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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Car testing's first century has been a fascinating ride | Hagerty Media

Sports cars and supercars are faster and more capable than ever. A base C8 Corvette can bang off a 0-60 sprint in under three seconds, territory not long ago inhabited solely by six-figure exotics. The degree to which this performance is usable on the street is open for debate, but there's no mistaking the fact that bragging rights still matter.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/car-testings-first-century-has-been-a-fascinating-r...
24 REPLIES 24
ejs
New Driver

Car & Driver magazine was originally called "Sports Cars Illustrated", not "Sports Cars International".
Reinhold_Weege
Advanced Driver

That can't be true, because you know "Sports Illustrated" (which debuted a year earlier) would make them change the name.
Sajeev
Community Manager

GoFast
Detailer

It was Sports Cars Illustrated. My heinous error. ds
merlebalke
Detailer

My first exposure to magazine road testing was reading Tom McCahill's tests in Mechanix Illustrated. If memory serves when he tested the 1955 Buick Century it did 0-60 in 10 seconds and we thought it was a rocket ship. How quaint.
Mike_E_V
Detailer

Tom was a sizeable person. It might have done it in 9.5 with less mass on board. I remember those tests.
Studenorton
Advanced Driver

I met Andy Granatelli. You shut your mouth about Tom!
"In the old days, the drivers were fat, and the tires were skinny."
--Jose Froilan Gonzalez.
turbobill
Intermediate Driver

I remember his road tests. A reader once wrote in and asked Tom is his picture was actually of a fly squished between the pages.

Depending on the year, a 0-60 time of ten seconds was a rocket. From the mid 70's to mid 90's, most cars couldn't manage that. My Olds diesel need a calendar to measure 0-60.
gfviperman
Detailer

the base c8 does NOT do 0-60 under 3 seconds no matter what GM says ...
ConfuciusRacing
Detailer

RJ
Intermediate Driver

Re Braking distance testing: Way back in the day, the MI State Police had a device at their driver training school that had three paint-shooting devices on the front bumper (aimed at the pavement, of course). The on-board instructor fired the first shot, the second fired from the brake pedal, and the third fired where and when the car stopped.
turbobill
Intermediate Driver

We had those devices in drivers ed (1970). I was lucky enough to put it to the test in front of the high school library. I can still see people looking out the library window to see what had just happened!
Mike_E_V
Detailer

Fuel economy in the 50's and 60's? I recall the Shell commercials showing a professional driver in a car with a single gallon of gas mount externally above the hood. These drivers were masters. They treated the gas pedal as if it had a raw egg under it. Some of the mileage claims were pretty far fetched. 45 miles to a gallon in a full size American monster was unheard of yet these guys apparently could do so. The rest of the testing? All in the eyes of the beholder IMO.
mikem350
Pit Crew

How about the Mobil Economy Run! Very popular ads!
Studenorton
Advanced Driver

What a big deal they were, too. There would be a brochure available for free at the gas station, and the winners of each class would have some in the car showroom. There was a Pure Oil performance trial each year, also widely followed. They were very showy about the scientific integrity of their test equipment.
turbobill
Intermediate Driver

I recall a GM film where they did the same thing.....a '66 396 Caprice, 390 Galaxie and 383 Plymouth Fury I believe. I think 16MPG was tops by the Chevy.
Stan54
Pit Crew

In the early 50s motor trend did a suspension test by driving at high speed over railway tracks. Then they'd count the bounces afterward. Also a big feature was top speed as if you could compare cars that way. Cadillac in 54 did 113 miles per hour. Imagine if one of those tires had blown
CarciergeGlenn
Intermediate Driver

Tom McCahill was my go-to every month, in Mechanix Illustrated, and when my father dug out his own collection of such magazines from when he was in his 20s (i.e. 1950's issues), when they were getting on towards 15 years old, I was in car-kid heaven. I enjoyed tests in British car magazines he'd bought, and reports by Floyd Clymer. (Look him up - fascinating life story).
Tim
Instructor

Clymer--that name sounds familiar. Did he make repair manuals for cars? I think I might have purchased one way back when. (And I'm definitely not thinking of Chilton's. I remember those.)
turbobill
Intermediate Driver

I think you are correct.
Zephyr
Advanced Driver

Got to love that 40 column thermal printer on the seat in photo # 4. Trying to find a source for the paper roll they used was a fun chore.
GoFast
Detailer

how many rolls would you like?
Zephyr
Advanced Driver

I read an article once about testing in the early days of airplanes. To determine the maximum airspeed a plane could handle the test pilot would put the plane into a steep dive and keep a close eye on the airspeed indicator. When the wings came off he would make a mental note of the airspeed and parachute out.
Gary_Bechtold
Instructor

The most useless test is the 0-60. Some do rollout, some don't. No consistency between rags. With GPS not sure why we can't get an accurate number.