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BEST MOTORING CANCELLED: The end of an institution

By in 28-04-2011 12:44 pm

The Best Motoring video magazine series has apparently been cancelled after this month’s issue.

This press release was published on the Best Motoring website;

永年のご愛読、本当にありがとうございました。
平素は「ベストモータリング」をご愛読いただき、誠にありがとうございます。

さて、「ベストモータリング」は1987年の創刊以来、
24年にわたりクルマ好き読者の皆様にご愛顧を賜ってまいりましたが、

諸般の事情により、2011年6月号(2011年4月26日発売)をもちまして
休刊とさせていただくことになりました。

読者の皆様には誠に申し訳なく存じますが、
事情をご賢察の上、ご理解賜りますようお願い申し上げます。

また、「ホットバージョン」におきましても
2011年4月8日発売のVol.110をもちまして
休刊とさせていただきます。

読者の皆様には、これまでの永年にわたりますご支援に、
あらためまして厚く御礼申し上げます。

Which translates roughly as:

To our many regular customers over so many years, we thank you sincerely.

It now seems, after 24 years of patronage from our viewers since being launched in 1984, we have been cancelled.

For various reasons, the June 2011 issue (on sale 26th of April) will be the last one published.

To all our readers, we apologise from the bottom of our heart and beg your understanding.

Also, we apologise for the Vol. 110 issue released on the 8th of April, which was forced to be removed from publication.

To all our readers, once again let me give you a hearfelt thank you for all your support.

The Vol. 110 removal mentioned was a result of the arrest of J’s Racing’s boss, Junichi Umemoto, for an alleged hit and run accident, as he was featured on a Honda tuning segment.

The Best Motoring brand is owned by Kodansha, which is the largest publishing company in Japan, so the decision mustn’t have been made lightly. The reason for cancellation is obviously a declining viewership, so what should we take from this?

Best Motoring and its tuning brother Hot Version have kept a fairly similar style over the years, but the cars featured in them have changed fairly dramatically. They’ve always stayed on the cutting edge of news and features, but I guess the car market has made it a bit harder for them in the recent times of the popularity of EV and whatnot.

Perhaps the expense of buying a regular DVD publication isn’t something that most customers can’t justify any more? Or is it that it’s just plain difficult to get people excited about cars that they’ve seen before a hundred times? Are people going to buy a whole new DVD just to see a group of cars shave another tenth off their best time at a circuit?

Top Gear has shown that it’s possible to create a car show that appeals to an extremely broad audience, but would that sort of format work here in Japan? I don’t really thinks so. While we all laugh at the silly capers that Jeremy, Hamster and Cpt. Slow get up to, the reactions I’ve seen here were more along the lines of “eh, they’re being a bit childish”.

Twenty-four years is a pretty good run for any sort of publication, but that run length just makes it even sadder to see it go. After working part time on Hot Version shoots, I got to know quite a few of the staff, a couple of which are former endurance racers, and one even used to race Formula 3 (I think) in Europe.

One of the photographers there has a collection of credential lanyards from all over the world, which would be heavier to wear than Mr T’s gold necklace. Most of them are also just plain car nuts, and I’ll occasionally run into them at random shows, just because they love cars.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this. Car fans are becoming younger as the generation that made Japanese car tuning famous worldwide move into middle age, but I have no doubt that there’s still just as many kids out there with a thirst for speed and loud noises. They just need to be shown.

EDIT: I’ve found out a bit more today about what’s going on. 2&4 Motoring, the production company of Best Motoring and Hot Version is basically a child company of Kodansha, so it has been dissolved along with the DVD titles. The brands will still belong to Kodansha, so those titles are unfortunately effectively cancelled.

However, the production guys have a good working relationship with Keiichi Tsuchiya, who has a lot of ideas about creating new video content, not least of which is his Drift Muscle series! The a group of the same guys who made Best Motoring and Hot Version will now be working with Tsuchiya and creating video coverage the new Drift Muscle events! There’s some light at the end of the tunnel after all.

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