THE END OF THE ROAD AFTER 31 YEARS FOR CMM
IT IS WITH A DEEP SADNESS and huge regret that I write to you today, to tell you the terrible news that the magazine that Ann and I established 31 years ago, Classic Motor Monthly incorporating The Autojumbler has now ceased publication, writes CMM editor John Hodson.
We are absolutely devastated as I am sure many of you - loyal readers for most of those years - will be also. But here we are, the work of a lifetime; destroyed by the pandemic.
When I last contacted you earlier this year, we were still hopeful that CMM would rise from the ashes of a truly turbulent 2020, but the last burning embers of hope were extinguished last month.
Our unique position in the enthusiasts world - since April 1989, the best publication for shows and events in the UK - has, in this awful, awful year proved to be our undoing. It would not be hyperbolic to lay claim to CMM having helped create a vast swathe of the classic events market, hundreds every year, as it stood prior to the pandemic.
Like all businesses, there have been ups and downs, but CMM, produced by a small team - myself, wife Ann, plus one full time employee and a group of freelance contributors - on a tight budget, has been, by and large, successful. Last year, our 30th year of unbroken publication, with the knowledge that we could not go on forever, we attempted to lay the foundations of handing over CMM to a larger publishing house in an attempt to secure the title's future. We were optimistic. However with talks ongoing, 2020 took a grim turn.
Unprecedented is a word often bandied about in this time of pandemic, but there really is no other word to describe the effect of the Prime Minister’s announcement of lockdown on March 23 this year. With the April issue just hours from print, the tap was suddenly turned off - all events advertising was cancelled as were the ads for a number of regular traders, running scared at the prospect of lockdown. Overnight, April issue could only be produced at a loss, and a loss CMM could not afford. Publication was suspended.
Thus, CMM hunkered down, attempting to ride out what we assumed would be a temporary lockdown with the likelihood of resuming in 4-5 months at worst. But the situation worsened with event after event being cancelled, further and further down the line with no prospect that CMM could return without making heavy losses.
As we fretted about what was to come, in July, Ann and I suffered a shattering blow with the sudden and shocking death of our 28-year-old son James, which knocked the fight out of us. James worked for us for a while; some of you may remember him, first as a small child accompanying us at events, and later as a friendly face on our stand at shows up and down the country, helping to distribute complimentary copies.
Grief-stricken, we nevertheless had to address CMM's future. Each and every day brought more and more bad news and it became clear that the prospect of the events scene returning soon receding - indeed, the whole of 2020 held little prospect. With finances fast running out, the only thing to do was to try and save our lifes' work any way we could.
We reached out to the two publishing houses who had previously shown enormous interest. It was then our last hopes were shattered. Such is the current perilous state of publishing and the classic car industry - and in particular that part of the industry on which we built CMM - that sadly not only were neither interested in taking on the title, but both declined when we offered CMM, lock, stock, and barrel, to them free of charge.
From a business with a six figure turnover in February to one that Ann and I could not give away, in just six months. Incredible; unprecedented indeed.
It’s clear right now that classic events will not return significantly this year, nor for the foreseeable future, possibly another 12 months, and even then, it may never return to the level it previously enjoyed - some events will not survive this financial shock. More than one non-events advertiser has told us that they will be switching their ad budget to online advertising predominantly. The aftershocks of this pandemic will be far reaching.
For the past 27 years, to help bolster income during slacker winter months, CMM has also produced the popular ‘CMM Events Almanac’ a listing of events for the year, given free to subscribers every February - the 'bible' of classic events. With so much uncertainty still swirling, there is zero prospect that it could be produced for the 2021 season; another nail in CMM’s coffin.
To say we are devastated is a vast understatement; this has been our life’s work for 31 years, stolen from us by events no-one could possibly have anticipated - we are desperately and bitterly sorry to let down our loyal subscribers and readers, Garry in advertising, our brilliant team of writers and columnists; believe us when I tell you this is the last thing we wanted.
Inconceivably, 2020 has seen us lose our means of income for the past three decades, our jobs, and our beloved son. To bow out ignominiously on such a low note is depressing and, indeed, shaming, though we tried our best to save CMM for you all, plainly it was not enough. And for that we can only offer all of you our sincere and heartfelt apologies.
We thank you each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and friendship down those 31 years - our very best wishes for the future, whatever it may hold.
Stay safe, stay well.
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