If you watch Roadkill’s Junkyard Gold, the Barrett-Jackson live auctions, or have been to any of Dodge’s SRT clinics at Mopar events across the country, you may recognize Steve Magnante as the on-camera expert on all things muscle cars and performance. Magnante eats, breathes, and sleeps everything related to muscle cars, and if you ask him, he’ll tell you he’s never met a muscle car he didn’t like!
He has been poking around junkyards all his life, but what you may not know about “Magneto”—as his friends call him—is that long before he stepped in front of a camera, he spent decades behind one. For a solid two decades, Magnante crawled through junkyards from coast to coast with a camera, documenting what he has found for many magazines over the years, including Mopar Muscle, Car Craft, and HOT ROD. And while most of the magazines are now gone, as you can imagine, he hasn’t let off the gas in his quest for the next great muscle-car junkyard find.
I was lucky to work side-by-side with Magnante for many years, most recently at Car Craft magazine, where he produced a prolific portfolio of gold hiding in plain sight. His columns for Car Craft—called Junkyard Crawl—predates Roadkill’s Junkyard Gold by decades. In those later years after filming began for Roadkill’s Junkyard Gold, Magnante never forgot his roots deep in the magazine world and always attacked every junkyard on assignment for Roadkill’s Junkyard Gold with camera in hand. After filming episodes of the MotorTrend App show, he waited to see what cars made the show and what hit the cutting-room floor. Car Craft was fortunate to have access to all the classic cars that couldn’t fit in a half-hour TV show, and we published them in print and online with what amounted to a ton of extra material that never made the show or the magazine!
One thing you learn about Magnante early on is that he’s a total fanatic and wants to know everything about anything with four wheels. There are two kinds of cars in his world: the ones he knows everything about, and the ones he wants to know everything about. I’ve yet to meet someone with such a deep thirst for automotive knowledge, and that includes a lot of really smart car guys here at the MotorTrend Group. It was always a pleasure to talk to Magnante about classic cars, and it makes no difference if you’ve known him for years or just met him at a swap meet, he’ll pour his heart out to you and tell you everything he knows with the same level of enthusiasm you see on TV. He’s the real deal, and you can’t help but love him for his contagious childlike enthusiasm.
We hope you’ll check out the many great episodes with Steve Magnante on Roadkill’s Junkyard Gold on the MotorTrend App. To get you started, we hope you enjoy digging through more than a hundred archive photos from Car Craft‘s Junkyard Crawl column.