Thursday, March 5, 2009

Automobile Magazines in America

With today's headline story being the financial tribulations of General Motors, I thought I'd spend a little time on the history of Automotive magazines. American's have had an ongoing love affair with cars from very early on. Despite President Obama's recent gaffe about where cars were invented, the manufacturing process of Henry Ford (anti-semitism not withstanding) revolutionized the car industry and enabled the common man to enjoy the mobility afforded by the automobile. Each image is the first issue of the title!

America's first automotive magazine, and the second in the world, was Horseless Age, stated in 1895. The initial circulation was only 800, so it is obviously quite rare.

Of course, many other magazines devoted to the sublect rapidly followed. They are rare and expensive, though none were particularly distinctive or long-lasting:

There were dozens of car manufacturers and many had their own magazines. Here is the earliest I've found:

Virtually every car manufacturer had their own magazine at one time or another. I have a dozen or so first issues of them, but getting one random issue of each would make a nice collection.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) began in 1902 and began publishing road maps in 1905. They were also involved with auto racing until 1955. Their first magazine was Touring Topics published in California in February 1909, but the "official" magazine was American Motorist, begun in April of that year.

Many early magazines featured automotive articles and advertising. Some devoted special issues to them.

The twenties had there share of ephemeral motoring publications as well.

Auto racing gained in popularity at this time, bringing about magazines such as this rare 1932 title.

After the war, Hot Rodding became a popular pastime. The most collected title of this genre is the 1948 Hot Rod. Early issues were basically hand-distributed by the publisher at racing events and are very rare. Issues from the first year have been reproduced and the repros are often confused as original. There are differences. Here is an original- it consistently sells for around $1000.

Other hot-rodding titles abounded in the late 40's and early 50's.

Today's most important titles began at this time; first Road and Track then Motor Trend, followed by Sports Car Illustrated, which evolved into Car and Driver.

Lets hope GM and the UAW reach an agreement for mutual preservation so we can continue to, as Dinah Shore used to sing, "see the USA in our Chevrolet".


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Anonymous said...

As I understand it, Henry Fords assembly line resulted from a visit to the Union StockYards in Chicago where the "disassembly" had been perfected to prepare meat for market.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info! I was on American magazines did not have anything. Made in his diploma work:)