Joe Oldham, who turned smoky burnouts into an art form, has passed away. He was known for sometimes acerbic and always tell-it-like-it-is approach to evaluating high-performance cars during the golden era of Musclecars.

MUSCLECAR LEGEND: JOE OLDHAM, RIP!MUSCLECAR LEGEND: JOE OLDHAM, RIP!Joe Oldham testing a 429/370 CJ/R  Mustang at E-Town, Hi-Performance CARS, April 1971

The enthusiast car hobby (and I) lost a great friend last week when Joe Oldham passed away. Even though he had been retired for a number of years, he was still penning a column for Hemmings Muscle Machines, writing stories and having a ball doing smoky burnouts in his (and son Scott’s) tribute Baldwin-Motion SS427 Camaro. They built the triple-block ’69 Camaro to honor Joe’s original Camaro that had been stolen and never recovered. His Camaro was showcased in three high-profile national advertisements and show posters – WANTED, OUTRAGEOUS, & THE MOMENT OF TRUTH – as well as the cover of the 1969 Baldwin-Motion catalog.

Joe Oldham and I had been friends for more than 50 years, dating back to the mid-1960s when he started contributing tech articles and road tests, along with his TORQUE EAST column to Hi-Performance CARS. He continued writing for the magazine after I left in 1973. Earlier this year, he wrote the Foreword for my new book, DAY ONE, An Automotive Journalist’s Muscle Car Memoir, going on sale next month.

MUSCLECAR LEGEND: JOE OLDHAM, RIP!Joe Oldham, left, and I at reveal of tribute SS427 Camaro at 2013 MCACN show. (David Hakim)

For more about Joe Oldham and his career and contributions to the hobby, please visit



  1. Hi Marty,
    I just read your latest newsletter and saw the piece about Joe. So sorry for the loss of your friend.

    I never met Joe, but back when I was a teenager and was reading every issue of CARS Magazine cover-to-cover, I always enjoyed Joe’s “colorful” road tests. His blue collar, bench racing writing style was just Joe “writing” as he “talked.” At least, that’s the way it read to me.

    Not only did Joe’s articles, as well as the rest of your cast of CARS characters, help me get over a serious reading problem, it all inspired me to want to do what I’ve been doing since 1975 when I had my first illustration published in “Drag Racing USA”.

    I’m sure your head and heart are filled with wonderful memories of Joe.

    Take care… – Scott

  2. I knew Joe Oldham through my partnership with Marvin Nudelman at Phoenix Graphics. I mostly knew Joe through the many stories that Marv used to tell me regarding the history of the muscle cars magazines and the colorful characters who he used to hang out with. My sincere condolences to Joe’s family.

  3. I am the Founder of the Buick GS Club of America and several years ago we sold over 75 of the “Confessions … ” book that Joe wrote. Why? Because It was the best book on muscle cars ever published.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *