In late January 1997, the eve of Chinese New Year, a young man started reading a HTML beginner's book. That evening, he decided to create his own website – a very big automotive website that must stun Car & Driver etc. He wanted to demonstrate the inability of so-called professional websites. He wanted to prove that a guy from Hong Kong is capable of getting recognition from the world.
On the 1st September 1997, AutoZine went online. Without any financial support, it was only stored in his ISP's allocated space of 5MB. It didn't even have a proper domain name. What it had was the information of 200 new cars sold globally and 100 classic cars, up-to-date news and a passionate writing style.
In the first few days no one knew the existence of this site. However, after it had been registered to Yahoo, visitors started flowing in. Soon it attracted dozens of visitors everyday.
1998-1999: Pushing to the Limit
During this period AutoZine was running in full steam. The enthusiastic author regularly worked on the site for 35 hours a week, consuming all his spare time and stretching his energy to the limit.
In return, the site grew rapidly in both size and quality. From the reports of Ferrari 360 Modena and Honda S2000, he lifted his writing standard to professional level. He also completed a trio of specials: The Complete Story of 911, The True Story of 959 and Lamborghini Countach – The Supercar Legend. They earned him many respects from car enthusiast circles.
However, the most influential addition was AutoZine Technical School. It was created because the author saw there was no place on the net providing in-depth explanation to the latest automotive technology. He took the challenge and spent a lot of time for research, then interpreted in an easily understanding way. The technical school became a hit and the most widely copied part of AutoZine. Every time the author saw another website copied the info from his technical school, he felt both proud and angry.
Another interesting addition was Inspiration, one of the favourites of the author. However, due to the lack of time only 10 issues were ever made.
As the site expanded, the 5MB storage was quickly exceeded thus AutoZine had to put part of its content on free hosting Fortunecity and Geocities. This worsened the integrity of the site. Fortunately, in 1999 Korean IT company KYUL, whose responsible person was our reader, offered unlimited free hosting for AutoZine. The relationship would last for many years.
2000: End of Road
After running in full steam for almost 3 years, and the original objective was already met, the author decided it was time to end. On 16th July 2000, the last issue of AutoZine was published. Many readers expressed sorrows in the Farewell special.
However, AutoZine meant too much to the author. After resting for 9 months, he could not help starting the engine again. On 1st April 2001, AutoZine was reborn.
By the time, AutoZine was changed from weekly or biweekly basis to monthly basis because the author became increasingly busier in his job and his another hobby, hiking.
2002-2004: Low Gear Running
Few changes happened during this period, as the author was focusing his energy to hiking races. The regular updating of new cars archives continued, but there was no major exploration of new contents.
In October 2004, AutoZine suddenly disappeared from the net. The hosting KYUL was acquired by another company and could no longer offer free hosting to AutoZine. The author considered terminating the site for the second time.
2005-2006: Back to Action
Again, passion drove the author back to the site. He paid for a new web hosting and, for the first time, a domain name (www.autozine.org). The site was back online in January 2005.
From late 2005, AutoZine started rewriting the classic car archives, which was the first major reconstruction since it came back from grave in 2001.
In July 2006, the site was facelifted and added 2 new sections - "The Graveyard" was provided to store expired reports, AutoZine Blog was intended to be a platform for expressing instant thoughts and discovery - although it turned out to be rarely updated.
2007-2008: Continuous Improvement
During this period no radical changes appeared, but the content of AutoZine was enhanced gradually with larger pictures and longer reports.
2009: Major Revamp
The biggest ever revamp of AutoZine took place during 2009, making it more stylish and easier to eyes. For the first time, a signiture color theme of black-grey-orange was applied throughout the site.
2012: Mobile friendly
Surfing the web from smart phones became a trend. Unfortunately, not many websites managed to look good on both the large screens of PCs and the small screens on mobile phones. After several unsuccessful attempts in the past two years, the author finally hit the sweet spot with a facelift introduced in mid-2012. The main menu page, news page and new car report template were updated, featuring larger pictures and cleaner layouts.
The evolution of AutoZine's main menu page:
Main Menu until 1998-05-31
Main Menu until 1998-11-29
Main Menu until 2000-07-16
Main Menu until 2002-01-01
Main Menu until 2006-06-30
Main Menu until 2009-08-22
Main Menu until 2012-06-30
Main Menu until 2017-01-16
Copyright© 1997-2017 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine