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, they 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 Gale Research starting in 1987 and continuing forward. The average monthly net paid circulation grew from 41,666 in 1987 to 102,500 by 1998. 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.
Over 400 issues were printed from April, 1986 through February, 2020 when print ended. However, we only include complete cover images through 2000 at this time.
An internet presence was created and links added to the front covers starting in 1998. www.automobilemag.com