Been There, Done That: Car Magazines

Jon Stalnaker

I’ve been looking at car magazines since I was able to hold up my fingers to tell you my age. My fascination with Old Cars, and Custom Cars, and Hot Rods is imbedded deep within my soul. My dad was a car guy, and he built many a custom or race car. I was there as a little kid, dreaming about the day I would have a car worthy of being on the cover of a car magazine or just on display at a big car show.

I’ve owned lots of cars in my lifetime, many of which I miss dearly when I see them on one of the car related Facebook pages I frequent. My goal of having a car worthy of the cover of one of these magazines was achieved many years ago and I still write for them on occasion. I have a magazine rack that I picked up at the Rt 66 antique store on Dewey that I’ve filled with the Studebaker Drivers Club publication, Turning Wheels, magazines. I have a large collection of these publications that date back to the seventies when this club was first started. It’s not complete, but it is pretty close. I’ve only been a member since 2006 and I, for sure, have all of those issues. The ones in my rack are only the ones I have a story or picture in. I was looking for one that was missing from the collection and found it this morning. I counted them again and there are 40, five of which have pictures of my Studebakers on the cover. I’m curious if I may have missed more, but I’m satisfied with 40. 

I used to subscribe to lots of different car magazines, but the sheer volume was overwhelming. My California house was tiny and there were just too many old magazines around. I liked to keep them but did not have near enough storage space. I stopped subscribing to all but two and even then the volume was more than our little house could handle. Throwing them in the trash bin was a significant emotional event for me, but I did it. When we decided to move to Oklahoma, my collection of car magazines were limited to Turning Wheels and Hemmings Classic Car. When we got our moving expense estimate, it was clear that those heavy magazines would have to be tossed. I wasn’t about to get rid of ANY Studebaker magazines so my garbage can was filled with the Hemmings publications. That was sacrifice enough, especially since we were moving to a much bigger house that had room for my collection. But the movers got paid by weight, so I said goodbye to Hemmings. The Studebaker magazines are reference material for some of the stories I write for them, so I was able to justify that expense. I’ve written stories for other magazines, one of which has my car on the cover, but they are stored elsewhere. 

I was never schooled on writing but just started when I became the Postmaster of Dixon California. Being one of the community leaders, I found many an occasion to write something for my local paper and I just jumped in there and did it. My skills have developed over the years, and I have received plenty of encouragement to continue to write. As I got involved with the Studebaker club my audience increased exponentially when I started writing stories for their International publication. At the same time, I was writing for our Northern California Chapter newsletter.

After I retired again, I started writing my silly stories for the local newspaper. I did that for over 5 years before moving to Oklahoma. Since I bought a house that neighbors Micah, our local newspaper publisher, I took it as a sign to continue writing for my local audience. 

While I tossed all those Hemmings Classic Car magazines in California, I did not cancel my subscription. Therefore, my Hemmings collection is rebuilding, and my Turning Wheels collection continues to grow. I have the room for it now, but I need to strengthen my bookshelves. Those magazines are heavy and getting a bit disorganized. I need to get that done as my household “to do” list has grown a bit since I lost significant use of my left hand. I think I’ve figured out how to do it, I just need to Git-R-Done.