HomeCar CultureErnie Hemmings, founder of collector-car ‘bible,’ dies

Ernie Hemmings, founder of collector-car ‘bible,’ dies


Ernest Hemmings started his magazine to support his antique Ford parts business | Hemmings Motor News

To help gain customer support for the antique Ford parts business that he inherited from his father, Ernest Robert Hemmings started 60 years ago with a hand-typed mimeographed newsletter that he distributed to about 500 people who paid subscriptions priced at 50 cents per year.

He considered his publication to be a magazine and he even drew a logo that read: “Hemmings Motor News.” His newsletter catered to the specific interests of collectors of obsolete Fords, primarily the Model T and Model A.

Just a few years later, Hemmings Motor News had become a general-interest old-car forum and advertising vehicle for classic-car buyers and sellers, and Ernie Hemmings had transitioned into the role of chief editor and writer.

The founder of what eventually became known as “the bible” of the collector-car hobby, Hemmings died Thursday at the age of 89 in his hometown of Quincy, Illinois.

Hemmings ran his publishing enterprise through the 1960s, when the subscriptions soared to 40,000 and the page count grew with ads and features, many of them written by Hemmings. By the end of the decade, Hemmings realized that it had become too much for one man to handle and he sold Hemmings Motor News in 1969 to Terry Ehrich, a classic-car enthusiast in Bennington, Vermont. Ehrich operated the magazine until his death in 2002.

Hemmings Motor News and its three associated titles – Hemmings Classic Car, Hemmings Muscle Machines and Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car – with a combined readership of more than a half-million, are based in Bennington though now are owned and published by American City Business Journals of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.
  1. Ernest thank you for the joy Hemmings brings month after month enjoy the perfect car collection that must exist in Heaven.

  2. Ernie, May you Rest In Peace. I’ve enjoyed my Hemmings car bible subscription for many many years dating back into the early 1980’s. It kept my Street Classics Obsolete Ford Parts company going and growing internationally thru the many repeating classified ads that I placed in the Ford Parts for sale section. I never got to thank you for my many worldwide sales thru your publication so I’ll do it here now and hope you’ll hear it somehow. . Thanks much for keeping the old car hobby alive. Before the internet “Hemmings” Motor News was the only real place to advertise old cars and parts. At least your ” Old Car Bible” lives on as you take the Highway to Heaven. R.I. P. and I hope there are a lot of old cars in Heaven.
    Kenny A.

  3. When I learned of E. R. Hemmings and his Motor News back in 1953, I sent in my 50c for a subscription. I got my first issue in the latter part of 1953 and I continue it to this day. I have purchased many old cars and parts using his hand-typed mimeographed newsletter. I still have several of those old newsletters today… just as memories of what I could have purchased. i.e. 1937 Cord Phaeton, runs but needs tires…$350… or 1914 Ford Touring, runs good, $75 or best offer… Wow… the things we passed up back then… wish I could turn back the clock. Anyone else have a story about their early newsletters from Ernie Hemmings?

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