NZ Hot Rod – August 2019

(Axel Boer) #1


The Torch is Still Burning
LOOKING back 15 years to to this day
in July 200 4 you’d have found me with
my hands firmly on the wheel of this
magazine for the very first time with
Rob Campbell (RIP) sitting beside me
as we worked together assembling
the very first fully digital magazine
and also the first issue under new
ownership of Hot Rod Publishing.
Liz & I incorporated the new
company on June 2 4 th 200 4 and spent
the following month converting Rob
and Owen’s good preproduction work
from the manual paste-up, film and
print production method over to fully
digital production thanks to Glenn
O’Connor (who is still with us) and all
this while familiarising ourselves with
the controls of one on NZ’s automotive
institutions and longest running car
magazine. Rob’s editorial back then
was titled, “Passing the Torch” and it
was then, and still is today a humbling
experience to be at the helm, and it’s
only made possible by you, and I mean
all of you in whatever role you hold
in our hobby. Together we’ve built a
dynasty which reflects and records the
vibrant colour, texture and personality
of our beloved hobby. Publishing the
NZ Hot Rod magazine is a tough ask
because it’s a niche market in a small
country with a raft of competitors all
vying for a slice of the hot rod pie,
which means it’s a passionate affair and
an indulgence, but we love being the
underdogs and punching above our
weight with some pretty lofty results.
After 52 years of continuous publishing,
we’re the second longest running hot
rod mag on earth after the American
Hot Rod mag. We’re followed by Street
Rodder (USA) in third and Australian
Street Rodding in fourth place. Back in
’04, our first mag was 40 pages, and the
retail price was $5. Today it’s 84 pages
with a retail price of $12. Over those
past 15 years, we’ve featured 6 40 cars
which is significant but is only 20 per
cent of the total 3,1 4 2 featured over
our 52-year history. During our 15-year
tenure, we’ve successfully navigated the

anniversaries of our 5 00th and 600th
issues plus our 50th golden anniversary.
We’re as proud as punch of each and
everything we publish and thank all of
you for your undying support. Looking
back on our footprints the road behind
looks solid, but the view forward may
not. The internet and explosion of
social media platforms sees cars being
featured and listed proudly online as
they’re entered events before that event
has even started. Then event coverage
from multiple sources is shotgunned
straight online, and we’re peppered
with images with little no thought given
to presentation and added information
via captions. (WYSIWYG) What you
see is what you get, and I guess in the
rush to know everything because it’s

available online we’ll become expert
scrollers instead of articulate orators
adept in social skills. I think that
‘expert scroller’ scenario is a useless
outcome. Sure, we can learn to weld or
play the guitar online, but lessons are
hollow without practice, huh! We need
to get out and about more, like Adrian
Gilbert. Most of us contribute back to
the community through supporting
events which donate to charity, and
that’s a good thing, and my hasn’t the
event scene blossomed! In this issue,
I’ve added 60 new events for the 2019-
2020 season to our Upcoming Events
pages so the published total event
count stands at 1 6 8 in this issue and
there’s more to come! Our first mag
in Aug ‘0 4 listed a scant 18 events.
The internet has far-reaching impact
and has contributed to our industries
growth as cashed-up, or equity-rich
baby boomers opt for purchasing

hot rods, classics
and muscle cars, a
process made easy
thanks again to
that internet and a
privilege thanks to
NZ’s importation laws. One key element
of the internet which may astound you
is that the sales of the digital version
of NZ Hot Rod mag, are negligible.
We do lead the pack in this segment
of sales, but the numbers are tiny, and
it seems our readers grew up with
paper and love the tactile feel of it
plus the convenience it offers. It gives
us something to read when there’s a
power cut! Sales of magazines in retail
outlets are slowly declining as casual,
and impulse buyers opt out in favour
of online reading, but conversely, our
subscriber database remains deep and
strong with dedicated hot rodders
still renewing year-after-year. One
bugbear to subscribers is NZ Post:
their regular price increases have been
implemented to offset plummeting
mail volumes, which now means
the cost to mail a magazine is more
than the cost to produce it. NZ Post
unfairly deems a magazine a ‘parcel”
rather than ‘printed matter” which
makes it more expensive than other
countries. But wait, there’s more: NZ
Post increased their prices again this
month and as a kicker demanded that
our subscriber address information
matches their master address database
by a level of 95 per cent. Any accuracy
less than 95 per cent triggers greater
price increases to us, so Liz worked
diligently and solidly for three days to
get our Statement of Accuracy up to
97.5 per cent: bless her cotton socks!
Here’s a case in point: we mailed an
order for four NZ Hot Rod mags to the
USA today, and the retail mailing cost
was NZD $39! These are just some of
the challenges faced by a small business
over the past 15 years and don’t get me
wrong, we by no means have this on
our own, in fact, it’s normal. Despite
the challenges, our hobby is growing
exponentially, and we’re excited about
the future and are chomping at the bit
to get out there amongst it to bring you
the best of hot rodding and present it
the to the highest possible standard.
Small and cool: this is how we roll. PG



By Paul Grace
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