The April issue of Car and Driver has arrived, with a letter from Hachette Filipacchi’s Alain Lemarchand giving a presumably-proper sendoff to former editor-in-chief Csaba Csere. (Last week Eddie Alterman was named as the new C/D cheese.)

And geez, this issue is skimpy: 112 pages. Even the male-enhancement product ads have shrunk. And the “Franz Kafka’s Garage” column has been renamed to a more innocuous “Ask Us Anything.” On the upside, there’s a John Phillips article on the Jerr-Dan Element, a prodigiously-impressive tow truck with a hydraulic boom on the back. The repo man asset-recovery specialist demonstrates on an unpaid-for Toyota:

Fifty-five feet before he reaches the driveway — while we’re still rolling — he toggles a switch that extends the main boom 78 inches, even as it is lowering to within three inches of the pavement. He stops, then puts the truck into reverse. As we back toward the Camry, the boom gently touches down on the tarmac and slides under the car. Meanwhile, crossbars are silently extending left and right, creating a steel cruciform that wags back and forth like a bloodhound tracking a raccoon. The thing looks alive. The right arm slides up against the Camry’s right-front wheel. It’s at a weird angle, but it doesn’t matter. Now the left arm knows where to find the left-front wheel. As both arms wedge taut against the leading edge of the Toyota’s front tires, two more crossbars — these are L-shaped — bloom from the boom. Looking like black metal snakes, they slither around until they locate the trailing edges of the Camry’s front tires, which they quickly clamp. The driver now shifts the truck into drive and toggles one more switch. As we begin to roll away, the nose of the Camry rises three feet off the ground, by which time we’re back on the street, dieseling home at a merry clip, with one 2008 Camry fastened firmly in custody. Elapsed time: eight seconds. And the driver never set foot out of the cab.

Stuff like this is why I still read this goofy mag after, um, thirty-one years.


  1. McGehee »

    1 March 2009 · 2:14 pm

    Stuff like this is why I hope to never miss a car payment.

  2. Jeffro »

    1 March 2009 · 4:18 pm

    If Bedard goes, I’m gone.

    Well, probably not, but it sounded good.

  3. CGHill »

    1 March 2009 · 7:28 pm

    As of this issue, anyway, Bedard is still in place.

RSS feed for comments on this post