The “A” Story
In 1974, Ron Smith founded Auto Round-Up Magazine after his home state of West Virginia started a program to rid the area of unsightly old vehicles (referred to as rust buckets) located along the state’s highways. Part of this program was to remove the scenic landscapes of old cars parked along the roadways to help make the mountain state more attractive to tourists. Any automobile that was not running or was not licensed and was parked in sight of the highway was considered an eyesore.
The owners of these vehicles had to either move them or get rid of them. These automobiles were painted and marked with a big white “A” to indicate that they were abandoned and therefore needed to be towed away and crushed for scrap metal.
Smith saw hundreds of cars from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s being taken away to be crushed only because the owners were unable to move them out of sight or sell them to someone who wanted to fix them up. He thought that if there was only some way for people to find out what the different cars were, and where they were located, he was sure that many could be sold to someone wanting to take the time to restore them. Even back then, Smith realized that these cars would be very valuable today.
Smith wanted to save as many of these old cars as he could, so he started carrying a camera with him everywhere he went, and when he would see an old car along the road, he would stop and take a picture of it and get the owners telephone number. He would then make copies of the pictures he had taken along with phone numbers and post these up on bulletin boards at service stations and grocery stores throughout the state.
Before long, Ron was finding homes for many of the cars he had “rounded up.” After a while, others started helping him out by mailing pictures directly to him, and Ron was putting more and more pages of cars and phone numbers on bulletin boards throughout the areas he traveled.
This eventually blossomed into the Auto Round-Up Magazine, and before long he launched two other titles: Truck Round-Up Magazine and Auto/Truck Round-Up Monthly. Smith then took his publications nationwide during the early-to-mid 1980’s.
The Round-Up titles were benchmark and leaders in the 1980’s and motivated other entrepenaurs to develop competitor magazines you’ve probably heard of at some point.
As technology developed into the 1990’s, the layout procedures and the total business evolved from using large typesetting units and doing manual labor for magazine layout and Tandy Model 4 Units from Radio Shack for other operations to completely using desktop computers.
In 1995, Auto Round-Up launched one of the very first online magazines they dubbed “E-MAG” for Electronic Magazine. The business currently operates five websites, additionally.
Today, after 40 years, Smith’s publications are distributed and sold in over 50,000 retail stores in all 50 U.S. states and provinces of Canada while paid subscriptions are circulated worldwide in nearly 20 countries. His titles are now household-trusted magazine names and remain leaders in their industry with a total monthly readership of over 350,000.
Auto Round-Up Publications’ track record speaks for itself: Since 1974, they have published over 1,500 total issues, sold nearly a billion copies of magazines, and sold, and saved, over 1 million cars for private sellers and classic car dealers alike. Over the years, Smith’s titles helped bring members of the hobby together, while also influencing others to join the classic car hobby through car clubs located all over the world, thousands of which they have donated to and/or helped launch. Most of these car clubs are non-profit organizations whose efforts include helping cancer, osteoporosis, and AIDS research, The Ronald McDonald House, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Veterans organizations, 4-H programs, and Boy Scouts of America projects, as well as many other charity causes.