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Cheers to 50 years: Celebrating Old Cars' long-haul readers

Old Cars has turned 50, and there are many of you that have been with us since the beginning. We thank you and celebrate your allegiance to the number one source for old cars hobby news and features.

Back in 1971, Chet Krause of Iola, Wis., wished to diversify his publishing company after a downturn in the coin-collecting hobby jeopardized his coin-publishing business and the livelihood of himself and his employees. Since he enjoyed old cars (he collected Model T Fords), Chet decided Krause Publications needed a car magazine. With that, he founded Old Cars, the first successful newspaper dedicated to the car-collecting hobby. After hiring Dave Brownell as editor, he set to work creating the publication. A pilot issue with humorous “faux” classified ads was created to get attention, then an official first issue (complete with legitimate ads) was published for October 1971. To give his new publication traction, Krause handed issues out to people walking between fields at the AACA Fall Hershey meet in Hershey, Pa. He also bought Spoke Wheels and incorporated its mailing list into that of Old Cars.

The first newspaper-size issues of Old Cars were published on a monthly basis, then it moved to a twice-monthly schedule in 1973. In 1978, Old Cars became Old Cars Weekly to reflect its new frequency with the Feb. 21 issue. It was religiously published on a weekly schedule until 2012, when it began a publishing schedule of 48 times per year. By 2015, Old Cars Weekly was being published 39 times a year and when it returned to a twice-monthly schedule in 2020, the name was changed back to Old Cars, as the publication had been originally named. From 1971 to this issue, an estimated 2,290 issues of Old Cars/Old Cars Weekly have been published.

Over those 2,290 issues, Old Cars has undergone several size changes. The first change occurred with the Oct. 3, 1991, issue, when the publication went from its original 11 x 17-in. size to 11 x 15-in. For 1994, the size changed to 14 x 11 in., and that was short-lived, because by the Nov. 9, 1995, issue, the size had changed again, this time to a 11 x 12-in. tabloid.

In the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world, times had changed, and Old Cars had to change with it. Due to the threat of anthrax being sent through the mail, the United States Postal Service designed new machines with “scrubbers” that could not automatically process a tabloid publication. Old Cars changed to a magazine size to avoid having to be hand-sorted, a very expensive process which would have raised the subscription price of a weekly publication to more than $100. So, with the April 15, 2010, issue, Old Cars became an 10-3/4 x 8-in. magazine. Glossy pages have finally become part of the package, but Old Cars remains in this magazine format.

Through the changing world, the changing hobby, the changing size of Old Cars and its changing staff, a surprisingly large number of readers have remained loyal subscribers for 50 years. That devotion is especially impressive when one factors in the adverse affects of the internet upon print publications. Many beloved automotive publications have vanished in the 20th Century, but thanks to Old Cars’ many steadfast readers, the publication remains strong 50 years later.

The Old Cars staff wishes to thank all of its readers, regardless of the length of their readership, but especially those who have been with Old Cars through all of its changes over 50 years. The following are letters from every charter subscriber and very early subscriber who contacted us to share the longevity of their readership. These letters represent just a sampling of the many fellow hobbyists that the Old Cars staff has the privilege of serving with each issue.

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I don’t know when I first subscribed, but I have several stacks of Old Cars over waist high. I looked through a few of them and the oldest one I saw is dated June 1972 — almost 50 years. The price was 50 cents per copy, or $4 per year.

I have always enjoyed the articles and “Otto Mechanic.”

I have been selling NOS mechanical parts since 1957 and have gone to your advertisers in the “wanted” columns. I am 90 years old and still selling.

Keep up the good work.

Lester J. Harris, Minden, Nev.

I knew Chet Krause before he started Old Cars newspaper. I have been a lifetime subscriber and have attended all Iola car shows. I remember and knew many of the first Old Cars staffers: Bob Lichty, Kenny Buttolph, Terry Boyce up to Angelo Van Bogart.

I’m 82 years old and still a reader.

Thank you, Old Cars, for all the stories and information through the years.

Gary Nehring, Appleton, Wis.

I am an old fan of Old Cars, right from the beginning. I had just returned from Vietnam while serving in the U.S. Navy and once discharged, started working for a commercial printer. One of the pressman was a car nut, like me. He owned a beautiful 1958 Impala. He gave copies of Old Cars (it was tabloid-size and came out every week). I loved getting it and decided to get my own subscription. The rest is history. Been with Old Cars all this time. It was in 1970.

I gave my copies to a friend of mine for awhile. Now he has his own subscription.

Helmut Boehl, Tucson Ariz.

I have been a non-stop subscriber since 1971, and have seen many changes over the years (all good).

Keep up the good work. I always look forward to the next issue of Old Cars.

David Vollenweider, San Jose, Calif.

I’m one of those original subscribers to Old Cars from 1971. As I remember, I received in the mail an offer to subscribe, in answer to which I subscribed. At the time, I had two 1927 Ford Model Ts (a Tudor and a coupe) in various states of restoration. I’ve learned an awful lot from Old Cars over the 50 years, and have enjoyed every issue. Presently, I have a 1947 Studebaker Champion Regal Deluxe four-door. The body has been restored and repainted, but the inside is original. Keep up the good work.  

Don Ryman, Buchanan, Mich.

I have been an Old Cars subscriber for nearly the entire run of the publication. In 1973, when I was a student at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, I was working part time at the post office. Copies of Old Cars newspaper were coming through the sort area for distribution. The top copy of all periodical bundles at that time had a generic sort label indicating the zip code location for delivery of the whole stack. That copy (and the same with other magazines) would end up in the break room for employees to read. I asked if I could have the Old Cars copy. Permission was granted and I took it home, read it and subscribed. I have subscribed and read Old Cars for nearly 50 years. I have owned many collectible cars over those years... and still have the first car that I bought while in high school in 1968: a 1949 Studebaker Champion four-door. Keep up the great work and fine publication for the next 50 years!  

Kirk VanGundy, Adel, Iowa

I was at the very first Iola car show as a guest of Chet Krause, and he bought us a pork chop dinner (I do not think they had chicken at the first two shows). I have been to every show until two years ago, and a subscriber of Old Cars from the very first one (the pilot issue), which had a lot of substituted fake ads with no address or phone numbers.

Cletus Vanerem, via email

I want to include myself as an early 1971 subscriber to Old Cars, at which time I lived in Chicago. I continued to subscribe for most of the rest of my life while I lived in Algonquin, Ill., and then Mesa, Ariz.

I am also the guy who teamed up with John Gunnell and Frank Malatesta of Horseless Carriage Carriers in 1990 to publish Krause Publications’ very first orange-covered wreck photo book titled “Antique Car Wrecks.”

Randy Fleischhauer, Mesa, Ariz.

I was at the 1971 AACA Fall Hershey meet and picked up the free initial copy of Old Cars. I remember lots of red ink on the front sheet.

 My Hershey goal in ’71 was to find a 1937 Chevrolet, which I did, and still have. 1937 was the oldest-looking style of Chevrolet with a modern running gear. I wanted running boards, free-standing headlamps and vertical grille, as well as safety glass, hydraulic brakes and a well-engineered engine.  A Chevy from 1937 was the only year that fit my specs.

 Working on the Chevy was more satisfying than my day job, so I eventually quit that to open my restoration shop. I’ve met some wonderful people, as well as a few with unrealistic expectations. The past 50 years has been a wonderful ride.

Bob Adler, Adler’s Antique Autos, Inc., Stephentown N.Y.

I think I subscribed, by mail, to the first Old Cars issue. If I recall rightly, there was a special offer by mail, which I accepted. At the time, I had two 1927 Model T Fords that I was doing amateur restorations on.

Don Ryman, Buchanan, Mich.

I am not a charter subscriber to Old Cars, but I am an early subscriber. In January 1972, I was in the U.S. Army stationed in Hawaii. I was reading an auto-related magazine when I saw a small ad soliciting subscriptions to Old Cars. I have always enjoyed learning about old cars and reading history, so I immediately sent in my request. I received my first issue in late January or early February, 1972. I have been a continuous subscriber ever since. 

I served in the Army until 1986 and Old Cars was mailed to me wherever I was stationed in the United States or overseas. Hometown newspapers and publications such as Old Cars were considered “boat mail,” and were sent overseas by boat instead of air. During my overseas tours in Germany and Korea, I would go several weeks without receiving an issue, and then receive about six or eight issues at a time.

When I began subscribing to Old Cars, it was a monthly publication in a newspaper format. It has gone through several changes in appearance and frequency of publication over the years, but I have always enjoyed receiving it. I remember with great fondness some of the early regular columns. Henry Austin Clark, Jr. had an unsurpassed knowledge of early automobiles. His column, “Young Nuts and Old Bolts,” was full of history and stories about early automobiles, and the people associated with them. I thought Rolland Jerry’s articles about old trucks were especially interesting. I didn’t know much about the history of trucks, and his articles were always well written, well illustrated and very informative. Perhaps “The Old Filling Station,” by Bob Horvorka, was my favorite column. The articles were full of tips and written in a homey, comfortably nostalgic way, especially those that told a story involving Mr. Miller. I always looked forward to reading that column, and missed it when it was gone.  

There have been a lot of changes in Old Cars over the past 50 years. Cars that sold new in 1971, and even much later, are now considered collectible “antiques.” Old Cars has kept pace with the changes and is still one of the best old car publications out there. I hope Old Cars continues to be a source of information about old cars and a voice for the old car hobby for at least another 50 years.  

Ron Seekins, Oregon, Wis.

I am writing to add my name to the list of charter subscribers to Old Cars.  I don’t remember if I had attended that 1971 Fall Hershey meet, but I probably did.  I don’t know how else I would have known about the publication.

I kept every issue of Old Cars for years, but the collection got so large, I did weed out the majority of issues. I do have the first edition and many milestone editions though the years. Examples are the last of the full-size tabloid editions, and the first of the smaller format. 

Thank you for so many years of interesting reading about old cars. Keep up the good work.

Don Warnaar, Garfield, N.J.

I signed up to Old Cars either at Hershey in 1971, or when Chet Krause sent out his first promo mailing. For many years, I had all the issues from Vol. 1, No. 1, but they have been lost over time. I still have the six “Best of Old Cars” anthologies you published some years ago. 

Bob Joynt, via email

Congratulations on the upcoming 50th year for Old Cars! Quite an accomplishment! I’ve been a subscriber since the beginning, and still have Vol. 1, No. 1. I look forward to each issue.

Dave Sinclair, Edsel Owners Club cofounder and past national president

Please add me to the list of original subscribers. I subscribed to Old Cars as soon as it was offered in 1971. Since then, it has followed me from Wisconsin, to Southern California, and now into retirement in Oregon. It’s better than ever.

Thanks for the memories.

Denny Napier, Roseburg, Ore.

I saw the editor’s request for names of original Old Cars subscribers. I was there, at Fall Hershey, for the first one and every year since.

Steve Newell, Lexington, Mass.

I received my free sample copy of Old Cars at the Antique Car Parts Shop in Woodinville, Wash. I subscribed immediately and have never broken my subscription. For some reason I still call it “Old Cars Weekly.

Congratulations at 50!

Richard B. Smith, Hessel, Mich.

I’m not quite an “early” (1971) subscriber, but I have been a continuous subscriber to Old Cars since July/August of 1978, when the publication schedule was “every other week” (or, like it is now, twice monthly).

Ed Thompson, Greenfield, Wis.

Just want to add my name to the list of early subscribers to Old Cars magazine.

Dave Hoptak, Orwigsburg, Pa.

I have been a subscriber to Old Cars for a long time. I don’t remember the exact date I started my subscription, but I can narrow it down to approximately 1976-1978. I was grocery shopping one evening and stopped by the magazine section to “treat” myself to a car magazine (I’ve loved cars since I was a little kid in the 1950s). I saw an ad in the back of the magazine to subscribe to Old Cars. I mailed in my subscription, and have greatly enjoyed the magazine ever since. I certainly remember when, for years, Old Cars was in the “tabloid” format. 

My parents lived close to me, and I would often spend Sunday afternoons at their house; I’d always take my issue of Old Cars for my dad, who really enjoyed reading it. 

For 25 years, I was a paralegal (attorneys’ assistant) in an office of the Civil Division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice in downtown Washington, D.C.; I remember chatting with one of the young attorneys one morning, and he mentioned that his dad’s birthday was coming up and he’d like to give him a car-related gift since his dad had an old car. I asked the young attorney, Mark, if his dad subscribed to Old Cars; he didn’t think his Dad did, so the next day, I gave Mark my current issue of Old Cars. I suggested Mark give his dad this issue of Old Cars, and to send in the subscription form for a year’s subscription for his dad. Mark later told me that his dad who, up to that time, had not been familiar with Old Cars, really, really enjoyed his son giving him a subscription to Old Cars.

I remember the column “Somewhere West of Laramie” that used to appear in Old Cars. I have always marveled at the talent of automotive artist Ken Eberts, and every year, I order, from the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pa., Christmas cards with pictures of old cars on the front painted by Ken Eberts. I always receive wonderful comments on these holiday cards.

So, keep up the good work! Like all Old Cars subscribers, I am looking forward to the 50th Anniversary issue.

Larry Lange, Adamstown, Md.

I have been a subscriber to Old Cars Weekly (it will always be Old Cars Weekly to me) since the beginning. I have saved all of my magazines — quite a collection!

I am into Model A Fords, and have copied articles pertaining to the Model A and filed them for quick reference.

Keep up the fine work.

James “Jim” McPherson, via email

I have been reading Old Cars for a long, long time. I remember when the magazine was twice the size it is today.  I am 82 years young and always look forward to getting my Old Cars in the mail. I used to save them all, but about a year ago, started giving them away to friends to let them know how interesting the magazine was. I would like to see how much the cars were going for when the magazine started! 

Thank you for a wonderful magazine.

Russell Shaw, via email

I don’t remember the year I first subscribed to Old Cars, but it was published monthly at the time.

Kenneth F. Morrison, Eagan, Minn.

I have been a 50-Year subscriber to Old Cars. That year, I bought a 1971 Ford F100 with the Ranger package. I bought it new for $2,887 and went on a cross-country trip with it. Within five months, it had 10,000 miles on it. It was a daily summer driver until 1990. It currently has 158,000 miles on it.

David R. Schryver, Alex Bay, N.Y.

A friend, whose a daily driver at the time was a 1962 Chrysler Newport two-door hardtop, introduced me to Old Cars around April 1972. I subscribed about June 1972 and have been a subscriber since. At the time, I owned a 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Town Sedan as a daily driver. Old Cars is the very best! Keep up the great work — I always look forward to the next issue.

Myron M. Kuchera, Marcy, N.Y.

I believe I am an original subscriber to Old Cars. I still have the sample issue from 1971, and a pretty substantial collection of them over 50 years. There sure have been some very interesting articles lately.

Jim Davis, via email

I first was offered the first issue of Old Cars by Krause Publications, the original publisher of Old Cars. I subscribed immediately and still have every issue for those 50 years. I will be 85 years old at the end of this month, and I have been an automobile literature and magazine collector since I was about nine years old. That is when I learned to drive in a 1940 De Soto. Luckily, I was a tall kid and could reach the clutch and see out the windshield with the help of a pillow. I put on a lot of miles before I was old enough to get a license.

In 1971, I was driving a Datsun 240Z with Michelin XAS tires and dual exhaust. I have never owned a car with an automatic transmission and am presently driving a 2017 Volkswagen Golf Sportswagen AWD six-speed.

It is a shame that so many of the automobile magazines have been driven to the internet, as that is a poor substitute for a well-designed magazine. However, the auto manufacturers’ websites offer a wealth of information, and usually offer downloadable brochures, which I add to my collection.

I hope Old Cars will last as long as I do.

Keep up the good work! I look forward to the 50th Anniversary issue.

Frederick W. “Ted” Mansfield, via email

I have all of the Old Cars publications back to 1971, except the issues that the post office lost. They are all packed away in my shop with my three old cars: a 1953 Chevy, a 1966 Corvair and a 1967 El Camino.

Wallace E. Markham, La Pine, Ore.

I have been subscribing to Old Cars since its beginning. At that time, it was a large newspaper. My old car friend, Herb Hansen, and myself would always share stories and prices in Old Cars —it’s a great paper to look forward to as it is today. Great stories. Thanks to all.

Coy Thomas, Port Angeles, Wash.

I was a subscriber to Cars & Parts as well as Spoke Wheels, which was a predecessor to Old Cars, so I guess that makes me a 50-year subscriber. I have enjoyed the magazine for that long and still do. Great publication!

Glenn O. Petersen, Wardell, Mo.

I am 87 years old and have been interested in antique cars, and looking for them, since I was a 68-lb. boy and had lost my father when I was very young. I was one of the first persons around here to look for and collect antique cars. My first was a 1913 Overland touring that was such a nice old car with its original paint and upholstery that I bought for $60 when I was only in seventh grade. At that time, the only publication that advertised antique cars was Motor Trend. Then E.R. (Ernest) Hemmings started a mimeograph paper in 1954 out of Irving, Ill., 75 miles east of my hometown. For years, Ernest Hemmings’ dad sold Model T Ford parts and I used to call him and also advertise in Hemmings. Ernest Hemmings came to know me; I was just a young kid, and he was, too.

Then, several years later, Spoke Wheels came out with a publication each month, or bimonthly. Then a few years later, in 1971, we subscribers were notified that they were selling Spoke Wheels to a man named Chet Krause, who had an old coin magazine and had just started the new publication Old Cars. Chet was also interested in antique cars and old military vehicles.

I have subscribed to Old Cars for as long as it has existed.

Name and address withheld*

*This letter provided great background information and context, so we included it with the wish to remain anonymous by its author.

In regard to the editor’s request for charter subscribers, at the 1971 Fall Hershey meet, my brother and I did, indeed, receive that first complimentary issue. In addition to still having that issue, I am proud to say that I have a copy of every Old Cars/Old Cars Weekly issued since day one!

Do you know anyone else who has saved all of the issues? How many issues have been printed?

John Sutorik, Frankenmuth, Mich.

I have been a subscriber since Old Cars’ first issue. At that time, I had a subscription to Spoke Wheels. As I recall, Chet Krause of Krause Publications bought Spoke Wheels, which included its list of subscribers. Based on that, the remaining issues of my subscription to Spoke Wheels were converted to Old Cars, and I received the first issue in lieu of Spoke Wheels, which then ceased publication.

As an aside, my uncle was Don Knutson, who owned property adjacent to the property Old Cars was published upon, and I could conveniently attend your annual car shows while staying at his home (I lived in Illinois). I recall Krause Publications purchased this property after my uncle passed away, as it was perfect for expanding the car show grounds.

Additionally, I purchased my 1939 LaSalle convertible coupe through an advertisement in Old Cars in 1983 or 1984, and I still have this car.

Ronald Stigler, Lago Vista, Texas

I went into my basement storage to check out my old copies of Old Cars. My subscription started in October 1971.

Karl Sickles, Crown Point, Ind.

Other readers who contacted us to mention they were charter subscribers:

Gary Menkin

Arthur E.Z. R/T Sedmont 

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