Automobile Magazine News And Gossip - Vile Gossip

Fast Facts Number 23b: The Long Version (you just know there are a few good stories behind the rather sanitized bits of information we gave you on page 20).

I'm waiting for a few more people to die before I really wind up the old Underwood upright typewriter and dive into all the stories behind the stories of Automobile Magazine.

But while I'm waiting, those Fast Facts appearing on page 20 in the Ignition section did jog a few amusing little pop-up videos from my overcapacity memory card. So, in the interest of clearing some space:

*"David E. Davis, Jr., started the magazine less than one month after leaving Car and Driver."

David E. Davis, Jr., had his eye on creating an American edition of the U.K.'s Car, the iteration of Car that really came to life under the editorship of Tasmanian Mel Nichols and Australian art director Wendy Harrop. Rupert Murdoch sent the money boys to Europe to investigate, but they fled in the face of the Byzantine accounting practices of Car's then-owners. Murdoch suggested that perhaps Davis come up with his own little magazine.

The hard part was the name. Everything good was already taken. My favorite was Honk! Taken. And Rev? It's the title of a magazine for hip young parsons. And so we became Automobile Magazine, which makes for a name at least six letters too long to make a good magazine logo.

* "Of the start-up crew, only Jean Jennings remains."

We've had to help with four work visas over the years, Canadian editor-in-chief Gavin Conway's and British creative director Richard Eccleston's being the most recent. We also needed to prove that Eccleston was "an alien of exceptional talent" in order to break his visa logjam. When we discovered late in his tenure that one particular South African technical editor was with us illegally, our legal team jumped in and worked tirelessly to deliver him a green card. The minute it arrived, he resigned. David E. Davis, Jr., used the F-word in his brief goodbye speech, in addition to most of the other seven words you can't say on television.

* "With this issue, Automobile Magazine celebrates its twenty-first birthday."

Mine was two days ago. Birthday, that is. And in case you were wondering, yes, I'm the staffer who is fifty-three-the new thirty-five.

* "This issue marks the eleventh time an Audi has been featured on the cover. The marque with the most cover appearances? Porsche."

This issue has the hottest Audi cover since the TT coupe and cabrio were launched. "Audi shows us its TTs" was not a very popular headline, although our newsstand guys managed to slip it past the censors at Wal-Mart. It seems kind of quaint in the face of Car and Driver's recent "MotherFR500!" headline, doesn't it?

* "Number of staff members arrested in the course of duty: two."

One was a young motor gopher who crawled into my office on his hands and knees and begged to be allowed to deliver one of our cars to the West Coast. He promised to be extra cautious, crossed his heart, hoped to die, and then really, really hoped to die when he crashed the car, tried to elude the police, went to jail, and then abandoned the car without ever bothering to get in touch and let us know what had happened. The guy who towed the car finally contacted us, looking to get paid.

The other arrest happened during the course of one infamous cover story in early 1992 called "Bad Dogs," in which we took the most politically incorrect cars we loved on a joyous, high-speed road trip in Arizona. We'd been whooping it up from Tucson to Tombstone, and now we had the rest of the afternoon to get to Bisbee for the sundown cover shoot.

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