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Obituaries

Terry Ehrich, 60; Editor, Publisher Guided the Growth of Hemmings Motor News

January 22, 2002|JON THURBER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Terry Ehrich, the longtime editor and publisher of Hemmings Motor News, a leading publication for car enthusiasts, has died. He was 60.

Ehrich, diagnosed with lung cancer last year, died Thursday at the Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y. The cause of death was a heart attack, which he had suffered earlier this month.

Hemmings Motor News bills itself at the largest antique, classic, vintage and special-interest marketplace in the world. A no-frills shopper with all the charm and style of a telephone directory, the Motor News publishes about 700 pages an issue. There is little in the way of editorial content other than calendars of upcoming events and legislative alerts, and a monthly list of stolen collector cars.

Nevertheless, the Motor News is considered a must read by many car enthusiasts and numbers 260,000 subscribers. A 1999 article on Hemmings in the publication Nation's Business estimated that the firm grosses more than $20 million annually from the Motor News and its sister publications.

The success of Hemmings today is a far cry from its modest beginnings. The first issue of the Motor News, published in 1954, consisted of four pages. Just 500 copies were sold at 50 cents apiece.

Born Manfred Ehrich in New York City, Ehrich moved to Vermont with his family when he was a toddler. After graduating from Harvard in 1964, Ehrich worked in the advertising department at the New York Review of Books for several years

In the late 1960s, Bayard Ewing, then Ehrich's father-in-law, bought the Hemmings Motor News from Ernest R. Hemmings, an antique auto parts dealer who had started the publication in Quincy, Ill., in 1954. Ewing put his son-in-law in charge of the publication and moved it to Vermont. Under Ehrich's leadership, the Motor News showed steady growth over the years while maintaining Hemmings' original idea, which was to help collectors and restorers find each other.

In addition to the Motor News, published 12 times a year, the company also publishes the Hemmings Collector-Car Almanac, which features more than 2,900 parts suppliers, appraisers and restorers. Sister publications include Special Interest Autos, which aims at a broader audience by providing editorial coverage including articles on road tests of rare cars. In 2000, the firm launched Hemmings Rods & Performance, catering to those interested in street rods, custom cars and muscle cars.

In October, the publication firm was put up for sale when it became apparent that Ehrich's health would no longer allow him to continue as editor and publisher.

Active in community affairs in Bennington, Vt., where Hemmings is located, Ehrich founded the First Day Foundation, which encouraged employers to grant a day off on the first day of school to encourage workers to accompany their children to class.

Twice married and divorced, Ehrich is survived by Jackie Christie, his companion; two daughters; his father; sister; and two brothers.

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