News: Cars Illustrated Reprints

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Fire Starter

The magazine that ignited the 5.0-liter craze is back with nostalgic reprints

By Steve Turner
Images courtesy of Cars Illustrated

Are you the nostalgic sort or do you enjoy peering back into history? Today we live in a world filled with a blur of information that’s all about what’s hot and new. However, sometimes it’s fun (and enlightening) to take a look back at the past. One blast from the past that’s definitely worth re-living is the birth of the 5.0-liter Mustang craze that began in the late 1980s.

There’s something about looking at old magazines that can transport you back to a time and place. Now Cars Illustrated offers fresh printings of its vintage editions, including the issue that some credit for kicking the 5.0 Mustang craze into high gear.
There’s something about looking at old magazines that can transport you back to a time and place. Now Cars Illustrated offers fresh printings of its vintage editions, including the issue that some credit for kicking the 5.0 Mustang craze into high gear.

Sure many of you probably aren’t old enough to remember those days, but for those that do, the Fox Mustang was a beacon of performance after some dark days. When fuel injection arrived on the scene many of the old-school naysayers believed that it was the beginning of the end for performance and they couldn’t have been more wrong.

While those stuck in the past found it easier to remove the EFI and install carburetors, there was a small group of pioneers that began to exploit the benefits of the new technology Ford had bestowed on them. Two of the people at the forefront of this movement also happened to work at a magazine called Cars Illustrated, which was just re-launched on the Web this year.

“Cars Illustrated was a popular automotive enthusiast magazine first published in 1985 by CSK Publishing (South Hackensack, NJ) under the Schneider Performance Series banner. Original cover prices ranged from $2.75 to $2.95 with publication lasting until the Spring of 1988,” says the magazine’s site. “Short lived with only a handful of issues published; Cars Illustrated hit the market with a very aggressive, irreverent style that was unique to the auto industry. Lead by writers Tony DeFeo and Neil Van Oppre, Cars Illustrated became known for their style of testing brand-new performance cars on the street in actual street-racing settings.”

Tony and Neil were among the pioneers that showed how to tap into the performance potential of the fuel-injected Fox. They both bought ’87 LX hatchbacks with scant options, and started racing and modifying them. Tony ran a 13.90-second e.t. in his stock Mustang and dropped his e.t. down to 13.40 seconds with only sticky tires and great driving.

The story that documented Tony’s quick stock pass was titled “Five Liters of Fury,” and it appears in the Volume 5, Number 6 issue, which is now available, along with several other titles, as a reprint via the magazine’s Web site. So, if you want a real Flashback Friday, head over there and check it out.

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