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Autocar digitises 125-years of history with the launch of new online archives

Autocar magazine, first published in 1895 and the longest continuously running automotive title in the world, has digitised 125 years of its back catalogue. The digital archives, available to anyone, provides the definitive history of the car and is now readily accessible online.

First 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. With a history stretching to more than 6,000 issues, Autocar remains the UK’s foremost authority on new car reviews and news.

The archiving process has been completed in partnership with Archive Digital Limited, a digitalisation specialist, which helped ensure the scanning process preserved the centuries-old pages of the early issues. It has taken more than six months to complete and is 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, allowing members to look through more than 6,000 issues and 1.1 million pages of Autocar leading up to 2020 – this year’s issues will be archived in 2022. In print throughout the war years, Autocar has only only ever paused production twice – during the 1926 General Strike and the 1973 fuel crisis.

Autocar – 14th November 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. 

Autocar has always been the essential weekly for anyone who wants to keep up with the latest new car reviews and news, so we’re delighted to make all of our expertise and knowledge available online. This development creates a one-stop source for future generations to learn about the evolution of the car.”

Pete Boswell, partner, Archive Digital Limited, said: “It’s been a privilege to work on the process of digitising Autocar’s unique, historic archive. Using our unique technology, we were able to efficiently transform 125 years of the history of car into a high-quality digital library, accessible to anyone. It’s a fantastic way of preserving the history of the car for future generations.” 

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, which Autocar is sponsoring.

The reprint is part of an 18-page special covering how the digital archive was created and showcasing some of its highlights. The latest issue of Autocar, available 3rd November, contains free 14-day access to the archive.  

To view the Autocar Archives, visit:

*Autocar is 126 years old, with the digital archive covering the first 125 years of issues. The digital archive will run a year behind the print issues, as scanning of issues is done once a year.

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