The Wheels guru

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -


Lowry is a for­mer Can­berra bank man­ager with a fas­ci­nat­ing hobby.

Over the past 30 years or so he has col­lected ev­ery edi­tion of Wheels mag­a­zine, from the first one in May 1953 – with a blue Mor­ris Mi­nor on the cover – to the most re­cent. He still buys th­ese from his lo­cal newsagent.

He first started buy­ing the mag­a­zines as a teenager in the early six­ties and kept ev­ery copy, even when he was do­ing his na­tional ser­vice.

Later in life he found a box full of the ear­li­est edi­tions, in­clud­ing No. 1, so he de­cided that com­pil­ing a com­plete set would be a chal­lenge. That’s over 730 mag­a­zines and count­ing. He’s picked th­ese up mainly from boot sales, swap meets and op shops, back in the days when peo­ple were happy to get rid of them.

He knows of five or six other col­lec­tors who have com­plete sets and the guessti­mate is that if one was sold it should fetch around $10,000. Ian’s set could be worth a bit more be­cause his are all in top con­di­tion, pro­fes­sion­ally bound in hard-cov­ers.

Ian is also the man who com­piles an an­nual in­dex of all Wheels sto­ries. This means that some­one with a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in one car can track down all sto­ries writ­ten about it in Wheels. The in­dex is up­dated ev­ery year and sells for $145 as a hard-bound edi­tion. You can con­tact him on ian­he­len­lowry@op­tus­

He also sells spare copies of his mag­a­zines. He once had 3000 spares in his garage but most have now gone and only a se­lec­tion from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s re­main. It’s not only Aus­tralians who like Wheels. A col­lec­tor from Swe­den con­tacted him and bought 10 boxes of back copies.

Another cus­tomer was Wheels mag­a­zine it­self, back in 2011 when they de­cided to of­fer re­pro­duc­tions of the early mag­a­zine cov­ers to read­ers. They re­alised they didn’t have a com­plete set of copies on file so Ian sold them the copies that were miss­ing.

No sur­prise that the copies of Wheels most in de­mand th­ese days are those with mus­cle car con­tent. There are re­ports of over $100 be­ing paid on­line for mile­stones is­sues, like the Jan­uary 1967 edi­tion fea­tur­ing the new Ford Fal­con GT on the cover, plus the iconic Ford V8 mo­tor. The XR se­ries won the 1966 Car of the Year Award.

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