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HISTORY

New Zealand Hot RodWHETHER you agree with me or not, I believe the NZ Hot Rod magazine has played the greatest role in fostering the sport as we know it in this country. With a 'change of the guard' in recent times, after 41 years, I thought it was an opportune time to look back at the history of NZ's longest established retail auto magazine and the role it has played in the growth of hot rodding here...
By Bruce Taylor, Tauranga

THE sport in NZ dates back to the mid 1950s and was somewhat influenced by articles in Popular Mechanics magazines.

These were readily available in bookshops and often contained articles on modifying cars and drag racing.

Hot Rod magazines were hard to find in the fifties as the country was desperate to conserve its overseas funds, and the decision makers at the time probably thought the likes of Popular Mechanics would appeal to the masses.

The NZ Hot Rod Association was formed in 1960.

They tried hard to promote the sport but by 1962 there were still only two clubs joined up in the north island,Auckland and Hamilton Hot Rod Clubs.

North Shore followed, then Wellington and Hawkes Bay, yet by 1967 there were still only nine clubs in the country.

But things were about to change.

In Early 1967 four hot rod enthusiasts got together to establish the nation’s first hot rod magazine.

In a way they were entrepreneurs but not for empire building wants; they simply saw it was timely for our own rod mag as the seed was blossoming.

Their magazine catered for any hot rodding and fledgling drag racing plus ‘fringe’ autosport activities of the time like hillclimbs, speedway and Allcomer racing at the Grand Prix, which was seldom recognised by NZ’s other magazine, Motorman.

What they possibly didn’t recognise at that time, was the magazine would become the missing link or voice for hot rod enthusiasts throughout the country.

NZ Hot RodThe original four as listed in volume one, number one - April/May 1967 were Bob Rossiter editor, Harvie Ferguson circulation manager, Rob Campbell executive editor, and Gene Campbell production manager.

Four chiefs, no Indians, but one scout - a Wellington correspondent Roger Hermansen.

That first magazine, priced at 25 cents, was only 16 pages long and a mere 1,500 copies were circulated around the country.

An idea had become reality with very little capital outlay and by issue number two the page numbers almost doubled and its future was looking good.

For the first two years the mag was produced bi-monthly and was compiled on a part-time basis.

That is,nights and weekends, and don’t give up your day job just yet.

Initially Rob’s day job was industrial designer at Fisher & Paykel, then commercial artist at Campbell Creative, which was an art studio run by his brother Gene.

After the introduction of the magazine,clubs sprouted up around the whole country and by December 1968 there were 25 affiliated to NZHRA.

This was a rapid growth in our sport, and in my opinion, clearly a result of a local mag featuring all facets of hot rodding right here in NZ.

Two years after its inception the mag had a solid base but was still not a viable financial entity.

The decision was made to form a publishing company and for the mag to be monthly.

The Campbell Publishing logo first appeared on Dec 68/Jan 69 issues and from Feb 69 it became a monthly magazine.

It was produced from a small office at 55 Upper Queen St, Auckland.

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