Car Craft was created when Honk was re-titled in December, 1953. The magazine was owned by Robert E. Petersen and his Petersen Publishing empire, and it was part of Trends Inc.
The tag line for the magazine, representing its focus, alternated between "the show-how magazine" and the "custom car magazine". Early content included customization tips, styling ideas for customs, upholstery, technical tips, engine swaps, and fabrication. Other content included quarter midgets, go-karts, and traditional hot rods. By 1959, more drag racing content filled the pages.
Early editors were John Christy and Dick Day, with Wally Parks as the executive director. Car Craft was initially published in the small format style and switched to a full-sized format in July, 1959.
In 1961, the magazine, like many others, had an expanded horizon so also featured hot rods, car shows, technical performance articles, slot and model cars, drag racing and land speed events, and articles on karting and midget racing. Kart magazine was also included in late 1961, and this doubled karting coverage.
The next year brought changes to the editor role and a slight shift in focus. Don Evans became the new editor in August, 1962, moving up from the associate editor role under Dick Day. There was a slight decrease in the number of feature articles on custom cars, as well as less customizing trends and how-to's. But with the addition of Kart, about one-third of content was focused on karts, midgets, slot cars and model cars.
Content continued to evolve through 1963 and 1964. Drag racing took a bigger part of the content, and these years saw a noticeable drop in content focused on go-karts, slot cars and model cars. This was supported by the new Rod & Custom Models title which started in June, 1964. It also reflects the end of the faddish period around go-karts.
In 1965 the new tag line became, "The Automotive Go & Show" magazine. Content was solidly focused on technical performance improvements, drag racing, and the emerging muscle car era. The magazine included more 4-color features and two page exhibits. The editorial staff changed again in late 1965 as Alex Xydias became the new editor. Mr. Xydias was long associated with dry lakes racing and was the founder of So-Cal Speed Shop. Traditional hot rods and customs were de-emphasized and factory performance and drag racing took center stage. The editor positioned the magazine as "Drag Racing's Complete Magazine", and this continued until the late 1970s. This fact is represented by the re-grouping of the title into the performance & muscle genre on this website.
As described by writer John Pearley Huffman, "Car Craft covered people doing car things. In the 1980s and into the 1990s, it meant home-built street machines, junkyard spelunking, and painting cars in your own garage." The magazine continued to evolve until its demise in 2019.
The table of contents, if available, can be seen by clicking on the icon.
Each year from 1955 through 2005, the publisher reported annual print volume data to N.W. Ayer, Gale Research, or The Standard Periodical Directory. Annual print volume grew from 230,000 in 1955 to 911,000 by 1992. From that point forward, production was essentially steady until 2004 when it dropped slightly to 650,000.
A total of 793 issues was printed from December, 1953 through December, 2019. This website only has cover images through 2000 at this time.