What Car? and Classic & Sports Car magazines record impressive ABC circulation rises

  • Haymarket Automotive titles shine in 2021 ABC circulation audit, recording 7.4% and 2.9% rises for What Car? and Classic & Sports Car respectively
  • What Car? rise comes despite new car buying market being severely restricted by pandemic and semiconductor chip shortages
  • Best-selling Classic & Sports Car grows market-leading position
  • Weekly Autocar records 3.5% digital growth in tough market
  • All titles defy lockdowns and restrictions during second year of pandemic

What Car? and Classic & Sports Car magazines have increased their circulations, according to the latest audited ABC figures.

Both Haymarket Automotive monthly titles surged despite incredibly turbulent market conditions, with pandemic restrictions including lockdowns and travel restrictions, including at airports where sales of monthly titles are traditionally strong.

What Car?’s performance also defied an incredibly challenging new car sales market, with the availability of new cars heavily restricted as a result of semiconductor chip shortages, highlighting its ongoing strength as a trusted resource of information for car buyers.

Rachael Prasher, Managing Director of Haymarket Automotive, said: “These figures are a testament to the hard work that everyone has put in over these tumultuous past years. Producing a magazine at any time is hard, but doing it in a pandemic harder still.

“To emerge with more people buying these magazines despite the challenges is nothing short of remarkable. It underlines What Car?’s unrivalled position in the market as the consumer car buying champion, and re-emphasises Classic & Sports Car’s pre-eminence among its competitors as the title of choice.”

What Car?’s growth was driven by a 9.4% rise in off-the-shelf sales in the shops, and a 11.7% rise in digital subscriptions. Steve Huntingford, Editor, What Car? said: “We’ve worked hard to redesign and refine the magazine, never losing our laser focus on putting the needs of car buyers at the heart of every decision. To record an ABC rise when substantially fewer cars are actually being sold as a result of parts shortages underlines our belief that nobody reviews cars for real-world car buyers as relevantly as we do.”

Reflecting on 2.9% growth, notably driven by a 6.2% rise in off-the-shelf purchases, Alastair Clements, Editor in chief, Classic & Sports Car, said: “Producing an enthusiasts’ title that relies to a large degree on testing cars and being out and about at events during lockdowns and restrictions has been incredibly challenging, but these results reaffirm our position as leaders in the market and are a huge testament to the efforts of a tight-knit team that has at times worked miracles over the past 12 months.”

Leading weekly title Autocar was marginally down year-on-year, posting a 3.4% fall having been hit harder by the lockdowns early in the year. Weekly magazines felt the squeeze of reduced in-store footfall more than monthlies. This was compounded by ongoing suppressed sales through travel outlets, a traditionally strong area for Autocar. However, it once again recorded a rise in digital subscribers, with more than 7000 people reading the magazine online each week as a result of a 3.5% rise overall.

Chris Daniels, Chief Revenue Officer for Haymarket Automotive, concluded: “The market-leading reputation of our brands is built off the back of the huge consumer followings they have built up. To record such positive results in the most difficult of times underlines once again the dedication of their teams and the loyalty and engagement of their readers.

“These results give us huge amounts of positive energy as we strive to have an even better 2022, and demonstrate once again that Haymarket Automotive’s titles have access to the very biggest and best audiences.” 


About What Car?  

What Car? is the UK’s leading consumer motoring champion and new car buying platform, reaching car buyers through its magazine, website, video and social media channels. It has been helping Britain’s car buyers to make purchasing decisions for more than 45 years and its reviews are widely regarded as the most comprehensive source of new car advice. It launched its Car of the Year Awards in 1978 and has run them every year since. offers verdicts and data on every new car, and has won numerous awards and accolades. It attracts 2.2m unique users and more than 12m page impressions every month.

What Car? has more than 5.5 million monthly points of contact with its audience on the move, at work, at home and at the crucial point of sale. It is the top performing monthly on the UK newsstand in the motoring category.

About Classic & Sports Car

Founded in 1982, Classic & Sports Car is the world’s best-selling and most respected classic car magazine.

Based in the UK, it’s sold in 66 countries worldwide and has editions in France, Russia and Hong Kong.

Its team are all passionate classic cars owners and fans, deeply and genuinely immersed in the subject and enjoying nothing more than sharing that passion, or discussing absolutely anything classic car-related with like-minded enthusiasts.

About Autocar

Autocar is the essential news, reviews, entertainment and reference title for committed car buyers and enthusiasts everywhere. It specialises in revealing the secrets of new cars, while its famous road tests are used by the industry and consumers alike as the authoritative benchmark.

Autocar’s readers are recognised as the most influential in the UK. The knowledge they glean from the magazine and pass on leads to thousands of car purchases a year.

Autocar has 13 editions worldwide, and its fast-growing website means Autocar now has 3.3 million readers a month, viewing 12.9 million pages.

About Haymarket Media Group

Haymarket Media Group is a privately-owned media, data and information company, providing remarkable content to specialist audiences across the world. The company has 1,300 employees across offices in the UK, US, Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Germany.

Haymarket’s portfolio consists of more than 70 market-leading brands including What Car?CampaignMyCME and Asian Investor.

Through live, digital, print, education, data, tech services, video and audio, Haymarket’s brands inspire, inform and empower clients and communities internationally.

Media Enquiries:

Tara Geoghegan, Communications Manager, Haymarket Media Group 

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