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Magazine Time Machine: Road & Track October 1959

Bradley Brownell December 17, 2015 Nostalgia, Vintage Advertisements 18 Comments

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Here’s another issue from my archives that I wanted to dig into. This edition might well be my favorite of all those I’ve done so far. There’s just so much good stuff going on in this issue. I mean, for frick’s sake, there’s an original advertisement for the 1960 Wartburg in this issue! The cover art is awesome, there is some racing coverage that makes me smile big and wide (just like Dan Gurney), the advertisements are great, and oh those classifieds ads, they’re just so perfect. Click the jump to see more.

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The Alfa Super Spider on the cover is one of my favorite designs ever. This car was purchased by the magazine’s technical editor, and after a bit of carburetor tuning, performed flawlessly. R&T also tested the Humber Super Snipe, the MG Magnette MK III, and the new MG-A 1600, as well as the BMW R-60 above. The Alfa was “super”, the MG-A had made “True Progress”,  it’s Magnette brother was “well worthwhile”, the Humber featured “ingenious engineering”, and the BMW motorcycle was strangely dubbed the 2-wheeled equivalent of a Mercedes.

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Following the road tests, there was an exposé on the potential future application of “Safety Steering Wheels”. Seen here installed in a Porsche 356, this steering wheel collapses when the driver is flung into it by virtue of a front end impact. I’d love to know what happened to these, who designed/invented them, and why they were never implemented. This seems like a great alternative to the collapsible steering rack before such a thing existed. I have to assume this particular wheel was a Porsche invention, as the wheel still features the 356’s standard horn button?

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After the “regular cars” and news came some motorsport news, including an update on this potential American Le Mans stunner. The car was based on a Corvette chassis and engine, but featured a more aerodynamically sculpted body and a lighter weight body. Featuring GM’s fuel-injected engine, the car was said to be (on paper) faster than a contemporary Scarab or 4.1 liter 4-cam Ferrari. That’s mighty impressive. Unfortunately the car went nowhere. Does anyone know what became of it?
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Speaking of Scarab, there was a bit on the first test of the American company’s Formula 1 car. After a whopping 7 months of development, the car was ready for first drives. In testing, the car turned a 2:07 at Riverside where the standing record was 2:04.03. With some work, the car would obviously be quite quick. An interesting note states that the car is fitted with water-cooled inboard rear disc brakes. Plans at the time called for the car to be run in some USAC Formula Libre events before attacking the world stage of Formula 1.
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This picture combines many of the things I love. 1950s privateer racing, Put-In-Bay, Porsche 550 Spyders, and .

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Gurney is one of my favorite racers of days gone by. And with a smile like that, why wouldn’t he be? Clearly he’s enjoying himself at the wheel. The internets claim the car is a Ferrari 375 Plus owned by Frank Arciero.

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Speaking of fast Ferraris, here’s Tony Brooks driving one of those glorious F1 cars on the way to victory at Reims ahead of teammate Phil Hill. (Photo by the amazing period photographic artist Bernard Cahier, by the way!)

Here’s where we begin looking at the amazing advertisements for new cars in this issue. I’ve never seen such an amazing collection of advertisements. Very few comments, just let the ads speak for themselves.

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Speaking of Phil Hill (or should I say Shill Hill), here he is as a spokesperson for the Peugeot 403, which you “can’t beat”.

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And finally, we’ve got a handful of classifieds ads for you to peruse.

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Remember, this is late 1959, so these Porsches are pretty much brand spankin’ new. The 1600 Super Coupe at 3400 bucks is probably an 80k car these days. Perhaps more if it is perfect. The Carrera GT Speedster, however, especially in black over red, is easily a million dollar car in today’s market. Four-cam Porsche Speedsters are absolutely insane right now, but they are among my favorite cars out there. The Rolls at $3250 is just icing on the cake. I’ll take all three!

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This is an interesting rig. Someone in the 50s thought it would be a good idea to tow a car trailer with a Volkswagen Van? Dean Causey, by the way, piqued my interest and I did a little digging. Apparently this rig was used to tow his Porsche 550 Spyder in the 58 season, and his Porsche 718 RSK in the 59 season. Either of those cars would be worth 3-5 million in today’s market, I’d guess. If anyone knows what became of this rig, or has any photos of it in-period, please me, I’d love to write about this thing.

  • dukeisduke

    I wish the pics were clickable, so we could zoom in. Also, who’s the author(s) of the F1 articles? Rob Walker used to write some of them, and the annual F1 preview articles published before the start of the season.

    And, remember when foreign makes (mainly European) listed P.O.E. (Port of Entry) pricing in their ads? Some, like BMW, listed two prices; one for the East Coast, and one for the West.

    • Bradley Brownell

      Photos and words provided by Cahier.

  • dukeisduke

    Tomahawk Circle in Okemos, Michigan (home of the Rolls) is a pretty normal, middle class street:

  • Sjalabais

    Amazing Wartburg ad – “from Germany”. No mention of the elaborate BS the socialist union party would have spit out in another context. I’d love that ad scanned flat and in high resolution, if there’s any chance!

    • JayP

      “Never Change the Oil for the life of the engine”?
      So that’s what 20k miles?

      • Sjalabais

        In a two stroke, the oil is mixed with the gas, right?

        • dukeisduke

          Yes. A bonus is that you can lay down a smokescreen, just like James Bond!

          • dukeisduke

            I couldn’t find any details of the engine, but given that gas stations in the DDR had pumps that dispensed gas-oil premix for Trabants, I would assume the Wartburgs used the same setup – no oil injection or oil tank, but gas-oil premix from the gas station.

            • In the US (and presumably in most markets) the owner was expected to add the proper amount of oil to the fuel tank so as to maintain a ratio of one quart per nine gallons. Fairly thorough mixing may be achieved by adding the oil first, then pumping the fuel into the tank.

              • Lokki

                One of my favorite memories of my mom is stopping on the way home from Church one Sunday in our 1963 SAAB 2-stroke. My mom, sporting the Jackie Kennedy look including the white gloves, tells the attendant “fill the tank and put a quart of oil in too.” The kid asks what grade oil, and how to open the hood. My mom tells him it doesn’t matter, and to put it in the gas tank with the gas. The kid, being a god kid, if (like most of America in 1963) ignorant of 2-stroke engines, goes nuts and tries to talk her out of it. Things finally reach the point where my mom in her white gloves, steps out of the car and says, “Young man, am I going to have to do this myself?“. He sadly relents…and we drive away smoking furiously. From the back seat nine-year-old me watchs him through the rear window at him shaking his head sadly, no doubt thinking, “ You’re CRAZY Lady!

          • Just like James Bond. That is what I will tell myself.

    • Bradley Brownell

      I might be able to make that happen. It’s sitting on my desk at home, so when I get back I’ll try to remember to do so.

    • Bradley Brownell

      Ask and ye shall receive.

      • Bradley Brownell

        Just making sure you’ve seen this, @Sjalabais:

  • JBsC6

    I was one month old when that issue released….that Alfa was my dad’s first sports car…”I remember driving in it when I was four or five…off to the ny autoshow at the coliseum….

  • hubba

    The Plymouth Horizon and Dodge Omni used a collapsible steering wheel.

    • dukeisduke

      What’s with the dips in the rim? I guess that makes the rim easier to twist in those places, to aid in the collapsing?

    • Rover 1

      Pretty much everyone did to meet safety regulations.

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