News : AROnline and HJ go into partnership

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

AROnline has joined forces with Honest John to create an unrivalled new, used and classic car portal...
AROnline has joined forces with Honest John to create an unrivalled new, used and classic car portal...

HonestJohn.co.uk has cemented its ambitions for growth by announcing that it has acquired AROnline. As a partner site to HonestJohn.co.uk, AROnline is a perfect match, as it’s focused on the classic, used and contemporary British automotive scene, while HonestJohn.co.uk will serve the needs of today’s car buyers. It’s also editorially driven by the concept of sustainable motoring, and the belief that driving should be fun and involving.

AROnline is a respected and much-loved motoring website, which has built-up a reputation for its forensic analysis of the post-war British car industry over the past decade, as well as in-depth model development histories. The site is growing to include all post-war cars built in the UK, or sold by companies with significant UK investment, and is a significant and growing community as a result.

Keith Adams, the site’s creator, has spent more than a decade building AROnline from scratch and will continue to be responsible for the site’s editorial development and direction.

Keith said: ‘I’ve been a fan of Honest John for longer than I care to mention, and share the same passion for transparency in the industry, and the belief that enthusiasts have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Going into partnership with HJ offers many opportunities to spread the word. But the important thing for me to stress is that it’s business as usual, and I’ll continue working hard to maintain the site’s position as the Internet’s leading British car source, and growing the enthusiast community, which I believe is the best out there. You can be guaranteed that there will be exciting new annoucements in the coming months…’

HonestJohn.co.uk has been running for since 2000 and has built up a following of more than a million unique users every month. Highlights of the site include its 2000+ reviews and road tests, thousands of user-submitted questions, comprehensive buying advice and a unique Real Life Fuel Economy Register. In addition, Honest John answers more than 100 questions every single day and users are encouraged to offer feedback on their own cars.

Honest John said, ‘Keith’s site more or less ends where ours starts so it a perfect fit. Keeping old British cars going creates a lot of work making and fitting the bits for them. So it could be argued that old cars actually keep more skilled British craftsmen in jobs than mass producing new cars.’

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)

102 Comments

  1. So what. Collaboration is all the rage in the automotive industry these days. Soon, I reckon we’ll be left with only a few gigantic web car forums and websites.

  2. Collaboration worked so well for Austin, Morris and then British Leyland….

    Never really got on with Honest John.co.uk, just seemed like a load of people bitching all the time.

  3. Cheer up guys! This site won’t be run faceless business people, but enthusiasts like us. People who really love cars. If it spreads the word about AROnline and our passion surely that’s a good thing?

  4. There’s a discussion going on the Facebook page about this, but am happy to put anyone’s mind at rest here.

    I have absolutely no reason to change anything about the content of this site, and I am still very much in charge of it… and most importantly, I need to continue putting up the great stories that you enjoy reading so much.

    The site is for you, and I won’t ever forget that 🙂

  5. Frankie, like it or not it’ll be run the same as MG-Rover and anything controversial will be removed, edited or deleted. Also didn’t HonestJohn hate BL cars……

  6. MayfairPlayer – Thanks for second guessing me, but it’s down to me what gets edited, removed or deleted.

    Still trying to work out which member of Macdroitwich you are. And when you first use the word ‘shabby’ or ‘stabbed in the back’.

    I appreciate you might fear change, but I hope that I could reassure people that it would not be the case. The MG-Rover.org comparison is particularly hurtful, as that is a pay forum – and one that I don’t think gives £12PA value. AROnline will always be free…

  7. Did not see that one coming….
    However, the site would not exist if it were not for Keith, so on the basis of that, congratulations Keith.

  8. Keith this is all rather SHABBY and the common member here will be feeling like they’ve been STABBED IN THE BACK yet again

    Just to humour you of course…..:)

  9. Thought couldn’t be further from my mind. I’m really sorry that you feel this way (as well as the ‘common member’ you speak of), but it’s the readers and members of our community I have utmost in my mind. And always have 🙂

  10. Keith what happens if our very own SWISS TONY contradicts what HonestMong says? Will there be handbags at dawn? Is this going to be like the launch of the 75 all over again?

    “Here is a world beating forum……….oh by the we’ve decided after joining up that it was all actually a waste of time”

  11. At the end of the day it’s keith’s site, and it’s up to him what he does with it.

    It will be interesting to see how the JV will develop, but I’m sure it’ll be an interesting ride!

  12. Nobody likes change but personaly I always like to give things a chance before making judgements.
    This is Keith’s site after all isn’t it? give it a chance eh?
    He & the team have put a huge amount of work on this site & they are hardly about to throw it all away are they.
    Good luck fellas, I hope aronline goes from strength to strength.

  13. Got to merge with suitable partners, evolve and survive. Many manufacturers would benefit from this approach. Congratulations & well done

  14. I say ‘Well done’ to Keith. All that hardwork and effort has seen ARO really grow into something special. It’s clear that Keith wants to see the site grow even further, so I say it makes great sense to find a partner, someone with coming from a similar, slightly left-field perspective. I’m sure this will be a great thing for the site. I’d like to say, publicly, how proud I am to have contributed to the site and a huge ‘thanks’ to Keith for the inspiration this site provided, not to mention the wealth of knowledge, pics and, most importantly, BL Babes!

    Look forward to the developments!

  15. It’ll all be downhill from here! The site will be nothing but Fords! I bet it gets one reader for every MG6 sold!

    Sorry, just trying to fit in. Naturally I think having the support of another web publishing firm is brilliant – I wish when we’d been doing this in the mid ’90s with photographic sites, there had been companies prepared to work with our company.

    I suspect that anyone genuinely unhappy with the site will be able to apply for a full refund 😉

  16. If Keith says that readers’ needs come first, that opinions can be expressed without fear of censure, that’s good enough for me.
    Keith’s credibility is above reproach. There’s no reason to doubt him.
    The proper comparison of mergers, in this case, would be the Triumph-Rover linkup. Compare it to that.
    Triumph and Rover would have gone from strength to strength in the 1970s and ’80s and beyond, but instead was dragged into oblivion by BMC. Well, there is no BMC here, just a strong product that everyone likes, and so no reason to be anything but optimistic.

  17. @ MayFairPlayer.
    “anything controversial will be removed, edited or deleted”
    That would mean delating half the forum entries…

  18. If it goes pear shaped Keith you can allways claim it won’t fit in the Honest John engine bay. Worked in Coventry so I was told.

    Here’s to the mainstream input from the HJ readers who would never stumble here, but now they know it exists might just leave a tasty morsel of a comment or an old photo on the site comments – gotta be worth it?

    I’m not sure if a cowboy hat will work with a casio watch though Keith…..

  19. @ MayFairPlayer. If something caused enough upset then I can understand it. For the greater good and all that.

  20. I think this is a rare good news story so well done 🙂 I’m glad your still in charge of this site though and I hope it continues to have its own mind and not become Honest John for the older car..

  21. Tbh had never heard of honest John, seems a bit of a weird partnership… Have you ever approached the national motor museum at gaydon? As that’s seems a much more suitable partner.
    Funny it’s kind of reminded me that the site is a privately owned national and international resource. An online motor museum and archive .and a priceless one at that..

  22. One website stops where the other one starts – that’s what’s called synergy.
    It sounds like a clever move and seems to make sense. Should be interesting to see if it changes the demographic.
    Well done and good luck, Keith, exciting times ahead, may your successful work continue.

  23. Well done Keith. This site is a credit to you, and you deserve all the success that you have had. The link up with HJ is excellent news, and testament to the level of professionalism exhibited through this website.

  24. I’ve read this and would ask “why?”. Not in a “cos now we’re all doomed” kind of way, but as in “what’s motivated this change?” Is it to remove server costs? Is it to try and boost readership? I’ve never visited Honest John so I can’t comment on their content.

    As others have said, this is Keiths website so he can do as he pleases.

    Personally speaking, as long as Keith and Mike Humble continue to post their excellent essays and stories, I will continue to visit this site several times a day…!!

    Good luck to all involved for the future.

  25. @35 – who’s the ‘we’ in all this? This is Keith’s site and he’s free to do as he sees fit. To date (over 10 years), he has unfailingly brought new resources to his many readers. Hard to imagine him having a self-interested change of heart now.

  26. I have enjoyes this site for many years but am very disappointed by this latest move.

    Another perfectly good forum about to bit the dust. 🙁

    I have little time for Honest John, a forum blighted by advertising pop-ups to the point where the articles are virtually impossible to read (pop-up adverts = corporate greed IMHO) and no, I don’t mind adverts per se.

    What’s the point of a forum if you can’t be contentious?

  27. Was a bit shocked to read this news but it was the caustic comments that shocked me most.If you don’t like the way the site is going, set up your own. As someone who has enjoyed the site for the best part of 9 years, I appreciate Keith’s time and money to keep the site running. All the best Keith for the future and I hope the new venture works for both you and HJ.

  28. Keith and all those who contribute articles to this site have put a hell of a lot of work in over the years. It’s probably cost Keith a few bob as well, especially in the beginning – websites don’t host themselves! If Keith feels that this move is necessary then I have no reason to doubt his judgement. After all, loads of people moaned when non-BL articles appeared on AROnline, yet to me that was the making of this website as I have very little interest in BL pre the 1980s (before my time) but I find articles on buses, Eighties repmobiles, Nineties Rovers etc fascinating, in particular Mike Humble’s articles which are always well-researched and well-written (if there was any justice in the world he would be making his living from motoring journalism).

    At the end of the day, the fact that this site has grown so rapidly to the extent that myself and quite a few other car people I know consider this our recreational car website of choice says everything you need to know about it – Keith, I’m sure, is just safeguarding the future of this fantastic resource that has been created over the last decade. I’m sure things will be fine!

  29. Keith – congratulations on securing the deal.

    I hope this brings you stability and additional readership and income to sustain and develop this excellent site.

    Having read articles you have written here and in other magazines over the years I am sure you will be quite prepared to contradict / disagree with HJ whenever you feel its the right thing to do.

    A n d r e w

  30. Keith

    I am behind you 100% and would advise you to try and not take the rather frosty comments here too much to heart. i’m sure that after giving ten years commintment to this site you wouldn’t then sell it down the river.

    Thanks for the ten years of fasinating and informative reading and I will continue you to enjoy it in the many years to come

  31. It’s just a matter of adapting. We all want this site to be around for at least as long as us, as well as for future generations.
    When something like AROnline gets this big, it’s going to have to change/alter/adapt what have you, to survive.
    I think Keith’s made a very good move. it’s good news because AROnline now has support and won’t have to go it alone.

  32. Apologies to all the other readers and contributors of this site. Not sure what MayfairPlayer’s (AKA John O’Sullivan) axe to grind is – or personal issue with me – but I have now removed him from the site.

  33. Keith’s no sell-out.

    He’s not stupid and not going to forfeit everything he’s grafted to create over the last ten years. Trust him

    Keep it up Keith, onwards and upwards

  34. @ Keith Adams. Well done. I don’t really know why he read AROnline, as he seemed to dislike you, us, and British cars…
    Another good move 😉

  35. I’m not sure of the logic of the acquisition by HonestJohn.co.uk given that this site is very specifically about Austin Rover related products (hence the name, surely?) more than anything more recently in production, but I cannot comment on Keith’s decision as that is for him and I respect that. This site has provided me with years of pleasure and I hope it continues to do the same because there really is nothing else like it out there. I just hope Keith continues to be at the helm and the site remains true to it’s roots because there are plenty of sites out there for other unrelated marques – I hope this doesn’t try to become something for everyone. I’ve met Keith once or twice over the years at various shows and events and his passion and knowledge is abundantly clear and that is what has made this site in my view so unique and so full – here’s hoping that continues!

  36. I don’t think the site will change.

    Maybe, just maybe, the attention to detail here will rub off on HJ – hope so, fingers crossed.

  37. @James

    it started as AR only but has been widening for some time now.

    These JV’s happen everywhere, sideways affiliation is a good thing as it brings in traffic that would usually be missed.
    As has been said, editorial content will be unaffected so no issues there 🙂

  38. Back in ’97, a guy called Danny Fyne set up the Professional Pilots Rumour Network (pprune.org) and over the years it’s turned into an enormous website from humble beginnings after a lot of hard unpaid work and expense.

    In 2007, Danny sold the site to Internet Brands at a profit.

    Pprune is pretty much the same today as it ever was but the members whined like buggery over the sale.

    Why shouldn’t Keith do exactly the same with this site? Why should he work for free and how many of you are in salaried occupations?

    And why would Honest John bother to buy the site and turn it into something else?

    It’s not the public sector you know.

  39. Anyway, look on the bright side, if Childs had got it, he’d be putting in the turnstiles and clamping down on free speech Tiananmen square stylee as we speak.

  40. This site is entirely Keith’s creation and yet some forum posters are bitching as though they have some kind of financial ownership or that Keith is in some way their employee. If you don’t like it just push off.

    Well done Keith, keep up the good work.

  41. I just want to say to you Keith, a big thank you for everything you have done with this website to keep our memories alive. I am an avid fan,and while I do not always agree with everything, I do respect other peoples opinions, and at they end of the day, we all need a sense of perspective. Its also interesting to see what others think – even if we do not agree. If the content of this website were to be printed an bound into book, how big would it be and how much would it cost? And we get it for free! Its thanks to you Keith – only speaking for myself here – I owe you a debt of gratitude for the site and hope this deal will help you and all ther other keep it going. Vest Best regards…

  42. Keith must have good reasons for his actions; I just hope that the site doesn’t fill up with unrelated advertising.

  43. I reckon he has got wind of a large rise in the price of gin and ciggies coming….
    Should be interesting anyway, as long as Keef remains in full control then nothing should change, as one of the few guys with enough integrity to refuse the Wongbridge Shilling.

  44. In Keith we trust 🙂

    I’m sure you know what you’re doing, I imagine the hosting costs for this site must be expensive, and with HJ you can maybe delegate some of the behind the scenes work, and share costs.

    But what name will the combined site have?

    British Honest John?

  45. @Mikey C

    LOL! BHJ. Has a ring to it.

    Don’t worry, the AR and HJ sites won’t be combined – and we’re staying very much an independent set-up. Where things can be shared or combined, though, that’s a different matter 🙂

  46. Yes, this is a brilliant website and it is down to Keith, we all owe you!
    It came as a surprise to read that Keith had time to be married to a real girl (to whom he gave a Mini for Christmas)!
    If this move takes some of the pressure off Keith then we should all be pleased.
    I quite enjoy reading Honest John in the Telegraph on a Saturday, always very informative and in his (I guess now he is not just one person but a corporate entity!) own way quite a motoring rebel for just causes.
    So, I think it is a good fit anyway!

  47. Surprising news Keith, but a sensible decision. The site has become a globally recognised brand in terms of British car information, and I remember this time last year the difficulties you were having keeping such a large site going without charging the users for hosting!

    As far as I can see, all the merger is likely to mean in real terms is that Keith has passed that particular buck on to a company who can well afford it, so that he and the rest of the team can concentrate on writing. Look forward to seeing how it pans out.

  48. @ Peter Harris – of course it’s Keith’s site and his hard work, but without us it would be one man’s indulgence. In that sense I do understand people who feel a certain level of ownership/protection towards it. Much of the material on the site has benefitted greatly from contributions over the years which you shouldn’t forget.

  49. @ Mark Mastro – I understand recent material has taken a (slightly) wider view, but the vast vast majority of proper material, pictures, articles, stats etc on this site is about Austin Rover/BL/BMC/MGR etc which is exacly what it was intended to be – hence the name AustinRover.co.uk or now AROnline. Afterall the whole point of the site surely was to compile a single point of resource for ARG history/products, and in that respect Keith’s efforts are second to none!

  50. I think as mentioned we all need to be grateful it wasn’t Childs at the head of the JV, Cult V3.01 is not needed!

    As long as Keith remains at the helm then I really think there is nothing to worry about, and if you’re that worried about adverts there are plenty of addons that soon stop them, they work very well.

  51. @James (point 73)

    May I respectfully refer you to my point (7).

    “The site is for you, and I won’t ever forget that” 🙂

    You’re absolutely right – it would be a much lesser site with ALL your input. Some incredible stuff has come out of the woodwork, via this site’s readership, and I am proud to be a part of that. It’s a point I make on a regular basis.

  52. @ Keith 67
    Good news, But I’m not a HJ lover. At least ARO is staying independent. Love the site and have contributed in the past. It feels like a national treasure.
    Keep up the good work.
    From a regular reader.

  53. Whilst the news has come as a bit of a bolt from the blue, I can’t say I’m that surprised. The costs of hosting a site like this can’t be cheap and the money’s got to come from somewhere, I suspect that’s been Keith’s pocket and a few donations. The site is Keith’s to do with as he wishes and if he has been able to recover some of his investment than who are any of us to begrudge him that?

    I love this site, I’ve been visiting it most days for 9 years and I hope that it remains a fascinating and authoritative source of information on all things britcar. With Keith remaining in charge, I don’t think that will be an issue.

    So, Keith, Mike and all the contributors who have made AROnline what it is, keep on doing what you’re doing and I’ll keep coming back.

  54. @Bruce 67
    [It came as a surprise to read that Keith had time to be married to a real girl]

    That’s destroyed one of my Keith/Honest John tie up theories then!

  55. Well, Im sorry to hear this news.
    I really am. HJ will stab you in the back, like he has done before (I was a member of his forum.)

    Well, its goodnight from me, and I’ll give you 6 months before he kills AROn-line.

  56. Best of luck Keith, you will get the support of the vast majority of users and the show of passion here is a sign of how well-loved the site is.

  57. @Tony – I agree with Frankie, there is a big difference between having am opinion and being downright rude. Most of the banter in these comments is good knock about humour, but those comments were just offensive and fail to take into account that Keith has more or less funded this entire project himself, and we have all benefited from his commitment and dedication to this site. Thanks Keith for starting this site, and sticking with it through thick and thin, you are an internet pioneer.

    Also agree Mike Humble should be writing for the motoring press, or maybe even presenting as part of the Wheeler Dealer team. Now that would blow Top Gear out of the water.

  58. Good luck with the venture and I hope aronline will continue to give me the opportunity to enjoy the two great motoring loves in my life – the Rover and Land Rover marques – and comment on them with authority and honesty.

    Sadly many of today’s motoring print publications are not able to offer the same level of information and unbiased coverage of the various British marques we all love, or are often constrained from doing so by advertising obligations. Thankfully this does not exist with aronline.

    Keep up the good work in delivering a site packed full of articles and news that we can continue to enjoy and comment on freely.

  59. Keith — My question for you is that, as the site has grown in size and scope, is it still essentially a “hobby” site? Or is it something you’re actively looking to make money from? Or is it somewhere in between? This isn’t a criticism of what you do — far from it — but sometimes I wonder what the precise status of this site is. Anyway, keep up the good work.

  60. “mayfairplayer banned for having an opinion!”

    Mayfairplayer obviously had some kind of axe to grind, and frankly came across a being mentally unstable. He or She really needs to find something better to do with their life.

    From what i read he/she was just being downright rude, “trolling” if you like.

    It’s a bit like visiting some ones house, then commenting that their wall paper in the living room isn’t to your taste, that would be an opinion. If you then went on to say the place was filthy and you thought the furniture looked cheap and tacky, then started on the other rooms. Well it’s going to get to a point where you’re asked to leave!

  61. Interesting development I must say! I hope there will be some people who have some excellent nuggets of history over on HJ that will contribute more of the untold stories that is BMC/BL/AR etc..

    On the other hand, I do hope that AROnline doesn’t suffer from any activity from members of HJ who despise BMC/BL/AR or otherwise wish to “dis” the site.

    Good luck with it Keith.

  62. @James (73)

    I agree with your comments in principle but some of these posts have been too assumptive – and some highly venomous.

    I know of no resource in the whole world that has either better or more information regarding my favourite topic than this site. I no longer read magazine articles about BL in all it’s forms as I’m always reading things that I already knew but this site educates and entertains me every day.

    Long may it reign !!

  63. As has been said I find this site very informitive interesting, as an engineer i find some of the technical articles very intesting.
    I consider myself a total petrol head. I own 3 classic cars plus 2 Newer cars. I admit none of my classics are Brits. The classic car world is a broad church, this site being another side to it.
    The H J Web site i find quite infomative, especially in the reviews section. Its very good too. However the backroom forum is the most anti car car forum ive ever used, very bitchy, as someone has already said. Ive been a member for 8 years. Im not sure what happened, Im guessing about 4 years ago all the regulars left (Forced out?) I would say more or less overnight. The HJ Forum became a worse place. It certainly has IMO nothing to offer this excellent site

  64. i’m sure if Keith has done it it will be fine after all Keith started this and i’m sure will continue in a like manner..

  65. I don’t often say much on here, but I’ve spent many, many hours on the site over the years, after finding it by chance. I’d just like to say thanks to Keith, and the others who run the site, free of charge.
    The idea for the site to expand into all UK cars is a good one in my opinion. It gives more scope for new material, and will make the site be of interest to a wider audience. The news of the new partnership was a surprise, but I hope it will be a positive change, and that it will make the site even better in the future.
    I think the harsh comments were uncalled for and people should wait and see what happens!

  66. As long as I don’t have to read anything about the likes of Peugeot and Seat, no propaganda on how desirable Audi’s are and how VW’s are the benchmark to judge all other cars by, then this collaboration get’s my blessing (not that it needs it!), I will still read regularly.

    Please let this site be a sanctuary away from the GTI Beemer TT Benz set, a place for those who will give the home grown car industry a sporting chance and interested in seeing it succeed, despite a disinterested domestic market.

    Thanks for the ride Kieth, keep true to your roots (or Rootes, BMC-MGR, JLR, AML, MINI, TVR, Lotus, Morgan, MaClaren, MG, Jenson, Bristol, Ariel…….!)

  67. Well done Keith.. The site is always brilliant so how people can find it hard to trust your judgement, I have no idea…

    🙂 All the best with it all.

  68. @Kieth

    Oh……so what’s this I spy on this very site then??!!:

    Essay : Volkswagen Golf – does anyone REALLY do it better?

    Oh dear, it’s already happening, HELP!!

  69. I have spent many times reading through this very informative site into the early hours and then realising it was almost time to get up for work!

    I’m curious as to what this collaboration will bring?

    Any further details Keith?

  70. I am another of the many who (a) doesn’t agree with the comments from Mayfair Player but (b) feels strongly enough about them to make a comment here. (b) is significant because (like others who have commented thus) I visit this website very regularly, and I thoroughly enjoy it, but (unlike many others) I have hardly ever commented on or joined in many of the discussions.

    Has anyone unmasked him/her yet?

    Had Mayfair Player not commented in this manner, however, I doubt very much if the AR/HJ announcement would have ever attracted circa 100 comments, with the lion’s share giving the praise that Keith and his band of helpers so richly deserve.

    (I’m guessing my own comment will be number 99. Who will take this to 100, and beyond?)

    So maybe in an illogical and perverse way, he/she got the otherwise “silent majority” to comment so positively in a way that would not have otherwise have happened.

    Result!

  71. @ Roverman. I’ve sat in bed many times reading this website, then seen what the time was-often gone 1 in the morning!
    I’ve been indoors with some ‘orrible bug for yonks now, but no matter, I enjoyed every second of it because I spent all my time on here!

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