I’m indexing every issue of Road & Track because I am a crazy person

As I’ve written before, my grandfather’s collection of Road & Track magazines passed down to me upon his death last year. I believe he became a subscriber sometime in 1953, but at some point he also bought enough back issues that his library actually begins with the May, 1950 issue. R&T‘s publication schedule was somewhat sporadic in the first few years following its June, 1947 debut issue, so I’m probably missing a total of 10-12 issues out of the entire 70-year-to-date run of the magazine. Not bad!

Simply having this massive trove of historical source material is dream enough for a nerd like me, but to really make it useful—and because I am a crazy person with obsessive tendencies—I have undertaken a project of indexing each issue’s contents. And because I am also a generous soul who loves his readers dearly, I am sharing the fruits of this Quixotic task with you. Use it in good health!

I am working chronologically; I started with the 1950 issues around the beginning of the year and, as of this writing, I am nearly through 1962. The embedded table below will track my progress in real time, so eventually it should come all the way up to the present day. Bookmark this page for your research needs!

The table presented here is sorted by car, listed alphabetically by marque, then model. As you scroll to the right, you’ll see some basic information about the car—who made it, who designed/built it, and who made the engine if it came from a different company than the manufacturer—and columns indicating when that car appeared in R&T in several different categories: on the cover; in an ad; in a letter from a reader published in the “Letters” or “Technical Correspondence” columns; in a road test, “Driving Impressions,” or a feature article (including auto show reports, first looks, and Salon articles); in an owners’ survey or long-term test; in a spy photo or rendering; in a news article, including publisher John Bond’s “Miscellaneous Ramblings” column and the letters from European and other correspondents; and when it appears in racing coverage.

Some caveats:

  • The index does not include page numbers. A big omission, I know—I didn’t figure out how to format my table to include that information, and if I do in the future, perhaps I’ll add it—but at least if you’re looking for information on a 1958 Goggomobil, you know which issues to look at and generally where in those issues to look.
  • I am not a big fan of, or expert on, racing. The “Racing” column tracks primarily those cars that are identified, or identifiable with my limited knowledge, in photos. I strive to do enough research to ensure accuracy in my identifications, but the photo captions are often imprecise and I can’t guarantee all of the information contained therein.
  • On that note, accuracy and consistency in identifying makes and models weren’t always R&T‘s strong suit, especially in the early ’50s when the magazine was heavily covering imported (primarily European) cars that were little known in this country, and about which little information was available. Where possible, I have attempted to record the actual, correct manufacturer and model names, even when that occasionally conflicts with what is printed in the magazine.
  • I also have the advantage of hindsight, so where sometimes when writing about future products, R&T didn’t yet know the model name or printed a name that didn’t end up getting used, I have indexed these references using the name of the car that was used when it went into production. This way, if you want information about the Corvair, for example, you don’t have to know that it was developed, and reported on, using the code name “Holden”—you can just look up “Corvair.”

In case you’re interested, the platform I’m using for this index is Airtable, a cloud-based, embeddable, shareable spreadsheet tool that’s super useful and cool. It’s also free, unless you’re creating something with a ton of records like, say, an index of 70 years of a magazine, at which point you have to pony up for more storage space. If you want to check it out and sign up, please use this referral link; full disclosure, I get an account credit—but isn’t supporting a resource like this index worth it?

Onward—to the index!