Summarizing the history of Automobile magazine and its founder David E. Davis Jr. is a bit like being the last speaker to eulogize someone who has died. If you're the second cousin of the dead and follow nine eloquent speakers who were intimate friends, it's hard to find unused superlatives and unique perspectives.
The magazine is, at its core, about sensates who love cars and experiences with them. It celebrates the automotive good life with adventurous travel, road tests with an ever expanding network of car lovers, friends and automotive insiders, and all topped off with great writing, editing and production. From its start in 1986, it was intended to be a literate and entertaining special-interest magazine.
With money from Rupert Murdoch, it went head-to-head against the "big 3" magazines with a similar content focus - Road & Track, Car and Driver and Motor Trend. But it one-upped the others with its unique style, love of design, higher quality writing, full-color photography and thicker paper stock.
Mr. Davis was at the helm from the magazine's inception until January, 2000 when he turned over the reins to his protege Jean Jennings. During Davis' reign, Murdoch recovered his investment when he sold the title to K-III Inc (later named Primedia) in 1991. Later owners included Source Interlink Media (2007 - 2014), TEN: The Enthusiast Network (2014 - 2017) and the Motor Trend Group (2017 - 2020).
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The publisher provided circulation data to two publishing compendia - Gale Research and The Standard Periodical Directory. The annual net paid circulation grew from 500,000 in 1987 to 1,271,500 by 2005. The magazine was in the top 10 titles based on print volume within a year of starting, and at the five year mark was in the top 5 of U.S. publications.
A total of 402 issues were printed from April, 1986 through February, 2020 when print ended. All cover images are complete.
An internet presence was created and webpage links referenced on the front covers starting in 1998. The original website address www.automobilemag.com now redirects to the Motor Trend website.