Sticker Shock: $300 for Old Cars Weekly Online Service

I’m a big fan of Old Cars Weekly. Editor Angelo Van Bogart does a nice job with the tools available to bring car nutz a weekly dose of nostalgia mixed with hard news and the frequent photo essay of magnificent classics captured in their heyday.

So with great interest I reviewed OCW’s June 18 expose for “Old Cars Report,” a newly-introduced online database to thousands of vehicle stat’s, values, price trends, and auction results. Much of it culled from publisher Krause’s decades-in-the-making trove of gathered info appearing in their Standard Catalog of American Cars.

According to OCW’s price guide editor Ron Kowalke:

There’s really no place to go like this on the web…. you can come to this site and look up pricing and current fair market value, and you can back that up by going to the auction results.

There’s historical info, factory photos, vehicle characteristics, production info, pricing trends, and so on. Sounds like the perfect killer app for us car junkies and it’s just a mouse-click away.

So, what’s the price of admission to this clever web 2.0 implementation of encyclopedic info? Hold on to your seats… for thirty bucks you get an unlimited number of “Reports” for one month. For a tidy $299, you get an unlimited cruise through the OCR data base for one full year. An individual online report is priced at $5.99.

Okay, the product is robust and and the online implementation right on the money (sorry about the pun). But gosh, us car guys are, for the most part, a sorry lot of cheapskates where few place a premium on information. What’s more, much of OCR’s info is available online via a careful Google search (arguably less credible or comprehensive that OCR) or a cruise through Sports Car Market’s comprehensive auction data base.

As a former publisher I can understand the rationale to OCR: We have the info, the cost won’t kill us, and the distribution channel is free. And it’s priced high enough so it won’t undermine sales of the print version. So any associated revenue dollars is gravy.

On the flip side, however, such strategic thinking is not likely to ensure Krause’s survival, and particularly OCW’s, in the face of an audience becoming increasingly satisfied with free online info. Would Krause’s resources be better allocated to online initiatives that can really deliver on the value spectrum, versus dabbling with a service limited to a very small segment of a shaky market?

Let me know your reactions when you test drive OCR. I hope everyone goes home happy… and profitable!

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There Are 10 Responses So Far. »

  1. Catch that date? I think it was supposed to be 1905 !

  2. Titles and headlines often escape the proofreader’s pen!

    And I meant to suggest that OCR is late-nineties Web 1.0 (not current iteration 2.0 as stated), which saw the introduction of searchable data bases such as price guides and auction results, to name a few. In 1998, Mobilia Magazine launched its Model Supermarket allowing buyers to conveniently search and purchase across every available scale model indexed by marque, model maker, and retailer, both online and in print. I was only able to monetize the rather sizable effort by charging retailers for links to search results based on relevancy.

  3. My copy of the Standard Catalogs from Krause go back to 1805…you may want to confirm your facts before commenting about proofreaders…

  4. OCR banner reads: “Get the Facts on American Classic Cars Since 1805.” I was unaware that stagecoaches were included in this category.

  5. Someone was asleep at the switch.

  6. If you go to the Web site and search for 1805 you will see a car report for EVANS STEAM AMPHIBIAN.

    There aren’t a ton, but there are other records for cars in the 1800s.

    Know what you are talking about.

  7. [comment sent via email]

    For the guys that have 1 or 2 cars it’s only $5.99 per car. For Jay L. The info at the $300.00 price is a bargain. So be sure to put this info in a headline also… Car Guys do not go around and BASH everything they personally do not like or care for. Un-like you who is trying to promote, something to car guys that we do not want…

    What are you promoting??? Ill-fated and uncertainty, gossip and bull? look for a different Market

  8. You miss the point, and you can’t run from the facts. For one, the market simply will not support the OCR pricing model. A handful of Jay Lenos and a slightly bigger handful of $5.99ers ain’t a viable business. Secondly, read the post carefully and note the attributions made to the general level of quality I have ascribed to Old Cars Weekly. My critique is aimed strictly at what I consider a fundamental flaw in Krause’ web strategy and the market will prove this to be the case as web-enabled users move steadily to web sites untethered to print. Look no further than other markets to see firsthand the negative consequences of ignoring customer preferences. So instead of personalizing your rants, step back and consider there might be a shred of truth to my comments.

  9. I gotta come clean on the date thing. Leonardo Da Vinci invented some type of armored vehicle in 1487 and last I heard Kruse Auctions had discovered the remains (it must be true because Dean said so) where the priceless artifact is slated for the Auburn auction. So please accept my apologies, and feel free to revise the OCR service back to, say, 1409 and make it a clean six-hundred years. Of course this predates the discovery of America by Capn’ Chris so technically I’m in violation of adhering to “American” cars in the OCR messaging but what the hey.

  10. In recent months OCW has tried all sorts of marketing to generate interest in the Report, ranging from limited-time offers to freebie views. The results have obviously not met the lofty expectations set forth at launch when the ditty was priced at a nose-bleed $300. OCW’s Report had the demands of helping plug the dike in leaking publishing fundamentals as evidenced by the publications’ change in format, reduced page count, and a general dumbing down. This bandaid approach has come too little and too late. Despite residual reader loyalty from those when Hershey’s fields were mud, OCW is regrettably headed for the exit ramp. Gentlemen: make a dignifiied exit, and deploy those Krause assets to make a compelling online home for paying customers.

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