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From 1895 to Today: Work Begins to Digitise Entire Autocar Magazine Archive

From 1895 To Today - Work Begins To Digitise Entire Autocar Magazine Archive

Autocar magazine, founded in 1895 and the longest continuously running automotive title in the world, will have its entire printed archive digitised after agreeing an exclusive partnership deal with Archive Digital Limited.

The process, which will be done non-destructively so as to preserve the originals, will take around six months, with the PDF files – all of which will be digitally searchable to help users find content of interest. Full launch details will be released closer to the completion date, but anyone interested in finding out more can register their interest at [email protected].

Uniquely, Autocar – which began as The Autocar and was proudly labelled as a “journal published in the interests of the mechanically propelled road carriage” – has been published weekly since being founded in November 1895, continuing to print even at times of national crisis including the two world wars. It is believed the only interruptions were during the General Strike in 1926, Fuel Crisis in 1973 and a print-related issue in 1975. That means around 6500 issues and 700,000 pages will be digitised as part of the project.

Mark Tisshaw, editor of Autocar, said:

“Autocar’s editors have always been charged with delivering the best possible coverage of today’s cars and tomorrow’s exciting developments, but I’m also acutely aware of how much the past informs the future, and how much interest and excitement opening up our archives will generate, particularly at a time that the car industry itself is undergoing a complete reinvention.

“It is easy to forget how innovative our original publishers were – reputedly launching with less than ten privately owned cars on UK roads. I hope that pioneering spirit continues through to today, and that by opening up our archive to future generations we will be able to create a unique resource for everyone from curious enthusiasts to historians to enjoy.”

Mark Tisshaw, editor of Autocar

Peter Boswell, managing director of Archive Digital Limited added:

“It’s an incredible honour to be able to get to work on the process of making Autocar’s unique, historic archive easily accessible for everyone. Our scanning process is accurate, quick and preserves the originals, ensuring that we are opening up the archive for future generations without any compromises. I’m already excited by the reaction this project has generated to date, and that excitement is only going to build as we approach our launch date later this year.”

Peter Boswell, managing director of Archive Digital Limited
Autocar History Facts
  • Autocar is older than Country Life (first published 1897) but much younger than the world’s oldest weekly, The Spectator (founded 1828).
  • Just six complete sets of Autocar are believed to be held.
  • Just six cars were believed to have been on UK roads when the first The Autocar issue was published. All had to be preceded by a man waving a red flag on foot to warn people of its arrival.
  • The 700,000 pages of Autocar published to date stretched end-to-end would cover 130 miles – coincidentally, roughly the distance from Autocar’s London base to Archive Digital’s in Coventry.
Autocar – Work Begins To Digitise Entire Magazine Archive
What else was happening in 1895?
  • Queen Victoria entered her 58th year on the throne.
  • Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, third Marquess of Salisbury, was establishing his third stint as prime minister, characterised by a policy of “splendid isolation” and the Boer War.
  • Rudyard Kipling published the follow up to the Jungle Book, Mowgli Leaves the Jungle Forever in The Cosmopolitan.
  • What is widely regarded as the first motor race, from Paris–Bordeaux–Paris, is held. It was won by Émile Levassor in his Panhard-Levassor 1205cc.
  • In the month The Autocar was founded, the first US patent for an automobile was given. Later that month the first automobile race in the US was held.
  • Auguste and Louis Lumière displayed their first moving picture film in Paris.
  • The name HP Sauce is first registered for a brown sauce.
  • The first game of what became rugby league was played in England.
  • Oscar Wilde was arrested in London for gross indecency after losing a criminal libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry.
  • Laurin & Klement, a predecessor to Skoda was founded in Mladá Boleslav, Kingdom of Bohemia
  • Rudolf Diesel patented the diesel engine in Germany 
More Information
  • Exclusive digitisation deal signed with Archive Digital Limited
  • 126 years of coverage of the car to be made available through online portal
  • Six private cars believed to have been on UK roads, all of which were required to be preceded by a man waving a red flag, when Autocar was founded
  • Unique archive represents the history of the car through a contemporary lens
  • To register your interest in reading the full archives, contact:
    [email protected] 

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