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Rusty Blackwell

Rusty Blackwell

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Rusty Blackwell
My love for cars started with a book called The Complete History of Chrysler Corporation, 1924–1985 and a triple-green 1973 Dodge Dart Sport 340. The book -- currently tattered and Kool-Aid stained in my Automobile Magazine office -- fostered my appreciation for automotive history. The car -- currently with 51,000 miles and needing quite a few replacement parts in my dad’s garage -- fostered my appreciation for acceleration and how glorious it is to have at least four senses assaulted by a cool car.

Early vehicular favorites slanted heavily toward vintage Mopars. (I grew up in Chelsea, Michigan, where my dad, like most dads in Chelsea, worked at Chrysler’s proving grounds.) '71 Barracudas and '68 Chargers have been high on the dream list since back then, but I’m much more worldly these days, thanks in large part to having sampled much of New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman’s vintage British fleet, so my dream garage’s old Mopars are now joined by names like Triumph Dolomite Sprint, Ford Lotus Cortina, MGA, Sunbeam Lotus, and Jaguar XK120, which fight vehicles like AMC SC/Ramblers, bay-window Volkswagen Microbus campers, and Buick Skylark Sport Wagons for real estate in my daydream thought bubbles.

Old cars were once new, and my affections steadfastly extend to new cars. Since I started working at Automobile Magazine in 2004, I’ve been fortunate enough to have driven the majority of new cars built. Highlights of the late-model cars that currently vie for position with vintage metal in my automotive daydreams (in neutral alphabetical order): Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Dodge Ram (oh, so sorry--Ram 1500), Ferrari 458 Italia, Ford GT, Ford Mustang Boss 302, Lotus Elise, Maserati Quattroporte, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, and Porsche Boxster.

Even though I’ve driven just about every new car on the market, from exotics to econoboxes, my personal top speed in a car was established before I had a driver's license, when my dad rocketed me around the Chelsea Proving Grounds’ oval track at 155 mph in a topless Dodge Viper in 1993. Speaking of ovals, an Albion College internship at Michigan International Speedway in 2001 marked my big break into this business, and I’ve attended races at Le Mans, Daytona, Indianapolis, and Eldora, as well as Bandimere Speedway, an awesome drag strip near Denver that I frequented in my previous job as a PR guy for Team Mopar and writer for Mopar Magazine.

The addition of two daughters to my family in the past few years has led me to be much more interested in minivans and family vehicles than with sporty cars, so add a Ford Flex, a Honda Odyssey, and -- keeping the vintage theme alive -- a turbo Plymouth Voyager to the above roll call. Since becoming a father, I've executed more baby-seat installations than the Detroit Tigers have played games. I’ve also learned that a Fiat 500 is not the ideal car in which to take your family of four to a Tigers game, but it will work -- as long as you load the baby through the rear hatch.

If my wife didn’t drive a stick shift (a 2002 Honda Civic coupe) when I first met her, I’d probably be feeding a fleet of old Dodge Omnis and MGBs instead of my family, which formerly included a 1967 MGB/GT Special. Fortunately I have this job to keep me surrounded by cool cars that aren’t also personal money pits. This is better (although I might have a hard time turning down a good deal on a solid Omni or MGB).

articles by Rusty Blackwell

2014 Acura Mdx Front Three Quarter With People
Long-Term Tests

2014 Acura MDX SH-AWD - Up North

The 2014 Acura MDX takes two trips to northern Michigan.
Mar 11, 2014
2013 Mercedes Benz GL450 Front Three Quarters View In Snow 2
Long-Term Tests

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 - Bros' Bowl

Enabling a wintry weekend much like the Olympics
Mar 07, 2014
2015 Ford F 150 Debut Pair
2014 Detroit Auto Show

Detroit 2014: Hits, Misses, & Revelations

The highs, the lows, and things we heard at this year's Detroit auto show.
Jan 16, 2014
2013 Nissan Altima Side View 02
Long-Term Tests

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL - Good-bye, Road-tripping Friend

It treated us very well over the year, but we won’t miss it very much.
Nov 08, 2013
classic cars
News & Rumors

Drive Classic Cars Across The Auction Block

Ultimate Fantasy Number Four.
Oct 20, 2013
2013 nissan altima 3 5 sl
Long-Term Tests

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL - A Tennessee Trial

Load it with adults, and the Altima finally doesn't feel overpowered.
Oct 16, 2013
2013 nissan altima 3 5 sl
Long-Term Tests

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL - Good for Mainstream Buyers

...but not necessarily for enthusiasts like us.
Sep 13, 2013
2013 nissan altima 3 5 sl
Long-Term Tests

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL - Power Struggle

The Altima's V-6 engine: some love it -- many don't want it.
Jul 30, 2013
2013 audi rs5 cabriolet
Editors Notebook

2013 Audi RS5 Cabriolet

The RS5 is an absolute rocket, but it's a manageable rocket.
Jul 22, 2013
2013 porsche 911 carrera s
Editors Notebook

2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S

Performance that is beyond reproach.
Jul 19, 2013
2013 mercedes benz gl450
Long-Term Tests

2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 - Towing Time

Big, comfortable, and controversial tow car.
Jul 18, 2013
2013 land rover range rover hse
Editors Notebook

2013 Land Rover Range Rover

Equally at home on American roads as in Morocco.
Jul 01, 2013
2013 scion xb
Editors Notebook

2013 Scion xB

Funky box-on-wheels styling conceals a mediocre driving experience.
Jun 17, 2013
2013 nissan sentra sr
Editors Notebook

2013 Nissan Sentra SR

Someone looking for an affordable compact sedan could do a lot worse than the Sentra.
Jun 14, 2013
2013 mercedes benz s350 bluetec
Editors Notebook

2013 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTEC

Driving a Mercedes S-Class feels a lot like flying in first class.
Jun 12, 2013
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