Car Life was initially published by Henry Scharf through his Motor Publications Inc organization located in New York City. Arthur Unger was both the executive director and editor of the magazine. The magazine focused on cars built in Detroit including concept and factory production vehicles. Full issues were dedicated to the latest models including technical evaluations and comparison tests. It also covered sports cars, vintage or classic cars, and other automotive topics of interest to the target reader.
In 1957 the magazines began using the tag line "The Family Auto Magazine". This continued through 1958, then was dropped. Scooters and go-karts were added in 1959. In 1961, ownership changed to publisher John R. Bond and his Bond Publishing Company. Changes included new cover graphics, and content had more muscle cars and racing activities. In 1968, the tag line "The Automotive Action Magazine" was added. The magazine ended in October 1970 and was merged into Motor Trend in the December 1970 issue.
Car Life publishers provided net paid circulation data from 1958 through 1970. The magazine held positions ranging from #6 to #11 in print volume among automotive titles that provided paid circulation details. Average monthly net paid circulation print counts were 20,000 to 25,000 in this time span.
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