In a couple of issues OLD CARS WEEKLY will be doing a special 40th anniversary edition. Since I was around for 30 of the publication’s 40 years, I figure I’ll spend the next 40 days or so reliving some of the highpoints of three decades. When I first came here in 1978, an associate editor named Chris Halla was a big fan of Jack Kerouac, the ’50s beatnik writer who used to barrel cross country in Step-Down Hudsons. Chris started an annual “On the Road” trip (named after Kerouac’s famous book) where he took a company car and travel money and went on the road for three or four days just to hunt up old car stories. That year we made a big circle through southern Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. It was cool because the Midwest was all new to me, as I had arrived from Staten Island, N.Y. just a few weeks earlier. We stopped anytime we saw old cars alongside the road and visited with an eccentric Model A enthusiast and a used car dealer in Minneapolis who had lots of old iron around. The trip became a long 3-part story in OCW and later the third segment only made it into a BEST OF OLD CARS compilation. One photo we took of a derelict ’61 Chrysler 300 got about a million phone calls from people wanting to buy the car. Our “On the Road” series was so popular we turned it into a column called “Touring With (Insert Editor’s Name).” After that, everytime we traveled to a car show, we wrote up what we saw enroute in On the Road style stories. People loved those tales and we had a ball doing them. Nowadays, I wish I had bought up all the old cars we saw and wrote about. I would have made a fortune.
Gunner’s Garage with John Gunnell
"Gunner" is one of of the most prolific authors and most visible characters in the old car hobby. He has written dozens of books about old cars for Krause Publications and is the former editor and publisher of Old Cars Weekly. His collecting pursuits range from old Pontiacs, to MGs, to retired police cruisers, to Indian motorcycles. He remains a frequent contributor to Old Cars Weekly and owns and operates Gunner’s Great Garage, a classic car restoration and gift shop in Manawa, Wis.
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