WHETHER 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...
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,
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.
The 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
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
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
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,