In The Driver's Seat (Volume XII, Issue 1 - January 2004)

In The Driver's Seat (Volume XII, Issue 1 - January 2004)


Well, folks, this is it for me as your editor. It has been fun, and I really do hate to give it up, but it's now time for me to move on and do some of the many other things I've wanted to do (such as complete one of my own V8 conversions so I won't feel like an outcast at our get-togethers). I believe the newsletter will be in good hands with the new editor/publisher, James Jewell.

Rather than try to tell you about James, I think it would be best to let him tell you about himself, as he has done in the next column over. From the conversations I've had with him, I believe he will take the newsletter to new levels of excellence. As a V8 converter himself, he knows what kind of information we need to help us in our own conversion efforts, and, more important, I believe he will know exactly where to look for that information.

Even though I am no longer the editor/publisher, I will continue to try to support the newsletter with contributions from time to time. My goal is to try to make at least one article available for James' use each issue. Tell you what, guys, let's try to make James' job as easy as we can. His job will be ever so much easier, and the newsletter ever so much better, if we ALL send him information on how we each solved the various problems with our own conversions. You don't have to be a writer, nor does your submittal have to be polished prose - just get the info to James, and he will polish it up for publication. The most important thing you can do when submitting an article is to provide plenty of pictures. Naturally, the better your pictures are, the better the newsletter will look, but if all you have are somewhat fuzzy photos, send them in anyway. As long as they aren't so fuzzy that the subject isn't identifiable, they will be better than no pictures at all.

The editors of the "big time" magazines are deluged by requests from readers to feature their cars in these magazines. The editors of the newsletter are begging YOU to send information and photos of your car so we can feature them. E-mail or write to James for a questionnaire, fill it out and send it in, with photos, so you can become famous.

Safety faster!
Dan Masters


Happy 2004 Everybody! My name is James Jewell, and I'll be the new Editor/Publisher of the British V8 newsletter. I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself, and talk a bit about the state of affairs at the newsletter. A little about me: I'm a 33 year-old Captain in the U.S. Air Force with a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering.

I've loved British cars ever since I was a teen, and many folks agree I haven't matured much since then. My first restoration was a 77 MGB that my father, uncle and I worked on in the late '80s. I'm now doing it all over again on the same car to beef up the structure for my first British V8. I also have a 74.5 MGB-GT in the queue for my next project, but it will have to rot a few more years!

When I heard that the Newsletter needed a new honcho to keep it alive, I volunteered to do my best, despite having absolutely no qualifications, other than making thousands of PowerPoint charts over the last 10 years in the Air Force. Seriously, though, I have the love of the craft, a strong technical background, and a wife (who is a writer) to help me proof-read (I see many purchases of chocolate and roses in my future).

Now about the Newsletter: Where do you want it to go from here? I have some ideas (bigger, more often and in color), but they are not nearly as important as yours. The newsletter has to be exciting and reflect your interests, or you stop sending me money. There are two things I don't do: Read minds and write filler material. This means you have to tell me what you want, and write interesting articles. Now keep in mind that this is mostly a one-man operation, and my primary loyalties are to my Country and my wife. But as long as the newsletter doesn't interfere with my duties as an Officer and a Husband, I'll do my best to meet your demands. This is a grass-roots publication, which means that the readers and the writers are often the same people. I don't have a professional staff of paid writers hidden behind a curtain. If you don't write, you also won't have anything to read. If this hobby doesn't excite you enough to want to share your victories (and yes, failures too) with others, then you need to find a different hobby. Keep sending in your photos and summaries of your cool rides, but also consider writing articles with technical substance. If you do something new or difficult, write it up! I can help. Make detailed drawings and take pictures. Provide enough information so that someone else can duplicate what you have done without ever talking to you!

These kinds of articles will make us a Grade A publication capable of drawing in readers and advertisers from all over. You can gain immortality with your words! Try it, and you'll love it.

Now that you're properly motivated, let's get into some of the nitty-gritty. As you all know, we currently publish 3 times yearly, with between 16 and 20 pages an issue. The structure has allowed the operation to break even over the years, although a lot of out-of-pocket cash has been expended by the previous publishers for many one-time and odd-ball expenses. I've already spent a large chunk of my own money to buy a used industrial laser printer big enough to tackle this job (This is not a toy I secretly wanted! I already had a small one, and the new one makes all the lights in my house flicker which upsets the wife and the domestic animals). The regular recurring expenses come from paper, postage, web-hosting and web-name registration. With encouragement from many people, including the previous publishers, my notion is to gradually modify the operations plan to make a small profit.

Why? Well, the previous publishers spent countless hours of personal time producing a top-notch grass-roots publication. This was time away from family and friends, and more importantly, time that could have been spent working on their car! This magnitude of sacrifice should be rewarded if we want someone to continue making those efforts for any extended period of time without losing interest. Also, I'd like to see the newsletter expand with time, with a larger subscriber base and more issues per year. Perhaps it could be published on better materials and in color, and professionally printed/assembled/mailed. This will all take money. Also, it would be nice to sponsor some serious engine/drivetrain development and be able to defray the writer's dyno or flowbench costs. So, how does all this talk affect you? It probably won't. I don't see subscription rates going up, unless the post office raises postage considerably. I hope to get more advertisers, as there are great resources out there that our community should be aware of and support, so I hope we can generate some revenue that way.

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Also, we are going to revamp the web-page so that the online version will only be "free" to subscribers. Non-subscribers will have to pay per issue. The rest of you can log on and download it just like you used to, but with a password. I suspect that we will keep the six or so issues that have been on there available to lure in unsuspecting subscribers (imagine the sound of greedy maniacal laughter) and I am also working on scanning in all the old back issues so that they can be purchased one at a time online instead of buying them in bulk. Why buy 12 when you only need that one issue on Panhard rods?

What kind of "pay" do I expect? Well, none initially. The idea hadn't even occurred to me when I volunteered to do this job. Until I can prove that I can run the newsletter, I don't think would be fair to "get paid". But the more I thought about the work involved and the favors I'll need, the more appeal the notion of pay had. Still, I'll steer the ship even if we don't make a penny because it's a great resource and I can't stand to see it pass. So after all this wind-up, what kind of profit am I talking about?

Well considering how few subscribers and advertisers we have, probably enough to take my wife to a movie, or buy enough pizza and beer to feed my friends who will have to help me fold and staple all the issues, three times a year. Why am I making a big deal over chump change? Well, because it's YOUR news letter, and YOUR money and you have a right to know and object if you so decide. Some day, if the newsletter gets bigger, it might be more than chump change, so the issue may become more significant in the future. If there are two things that the Air Force has taught me, it would be preserving integrity and avoiding any appearance of impropriety.

Finally, I have a wish-list for the New Year:
1) Do we have any lawyers (or spouses of lawyers) in the clan, who would be willing to address any legal questions that may arise over time, such as liability, or tax status, etc.? The closer we get to becoming a magazine (vs. a newsletter), the more we will need this kind of advice.
2) Do we have any web-designers who could help with a face-lift to the web page?
3) Do we have any other specialists in the family who have a talent or resource that they would be willing to share with the group? (Like owning a dyno, a flow bench or a print shop.)
4) Do you want to write an article for the newsletter? Please do, as its very existence depends on your articles.
5) Do you know anyone who wants to subscribe or advertise with us?
6) Do we have anyone willing to write a regular column? Any topic is good, from humor to performance tricks to product reviews?

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