The ingredients of a great feature car?
The subjects, stories and influences that make a car magazine feature car.
Just being a nice car with interesting modifications or a clean, well designed home win’t always be enough to guarantee publication. I’ll cover feature cars in this post and come to featuring homes in magazines a little later, as while the two subjects have some things in common, there are distinct differences in readership.
So What Makes a Feature Car?
I’m not talking about the timeline driven features of new model launches and the first drives in the latest Ferrari, they’re newsworthy by their definition and are pretty much guaranteed coverage by both the specialist and generalist press. Instead, I’m hoping to answer the question I’m often asked, “What makes a car be feautured in a magazine?” By that, I mean the niche market magazines covering classic cars, Porsches and other publications typically read by knowledgable enthusiasts.
Whether it’s a great car or a great home, probably 50% of the interest is in the people behind it.
Classic Porsches are a good example. Their inherent build quality and toughness makes them a long living car and early competition Porsches in particular seem to survive for decades. They’ve sometimes had many owners across the years who’ve used them with varying degrees of sympathy. They’ve been crashed, rebuilt, restored, bought and sold. Over the last twelve months, I’ve featured several historically interesting Porsches that have been rescued by their current owners. The story of the previous people who’ve owned the car can be a fascinating story of discovery.
The other 50% is of course the car itself. And no, it doesn’t always need to be a concours winner with a trophy room of it’s own. Some of the most popular features I’ve written have been about older, unrestored race and rally cars that wear their competition scars like an old tomcat. For sure, flick through some of the big names in car magazines and all you’ll find are supercars, but what you might call the mid-market or niche subject publishers are always looking for interesting features.
In my experience, I find the best feature cars fall into two categories. They’re either newly created and the story of the build and the owner’s journey is the interesting part. Or they’re an old, old car that’s led a charmed life to survive. A combination of both can be a guarantee of publication.
A good example of this would this Porsche 911 Group 4 rally car. One of a pair owned by a knowledgable enthusiast, the car has an interesting history that was only uncovered after extensive research using the owner’s valuable telephone book.
You Think You Have a Feature Car?
I rely on my network of contacts, enthusiasts and specialist car dealers for sourcing many of the features and I’m always looking for an interesting feature. If you think you own a car that fits the criteria I’ve just described, feel free to drop me a line. If you’re undecided, the following FAQ might be of interest.
Will I need to be identified myself?
Not essential. While it’s important that we cover the owner’s story in the feature, you won’t always need to be mentioned yourself. Some owners prefer to remain anonymous and I’m quite happy to ensure that you remain un-named if you prefer it.
I’m a long way from you, will I need to travel?
Distance is no object, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve created features on subjects as far afield as the north of Sweden to the South of France. If
How long will it take?
Pretty much all day… One thing to warn you about, car photography may sound exciting, but unless you’re interested in photography, it’s not a spectator sport. We’ll probably need to shoot several different static setups, especially if the car might make the wider international press. Plus some motion shots – the car needs to move – and them we’ll need to have a chat about the story behind the car.
If you’re interested, drop me a line using this form and we can take it further.
After almost ten years as a professional photographer and writer, I’d like to think I’ve got it nailed, but I’m not always right. Magazine editors are constantly bombarded with photographers wanting to work for them and car owners who thing they’ve got next month’s cover shot in their garage. So even when it’s a good story, it won’t always make it right away. It’s a fascinating industry and even after ten years, finding the cars and pitching stories at editors is still an fascinating process.