It’s an obvious fact, but everyone has their own opinion of what should be in their favorite magazine. As an editor, it can be hard to satisfy a diverse group of people, especially at a magazine that covers so many different platforms. And it is often hard to tell the difference between a vocal minority and a substantial group. Recently I’ve had a number of requests and complaints (quite frankly) that there aren’t enough third-gens in the magazine, and that our standards are “too high.” One gentleman even went so far as to say that he stopped reading because there weren’t enough third-gens and that we should cover more of them. This obviously begs the question: How do you know how often we cover them if you don’t read the magazine? As for the accusation that our standards are too high, as you’d expect, I humbly disagree with this.
For starters, the Playboy (or insert favorite men’s magazine here) analogy holds true for features—we are looking for the most attractive examples of late-model GM performance. Most often that entails a clean car with ample power using a substantial amount of aftermarket modifications. We are, after all, GM High-Tech Performance, not Late Model GM Restorations. However, that is not to say that every feature car needs 1,000 hp, Penske coilovers, and $4,000 wheels. On occasion we seek out a unique story with a real nuts and bolts, greasy fingernails, quintessential GMHTP reader. A few examples include Jeremy Snyder’s third-gen Camaro, Aaron Schoen’s Silverado, Chuck Williams’ Caprice, etc. If you feel that you fit into either category, feel free to email me (Scott.Parker@sorc.com) with a list of modifications, your story, and pictures of your car.
Backing up for a second, let’s take a look at where this perception may have originated. The last third-gen we featured, Bruce Hawkins’ Storm Trooper, is one of the most immaculate third-gens ever built. It sports a cam’d and blown LS7, full suspension, 12-bolt, super-clean paint job, and custom Boze 18-inch wheels. This is what we would call a halo car, the type that we all aspire to build but few do. However, we have also featured several in the past few years with stock paint jobs, stroked or blown TPI engines, repro wheels, etc. This coming year we hope to have some that fall somewhere in-between. Despite the fact that we are looking at potential features across a wide range (not just high-dollar cars), it is not feasible or sustainable to have more than a few features per year, unfortunately, since there just aren’t enough cars out there.
Perhaps the reason there aren’t that many feature-worthy third-gens out there is that they are just as expensive to build as a fourth-gen or C5. Having searched the used car market before, I can tell you that coming across a third-gen with an intact paint job is rare (we are talking about a 20-30-year-old car after all), and when you do it commands a price nearly on par with a fourth-gen. By the time you factor in the cost to build the motor to at least equal LS1 performance or to do the engine conversion, your savings is long gone. Option B would be a repaint, and we all know how costly body shops can be. So what are we left with? It appears the majority of the third-gens out there are bolt-on cars with stock paint, maybe some suspension work. In 99 percent of those instances, this does not sound like a feature-worthy car in GMHTP, does it? How much performance can you garner by using stock parts from the ’80s?
Sadly, this is a cycle that has repeated itself over time. In five or ten years, the fourth-gen will most likely be in the same scenario. All we can do as a magazine is try and keep up. As other editors have said before, we don’t set the trends, we just document them.