Vile Gossip – February 2006

Better to give than to receive? If you say so. We do like to give, it’s true. Last month we named our Automobile, Design, Man, and Technology of the Year, and then awarded All-Star trophies to our favorite cars and people, and that felt just dandy.

But being on the receiving end of the gold is pretty sweet, too. For the tenth year, our talented team of artists and writers has made a big splash at the International Automotive Media Awards. I’m all warm and fuzzy about it now, but looking back over the year, delivering the goodness to the pages of Automobile Magazine wasn’t exactly all sweetness and light.

On the editorial side, gold medal-winning entries included three memorable features from three exceptional contributors. I will admit there may have been the teensiest bit of tension over the living-large expenses involved in Timothy Ferris’s over-the-top grand tour of Europe in the Bentley Continental Flying Spur (“Sedan Delivery,” July 2005). But really, how does one write about traveling in high style from Venice to Munich-the long way-without, well, traveling in high style? All is forgiven, Ferris. You are a superstar, you are our hero, thank you for every word. You won a gold medal, and we can do the EconoLodge and sliders on the next road trip to cover the cost of your facial and the lobster ravioli.

Preston Lerner loves motorsports, and it shows in his wonderful, quirky look at F1’s favorite losers, Team Minardi (“Why Bother?” March 2005). Lerner also loves writing, and his gold medal proves it. Get yourself a facial and bill us.

Robert Cumberford has been with Automobile Magazine since Volume 1, Issue 1, in April 1986. He is highly opinionated, as every working car designer in the world today knows, sometimes painfully, from reading his design analyses each month. They have become so wildly popular that, as of this issue, “By Design” has expanded to two full pages and is now showcased in the front of the magazine in the Ignition section (beginning on page 16). No one-trick pony, our man Cumberford also happens to write beautiful prose on whatever suits his fancy, which happens to include a great many subjects. His gold was bestowed upon a magical bit of writing about the goofy 1935 Stout Scarab (“A Different Kind of Beetle,” March 2005). I am insanely jealous that Cumberford had the balls to ask owner Larry Smith for a drive in the “living room on wheels” that I have been admiring at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance for some years now. No guts, no glory.

The Scarab photography by Randy G should have won something as well, but it was another of our single-initial snappers-Alex P-who made the award-winning splash. The story of how he got his winning shot (below left), that of the Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 bathed in the neon night of Times Square, begins and ends with four aliens. Brit executive editor Mark Gillies had the bright idea of shooting in Times Square and managed to leverage the car off the Ford stand at the New York auto show-right before the show opened to the public-and out into very busy traffic. It took two weeks to secure permits and police protection. The car arrived at the appointed intersection at about 8:30 p.m. with not a cop in sight. British creative director Richard Eccleston and his equally British wife, Liz Turner, grabbed a photo assistant and began to clear a spot for British photographer Alex P. He shot while they ran around and around the car shouting at people. At one point NYPD arrived, checked permits, and went for doughnuts. The best of the streaks you see in the wonderful photo came from fire trucks screaming by with lights flashing and sirens at full howl. The people kept coming, Alex kept snapping, and a few locals broke through our security long enough to make the final photo.

The last two golds were Eccleston’s. One was for his ultra-clean October 2004 cover, “The 100 Coolest Cars,” an idea so simple that our circulation department wrung its hands right until the final tally proved it to be one of the best-selling October covers in our history. Eccleston’s second gold was awarded for his design of the 2005 All-Star feature, a cost-intensive (sigh) Alex P shoot of the winners on location at Universal Studios.

Back to work! Nothing but award-winning writing and photography for the rest of the year. You win.

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