Starting a new car magazine in an era of Web 2.0, blockchain technologies and TikTok might seem strange, mad even – especially when it’s print only. But that’s the story with Strada magazine, a new quarterly print magazine dedicated to ’80s, ’90s and ’00s cars.
To make sense of the madness, we sat down with editor Nathan Chadwick to find out more.
So, what is Strada Magazine?
Strada is a new magazine for those tired of reading about unobtainable hypercars or the same old stories about chrome-encrusted ’50s and ’60s classics.
Some traditionalists might sneer at anything built after 1979, but Strada exists because the 30-ish years broadly bookended by 1980 and 2010 saw cars develop rapidly in engineering competency, in driving dynamics and in styling diversity.
However, it’s within these years that cars still had an overwhelmingly tangible feeling of soul, a physical, analogue-feeling connection to the road surface. Over the past ten years, nannying safety systems and feel-depriving electronic power steering units have diminished the immediacy of driving almost as rapidly as performance has risen.
The latest cars might well be eye-searingly fast, but they only become exciting once at warp speeds. The cars from the Strada era may not be able to smash the 60mph sprint quicker than it takes to read this sentence, but they deliver something else – synapse-sizzling engagement, at whatever the speed, and at whatever the price tag.
That’s what Strada is about. Cars that make you tingle. Cars that make you feel alive. Cars that make you want to stomp out of the office on a Friday night and head to the hills in something special, whether it’s a ’90s super-GT or a nostalgia-drenched ’80s hot hatchback, or maybe an under-the-radar ’00s modern classic. Cars that you can get out there and enjoy – and after the COVID nightmare, who isn’t up for a bit of that?
How will it look and feel?
We wanted to make a magazine that oozes quality, from the paper to the imagery, and in the depth to the articles. Unlike other magazines, we don’t give this era – perhaps the greatest era of car ever – the short shrift before yet another story about how great things were in the ’50s and ’60s. Nor will it be all about the same hypercars you’ve read about before – our focus is on tangibly aspirational cars, whether in the short, medium or long term, whether your dream car is a Ferrari 550 Maranello, Peugeot 205 GTI or BMW 1M, we want to bring these cars to life with a unique energy.
We don’t have a digital edition because we want Strada to be the reader’s respite from a world of screens; something to dive into during a spot of quiet time. Rather than fight against the internet, I believe printed magazines can work side by side – if our words and pictures get people fired up and looking to get behind the wheel of their dream car (including on Pistonheads!), then we’ve done our job, and without reference to the oft-controversial ‘i’ word…
We’ve 224 pages packed with a mixture of road car and motorsport features, and a spot of nostalgia too – with plenty of surprises along the way. We’re all about creating beautiful, well-crafted stories and experiences, rather than regurgitated content – something to stand the test of time, and something that fully deserves its spot on your coffee table, desk or bookshelf. Slipcases will be available before the end of the year, incidentally.
How did the magazine come about?
While working for another magazine in my previous life, I was putting together outline plans to celebrate the Maserati Ghibli Cup’s anniversary. I found a specialist on the south coast and was perusing its Facebook page when I saw a French Blue Ghibli Cup (it turned out to be an Open Cup), and instantly had a cargasm. It’s my favourite car, in my favourite colour.
Through the specialist I started talking to the owner, who happened to be a book publisher. Eventually we agreed to do a book on hot hatches, but events got ahead of me – my magazine folded. We briefly looked at the business case for taking it over, before deciding to set up Strada afresh.
Strangely enough, while shooting my penultimate feature for that magazine, which just so happened to be a Maserati Ghibli Cup, it became clearer that Strada was the way forward. It was then that I decided to leave the safe confines of a multinational media company and go in fully on an independent magazine. There must be something about Maserati Ghibli Cups, as one of those led to the formation of another magazine, many moons ago…
The big story is the Ferrari 550 Maranello – it celebrates its 25th birthday this year and, given its importance in the history of modern Ferrari as we know it, we managed to sneak out in between lockdowns for a 550-mile drive with no pre-determined destination. We also spoke to Lorenzo Ramaciotti about the car’s design process.
It’s also 10 years since the BMW 1-Series M redefined the nature of the small M car, so we’ve tracked down Dr Kay Segler, the head of M at the time, to tell the story about how this special car came to be. We just had to take it to Snowdonia, of course, to see whether it lived up to the M dynasty. If you’re a fan of BMWs, then we also had a rare opportunity to drive the BMW Z1-based Alpina RLE to celebrate its 30th birthday.
We also got behind the wheel of a very rare ’80s Porsche – the 924 Carrera GT – and sample a rare, unmolested Nissan Skyline GT-R R32. Then we head to Wales to find out whether the Peugeot 205 GTI really is the greatest hot hatch and settle the eternal debate, 1.6 or 1.9. There’s also a buying guide for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, which is an absolute steal for £25k and up.
We also have a dedicated motorsport section, Corsa. We tell the inside story of the 1988 Silverstone Tourist Trophy, the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth Battle Royale, with insights from Andy Rouse, Steve Soper and Dick Johnson.
There’s a lot more besides, plus plenty of surprises.
What’s your favourite story from issue one?
Even though I’m known for my love (or affliction) for Alfa Romeos and Maseratis, my first love was fast Fords. One of the formative experiences was watching the 1988 Silverstone TT on Grandstand as a nipper – all these years later I got the chance to interview Steve Soper, Dick Johnson and Andy Rouse about a critical race, one with many subplots, rivalries, politics, hubris and, ultimately, luck. Interviewing these legends, heroes… well, it was all it could take to not come across like the six-year-old fanboy I was back in the day. After all, if it wasn’t for that race, I probably wouldn’t be writing this…
You can pick up a copy via www.stradamagazine.co.uk – we ship worldwide. If you fancy having a browse, we’ll be on sale in select independent newsagents and bookshops in the UK, Barnes & Noble in the USA and in independent outlets in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Portugal. If you’re in the UK, we’re running a four-issues-for-the-price-of-three offer at the moment.
It’s a worldwide product?
Yep, but sadly it’s not going to be called Ritmo in Europe. Something special and South African in issue two…
Every day it seems that we’re told that the open road is no longer open; that the roads are clogged and we should all give up our dreams and drive automotive washing machines. The truth is that the open road is out there, you just have to get up early and enjoy it. And after spending so much of the past year indoors, isn’t that a great thing to look forward to?
After all, life’s too short to drive boring cars… and Strada is here to bring them to life.
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