The Wheels guru
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.