125 years and counting… Autocar archive charts the evolution of the car

by James Mills
2 November 2021 2 min read
125 years and counting… Autocar archive charts the evolution of the car
Photo: Autocar

In 1895 just six cars were said to be on Britain’s roads, yet such was the enthusiasm for the dawn of the automobile that Autocar magazine was launched to cater for interest in the new-fangled motor car. Now the weekly car magazine is to make its entire archive available online, with more than 6000 editions and 1.1 million pages ready for a light spot of bedtime reading.

With 125 years of reporting behind it, Autocar magazine claims to be the longest continuously running automotive title in the world. Launched on 2nd November 1895, at a time when just six cars were reported to be on UK roads, Autocar has covered everything from the introduction of the Ford Model T launch to the latest hydrogen-powered cars, and its archives provide a fascinating and useful portal for anyone researching the history of the car or, indeed, their own car.

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In print throughout the war years, Autocar has only only ever paused production twice – during the 1926 General Strike and the 1973 fuel crisis.

The archiving process took more than six months to complete and is said to be the largest magazine digitalisation process undertaken in the UK in the past 20 years.

The archive is available to access through a new The Motoring Archive portal on a subscription basis. It costs £7.99 a month, or £74.99 a year.

Autocar_Cover_14 Nov 1896

Mark Tisshaw, editor, Autocar, said: “What better way to celebrate our 126th birthday than by opening our archives to readers around the world. Digitising our archives is a brilliant initiative as it creates a unique resource for everyone, from curious enthusiasts to historians, to use and enjoy. This development creates a one-stop source for future generations to learn about the evolution of the car.”

To commemorate the launch of its archives, Autocar has reprinted the first two pages of the red-printed ‘Emancipation Day’ issue (14th November 1896), which celebrated the overturn of the Red Flag Acts – previous rules and regulations which limited the use of vehicles on UK’s roads, and in some instances required a person to walk in front the vehicle with a red flag to warn others of its arrival. The inaugural London to Brighton car run quickly followed the repeal of the Red Flag Acts and this year’s Veteran Car Run is the 125th running of the event.

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