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Ranking Based on Net Paid Circulation 1950 to 1975

When it came to automotive magazines and this website, I was curious about publishing data. Specifically, what publisher had the largest market share in the 1945 to 1975 timeframe that the website covers? What were the year-over-year growth rates for specific titles? Given the East Coast vs. West Coast publishing realm, who controlled the market with the largest print volumes?

After some research, I came across the annual magazine publishing data from NW Ayer and Sons. Based in Philadelphia, Ayer had been around since the 1860s. They provided distribution volumes submitted by newspapers, trade, and general interest magazine publishers. So after many rounds with my local library, I was able to get data from 1950 through 1970.

Ayer provides what is called net paid circulation numbers in their annual tally. It is six months of printed magazine volumes after deducting left-over, unsold, returned, sample, exchange or advertiser copies. From this I was able to derive monthly net paid circulation numbers and rank-order the magazine titles on monthly print volume.

Note that net paid circulation numbers are based on either audited results, Post Office data, or unaudited publisher submittals. Unaudited publisher submittals are prone to error or exaggeration. And not all automotive publishers submitted data. Some publishers used “swag” or “plug” numbers when they didn’t have actual data. This is obvious when the same net paid circulation number is submitted over multiple years.

Here's the year-by-year breakdown of automotive titles based on monthly net paid circulation ranked high to low from 1950 to 1975.  Not all magazines on my website are listed below as publishers did not submit their data for all titles.

1950 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Motor Trend                 19,893 63%
Hot Rod                   7,887 25%
Speed Age                   3,729 12%
                31,510
1951 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod                 18,678 49%
Motor Trend                 12,791 34%
Speed Age                   6,289 17%
                37,758
1952 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod                 39,414 45%
Motor Trend                 34,681 39%
Speed Age                 13,780 16%
                87,874
1953 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod                 56,370 31%
Motor Trend                 55,099 30%
Speed Age                 23,930 13%
Road & Track                 18,667 10%
Auto Sport Review                 16,333 9%
Auto                 13,600 7%
             183,999
1954 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Motor Trend                 74,693 36%
Hot Rod                 62,185 30%
Speed Age                 32,928 16%
Road & Track                 18,667 9%
Auto Sport Review                 16,333 8%
             204,805
1955 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Motor Trend                 71,835 28%
Hot Rod                 57,050 22%
Auto Age                 33,333 13%
Motor Life                 26,137 10%
Car Craft                 19,167 7%
Speed Age                 18,716 7%
Road & Track                 16,667 6%
Rod & Custom                 16,556 6%
             259,460
1956 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Motor Trend                 80,730 32%
Hot Rod                 60,009 24%
Motor Life                 31,547 12%
Rod & Custom                 22,681 9%
Car Craft                 20,844 8%
Speed Mechanics                 15,340 6%
Road & Track                 13,542 5%
Motorsport                 10,127 4%
             254,820
1957 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Motor Trend                 74,959 26%
Hot Rod                 63,984 22%
Motor Life                 30,872 11%
Car Craft                 25,202 9%
Rod & Custom                  24,706 9%
Speed Age                 16,901 6%
Road & Track                 15,826 5%
Sports Car Illustrated                 12,134 4%
Speed Mechanics                 11,992 4%
Auto Craftsman                 11,667 4%
             288,243
1958 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Motor Trend                 76,891 20%
Hot Rod                 72,875 19%
Custom Cars                 41,667 11%
Motor Life                 36,975 10%
Car Craft                 29,014 8%
Rod & Custom                 27,004 7%
Car Life                 22,459 6%
Sports Car Illustrated                 19,312 5%
Road & Track                 18,469 5%
Rod Builder & Customizer                 15,133 4%
Speed Mechanics                 10,980 3%
Auto Craftsman                 10,308 3%
             381,087
1959 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod                 74,263 21%
Motor Trend                 65,075 18%
Motor Life                 28,791 8%
Rod & Custom                 25,077 7%
Car Craft                 24,278 7%
Car Life                 22,459 6%
Road & Track                 22,033 6%
Custom Cars                 22,032 6%
Speed Age                 21,758 6%
Rodding & Restyling                 19,167 5%
Rod Builder & Customizer                 15,323 4%
Auto Craftsman                 10,308 3%
Speed Mechanics                 10,180 3%
             360,744
1960 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod                 85,331 22%
Motor Trend                 59,711 16%
Motor Life                 29,791 8%
Car Craft                 26,832 7%
Rod & Custom                 26,388 7%
Sports Car Graphic                 24,841 7%
Road & Track                 22,849 6%
Car Life                 22,459 6%
Custom Cars                 21,993 6%
Rodding & Restyling                 19,167 5%
Speed Age                 17,258 5%
Rod Builder & Customizer                 15,323 4%
Speed Mechanics                   7,979 2%
             379,921
1961 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod                 99,399 24%
Motor Trend                 62,393 15%
Car Craft                 30,653 7%
Car Life                 30,000 7%
Motor Life                 29,208 7%
Sports Car Illustrated                 28,628 7%
Custom Cars & Karts                 26,667 6%
Rod & Custom                 26,388 6%
Road & Track                 25,160 6%
Custom Rodder                 16,950 4%
Car Speed & Style                 16,775 4%
Custom Craft                 11,667 3%
Speed Mechanics                   7,519 2%
How To Hop-Up Your Engine                   6,667 2%
             418,072
1962 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              112,707 28%
Motor Trend                 64,868 16%
Car Craft                 33,886 8%
Car & Driver                 32,906 8%
Road & Track                 26,914 7%
Car Life                 25,000 6%
Rod & Custom                 25,000 6%
Custom Rodder                 18,333 5%
Rodding & Restyling                 17,892 4%
Speed Mechanics                 15,000 4%
Custom Craft                 12,500 3%
Sports Car Graphic                 10,000 2%
How To Hop-Up Your Engine                   8,333 2%
             403,340
1963 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              106,285 22%
Motor Trend                 77,257 16%
Car Craft                 39,217 8%
Car & Driver                 35,108 7%
Road & Track                 30,146 6%
Cars magazine                 29,222 6%
Rod & Custom                 28,643 6%
Custom Rodder                 25,424 5%
Car Life                 25,000 5%
Sports Car Graphic                 19,048 4%
Rodding & Restyling                 17,949 4%
Speed Mechanics                 15,113 3%
Customs Illustrated                 13,777 3%
Custom Craft                 12,637 3%
How To Hop-Up Your Engine                   9,658 2%
             484,482
1964 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              106,311 22%
Motor Trend                 86,482 18%
Car & Driver                 39,223 8%
Car Craft                 34,303 7%
Road & Track                 30,876 6%
Cars magazine                 30,298 6%
Speed & Custom                 28,430 6%
Rod & Custom                 27,544 6%
Popular Customs                 20,833 4%
Sports Car Graphic                 20,181 4%
Car Life                 19,297 4%
Rodding & Restyling                 17,949 4%
Customs Illustrated                 13,777 3%
             475,503
1965 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              114,318 21%
Motor Trend                 77,550 14%
Car & Driver                 35,049 6%
Road & Track                 33,584 6%
Car Craft                 32,820 6%
Cars magazine                 30,298 6%
Popular Hot Rodding                 30,150 6%
Speed & Custom                 28,430 5%
Rod & Custom                 24,630 5%
Sports Car Graphic                 22,414 4%
Popular Customs                 20,833 4%
American Rodding                 20,833 4%
Car Life                 19,364 4%
Customs Illustrated                 18,333 3%
Modern Rod                 17,000 3%
Drag Racing                 17,000 3%
             542,606
1966 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              120,313 23%
Motor Trend                 81,586 15%
Car & Driver                 46,857 9%
Road & Track                 39,483 7%
Car Craft                 35,573 7%
Popular Hot Rodding                 26,752 5%
Rodding & Restyling                 25,388 5%
Sports Car Graphic                 23,363 4%
Rod & Custom                 21,915 4%
Popular Customs                 20,833 4%
American Rodding                 20,833 4%
Car Life                 20,139 4%
Customs Illustrated                 18,333 3%
Drag Racing                 15,792 3%
Modern Rod                 13,625 3%
             530,785
1967 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              119,733 22%
Motor Trend                 83,627 16%
Car & Driver                 59,659 11%
Road & Track                 42,445 8%
Car Craft                 36,766 7%
Popular Hot Rodding                 31,539 6%
Sports Car Graphic                 25,534 5%
Rodding & Restyling                 25,388 5%
Car Life                 21,053 4%
Popular Customs                 20,833 4%
American Rodding                 20,833 4%
Rod & Custom                 19,156 4%
Super Stock / Drag Illus                 16,906 3%
Drag Racing                 14,041 3%
             537,510
1968 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              121,997 20%
Motor Trend                 85,020 14%
Car & Driver                 65,551 11%
Road & Track                 45,082 7%
Cars magazine                 37,760 6%
Car Craft                 37,406 6%
Popular Hot Rodding                 33,222 5%
Speed & Supercar                 31,164 5%
Rodder & Super Stock                 28,412 5%
Sports Car Graphic                 25,555 4%
Car Life                 19,744 3%
Rod & Custom                 19,048 3%
Custom & Rod Ideas                 18,046 3%
Super Stock / Drag Illus                 16,906 3%
Drag Racing                 12,527 2%
Drag Strip                 11,848 2%
             609,286
1969 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              131,206 21%
Motor Trend                 83,351 13%
Car & Driver                 72,406 11%
Road & Track                 48,915 8%
Car Craft                 40,930 6%
Cars magazine                 37,760 6%
Popular Hot Rodding                 34,182 5%
Speed & Supercar                 31,164 5%
Rodder & Super Stock                 28,412 4%
Sports Car Graphic                 22,822 4%
Car Life                 21,727 3%
Rod & Custom                  19,290 3%
Super Stock / Drag Illus                 19,009 3%
Custom & Rod Ideas                 18,046 3%
Drag Racing                 13,858 2%
Drag Strip                 13,417 2%
             636,491
1970 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              144,117 24%
Motor Trend                 88,179 15%
Car & Driver                 83,387 14%
Road & Track                 52,632 9%
Car Craft                 47,818 8%
Popular Hot Rodding                 41,026 7%
Car Life                 24,408 4%
Sports Car Graphic                 23,465 4%
Super Stock / Drag Illus                 20,876 3%
Rod & Custom                  20,231 3%
Custom & Rod Ideas                 18,046 3%
Rodder & Super Stock                 16,667 3%
Drag Racing                 13,858 2%
Drag Strip                 13,417 2%
             608,126
1971 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              136,329 21%
Motor Trend                 94,696 14%
Car & Driver                 93,910 14%
Car Craft                 53,688 8%
Road & Track                 51,138 8%
Popular Hot Rodding                 45,679 7%
Custom & Rod Ideas                 41,667 6%
Hi-Performance Cars                 31,667 5%
Sports Car Graphic                 23,360 4%
Super Stock / Drag Illus                 20,723 3%
Rod & Custom                  19,691 3%
Rodder & Super Stock                 16,667 3%
Drag Racing                 13,858 2%
Drag Strip                 13,417 2%
             656,488
1972 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              128,148 25%
Car & Driver              104,497 20%
Motor Trend                 94,696 18%
Road & Track                 51,312 10%
Custom & Rod Ideas                 41,667 8%
Popular Hot Rodding                 41,653 8%
Cars                 26,953 5%
Rodder & Super Stock                 16,667 3%
Drag Racing                 14,857 3%
 
             520,449
1973 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              137,938 22%
Motor Trend              109,405 18%
Car & Driver              103,974 17%
Road & Track                 54,467 9%
Car Craft                 50,919 8%
Custom & Rod Ideas                 41,667 7%
Popular Hot Rodding                 41,194 7%
Cars                 26,581 4%
Super Stock/Drag Illustrated                 19,102 3%
Rodder & Super Stock                 16,667 3%
Drag Racing                 14,857 2%
             616,770
1974 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              134,303 23%
Car & Driver              110,422 19%
Motor Trend              103,811 18%
Road & Track                 59,612 10%
Car Craft                 50,258 9%
Popular Hot Rodding                 44,000 8%
Super Stock/Drag Illustrated                 24,541 4%
Cars                 22,128 4%
Speed & Supercar                 20,000 3%
Rodder & Super Stock                 16,667 3%
             585,741
1975 Monthly Net Paid Circulation Percent
Hot Rod              142,164 24%
Motor Trend              118,698 20%
Car & Driver              116,675 20%
Road & Track                 64,017 11%
Car Craft                 50,300 8%
Popular Hot Rodding                 41,773 7%
Super Stock / Drag Illustrated                 22,029 4%
Chevy Action                 16,667 3%
Super Chevy                 12,833 2%
Custom & Rod Ideas                 10,000 2%
             595,155

 

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