I recently celebrated a significant birthday that put me in the decidedly senior citizen category. When reflecting on the passing decades, I've frequently asked myself what have I learned about life so far. One of the more important things (I feel) is the fact that a good life (and a good magazine) has a balance, one allowing for both work and rest, and generally all the opposites that one can think of in our daily lives. Following this thought process a bit further-If logic is business and passion is art, one without the other is less than complete-more on this track in a moment.
Having just returned from the SEMA show in Las Vegas, where business and commerce are on grand display, I'm full of thoughts on the subject of automotive commerce. The energy and activity are at times almost overwhelming. But there's a good deal of art and passion on display as well-and not limited to the concept cars and trucks, or the Hot Rod Heritage Art Show. It can be seen in the details of a CNC-milled piece of machinery or the presentation of a company's products in their advertising.
Thinking about business and art, and how they mutually support each other, reminds me of a man in my past-he was a most tenacious and aggressive negotiator. He used any and every advantage to arrive at the most profitable resolution of a personal or business contract. He has often resorted to intimidation, convoluted logic, and humiliation of opposing ideas. He's currently involved in litigation with a business partner of 10 years, and his tactics are relentless harassment to get precisely what he wants and expects. His former partner, a more generous and caring businessman, will need to maintain a good deal of resolve to win a fair and equitable settlement. But I suspect that nothing short of complete capitulation will satisfy the first partner. Some businessmen operate on these premises, but others are happy to see a win-win contract resolution.
Recently the subject of art and business were discussed among one of my social groups, as it relates to the manufacturing and sales of art images and sculpture. While performing some kind of business is the process we endure each day to put a roof over our heads, I submit that the arts-music, dance, and theater included-are what give life greater satisfaction and pleasure. Business can easily become all about accumulation of wealth and property. However, a life without some creative expression beyond making ends meet is much less satisfying and fulfilled.
After touring various museums-the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Getty Museum, the Frick Museum, the Guggenheim in Manhattan, and others over the past several years-I've been significantly impressed with the various artifacts of past civilizations. And not simply the quality of the items I found in these fine museums, but also the extent of the artifacts on display as they describe the society and culture each was produced from. Art of all kinds does a service to humanity as a record of the social climate and its prosperity (or lack of it).
Getting back to the subject of balance for a moment, CUSTOM CLASSIC TRUCKS is a small niche-market publication trying to survive on newsstands across America-alongside as many as 100 automotive magazines. Our subscriber base has improved with the monthly production and is growing. And we've tried to create compelling editorial with the built-in limitations of staff and budget. But we suspect we could do a better job. I'd be interested to know from you, our loyal readers, how this might be accomplished.
One recent subscriber thought we could improve on the quality of the trucks we feature. He remarked how some of the older trucks had poorly fitting doors and hoods, and that we should work harder to disguise these distractions in our photographs. He also admitted to the realization that many of these older trucks had seen a long life of hard work, and thus the poor-fitting panels were the little badges of honor that record the toil of a work vehicle.
Again the idea of balance comes to mind. CCT features some near-perfect trucks that have had professional fabrication skills and many hours in the shop lavished on their panels. We also feature backyard builders who may still be learning their craft. In some cases, the human-interest story behind the truck is motivation for taking photographs.
Another recent criticism we received via e-mail is our lack of a significant number of Dodge feature trucks. ("You feature more Studebakers than Dodges.") Believe me when I say it's not a personal prejudice. As a former Chrysler Corporation truck-designer, I'm pleased to find any Mopar examples (of the quality we require) during our travels. Forget the fact that more than 89 percent of our readership has responded to surveys that they own Chevy or Ford trucks. We try to find good Dodge trucks, but they are scarce-most likely because there are fewer reproduction panels manufactured for them than Chevrolet trucks. That fact also speaks to the practicality of business.
During the 2006 calendar year, our readers can look forward to more technical articles on restoration, repair, and upgrading your vintage trucks. However, we'll try to remember to maintain a balance-one that works for us as well as you. And if you find a few articles on automotive art and design, remember these are the things that inspire and entertain us. When we're inspired to greater efforts and results, the quality of all our lives is improved.