Opinion

Happy birthday Autocar India

When I was a kid, cars were a big part of my life. The fascination with automobiles was something I inherited from my father and I was quite obsessed with them. Even at a fairly young age, I knew the make and models of cars and I could recognize most of them fairly easily. If not my dad would help out with the names (to the best of his ability; he wasn’t quite as obsessed as I was).

At an age when most kids just about know how to start a car, I knew how a four stroke internal combustion engine worked, what’s a MacPherson strut, what torque is, and what are gear ratios. A favorite pastime of my relatives was asking me about cars. Things like which is the best new car on the market, what are the spec, how much does it cost. I knew all that of course. And it was nice to know something that most people, especially at my age back then, did not.

The main fuel for this obsession and the source behind my knowledge were the monthly automobile magazines I used to read. I started reading them around the age of 9-10 and by far my most favorite was Autocar India. The team behind this magazine originally worked for Auto India, which I used to read before, but one day all of them left the company for reasons I still don’t know. Although Auto India continued (and probably still exists), it wasn’t the same anymore and so I eventually stopped reading it.

The team eventually went on to create Autocar India, an Indian variant of the original UK based popular and prestigious Autocar magazine. I still remember the ad for the first Autocar India magazine, which appeared in the paper of September 1999. The cover story was an exclusive first drive of the Fort Ikon, which hadn’t been launched yet back then. I asked my father to purchase a copy. As I found out later, the new magazine was run by the same people I read and admired before. After that, the magazine became a regular at the house and was purchased every month.

Back then there was no internet. I mean, there was, but not in my life. In fact I didn’t have internet till I was around 18 (that too on a phone; I got a PC much later). Other than video games and actually playing outside (lol) my only other distraction from studies was these magazines. I religiously read every single issue that came out, until a few years later I had a huge pile of every single issue that had come out till then (because I refused to let my parents to give them away). The only reading I got outside of the study books was these magazines. Other than learning about cars it also helped improve my grasp over the English language. My current writing style is something I picked up from reading those magazines back then. They also helped create that spark of writing in me, of reviewing things, and talking about them in detail. I could say they made me who I am today, even if my current line of work is not directly related to the topic of the magazine.

My obsession with cars eventually faded and was replaced by a new obsession: technology. The arrival of the internet in my life further compounded this obsession. I still loved cars but not enough to buy a magazine every month and read them. Eventually I got rid of all my old Autocar India issues (there were hundreds of them at a point in the house, all neatly arranged chronologically) and chose not to renew the subscription when it ended.

The memories of all those countless hours spent poring over every printed word on those glossy pages came back today when I found out the magazine is celebrating 15 years of its existence. So happy birthday, Autocar India. And thank you for all those years of entertainment and education. You were an important part of my childhood and I’ll be sure to go out and buy your 15th anniversary issue, just for old times sake.