Los Angeles, March 24: Robert E Petersen, the publishing magnate whose Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazines helped shape America's car culture and who gave millions to a museum dedicated to his passion, has died. He was 80.
Petersen died Friday of complications from neuroendocrine cancer at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, said Dick Messer, director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
"Mr. Petersen helped create and feed the American obsession with the automobile, delivering gasoline-powered dreams to the mailboxes of millions," Messer said.
Petersen, the son of an auto mechanic, founded Hot Rod magazine in 1948 while trying to promote the custom-designed car show at the Los Angeles Armory. The following year, he launched Motor Trend for automobile enthusiasts.
A dozen other specialty consumer magazines followed, including Guns & Ammo, Sport, Motorcyclist, Hunting, Mountain Biker, Photographic, Teen and Sassy.
By the time his publishing empire was sold in 1996, Petersen Publishing's annual revenue was about $275 million.
Some of the magazines Petersen started reflected his other interests, including sport shooting, aviation and real estate. But it was his love of cars that prompted his involvement with Los Angeles' shrine to the automobile.
The Petersen Automotive Museum opened in 1994, showcasing dozens of cars and exploring the automobile's impact on American culture.
When the museum, operated by the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, ran into financial trouble in 1999, Petersen and his wife, Margie, donated $25 million to pay off its debt.