Also in my garage: Simon Taylor’s classic car magazines

| 10 Aug 2022
Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: Simon Taylor’s classic car magazines

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Faded under ivy and drooping branches, only a weathered green sliding door points to a space at the bottom of Simon Taylor’s garden for the storage of automobilia.

His famous ‘Stovebolt Special’ HWM sits on a central turntable, facing the entrance, and is flanked on one side by a shimmering Bright Blue Metalline AC Ace 2.6, and on the other by a ’69 Chevrolet Corvette C3 Stingray and 1937 Bentley Gurney Nutting Rothschild Sedanca Coupé.

There is just one small corner devoted to the necessary tools of maintenance, with a neat decoration of spanners on the wall; every other elevation is decorated with the textured colours of professionally bound magazines.

Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: Simon Taylor’s classic car magazines
Bound volumes insulate Taylor’s AC Ace, that shares garage space with his Chevrolet Corvette C3 Stingray, Bentley Gurney Nutting Rothschild Sedanca Coupé and ‘Stovebolt Special’ HWM

“I started collecting car magazines when I was, I suppose, about four,” says Taylor. “My uncle, who got The Autocar every week, was throwing away a pile so I said I wanted them – I couldn’t read but I liked the pictures. The seed-corn of those early Autocars is in that corner over there.”

Apart from the very first editions, from the late 1890s, the collection is a complete, hardback expanse that covers the wall to the far corner, where it eventually meets other publications.

One of those is the copy of Sports Car Graphic that landed in Taylor’s boarding-school mailbox with a certain HWM-Chevrolet on the front cover – the car that now resides in his garage.

Alongside complete runs of American Motor Trend, Road & Track, and Car and Driver up to the 2010s, there are French magazines, particularly those from the 1970s including L’Automobile, Rétroviseur and Automobile Historique, and Japanese curiosities from the ’90s such as the quarterly Super Car Graphic.

As enthusiasm for cars and the magazines that contained them developed into a career that led to Taylor heading up Haymarket Magazines, including the purchase of the Autocar business itself from IPC Media, his collection followed his interests – and resources.

“I was in a very lucky position because all these things used to get sent in and the editorial department would look at them then throw them away,” he recalls. “So I instructed them to throw them at me.”

Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: Simon Taylor’s classic car magazines
Taylor’s HWM ‘Stovebolt Special’ once featured on the cover of Sports Car Graphic – copies of Classic & Sports Car are kept in the house and are, of course, bound

“I also love obscure, failed British magazines,” continues Taylor. “There have been a lot of them that started and stopped.” Flash-in-the-pan publications such as Redline and Top Wheels sit just as proudly, if more briefly, on the shelves.

Of course, classic publications from Haymarket including the weekly broadsheet Auto Classic and the significant Old Motor are also here, but the green-bound volumes of Classic & Sports Car, which Taylor founded, are kept indoors.

Taylor admits that he’s always been bad at throwing things away, but he is at least good at putting them in order. While a few magazines have been let go over the years, the majority that remain have been neatly bound into volumes – and always by the same person: John Robinson of Robinson Bookbinders in Mytchett, Surrey.

“He used to charge me £2 a volume, though that’s gone up a bit since,” Taylor laughs. “If you don’t bind them, then you lose control, with piles building up everywhere.”

More than 50 years of collecting and, particularly in the 1970s when old magazines were cheap, buying might now seem to have been devalued in today’s digital world, where even the full collections of Autocar and Classic & Sports Car are available online.

But for Taylor there’s little comparison: “There’s no greater pleasure than sitting down with one of these vast volumes, with a drink, and you just get lost in a wonderful landscape of the past.”

Images: Max Edleston


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