering Road and Track. Editorial and advertising had a lot in common with the era’s Road and Track (the latter’s “&” didn’t come until March 1954.) The February 1952 Auto Speed and Sport had European coverage by Günter Molter (“The 1951 Spanish Grand Prix”), Kurt Wörner (“Action on the Autobahn” and the “Tiny Two-Stroke” Gutbrod), and William Boddy (“The Sport in England”).
Boddy’s Analyses. Bill Boddy noted, “It is vitally important that this exciting and technically beneficial sport should not lose repute due to bad organization.”
Boddy noted that improvised circuits on disused World War II airfields were the fastest, offroad trials were the roughest, and hill climbs were the toughest. Ken Sawyer illustrated three of my favorite cars: a Dellow on a trial, a Cooper Formula 3 hill climbing, and a Fraser Nash at an airfield circuit.
Stirling Moss Bio. “The English Nuvolari” was the term used by Auto Speed and Sport’s Paul West to describe Stirling Moss, then a youngster who “recently observed his twenty-second birthday.”
It’s quite an informative interview touching on several bits Stirling talked about 41 years later, described here at SimanaitisSays.
Connaught Road Test. John Bentley performed an “Auto Trial” of the English Connaught sports car, complete with 0-30, 0-60, 10-60, and 30-60 acceleration times as well as stopping distances from 30, 45, and 60 mph.
Bentley noted the “gallant showing of the Formula II version in European road races.” He said “The Connaught went around as if on rails, the rear end obeying the front with just enough delay to permit accurate steering wheel correction and retain complete control.”
Alas, this sports car was not inexpensive: “To show the importer any sort of profit (just the daily bread without the butter), this Connaught has to deliver in New York for around $5250 [more than $55,000 in today’s dollar]. Telling the prospective buyer, no matter how keen, that these quality machines are hand-built at the rate of about two a month still won’t convince him he is getting value for his money.”
Hmm… Back then, an MG TD went for $1850 FOB its U.S. port; a Morgan Plus Four, $2395; a Jaguar XK-120, $3945; and a Porsche 356, $4208. Road and Track cost 35¢, the same as Auto Speed and Sport.
Decisions. Decisions. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022.