Nobody on the Sport Truck staff is more than 35 years old. Yes, we have youthful exuberance on our side, which is good when we have to work overtime to put out the mag. But, there is one major drawback to not having an older...whoops, I mean, seasoned veteran on our team. That drawback is not having an immediate source of historical knowledge. We don't have an old soul around who's lived through the ups and downs of the custom truck world. No present staffer has experienced the gas crunch of the '70s, the reverse-offset wheel trend of the '80s, and a few weren't even old enough to drive when the first few body-dropped trucks were roaming the streets in the late-'80s and early-'90s. During an average day at the office, this doesn't matter much. We spend more time looking toward the future and busting ass in the present than we do worrying about the past. That worries me a bit. That old saying, "Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it," almost came true for us last week when we were ready to party.
When I came to work here, we talked about what issues would be cool to produce down the road, and someone mentioned that Sport Truck had an anniversary coming up. The number 20 was tossed out in a meeting, and I stuck it in the back of my brain, thinking that the magazine might be 20 years old. A quick look at the cover of our Sept. '05 issue, and I spotted the words "Volume 18." Yup, in two years we would be 20 years old, and that would be a fun milestone to celebrate. A short time later, I glanced through the magazine archive here at the office and noted that our first issue was published in November 1988. I didn't pay much attention to the date because I was having too much fun checking out all the vintage trucks and accessories and weird clothes people were wearing in the coverage. I wondered if the guys in the Oakley Blades sunglasses and parachute pants look back now and shake their heads in embarrassment.
Fast forward to this month and the staff sat down to plan out the Nov. '07 issue of Sport Truck. Volume 20 would be on the cover, and since it was the November issue, it was time to party, right? Wrong. About a week into the production of this issue, I began tracking down old staffers and really dissecting the old issues of the magazine for a history piece I wanted to write. During my research, I realized that if you counted 1989 as our first year anniversary-like counting your first birthday one year from your day of birth-the mag is only 19 years old. Not only were we not 20 years old, but we haven't printed 20 full volumes of the magazine, either. The giveaway was the first three issues of the magazine. The first issue had Nov. '88 and Volume 1 printed on the cover. The second magazine was printed as the Jan. '89 issue and miraculously had Volume 2 on the cover. There was no Dec. '88 issue, because the magazine wasn't printed monthly at this point. This is odd because I had always thought a volume equaled 12 full issues. Scanning the covers of the next few years of Sport Truck showed that the volume numbers had been dropped repeatedly throughout the years, even though the magazine was printed monthly after the early-'90s.
Sport Truck's first issue:...
Sport Truck's first issue: November, 1988
It began to feel like an episode of CSI, as I searched the archives looking for clues to the mystery of the missing volumes. I was determined to find out how old the magazine really was and how many issues we'd actually printed. I hit pay dirt in the May '89 issue. While browsing through the letters column, I discovered a letter that a reader wrote then-editor Drew Hardin, inquiring about the discrepancy regarding the number of volumes. Drew's response cleared up the confusion somewhat. Here's what he had to say: "Our editorial production manager convinced me that our first issue in 1989 should start a new volume. I'm as confused as you are. That person no longer works here."
So, the numbers went awry in the second issue of the mag, and although Drew wondered why, it stayed that way for the next four editors and 19 years of production. I haven't been able to track down Drew-our own magazine archive is incomplete and missing a few years worth of magazines-and since we don't have a veteran staffer around that was here from the beginning, I only have a vague guess as to how old the magazine is. The best I can tell is we've printed 229 issues so far, which would be an odd number to celebrate. So, we are shelving the celebration until we hit Volume 21, which makes perfect sense in a twisted kind of way. See you next month.