For nearly a century, Ward’s Auto Reports newsletters have been a staple of the automotive industry. The 96-year-old publication, which first debuted in 1924 as “Cram’s Report,” published its last weekly print issue on the 28th of January, and the auto industry is saying goodbye with much affection.
“It brings a small tear to my eye,” David C. Smith, a retired Ward’s editorial director, told the Detroit Free Press. “WAR broke a lot of news because it had data and statistical expertise nobody else had back then.”
Cram’s Report began life in 1924 with its inventor, Al Ward, instructing his journalists to wait outside the gates of the major auto makers and ask factory works about the latest news and happenings, which were then printed into a news and tip sheet on trademark colored paper for investors in the growing automobile industry. At the time, it was one of the only sources for information about model line, sales, production and inventory data, and included arcane data about manufacturer output schedules and engine installation rates and more. It also published monthly, quarterly and yearly sales data.
Often referred to as “the Bible of the auto industry,” a year’s subscription to the Ward’s Auto Reports cost $50 when it first debuted as Cram’s Report. By the time production wrapped up in January, a yearly subscription was $2,000. The publication was indispensable to players at every end of the automotive industry.
“WAR published data suppliers used to plan their own production,” wrote the Detroit Free Press. “Dealers studied the figures to see what was selling, how the competition was doing and whether the factory was about to shove extra trainloads of a slow-selling car down their throats.”
The information WAR provided will still be available, albeit in different format. Wards will continue to offer online subscribers the same data and information in digital form at Wardsintelligence.com. It simply won’t be available in its quirky old-fashioned colored paper format.