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Car and Driver: The Complete Car and Pearley: How I Learned To Start Worrying and Get a Job with a Car and Driver Parody

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Car and Pearley Lead


Getting a job can be the toughest job most of us have. It was true for me back in 1989. My qualifications were puny, my education was irrelevant, and my most pertinent publishing experience was working for Kinko’s. There was no way I could get work writing about cars.


Car and Pearley CoverI had just given up on grad school and was staring down the necessity of actually starting a career. I had always read car magazines obsessively and knew I had some writing talent, but the only things I had ever published were in The King’s Page, the newspaper at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, California. I knew no one in the publishing business, no one in the car business, and was pretty lousy with a wrench.


So I decided to write my way into the business. During the summer and fall of 1989 I composed my own parody of Car and Driver titled, naturally, Car and Pearley. It meant borrowing cars from people at Kinko’s and my grandmother (that’s her 1969 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe), and talking friends into posing for other photos. I made props, I shot photos, and I laid out the pages using desktop-publishing skills I learned at Kinko’s on my then girlfriend’s Macintosh SE. I put together 150 copies at the Kinko’s store in Ventura, California, and then sent them out to every automotive publication I could find.


Car and Pearley was ludicrously successful. I was invited to visit Road & Track’s offices in Newport Beach, interviewed with several magazines at Petersen Publishing, was flown to New Jersey to meet the guys at CSK Publishing, and C/D itself bought one of my Car and Pearley stories to run in the magazine. And a scant 11 years later, it finally ran in C/D, too.


The story fee I received from C/D covered the $1700 cost of producing C/P.


Car and Pearley Car Stigmas


Until now, though, all of my parody has never been published any place beyond that initial photocopied run. So, at risk of ego-swelling self-aggrandizement—not that there’s anything wrong with that—here is my résumé helper in its full black-and-white, crappy-graphics, fuzzily shot glory: Car and Pearley. (The download is 29 MB, for those of you with draconian data plans.)


So put your 1989 goggles on and read it yourself. The world has changed since then. R&T is now located in the same office park as C/D in Ann Arbor, CSK and Petersen have both been gobbled up in corporate shenanigans, and Kinko’s itself doesn’t exist anymore. But I think C/P holds up well enough for being thoroughly archaic.


Car and Pearley BMW Ad


Ultimately, I got four solid job offers and about 35 freelance assignments off of C/P, and it effectively introduced me to virtually everyone in the tiny world of car writing. I took a job at Car Craft (it’s still around), which I left after three and a half years to start a freelance career. I’ve been a freelancer ever since.


If there’s a lesson in C/P for those of you out there looking for jobs it’s this: Do something that proves you’re the solution to whatever problem a prospective employer has.


But C/P still hasn’t paid off in one way: Car and Driver has yet to offer me a staff job.


Download a full PDF of Car and Pearley here. It’s worth it.


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