MOTOR LIFE began as MOTOR PRINT in 1906, and the last issue we’ve found so far is dated December 1928. The history of the magazine is a bit obscure, even though it was apparently selling well circa 1920. It is not mentioned at all in Mott’s “History of American Magazines.” The Library of Congress catalog entry says Vol. 1, No. 1 was published in March, 1906, as MOTOR PRINT, from the Motor Print Company of New York (LC Classification TL1 .M93). It then became “incorporated with MOTOR LIFE Nov. 1914-Aug. 1915 and included MOTOR LIFE Sept. 1915-Sept. 1916”. While LC says it ceased with Vol 11, No. 6 in September, 1916, what actually seems to have happened is that it changed its name to MOTOR LIFE INCLUDING MOTOR PRINT for issues such as the June, 1918 issue we show. This is then shown in the succeeding LC listing for MOTOR LIFE, with the same call numbers but as beginning Oct. 1916. No end date is shown, but we have seen images of issues as late as the end of 1928. It doesn't seem to have had any connection to the 1950's-onward magazine MOTOR LIFE, which started as a hot-rod fan magazine HOP UP in 1952, and shortly thereafter changed its name.
The Benson Ford Research Center at the Henry Ford Library has early volumes, and says that it “absorbed Motor Life.” We’ve found three volumes on Google Books: Vol. 10 (MOTOR PRINT, 1915), Vol. 12 (MOTOR LIFE, 1917), and Vol. 17 (MOTOR LIFE, 1922) We haven’t been able to find any volumes, under either name, at Hathi Trust or the Internet Archive.
In 1910 and 1912 the company was headquartered in Philadelphia. By the October, 1922 issue its masthead showed addresses in New York City and Chicago. By the December, 1923 issue it was being published from 1056 West Van Buren Street, Chicago, Ill., with Ernest Coler as the Editor. In 1925 it called itself “The magazine of touring,” but by 1926 it showed a subtitle “Land=Air=Water” on the cover. It used that subtitle on the December 1928 issue, the last one we’ve found so far. The magazine, as MOTOR LIFE / LAND=AIR=WATER, was published by Motor Life Co., Inc, in conjunction with the Standard Class Publications, Inc. 523 Plymouth Court, Chicago, Ill. Member of the Motorist Class Group. The March, 1928 issue is Vol XXIII, No. 3, which works correctly for yearly volumes for a magazine begun in 1906.
George W. Sutton is the editor of the September, 1917 issue. Ernest Coler, editor in October 1922, is shown as editor in February, 1925, and contributes “Dangers that Lurk in the Air” to the April, 1927 issue. William B. Reedy is shown on the masthead as Editor in the December, 1926 issue, with editorial offices at 523 Plymouth Court, Chicago, and 25 West 45th St., New York City. The latter is the same New York City address as that given for the magazine in the April, 1922 issue. This tends to confirm that it’s all the same magazine, with primary publishing operations moved to Chicago by 1923.
Another magazine, titled MOTOR LIFE: THE MOTORIST’S HOME JOURNAL was published in Kansas City, MO by the Motor Car Publishing Company, 1908-14. LC Classification TL1 .M915 . It’s not clear if this is the same magazine that became combined with MOTOR PRINT in 1914.
Yet another magazine with a related title was MOTORING MAGAZINE AND MOTOR LIFE. The Bancroft Library of the University of California has two volumes, for 1913 and 1915, available online at the Internet Archive. Link here for the 1913 volume. These show the publisher as a Frederick Marriott in San Francisco (possibly the son of early aviation figure Frederick Marriott, who moved from England to San Francisco in the nineteenth Century). It was "devoted to the motoring interests of the Pacific Coast," and the ads and contents were localized to the SF Bay Area in particular and California auto ramble in general. It seems to have begun publishing about 1910, and date of its last issue is not known.
We're sorry these images are not up to our usual quality, but it's very, very difficult to find cover images from this magazine.
- Motor Life 1917-01 107 visits
- Motor Life 1917-02 117 visits
- Motor Life 1917-04 104 visits
- Motor Life 1917-05 101 visits
- Motor Life 1917-06R 85 visits
- Motor Life 1917-07 90 visits
- Motor Life 1917-08 71 visits
- Motor Life 1917-09 54 visits
- Motor Life 1917-10 59 visits
- Motor Life 1918-06 108 visits
- Motor Life 1918-07 119 visits
- Motor Life 1918-08R 56 visits
- Motor Life 1918-10 94 visits
- Motor Life 1919-09 106 visits
- Motor Life 1920-01 73 visits
- Motor Life 1921-08R 66 visits
- Motor Life 1922-01 56 visits
- Motor Life 1922-04 86 visits
- Motor Life 1922-05 52 visits
- Motor Life 1922-06 55 visits
- Motor Life 1922-07 98 visits
- Motor Life 1922-08 85 visits
- Motor Life 1922-11 99 visits
- Motor Life 1922-12 107 visits
- Motor Life 1923-03 70 visits
- Motor Life 1923-04 110 visits
- Motor Life 1923-05 74 visits
- Motor Life 1927-02 88 visits
- Motor Life 1927-03 92 visits
- Motor Life 1927-04 103 visits
- Motor Life 1927-07 102 visits
- Motor Life 1927-09 81 visits
- Motor Life 1927-10 97 visits
- Motor Life 1928-01 89 visits
- Motor Life 1928-02 108 visits