By on June 30, 2009

MediaWeek reports that Detroit’s “troubles” have put the hurt on Car and Driver and Road & Track ad bucks. “With auto advertising down 47.5 percent in print in Q1, per Publishers Information Bureau, the car books could use help. Through July, Car and Driver’s ad pages fell 20.7 percent to 451, per the Mediaweek Monitor (rival pub Automobile was down 34.1 percent, to 289). ‘Things have been paralyzed a little bit with what’s been going on in Detroit,’ [chief brand officer John] Driscoll said.” Understatement much?

That said, the fraternal car mags are making some movement towards reacting to the fact that their two-month lead time mires them in the La Brea Tar Pits section of our digital landscape. “[The] 1.3-million circ Car and Driver and 723,245-circ Road & Track will upgrade their paper stock and downplay news in favor of features like Focal Point, a new photo spread in Road & Track which will be sold online. Both titles also will relaunch their Web sites this summer.” Note: if those numbers are legit, TTAC lags Road & Track monthly circulation by a mere 106,316 readers.

[Thanks to StephenT for the link.]

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12 Comments on “Buff Books Buffeted by Bailout...”

  • avatar

    C&D has been on the decline for years. The similarities between them and GM are too numerous to be coincidental.

    Trouble is, even retro is now passe. Daved E. Davis writing about the Camaro?? You can’t go back again!

  • avatar

    All of the major US car mags are bad. Because they are so utterly dependent on advertising they simply cannot afford to trash cars that deserve it.

    The worst example in recent history was during the launch of the Solstice. Every magazine absolutely gushed over that car, and it was always ranked ahead of the Miata in comparisons. If the facts that the top didn’t work and the transmission had all the finesse of a Russian tractor were mentioned at all, it was a short sentence, quickly followed by “how great is this car!!!!!!”

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The car magazines are not suffering from the bailouts, they are suffering from irrelevance. The funny thing is, their editors all make fun of Consumer Reports.

    CR gets the last laugh. A reader supported publication which takes no advertising continues to fulfill its mission and balance the books.

  • avatar

    I subscribed to R&T and C&D for decades but canceled back in the late nineties. I realized that the reviews were formulaic and that the the magazines were heavily beholden to their advertisers. I was also tired of the over-representation of low-production niche cars that were fun to look at and dream about owning, but that I would never own.

    That’s also the time frame when it was becoming easy to get information on the internet. That information was not necessarily more reliable or less biased, but at least it was likely to come from owners of the vehicles rather than sycophantic auto journalists on paid junkets.

    I’ll acknowledge that internet car forums tend to skew the negative about particular models simply because people are more likely to participate in those forums when they have a problem or complaint, but the information is still useful.

    When I’m thinking about buying a car, I read everything I can find, but I don’t give much credibility to reviews in traditional car mags.

  • avatar

    If I could read TTAC while waiting at the doctor’s office (w/o bringing a laptop) I’d have no use for R&T whatsoever.

  • avatar


    Get and iPhone and you can read TTAC in the doctors office. I do it all the time. It was especially nice being able to read TTAC last week waiting in lines at Disney :-)

  • avatar

    @Atomicblue :

    It’s not limited to the iPhone. Any phone with a web browser and a data plan works just fine. I often read TTAC on my Nokia E90.

  • avatar

    Forgive me but I still love my subscription to C&D, most of what you boys have said is true but they still employ some funny mf-ers who write good copy.

  • avatar

    When Peter Egan retires, Road & Track is going to have a BIG subscription renewal problem.

    I subscribe to car magazines more for good writing about my favorite topic than to find out what car I should buy that I can’t afford. I’ve seen a steady decline in quality and quantity of content over the past few years.

    My last Car and Driver arrived last week, and my final Auto(bi)Week showed up this morning. The outrageous tests and humor of old have become too few and far between.

    Did Auto(bi)Week really think I wouldn’t notice the page count decline just a few issues into the new biweekly format? If it wasn’t for the weekly fix of car “news”, I would have said sayonara AW soon after Satch Carlson’s exit many moons ago.

    I’ve kept Automobile for Ezra Dyer and Jamie Kitman, and R&T is still around for my monthly Egan fix. But the page counts are way down, and while I used to horde car mags, they now hit the recycle bin within a week (with the exception of Grassroots Motorsports).

  • avatar


    I can read TTAC with my W380i… it’s not what you’d call a great reading experience, due to screen size, but being able to read it outside a PC is nice.

  • avatar

    fiasco- Ditto on the Egan comments. Simanitis is the only other person there that can write.

    I like that DED is back at CD, writes well even when I (often) disagree. Will miss Bedard.

    Davekaybsc -Hmmmm-may want to go back and read the Slostice (sic) vs. Miata articles.
    Yes, they did gush pathetically over the the portly Poncho but I don’t think the Miata lost a single comaprison. It’s fundamental strengths overwhelmed the Poncho’s only clear advantage, looks.

    Take care.


  • avatar

    Completely agree that the buff books have gone downhill. The writing is so dry lately.

    The reason I still keep C&D is that it still seems to be the best place to catch up on the latest car releases, if not necessarily the latest car news. Sites like TTAC do nice reviews, and awesome editorials. But I can’t reall come on here to find out that Porsche just released a limited edition Boxster with 15 more hp, or that the G37 is available in covertible form. I can do that with C&D.

    Having said that, I’ve gotten used to real-time event coverage on the net. There’s a bit too much nostalgia when I pick up a C&D magazine in April and read about January’s Detroit Auto Show (which I attended and had already forgotten about months prior).

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