West Coast Report 18th Edition: By John Gilbert

Here’s How to Get Your Car into a Magazine

So, how do you get your car into a magazine… not only cars, but trucks and motorcycles as well? Many years before I was a magazine editor this was a question that I really wanted to know the answer to. As I mentioned in last week’s West Coast Report I’m really starting to enjoy listening to the Podcast interviews Kevin Tetz conducts on Shop Talk. In Episode Seven, Kevin speaks with freelance automotive photographer Robert McGaffin. I knew I’d heard Robert’s name before, in fact I was thinking maybe I’d written the text for some of the truck features he’s shot for Custom Classic Trucks. The fastest way to confirm such a notion was to Google Custom Classic Trucks combined with my name, and Robert’s. Sure enough there it was the truck feature I had titled Wurlitzer Deluxe with the photo credits attributed to Robert McGaffin. If you’d like to peruse the article, Google Custom Classic Trucks – Wurlitzer Deluxe and you can get a look at Robert’s photography firsthand … I have to warn you, the guy is pretty good!

Listening to Robert explain how a person goes about getting their vehicle into a magazine reminded me of the different methods I’ve used for the various car, truck, and motorcycle magazines I’ve edited in the past. In particular how I went about choosing a certain vehicle to go cover. “It went cover” that’s editor cool talk for getting the cover. Uh, I’m starting to get a little ahead of myself. We’ll dig deeper into making the cover at a later date.

Bull’s eye! Robert McGaffin hit the target right on the nose, the surest way to get into a magazine is to enter your vehicle into a custom car show and have it discovered. Note the phrase custom car show is an all encompassing term that covers cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even model cars, it all happens at the custom car show. That said, there’s several ways to get into a magazine. Now, interestingly you don’t have to enter the biggest car show, or annual event there is to get your car or truck discovered. In fact some of the largest events in the nation have hit and miss reputations amongst editor types for delivering the goods. By delivering the goods I mean a good selection of high quality vehicles that haven’t appeared in a magazine before, and have the right look. I’ve been to large events with 10,000-plus really good cars, and trucks, but none fresh enough to qualify for a feature.

Investing all the money in the world can’t make a vehicle magazine acceptable if the thing is just a dorky looking hodge-podge of parts bolted to an awkward stance. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a lot of bucks into your ride because the first thing a magazine editor looks at is if the vehicle has the right look as in profile, centerline, or stance for his magazine. Around five years ago there was a rusty old slammed F-1 Ford on the cover of Classic Trucks that got there because the thing was just as cool as an old truck could be. Confirming then editor, Rob Fortier made the right choice, the newsstand sell-through numbers came back real high, as in a lot of people bought that issue. I forget what I put on the cover of Custom Classic Trucks, that month. I hope it wasn’t the issue where I put my Barn Find ’56 Ford Big-Window on the cover… It’s coming back to me now, it wasn’t.

Another good way to get your ride into a magazine, especially if you live in the middle of nowhere far away from any show or event is to mail, or email the editor (magazine of your choice) photographs with a written description of the vehicle’s specifications. Specifications are what’s under the hood, the transmission behind it, and the differential pushing it all. Describe the engine, is it stock, or a really intriguing swap from another year, or even a different make? Next you’ll need to describe the bodywork. Is it custom, restored, did it have a ton of rust that you had to repair before you were even close to painting it?  The list just goes on from there, suspension, brakes, interior, you get the picture, describe everything about your vehicle.

Address the images and description of your vehicle to Reader’s Rides. Don’t be a dummy, look in the magazine and see what your magazine of choice calls its readers’ rides. it’s a red flag that you don’t read the magazine if you don’t know the title of its reader’s rides department. I think while I was editing Custom Classic Trucks I had a real creative title, it was called Reader’s Rides. The address information for where to send your submission will be on the bottom of the Reader’s Ride page in small print.

Speaking from personal experience I always kept close track of the submissions readers were sending in. You’d never know, a so-called pro photos speculating a possible feature would miss the target by a mile with an inappropriate vehicle, or bad photography. In contrast a reader just hoping to get into Reader’s Rides, turned out to own something worthy of a full feature, sometimes even a cover. A good example were the photos Al Ming of Spokane, Washington sent in of his ’65 Chevy C10. And I should mention that the photography quality for Reader’s Rides doesn’t have to be up magazine standards like a vehicle feature, or tech story does.

Back to Al Ming’s green ’65 Chevy. The first time I saw Al’s ’65 he’d sent a packet full of photographs to Reader’s Rides with a brief description. There was no doubt the truck was worthy of a Reader’s Ride, so I put it into the next issue. Less than a year later I made plans to pack my dog Bongo into a brand-new 2006 Harley-Davidson Ford F-150, and haul buns for the weekend up to Spokane, for the Good-Guys show. Before I left I gave Al a call and asked how his truck was doing. In the time since we last spoke he’d plucked out its 283 and dropped in a 383 stroker along with further brake and suspension upgrades. In addition Al had a local custom painter lay some graphics on the truck.

Towards the end of the day I lined up 15 trucks from the show and then we all caravanned to a scenic old industrial area and I photographed every one of them. Thanks to the time of year it was, I had sunlight until 8:45PM. Al’s truck was among them, and not only ended up in the magazine as a feature, it was selected (by me) to be one of the 12 trucks featured in the Brother’s truck calendar the next year.

Well, since this is a blog, and not a monthly magazine I’ll be back next week. In the meantime if anyone has any questions, please post it in the comments, and I’ll give you an answer. Also on my list of things to come for future editions of West Coast Eastwood, I’m going to post tech tips on how to photograph your vehicle. That will be on how to use a real camera, not a cigarette lighter, cell phone, or toaster that takes pictures. These tips will work for any camera ranging in price from one-hundred bucks up to very expensive. Just like Eastwood’s welders that utilize the latest technology to make it a lot easier for the DIY guy to use, the same is true for today’s digital cameras. So, after just a minimum amount of guidance my money says a lot of you will be able to produce some fair decent photography in no time at all.

— John Gilbert

Outlaw Rodder

One Day Closer to Hell… Michigan, that is

The Hot Rod to Hell is starting to shape up. Not as fast as I’d like it to, but it’s coming along. Last Saturday at the donut shop one of the Derelicts asked me if I was going to make my August 10 deadline to leave for Michigan. That deadline is coming awful fast. I told him I know I’m going to Hell, but I’m not sure when. I just love these Hell jokes, it reminds me of the Summer of ’62 when I was an eight year-old kid living on a farm outside of Stockbridge, Michigan. Back then Hell was a bad word, so anytime I could work “can we go to Hell” into a conversation, I would. Even the local newspapers couldn’t resist temptation. Every time it snowed the night before the morning headlines always read “Hell Freezes Over.”

Checkout the aluminum hood Bob Marianich made for the car. Bob has an extremely interesting life’s story, he started out metal shaping for the Alexander Brothers, moved on to his own shop in the mid-60s building Ferrari, and Porsche bodies from scratch. Placing his wife and children’s security above his desire to create from his own shop, Bob ditched it all and went to a 9-5 job working as an industrial designer in Detroit.

The years working, and designing for Detroit are far behind Marianch now, and he’s picked back up from when he was in his 20s building car bodies from scratch. I’m not allowed to reveal too much of the project, but it looks like a car Marianich built from scratch is going to compete for the 2014 Ridler Award. You can barely see it behind the hood for the Hot Rod to Hell.

I’ve been picking up metal-shaping tips from Marianich, that I’ll be sharing with you guys in the future. In fact here’s a quick tip for now. Before attempting to shape a fresh sheet of aluminum the tempered skin must be broken with 80-grit on a D-A. Notice on my hood the outer edges are still have a tempered sheen while the shaped areas are in an 80-grit finish.

Tech Tips

Freezing 2K AERO-SPRAY

Ever since I first became aware of Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray two-component paints I’ve been curious to find out if they could be frozen to delay the catalyst kicking-off.

I know this might sound crazy, but way back in 1973 I opened up a custom paint shop up in Calgary, Alberta and discovered Endura. There’s a lot more to this story, but the bottom line is I learned that Endura, a two-part component urethane’s pot life could be extended.

By freezing Endura its 24-hour pot life could be extended indefinitely by chucking it into a freezer. Weeks later I’d take a catalyzed can out of the freezer and start shooting. It was truly amazing, it cut down material waste tremendously. Recently I conducted an experiment and in the early stages it looks like 2K Aero-Spray can be frozen to delay hardening.

I say the early stages because I was too chicken to test a half-full can, and maybe waste it. The 2K Aero-Spray test can had about 10 good passes left in it. I used the entire can on an abstract painting I’d created using Auto Air Colors. The thawed 2K Aero-Spray clear worked as well as the pre-frozen portion of the test did. Also I’d like to mention I’m really impressed with how slick 2K Aero-Spray clear lays out, and what a nice thick coating it provides. I think next up I’m going to custom paint a Harley tank using 2K Aero-Spray clear as the topcoat.


  1. Vlad,

    You must be talking about the ’32 Ford roadster in particular, eh?

    I checked out your shop’s web, you guys are working on some cool stuff.


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