Four years ago Scott Rutherford decided to combine his two main interests–cars and music–to create the fanzine Speed Kills. But far from being a testosterone-charged muscle magazine, Speed Kills is a literate and visually stimulating look at the finer points of rock music, auto design, and racing.
“The magazine is almost like my mirror, a reflection of what I enjoy and what I like,” Rutherford says. He likes the music of seminal 70s krautrockers Neu! and early Tubeway Army and says he favors garage rock, dance music, punk, and “dronier stuff,” like Flying Saucer Attack, a British band included on the ten-inch record that comes with issue number seven. There’s also a lengthy interview with the band inside the zine.
“I didn’t know a single thing about laying out a magazine when I started,” Rutherford says. “Those first couple of issues were total learning experiences. I was just kind of going on what I liked and disliked in fanzines and other commercial magazines.”
What began as a 40-page learning experience has now evolved into a 120-page, nationally distributed publication with a print run of 6,500 copies. The 28-year-old Rutherford holds down a day job as manager at a 2nd Hand Tunes record store, but he dedicates his free time to keeping Speed Kills unpredictable. “I didn’t want to talk about all the new records that come out on Epitaph and have pictures of hot rods with engines sticking out of the hoods,” he says.
Past issues included a profile of 70s drag racer Kenny Cook and an interview with MCA of the Beastie Boys. The current issue (number seven, the “Art and Science Special”) has a ten-inch vinyl record with songs by four artists, including Portastatic and Back Off Cupids. There’s also an engaging story on the career of Virgil M. Exner–an auto designer best known for the “forward look” of sleek Chrysler sedans from the 1950s–and an essay on the influence of Italian futurism on punk rock. The front of the zine is crammed with letters; one, by a Dallas woman, relates the demise of her ’72 Malibu.
“You get to know a little bit about the person when they tell you their favorite car is a 1979 Impala,” says Rutherford, who drives a metallic blue 1962 Dodge Dart. “They’ll write in and say, “Hey man, great magazine. By the way, I’ve got a ’64 Ford Falcon. Keep up the good work.’ Or there will be entire letters relating a road trip story or about a reader meeting a famous racer when they were young. A lot of people want to relate that stuff.”
Rutherford’s first–and favorite–car was a 1978 Honda Civic. He’s also fond of old Japanese and American cars. As for current models, Rutherford’s a fan of the new Volkswagens, the Buick Riviera, and the Buick Roadmaster. “Those are cool designs in these days when everything is shaped like a jellybean and painted purple.”
Copies of Speed Kills cost $4.50 and can be found at Quimby’s Queer Store, Reckless Records, and other indie book and record stores. For subscriptions and other information, write to Speed Kills, P.O. Box 14561, Chicago, Illinois, 60614.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Yael Routtenberg.