LARRY DOBBS
2005 Inductee

In early 1975, Larry Dobbs, then a display ad salesman for The Ledger newspaper in Lakeland, Florida, bought a well-worn 1965 Mustang convertible from a co-worker. That car would lead Larry down an entrepreneurial path into the world of automotive publishing.

After refurbishing the Mustang, Larry and his wife, Judy, drove the convertible to Atlanta, where they visited Stone Mountain Park. By sheer coincidence, the Mustang Club of America was holding its first-ever show at Stone Mountain, and Larry became enamored by the fact that people were making money by selling used but usable Mustang restoration parts. He returned home to Florida and began scouring local wrecking yards for Mustang parts. He named his new venture the Mustang Supply Company and began handing out mimeographed price lists.

As regular orders started coming in, Larry began looking for other ways to market his parts, which soon included reproductions of Mustang decals and owners manuals. Based on his experience with advertising at the local paper, he envisioned a monthly Mustang advertising newsletter containing only Mustangs and Mustang parts for sale or trade. In December 1977, Larry placed a full-page ad in Hemmings Motor News to announce the Mustang Exchange Letter. The first issue, published in January 1978, was mailed to 92 subscribers.

Less than a month later, after hearing a church sermon urging entrepreneurial young men to go for their dreams, Larry quit his job at The Ledger, talked a banker into a $5,000 second mortgage, and jumped into the Mustang world with both feet. A few months later, Larry heard about a similar publication called Super Ford Parts Exchange. Fearing confusion, Larry quickly changed the name of his publication to Mustang Monthly.

Mustang Monthly continued as primarily as an advertising vehicle until October 1979, when the magazine became a full-size publication with a color cover and editorial content. In the early 1980s, Mustang Publications was formed to publish both the magazine and books, including How to Restore Your Mustang, Mustang Recognition Guide, and Mustang Boss 302: Ford's Trans-Am Ponycar. Larry didn't realize it at the time, but he had created the first niche automotive publishing company.

During the 1980s, Mustang Monthly and the Mustang hobby, also fueled by the efforts of the Mustang Club of America, grew side by side. Mustang Monthly provided the latest Mustang news and restoration information, while growing Mustang parts companies were able to reach thousands of Mustang Monthly readers. Larry's creation was helping to fuel the hobby.

Mustang Monthly's growth during the decade was tremendous, helping to fund new magazines like Musclecar Review and acquisitions of magazines like Car Exchange and Super Ford. Mustang Publications was eventually renamed Dobbs Publishing Group and found itself competing against big-name automotive publishers like Petersen Publishing. In fact, the larger publishers soon launched Mustang magazines of their own.

In 1999, Larry sold Dobbs Publishing Group to Petersen Publishing in a multi-million dollar deal. Mustang Monthly continues to spread the Mustang word as part of Primedia.

Today, Larry is semi-retired, operating a consulting business and teaching a Life Skills Sunday School class.