Since the May 2011 passing of Automobile Quarterly publisher Gerry Durnell, AQ has been on a gradual decline while its present owners attempt to seek a buyer. Acquisition prices for the venerable title have reached as high as $1.5M with no takers. With just under 5,500 paid subscribers and an average reader age approaching 70, revamping the brand for the 21st century will pose a challenge for anyone merely willing to assume the sub liability.
Today, CPI just learned that AQ is tied up in an estate settlement, lacking the funds to continue publication.
Has AQ's time come and gone? Perhaps not. While the revamping challenge will prove considerable, a number of new media opportunities could re purpose the brand into 21st century relevance. AQ's mantra was that to serve discerning collectors of fine autos and automobilia, and that market remains strong and affluent.
However, who outside AQ's declining cadre of loyal followers recognize the brand, let alone willing to cough up eighty smackers per year sub price? Yet its premium packaging could be combined with lucrative paid advertising, and with the web becoming an increasingly visual medium (Facebook, Pinterest, blogs), AQ's content library could also represent a handsome online revenue stream. Using a metered system, some percentage will pay for premium content. The question remains, however: What do AQ's assets bring to the table that could not be delivered by web-only start ups? Check out the The Old Motor.
Our library of AQ began around 1970 as a present to my father for that year's Christmas (you could say it was a communal gift). Issues could be ordered with the subscriber's name gold-embossed on the cover. I have a complete set ending with Volume 40. Dick O'Kane's hilarious piece from Volume 8/4 "Grendel" is the stuff of legend.
Let's hope for a new beginning for a publication that held our esteem and captivated our attention for decades.
UPDATE JUNE 8, 2013.
AQ's website is in fact live and continues to solicit subscription income. Shame on you!