“I wish we had kept all those old car magazines,” my dad lamented. In the summer after my ninth birthday, my dad and uncle had decided to discard their old copies of Car and Driver, Car Craft and Road and Track. Their collection, which included magazines from the early 1970s up to the summer of 2003, was gone within a day. “We must have had over 700 magazines on those bookshelves Saj. And we kept them so well for all those years,” he boasted, “but, with your little sister around we couldn’t keep spending all of our time out in garage.”
All that remained were a small pile of 11 magazines, wrapped in plastic covers and placed in a box in the back of my dad’s office. Flipping through the pages of the June 1982 issue of Hi-Performance Cars, I found myself stopping at a photograph of a review for the Chevrolet Monza, or “black-bodied beastie” as the advertisement named it. Described as the “orphan of the street scene that nobody has to feel sorry for,” I cringed at the racial tropes mobilized in the marketing scheme. Turning the page, I read “Hot Blooded” spread across two pages, overlaid on a photo of a engine-modified 1982’ Corvette. Another article demanded a “Wheel Weigh-In,” telling drivers to buy lightweight wheels because “losing weight is a nationwide fad.”
Articulating the characteristics of each car using bodily metaphors, the advertisements tapped into a masculine consumer desire for bodily improvement. They offered promises, allowing you to perform “hot-blooded” hypermasculinity and become the stud who was “fat-free.” Showing the magazine to my dad, he laughed to me about the muscle car that his friend Roy owned, “It was an Oldsmobile cutlass. They used to call it gutless cutlass because it had a small motor.”
Rummaging through the remnants of this archive of masculinity one final time, I found an article about the Oldsmobile 442 W30 in the November 1969 issue of Car Craft. Between the pages, there was an old photo that I found of my mom and I. Perhaps my dad had used it as a bookmark, but my own nostalgia for the past told me otherwise. Regretting that I would be leaving home once again, I faltered. The box of old magazines had quickly become an archive of pain, one that I deeply desired to close.