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The whole idea happened because of an ‘emergency’ on my part. We were getting ready to go to Carlisle’s All-Chrysler Nationals, and had thought it would be cool to do a fiberglass hood install on John’s Dart Swinger. AAR would bring us a hood, and Dennis Kohr of Kohr’s Kustoms would do the install in front of a cast of thousands as a Mopar Enthusiast magazine product demo. That was before we - A) realized how much work getting old hinges off would be, especially since we only had an hour or so; B) realized that we would be cobbling all the hardware to pin it down from several sources, and, most importantly C) split the top of the radiator core from the upper tank while testing some other small changes. That was the end of that.
The problem was that I had already scheduled the ‘clinic’ with my bud, event director Ed Buczeskie. So, I decided to throw a pass and called him the Friday before Carlisle was ready to begin. “The hood deal is off. How about if I get all the magazine editors together for a roundtable discussion about the magazine business instead? I’ll make the calls, and we’ll sit down and talk about what it takes to get your car published in a magazine.”
It was too late to change the programs or printed matter, but announcements could be made over the public address system to meet the top magazine editors at 4:30 on Saturday at the tent near the main stage, and Ed agreed. Getting everyone together wasn’t hard. I had hired Randy Bolig a decade ago to work with me at Mopar Muscle, and some of my freelance work was still trickling out of his files; he was in. Rob Wolf at Mopar Collector’s Guide has always been open to anything interesting and I had done a column in MCG for years before my current ‘conflict of interest’ employment occurred. He was in. I’d also worked for Cliff Gromer from Mopar Action on occasion, and he agreed to be there as well. That was four of us, and all we had to do was hope nobody psycho showed up and did us all in, leaving the local newsstand empty of Mopar rags.
The crowd was underwhelming at first, though people started drifting in as we introduced ourselves and answered questions. We began discussing how each of us fit into the market. I stated that Mopar Enthusiast, the newest kid on the block, was focused on the Mopar subculture and experience, tossing in late model content every month as well. We have our shootouts, project cars, and tech coverage, plus the ‘My Mopar Heritage’ first-person, drag car restos, and oddball-focused car features. Anyhow, I like it!
Cliff, who's sort of the patriarch of the bunch over at Mopar Action, retains the flavor that he and the guys at the old Hi-Performance CARS had back in the day, working on good entertainment value with some edgy editorial content plus an almost incalculable depth of expertise; coupled with Harris’s distribution, Mopar Action is still perhaps the most visible of the titles on the newsstand, though it is now the only bi-monthly in our group. Between himself and tech guru Rich Ehrenberg, this thing still rocks after 20+ years (I even have the first issue). Rob Wolf admitted that Cliff was the best at doing in-depth analysis on restorations as well; Gromer does get a LOT in a magazine that shows up once every two months.
Randy is the most hands-on of the four, getting his hands dirty on lots of project cars. He probably deals with more office-type politics than the rest of us as well, and I give him credit for that – I got mentally fried in his chair back in 2001. Mopar Muscle has grown under his leadership, and he features a nice blend of hardcore street cars, moderate restorations, and late model content in each issue, with great photography, too; he also has a technical bent to the content and the advertising gives him enough pages on a monthly basis to do fairly in-depth features on most subjects. MM still has the horsepower of Source Interlink’s business behind it as well; a formidable competitor with me for newsstand bucks.