Once you start to hang around car shows you become aware of our rich and varied automobile heritage. From the beginning we’ve had a love affair with cars, and it’s easy to see why. For this reason, there seem to be innumerable car magazines devoted to every aspect of the car scene, including every breed in every era. The cars are beautiful to behold, fun to experience and, for those who have the means, a joy to collect. But even when you don’t have the money to own a Deusenberg or Bentley, you can still acquire magazines that satisfy a measure of that passion to behold beauty.
The Rodder’s Journal is just that kind of magazine. A bit larger and glossier than most, it features fabulous photos and insider stories about some of history’s coolest cars. Its target reader is the custom car and hot rod enthusiast. We decided to catch up with managing editor Curt Iseli and learn a little more about his story and where his passions originated.
TRJ is a very attractive mag. What attracted you to write about custom cars and hot rods?
Curt Iseli: There’s so much soul and history wrapped up in these cars. I like telling that story. It’s important to convey the details–how much a car is chopped, what tire size has it sitting just right, who built the wicked engine or stitched the interior. But explaining the backstory really colors in the whole picture.
Which came first, your interest in writing or in cars?
CI: Definitely cars. I was obsessed with Hot Wheels before I wrote my first word. A really great seventh grade English teacher sparked my interest in writing, but by that point I was dragging my dad to check out every clapped-out old car for sale within 25 miles. I never considered I could combine the two interests.
What was your first car and what did you like most about it?
CI: My first vintage car was a ’56 Buick Special, and the best thing about it was the 322cid nailhead engine, which had a ton of torque. The column-shifted three-speed was the weak link and couldn’t really take what the nailhead dished out–especially with a heavy-footed 21-year-old at the wheel. I learned a great deal with that car, including how to rebuild a manual transmission.
Do you have a favorite automobile era? Which decade and why?
CI: This answer could change daily with my mood, but the years immediately following World War II are hard to beat. Guys returning from the war had all sorts of new skills and ideas to test on their cars. Organized drag racing and Speed Week at Bonneville were born. Some of the most beautiful custom cars ever were being created. There was something exciting going on everywhere you looked.
What is the magazine’s mission and where can people learn more?
CI: The Rodder’s Journal’s mission is to provide the very best in hot rod, custom car and vintage racing photography, writing and history. Learn more about the 21-year history of TRJ and to see examples of our work at www.roddersjournal.com.