Books & Magazines

I rarely buy current car magazines. Instead, I tend to go for period magazines, mainly those published between the early 1950’s and the mid 1990’s. Old car maintenance mags like ‘Practical Motorist’ and ‘Car Mechanics’ complete with their tips and hints, their letters pages and the myriad of adverts, paint a real world picture of what motoring was really like for the average Joe at the time, in a way any modern magazine dealing with old car could never do. But probably my favourite publications of all are those for car customising, such as the sadly now defunct ‘Street Machine’ and ‘Hot Car’ as well as ‘Custom Car’ which is still currently in print. These kind of mags really accurately portray what the trends of time were, both good and bad, without adding the rose tinted gloss of distant nostalgia.

Probably my favourite of these was ‘Hot Car’ which ran from 1968 through to 1983. Hot Car spanned an era that went from the oddball buggy, kit car and special era, right up to the turbocharged, body kitted 80’s and dipped into rods, custom vans, stock cars, drag racing and just about everything else in between along the way. 183 editions of Hot Car were published and I’ve yet to acquire a full set but there was that other great custom mag of that era of which I do own every issue…

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Back in the days before the Australian Dollar had elbowed out the old colonial Pound, any Aussie with a lot of kids who was in the market for a wagon to haul them all around in could blow £1440 on a classy new Japanese import, the Nissan Cedric. And according to this road test from Australian Motor Manual back in November 1963, that represented pretty decent value…

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The latest issue of Japanese Nostalgic Car magazine flopped through my letterbox a few days ago and as always it’s a highly professional looking magazine with high class photography. This, the third issue, has been a little long in coming but like much of the publishing industry, Japanese Nostalgic Car has been hit by the economic downturn as companies within the motor industry trim back their advertising budgets. The good news is that the magazine is still healthy, thanks in part to relatively small overheads, and will continue which is very good news for vintage Japanese car fans. If you haven’t checked Japanese Nostalgic Car magazine out before it’s well worth a look. International subscriptions are available via the Japanese Nostalgic Car website.

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If ever there was an essentialy read for Datsun 510 enthusiasts this is it. The Dime Quarterly is a long running US based newsletter, mainly technical in focus, concentrating purely on the 1967-1973 Datsun 510. The magazine is printed in black and white in A4 format and as the name suggest comes out four times a year. Every issue of the Dime Quarterly is packed with useful technical articles and features which makes it excellent value for money. The standard of photography and the editorial content are both highly proffesional. Subscription is a very reasonable $20 for overseas readers ($15 for those in the States) or you can save a couple of dollars by going for a two year subscription. To get a taster of the magazines content you can take a look at some previous articles online on the Dime Quarterly website and from there you can also subscribe using Paypal. Back issues are also available from the website for $4.50 each.

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In the early days of British sales, Datsuns were advertised heavily in the motoring media. Combined with a excellent value and reliability offered by the cars, this promotion led to the staggering success of Datsun UK in the early 1970’s. The level of their achievement can be seen if you consider the sales statistics. Datsun UK sold 6900 cars in the UK in 1971 and by the end following year that number had hit 30,000 only to be more than doubled in 1973 to 60,500! By 1976 Datsun UK held 6% of the entire UK market, representing more than 60% of all Japanese imports and outselling Toyota by nearly three to one. In fact the UK was the only market in the world at that time where Nissan outsold Toyota.

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The second quarterly issue of Total Nissan magazine flopped through my letterbox a few days ago and although I still haven’t read it all yet, it’s certainly looking good. This issue, yours truly managed a little input by assisting senior contributor, Rob Marshall with a piece on the Nissan Cherry Europe and Alfa Romeo Arna, which takes a fresh look at the car to question whether it really deserved all that bad press. The two Nissan Cherry’s pictured in the article are our very own Cherry GL and Europe GTi! This issue also takes a look at importing your own car from Japan, as well as a modern Japanese classic, the Nissan Figaro. Total Nissan is currently subscription only so if you fancy a one year subscription it’ll cost you £16 (£28 for overseas) and you can sign up online at www.totalnissan.co.uk

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Finally, I have managed to score a copy of a book which I have been trying to find for some time. “Pictorial History of Pre-war Datsun” is another excellent publication from Car Graphic and despite having almost entirely Japanese text, is well worth hunting down if, like me, you have an interest in very early Datsuns. The book runs to about 125 pages and is jam packed with photos , mostly black and white with a few in colour. The book charts the history of Datsun from it’s very early beginnings and shows images of some of the foreign cars that influences it’s designers as well as rare pictures of the first prototype “Datson”. There’s also a section featuring many pictures of the Grand Prix winning DOHC powered NL-75 and NL-76 race cars from 1936. Alongside the many photos are plenty of drawings and sketches of the early cars and their technical details. Of course the only downside of this like many CG publications is the lack of English text, however there is at least one page in this book in English which gives a brief history if the development of the early Datsun. Despite it being unreadable to most Westerners, this is still a very worthwhile addition to any die-hard Datsun enthusiasts library.

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This little treat dropped though my letterbox recently, courtesy of my friend Alan T (thankyou!) and really is a must have for any keen early Sunny owners. The Sunny Owners Bible comes from Japanese publishers Studio Tac Creative (ISBN 978-4-88393-251-1) and as you might expect is completely in Japanese, however this is less of an issue than you might imagine as you will see later. The book starts with a number of features cars, all in colour, from B10’s through to B310’s with a fairly strong emphasis on the B110 line and the Sunny Truck in particular. It then goes on to give general maintenance tips for cleaning and caring for your beloved Sunny before launching into another chapter of feature cars, again all in colour but this time in more detail. The following section brings the main focus of the publication with a series of technical articles covering everything from general mechanical maintenance to repainting the engine bay to lowering suspension and installing dual side draught carbs. These articles are very thoroughly illustrated, to the point where the Japanese text is no longer a barrier to understanding the gist of the subject.

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Logically, it would seem that the printed magazines days are numbered with the vast amount of free information to be had on the net but it reality this doesn’t appear to be the case. And just to prove the point an all new publication aimed squarely at the Nissan enthusiasts has just hit the shelves. Total Nissan is a quarterly magazine “dedicated to performance Nissans” but thankfully, also with an interest in the past. Issue number one, which arrived in the mail yesterday, features not only a nice article charting the history of the 240Z but also a great six page article one one of the first Datsuns to be officially sold in the UK, and the only survivor of the first batch of Datsuns imported here, a 1967 Datsun 1000. The car features use to be part of the Ratdat fleet a few years ago before being sold to current owner Mark Ashbridge, who has since brought the car up to scratch and provided an excellent new home for it. It’s great to see this historically significant UK car get the attention it deserves in print. Hopefully Total Nissan magazine will continue to run features on some of the marques heritage in future issues. For more info on the magazine and subscription details check out their website at www.totalnissan.co.uk

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I have previously mentioned the excellent magazine that the guys over at Japanese Nostalgic Car have put together. Well, it’s finally ready to roll and what’s more it’s available for international subscribers. At only $19.99 for a years subscription (that’s four issues) to readers here in the UK, it’s an absolute bargain! You pay that for a car magazine here anyway so what are you waiting for? Get on over to Japanese Nostalgic Car and subscribe today!

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