Import Tuner was published by Kipp Kington and IGC. Mr. Kington launched Import Tuner's parent magazine, Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance, in 1985. The team, which later included Michael Ferrara, pioneered a new type of magazine focused on performance vehicles from all countries. They showcased modern performance upgrades such as turbocharging, electronic fuel injection and centrifugal supercharging. It catered to young male readers ages 15 to 30.
The title was born out of the intense competition between IGC's Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance, McMullen Publishing's Sport Compact Car (SCC), and Petersen Publishing's Super Street magazines. Turbo and SCC both had performance-oriented content. When a new title, Super Street, was launched in 1997, it began taking market share from the other two magazines. This was because it positioned its content to the entry-level tuner seeking basic technical information.
Mr. Kington and his editor Michael Ferrara subsequently launched Import Tuner as a competitive response to Super Street, with the same "fix up your car and have fun" attitude. It had import-only content, and within the first year it was a huge success. Like many tuner magazines, the title featured scantily dressed women in suggestive poses to sell magazines. It also had expanded lifestyle content such as video games and consumer technology reviews.
After the sale to Primedia in 1999, Import Tuner was still one of the top tuner titles. But the new publisher, having many similar titles, was not able to expand readership. So the market focus of Import Tuner and Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance was split. The former became the tuner and lifestyle magazine, focusing on the cars, luxury parts, the young female models and the lifestyle aspect around the tuner community. It featured the best female models first, and it offered full feature articles and interviews with them.
Alternatively, Turbo became a technical and speed focused title. This seemingly didn't last long as Turbo ended in 2008.
IGC originally operated from 1733 Alton Parkway, Irvine, California. It had offices in Longview, Texas and Anaheim, California.
The editors and staff rode a wave of changes as the title moved through various new owners:
- 1999 -- Primedia purchases Import Tuner and Turbo,
- 2007 -- Primedia sells its Enthusiast Media division to Source Interlink Media for $1.2 billion, and,
- 2014 -- Source Interlink rebrands to TEN: The Enthusiast Network, and multiple titles are ended including Import Tuner.
Mr. Kington went on to form a media and consulting company.
The table of contents, if available, can be seen by clicking on the icon.
The publisher provided net paid circulation data to Oxbridge Communication's compendium, The Standard Periodical Directory from 2003 to 2005, and then later for 2012 and 2013. Reported circulation ranged from 130,000 to 542,000 print issues annually. By 2012 and 2013, the publisher reported 205,000 annual issues.
A total of 178 issues was printed from Fall, 1998 through August/September, 2014. Images are complete.
The site is now defunct: www.importtuner.com.