First of the month, twelve times a year. . .
Due to the exigencies of printing schedules, this page has to be printed before the Racing Car Show opens and before the Monte Carlo Rally finishes. So, it being impossible to devote it to such matters of the moment, it seems opportune to use it to explain some aspects of Motor Sport policy.
There are purists who would like us to deal with only the fastest cars. However, it is our contention that motoring sport embraces all aspects of driving competitively or for enjoyment, as distinct from using a car as a substitute for train or coach. Indeed, a leader of industry (we must have upset him!), once tried to offend us by proclaiming publicly that the only motor sport he knew is that done in the back of a limousine with the blinds drawn…. And if we were to concentrate on Ferraris, Maseratis and suchlike, to the exclusion of lesser cars, readership would be drastically reduced, because few can afford, fewer still do full justice to, such cars. Advertising would then fall off, the size of the paper would have to be reduced, and its price would go up…
Consequently, we think we are right in covering as many aspects of motoring as possible and cars of all kinds. Nor does the Editor believe in publishing questionnaires which seek to discover what readers think they want. Such enquiries are replied to only by extremists, while satisfied readers ignore them. The outcome is that a paper’s character is altered to please the minority and it soon becomes unpalatable to satisfied customers who previously supported it. And a change of policy is nearly always fatal. For example, The Cyclecar, which claimed a circulation of 100,000 from its first number in 1912 and became the popular Light Car, the photographic front cover of which has never been equalled, for years confined itself to cars of up to 1,500 c.c. Later it became over-ambitious and sought to embrace bigger cars. It dwindled, and died with the war. . . .
The motor-car is man’s most-coveted possession after his wife and home. Consequently, even in times of slump, cars sell, petrol is burned and the ancillary trades prosper. A motor paper has it both ways—when times are prosperous advertisers take space to publicise their products. When times are grim, it is even more essential to publicise the product, while those unfortunates who have to sell their cars advertise them in the motoring press. You can’t lose! Therefore, in recent years, publishers have clambered on this lucrative band wagon; but Motor Sport still has the largest A.B.C. certified net sales of any British motor journal.
We have achieved this by honest, fearless reporting and road-testing, by accurate coverage of Grand Prix motor-racing (very necessary, it seems, for after the recent S. African G.P., four different weeklies between them gave two different race-winning speeds [varying by as much as 2 m.p.h.], two different types of winning Lotus, two different times for the fastest lap, two variations of Hill’s 3rd-place time and two different drivers and cars as finishing in 15th place), and by devoting reasonable space to vintage-car affairs, current and contemporary.
We have had our moments, of course. One of Britain’s biggest motor corporations once barred us from testing its products because it thought we had been too outspoken about a couple of them. Today, all is forgiven and we are thus able to publicise its outstanding modern products. We have fought, and won, libel actions. We were wrongly accused of German sponsorship when, in the 1950s, we declared the VW to be better than any British family car. We have dared to spotlight unfair police methods and discriminating magistrates. For years Rolls-Royce chose to ignore us for no apparent reason. But they have at last allowed the Editor to be carried in a Cloud up to Crewe.
As we enter our 41st year the policies which built Motor Sport‘s readership to its present level remain unchanged.
We shall be out on the first of the month, twelve times this year, with no increase in price. Our strength has been sustained by the support of our readers, who have read us, written to us and chided us when necessary, through more than four exciting, incident-packed motoring decades.