5054 is something that has been playing around in my head since 2003. It is my attempt to completely re-think the idea of a 'motoring' magazine. Our rough mission statement is to cover 'automotive culture'. And automotive might mean most things with an engine. And engines mean engineering.
But the 'culture' part of our mission is to investigate the wider world and wider impact of the automotive world. The car industry has been hugely influential. The engineering, design and production of vehicles employs the world's greatest designers, engineers and industrialists.
And yet the automotive world is not afforded the same respect and consideration as, say, architecture or film making or fashion. That's why I engaged Stephen Bayley - perhaps the only design commentator with a genuine auto-enthusiasm - to talk about the original Range Rover and the uniquely British cult of the Countryman. And author David Long, who has managed to precis his fascinating book on the controversial super-industrialist Henry Ford. Indeed, the whole crew involved in this first issue is the hand-picked, best of the best.
There's another reason for 5054. My intention - if we capture the imagination of a buying audience - is to initially publish three times a year. This is partly to help a kitchen-table business get off the ground, but mostly because it gives our writers time to research and write entertainingly in-depth features, features that cover massively more ground than any other automotive title.
I started out in motoring journalism in 1993. Motoring magazines have not changed a great deal in that time, although the business around them has changed completely. Since the credit crunch, the advertising revenue has fallen away, as have issue sales. And the internet has proved a black hole for both content and revenue.
What are now called 'boutique' magazines - like the one you are holding - have been the response to the market moves and huge over-heads that are slowly felling big publishers. 5054, like the independent magazines already out there, is able to use the best quality paper and proper colour reproduction to produce a magazine that is of the highest material quality.
We have finally been able to take full advantage of the revolution in desktop publishing that was promised over 20 years ago, by swapping the high-overhead corporate desk for a low-overhead personal one.
Of course, the cover price is higher than a mainstream magazine at the moment, but I would contend that this first issue has more editorial pages, more breadth, better writing and photography and much better reproduction than any mainstream automotive magazine.
As I write this, the route from this first issue is not clear. We are now totally in the hands of our customers. I hope enough people think 5054 is worth £10. With enough support, I hope that 5054 will get bigger and better in the future. It's a magazine I've wanted to make for over 15 years. I hope that enough people agree that it's a good idea.
And why 5054? (Pronounced Fifty-Fifty Four, if you are wondering.) It's the serial number of the Spitfire prototype that first flew in 1936. I attended a lecture last year at the Royal Aeronautical Society where it was explained how the Spitfire was designed and re-designed over an intensive period of just a few months.
The story of how a few people in brown storecoats and tweed suits managed to create something that would help change the path of history is proof of how engineering deserves far greater respect. And the number 5054 is a permanent reminder of that.
MARCH 2017, LONDON.