First printed on the 2nd of November 1895, at a time when the number of cars on UK roads could be counted on both hands, The Autocar has seen multiple name changes, two world wars, over 6000 issues and many more thousands of cars over its lifetime.
We've been celebrating this week with a look back on our history, with some of the stand-out covers from the last century-and-a-quarter.
Issue 1: 2nd November 1895
Our first issue led with an explanation of why we had chosen to publish a journal in the interests of the mechanically propelled road carriage.
Issue 55, 14th November 1896
This issue was printed in red for a red-letter day, marking the end of the ‘red flag man’ via the Locomotives on Highways Act 1896. As we said at the time, this marked a transition between eras.
Issue 500, 20th May 1905
The main topics here were the controversy surrounding the laws enforcing headlights on horse-drawn and motorised vehicles, plus the Scottish Reliability Trials.
Issue 1000, 19th December 1914
We had intended our millennial issue to be “some sort of resumé of the principal events in the automobile world since 1895” but felt it right to instead focus on how the industry could contribute to the war effort.
Issue 1693, 13th April 1928
One of the most important milestones in Autocar’s history: the issue in which we invented the road test. The first subject was an Austin Seven Gordon England Sunshine Saloon with a huge 7bhp.
Issue 2500, 1st October 1943
Once again, a landmark issue of Autocar came amid a world war. This time our lead piece was a fret about Britain losing its rural landscape.
Issue 3438, 5th January 1962
The Autocar became just Autocar as the 1960s started to get into its swing – not that we made any mention of it, oddly.
Issue 3665, 13th May 1966
Incredible as it seems in today’s economic climate, Autocar spent its first seven decades carrying adverts on its cover. The first ‘seller’ was an examination of British-built cars.
Issue 4776, 7th September 1988
The Autocar was founded in 1895 and The Motor in 1903. We bought out and merged with our great rival in 1988, although the combined title of Autocar & Motor would last for only six years.
Issue 5000, 25th November 1992
We celebrated our 5000th issue by wistfully looking back over the past 97 years – and celebrating a Car of the Year award for the brilliant Britishbuilt Nissan Micra.
Issue 5151, 1st November 1995
Putting this issue together almost drove Autocar’s staff into an early grave: 400 pages of automotive retrospect from every perceivable and conceivable angle.
Issue 5935, 2nd March 2011
We celebrated our landmark 5000th road test in style, with the fastest car we’ve evaluated to date: the quad-turbocharged 8.0-litre W12 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
Issue 6435 - 4th November 2020
The latest anniversary issue was produced remotely, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and featured a limited-edition reprint of the very first issue of Autocar. We brought news of Bowler's first project under Land Rover ownership, drove the Audi RS E-tron GT and road-tested the Alpina B3 Touring.