One of the best parts about writing in this modern age of internets, TV-Phone watches and all that is the instantaneous communication. I love that I can write something and then have a conversation about it or what an idiot I am right away. The speed of response is new, but the comments aren’t. Here’s some from 40 years ago.

The letters I’m showing are from the November 1971 issue of Popular Mechanics, which a kindly reader sent me in a big box with other fascinating stuff. This is just an issue I grabbed at random; I’ll try to do this more if it turns out you like reading what your commentariot ancestors were pissing and moaning about to the auto-journo idiots of that era.

So, let’s see what car-enthuiasts were thinking way back when:

Hey! An archaic troll! This jerk doesn’t want you doing your own maintenance because some gearheads changing their own oil will put all garages out of business all over the Earth and societies and economies will collapse and we’ll all be cannibals within weeks. And why don’t they “attack their own magazine industry? Good point, P.W.!


Also, being a free site on the internet means the old “I will not renew my subscription” door-slam loses a lot of its impact.

Now, to prove you really can’t win:

The first guy doesn’t want any car repair articles, this guy thinks the ones they have are too “woman’s-magazine-type.” Yeah, why isn’t Popular Mechanics running any articles about engine lathes, or a simple basement iron engine block-casting story? Where are Pop Mech’s how-tos about converting your own bauxite ore into aluminum? And who’s kid is that Mort Schultz, anyway?

This guy, though, I like the way he thinks:

I’ve occasionally heard about these studies, and I think I have heard that Oregon allows green acceleration lights on cars, but this may be the first time I’ve heard of a regular person (I’m assuming that’s what Keith Foley is/was?) asking about them. Other than me.

One final thought: consider this fantastic Pall Mall ad:

The gold 911 Targa is fantastic, but there’s something just so strange about all this. That seems like the most awkward way to stop and smoke in your car. Pull over, climb into the back seat, stand awkwardly on the seat backwards, leaning on your roll bar? That had to take at least a bit of awkward climbing around, and his feet are on his seats? Did he take off his shoes, at least?


Also, I guess you have to be a smoker to know what the struggle of deciding between “good, rich flavor” and “mild, smooth taste” actually means.

Also, because I really like you, here’s a nice cutaway of the Renault 12 they had in there: