Mechanix Illustrated


Mechanix Illustrated
MI cover from April 1957
MI cover Cover from February 1982

Mechanix Illustrated was an American magazine founded in the first half of the 20th century to compete against the older Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. Billed as "The How-To-Do Magazine," Mechanix Illustrated (MI) aimed to guide readers through various projects from home improvements and advice on repairs to "build-your-own (sports car, telescope, helicopter, etc)." From its debut in 1928, it went through a number of permutations over the years, being called at various points in its life, Home Mechanix, Modern Mechanics and Inventions, Modern Mechanix and Inventions, Modern Mechanix and finally Mechanix Illustrated.

Although it featured many how-to articles, the most eagerly awaited and read features were Tom McCahill's monthly automobile tests which ran from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. McCahill's feisty opinions were delivered in a prose laced with similes that are still quoted today among car enthusiasts: "As anyone brighter than a rusty spike must know..."; flooring the accelerator pedal on a certain car is "...like stepping on a wet sponge"; the clock/tachometer combination on another car is "...about as useful as feathers on a moose." McCahill died in 1974, and three years later CBS bought Fawcett Publications, the company which published MI, and continued publishing the magazine, renaming it Home Mechanix in 1984. In August, 1996, it was again renamed as "Today's Homeowner" and ceased publication with the March/April issue in 2001.

In the 1980s, the magazine featured more and more home repair, remodel and woodworking projects while featuring fewer articles on general technology and automotive projects. In an ironic twist, the first issue of Home Mechanix in 1984 had a cover feature article on customizing the new Chrysler Minivan.

A long-running feature of Mechanix Illustrated was "Mimi," a shapely young woman dressed in skimpy overalls with blue and white vertical stripes; and, in the early sixties, a matching railroad engineer's cap (later discontinued). She was in a picture holding, standing beside, sitting on, laying on or just in the picture with a new product each month. Each "Mimi" held the job for a year. Their names were never given except for the announcement of a new "Mimi" in the January issue. One Mimi did, however, hold the job for a few years in the sixties. An actress from Southern California, she left to live in Hawaii, and a readers' poll was conducted to choose a replacement from a short list. The readers' choice only lasted a short while, and was replaced by one of the runners-up. "Mimi" was discontinued with the change to "Home Mechanix".

Roy Doty's "Wordless Workshop" is currently appearing in "The Family Handyman" magazine.

External links

  • Online archive of the covers from Mechanix Illustrated under its various titles (with other magazines in the same genre)

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