Car features a regular group test under the 'Giant Test' name, which was originally developed by the magazine in the 1970s. It also features 'newcomer' first drives of new cars, interviews with significant figures in the motor industry and other features.
The magazine was launched in 1962 as Small Car and Mini Owner incorporating Sporting Driver . It was renamed as Car in 1965. In the 1960s Car pioneered the 'Car of The Year' (COTY) competition that was subsequently decided by motoring journalists on a Europe wide basis. In the 1970s and '80s Car was far ahead of other motoring magazines for the quality and depth of its writing, artwork and photography. Significant contributors during the magazine's heyday included Henry Manney III, Douglas Blain, George Bishop, L. J. K. Setright, Ronald Barker, Mel Nichols, Steve Cropley, Russell Bulgin, Philip Llewellin, James May, Alexei Sayle and Rowan Atkinson. L. J. K. Setright in many insightful series of articles, linked the development and history of the motor car to its social, technological and historical contexts. Car was also renowned for its 'scoop' photos and drawings and took delight in the irritation it caused to car manufacturers by revealing significant new models ahead of time. Car regularly featured the spy shots of Hans G. Lehmann, featuring his work with its own image-stamp emblazoned with the words Hans G. Lehmann - Fotograf. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the artist Hilton Holloway was responsible for a number of projected images of cars in development, first through graphic art, followed later by Photoshop compositing artwork. In 2001 one of his concepts for a Lotus Formula 1 was so accurate that 'Project Hilton' became the code-name for the F1 project within Lotus.
From 1991 to 2007, Car was published by Emap. In March 2009 the magazine's listings section (which gives details of new cars on sale in the UK) reverted to the name 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' – which it had used when it was created in the early 1970s – after an absence of nearly three years.