Every issue of Autocar printed since the magazine was founded in 1895 is to be digitised over the next six months and will be made accessible via a dedicated online archive later this year.
The scanning process, which will be carried out by Coventry-based Archive Digital Limited, will be non-destructive so as to preserve the physical copies of each issue. Autocar's own archive is believed to be one of just six complete collections of the magazine in existence.
Each digital file will be stored as a digitally searchable PDF to allow users to quickly and easily find content of interest from 126 years of Autocar back issues. Full details will be released nearer to publication, but parties can register their interest now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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's believed that the only interruptions were during the General Strike in 1926, the Fuel Crisis in 1973 and print-related issues in 1975. That means around 6500 issues and 700,000 pages will be digitised as part of the project - enough paper to cover the 130 miles from Autocar's London offices to Archive Digital's Coventry facility.
Autocar editor Mark Tisshaw 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's easy to forget how innovative our original publishers were, reputedly launching with fewer than 10 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.”