It’s great to learn about vintage cars from lavishly photographed books written by historians, restoration specialists and self proclaimed experts in their particular field of expertise. This book, Day One: An Automotive Journalist’s Muscle-Car Memoir , breaks that mold by delivering a first-hand account from a man who witnessed and participated in the entire muscle car era first hand, Martyn L. Schorr. Schorr is in a unique position to write on this subject. Starting in the early 1960’s, Schorr wrote for and later became editor for the iconic CARS magazine, as well as other automotive magazine titles that where owned by the same company. He was the head of a group of respected but rebellious, tell-it-how-it-is automotive writers working for an independent publisher that survived on newsstand sales, not corporate advertisers and not influenced by the major car manufacturers.
After some introductory chapters, the book’s chapters are broken down chronologically, starting with 1962 and ending in 1973-1974. In this manner, the reader follows the birth, success and ultimate demise of the muscle car era and how each manufacture responded to the public and each other in racing, styling and horsepower. Each chapter is packed with great vintage photos, mostly shot by the CARS magazine staff, of cars being rung out on test tracks and the drag strip. Very cool.
Even cooler is the behind the wheel driving impressions of not only rare, brand new muscle cars, but factory test cars, race prepared cars and prototypes that the public would never be able to buy, much less drive. And drive them they did! In 1964 Dodge gave Schorr the lightweight “Candymatic” Ramcharger backup drag car to use for a couple of weeks, equipped with a blue printed, race-ready, Stage lll , 12.5:1 426 Max Wedge, Torqueflight, jacked torsion bars and cheater slicks. Schorr writes: “Before returning our candy-striper, I managed to spend one Saturday running on Woodhaven/Cross Bay Boulevard in Queens. I dusted off a few 409 Chevys, 421 Pontiacs, and even a fuel-injected Sting Ray.”
The book if full of great stories about driving awesome cars from Yenko Chevrolet, Bladwin-Motion, Royal Pontiac and others. While today these cars are worth a king’s ransom, when they were new Schorr and his staff thrashed them on the street and strip without mercy, trying to squeeze as much power out of them as possible to achieve the lowest ET they get at the strip and shut down as many contenders they could on the street.
There is a lot to like about this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone that likes muscle cars and would like to learn more about them.