The Automobile Red Book is proud to celebrate its 100th anniversary
2011 marks an important milestone in the history of The Automobile Red Book. Through all the changes in the automobile industry, all the different makes and models of vehicles that have come and gone, and all the different technologies people use to access vehicle pricing, we’ve been there. In fact, The Automobile Red Book has been around longer than any other valuation guide. And in 2011, we celebrate our 100th anniversary.
History of The Automobile Red Book
In 1911, the idea of listing identifying information and appraisal market quotations on used cars in a book was conceived and originated by a group of automobile executives from the National Used Car Market Report, Inc., and the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, a group that had been created in 1904.
1911 was also the year that this group of automobile dealers published Used Car Allowances, the first loose-leaf used car appraisal book ever published in the world.
In 1914, this group originated the idea of gathering reports of dealer’s used car sales from which to compute valuations.
The first such book was published in the second quarter of 1914. It had a dark blue cover and is believed to be the first use of the term “Blue Book” as a guide for used valuations. It was called the Used Car Market Report. Each book was numbered and assigned to the subscriber. One of the qualifications of continuing a subscription was to return the previous edition by registered mail upon receipt of the next edition.
The first Red Book “Vest Pocket Edition,” giving used car identifying data and market appraisal quotations only was adopted by the CATA on May 10, 1915.
1915 also saw the name change from Used Car Central Market Report to National Used Car Market Report. The National Used Truck Market Report was added in 1917.
By 1920, usage of the National Used Car Market Report included the U.S., Canada, France, Spain, Japan, and Hawaii.
In 1921, the Serial Number Supplement appeared. This 64-page, full-sized issue listed serial and model information along with “characteristics” of 136 makes of cars from 1912 through 1921. This was also the first publication of its kind anywhere.
By 1927, National Used Car Market Report, Inc. was the publisher of the National Used Car Market Report. This is the first time that the words “Blue Book” were actually used. The August 1927 edition refers to the main addition (Blue Book) service, indicating something else was also available.
On October 12, 1927, a new 256-page “Red Book” was adopted.
The early 1930’s saw a pocket-sized Blue Book – Retail Sales Edition. This was to satisfy the needs of dealers wanting a book they could use as a sales tool.
From the Annual Report of May 15, 1945, it was determined that ceiling prices on used cars were established by the wartime Office of Price Administration effective July 10, 1944, creating a revision of the Red Book and the discontinuance of the Official Blue Book New and Used Car Guide. The Blue Book Executives Edition was revised.
Other notable pricing guides were also added during the intervening years, including:
Farm Implement Guide – 1945
The Canadian Red Book – 1958
The National Boat Book – 1976
The Mobile Home Blue Book – 1981
The Recreational Vehicle Blue Book – 1981
The Motorcycle Red Book – 1982
The Older Car Red Book – 1983
The Van Conversion Blue Book – 1984
The Truck Blue Book Lease Guide – January 1985
Most of these publications are still published under these or similar titles under the “Price Digests” banner to this day.
Jack Heffinger, son of one of the original founders O.G. Heffinger, was still on staff as a consultant right up until his death in June, 2009. He was a dedicated, tenacious automotive analyst, and we regret that he was unable to celebrate this milestone anniversary with us.
The Automobile Red Book today
The Automobile Red Book is currently published four times a year by Penton Business Media’s “Price Digests” division. Up-to nine model years of cars and light trucks are included in each edition. Additionally, the Older Automobile Red Book is published twice a year, and includes vehicles back another ten years.
Pricing and new model information is continuously researched and updated at the Penton Business Media location in Overland Park, Kan. We also publish expert news, reviews, and opinions at our main website, http://www.pricedigests.com/.
The Automobile Red Book data is available in various ways. The traditional printed guidebooks are still available to subscribers. They feature a high-gloss red cover, and remain the most obvious link to the “Red Book” name. The Automobile Red Book sells raw data to some customers for use in their own computer systems. Within the past few years, Red Book valuations have also become available to our online subscribers at http://www.autoredbook.com/ and http://basicvalues.pricedigests.com/.
With today’s better, more sophisticated means of gathering data, new model information is added to The Automobile Red Book nearly every day. Frequent pricing updates appear in our online and data products, which are updated weekly. Many things have changed over the last 100-years, but the thing that hasn’t is our commitment to providing our customers with the most current, complete automotive specification and valuation information.