As publishers look for ways to charge consumers for content, Source Interlink Cos. is testing the market for high-priced magazines by resurrecting Motor Trend Classic, an erstwhile publication for classic car fans.
Motor Trend Classic published bimonthly from 2005 to 2006 under its former owner, Primedia. It folded after eight issues.
Source plans to relaunch it as a premium-priced, quarterly magazine in March. The magazine be published on high-quality paper stock and will carry only a handful of ads (Dodge, Hagerty among them). But with a cover price of $14.95 for Classic, the bulk of the cost will be footed by the reader.
“Classic was originally done on the American model, where the sell-through rate was rather small,” said Angus MacKenzie, vp, product and audience strategy and editor of Motor Trend and the forthcoming Motor Trend Classic. “It was more ad-reliant. This one, we know there is a core audience there who’s prepared to spend $60 a year on their passion.”
The move echoes that of Sandow Media’s Worth magazine, which relaunched last year on a controlled-circulation model and charges a newsstand cover price of $18.95.
Car enthusiast books have had tough times lately, with deep cuts in automotive spending. In 2009, Motor Trend’s ad pages fell 34 percent to 724 while rival Car and Driver, owned by Hachette Filipacchi Media, fell 22 percent to 808, per the Mediaweek Monitor.
MacKenzie said the advertising market wasn’t a factor in the decision to eschew the ad model for Motor Trend Classic. “We’ve done very well,” he said. “I see the future of print is premium.”
Along with the relaunch, Source announced that it assembled its automotive titles into a single, media-neutral unit, Motor Trend Automotive Group, headed by Ira Gabriel as its senior vp, group publisher.
Source acquired the auto titles as part of a group of 73 enthusiast magazines that it bought from Primedia in 2007 for about $1.2 billion.