My passions for cars stems from my childhood and today it still feels like a dream that I am doing what I always wanted to do- write about cars. I love all kinds of cars with a particularly soft spot for Fiats (they are great to drive!) and hope to own an Abarth 595 some day. I have been working at Motor Trend India for about a year and it has been a surreal experience- after all I got drive countless new cars and hope to continue doing that in the future!
In the quaint garages of Kerala, tucked away in southern India, there used to be a kid who would walk around picking up broken or discarded valves, piston crowns and ball bearings and trying to smuggle them home without his parents noticing. Years later, not much has changed! I am still the happiest while driving a car at its absolute limit or when my hands are covered with grease and engine oil. I learnt how to drive a car from my dad at the age of 8 and since then, I have known that my life will always revolve around all things automotive.
Cars, I feel, have souls and I could describe why I love everything about them in a deluge of sickening cliches, so I will not bother. But that craving to drive stunning cars never went away. During my college days, I would hit the showrooms posing as a buyer (while having barely enough cash in my pockets to buy a few ice creams!) just so that I could take one out for a test drive. And now I am being paid to do that. How things change.
Apart from day-dreaming about cars, driving cars, tinkering with cars, writing about cars and day-dreaming some more about cars, I also dabble in photography and go berserk over space exploration. Come to think of that, it sure would be nice to drive a car on the Moon. Are you listening, NASA?
Oh, and by the way, I still have those pistons, valves and ball bearings.
For me it always has been a passion thing. Life is too short so one should always try to follow their dreams no matter how many obstacles come their way. I cannot even remember a time when I was not interested in cars. Right from my childhood with the ritual of collecting scale models to wasting all my pocket money on car magazines, the world of automobiles has always fascinated me.
After completing my studies and trying my hand at a few different things I realised it was time to pursue my dream to be an auto journo. It was a case of now or never! Started out freelancing and then ended up at a magazine where I learnt a lot. Things like how to weave a story and the basic education of journalism. After getting some useful experience under my belt I then moved to the online world where I got the first proper taste of the motoring journo life.
Working at a major automobile portal, I used to test cars and write about them plus also handling some key sections of the site. Over the years I have driven some great cars and also uncovered the people behind them only to realize that I have just scratched the surface. Now with Motor Trend India things will only get bigger and better!
Lee Trevino said ———You don't know what pressure is until you've played for $5 a hole with $2 in your pocket.———
You also know what pressure is if you———ve lined up to race around Savannah, Georgia———s Hull Park (then dirt streets in a diamond shape) against a Plymouth Road Runner——— and you———re behind the wheel of a Ford Granada.
Did I win? Are you kidding? This is how woeful the Granada was: A cop pulled me over once and laughed as he pointed at the side-view mirror, sadly flopping against the door, hanging by its adjustment cable (the door had rusted out around it). He twisted the knife with, ———I was gonna give you a speeding ticket, but I don———t think your car can go that fast. Have a nice day.———
So I learned early that cars can thrill——— and frustrate. But it was a quieter event that cemented my emotional connection to four-wheeled creations.
My dad cried when he helped me buy a British racing green 1978 MGB.
It was the first time one of his kids didn———t have hand-me-down transportation. For a scrappy guy who negotiated for his chemical plant———s union only to negotiate against them one day as an accomplished manager, that car represented hard-won success.
Cars are inherently aspirational. We want better cars. The automakers want their cars to be better. We———re here to find out if they———re succeeding. My contribution to the mix: Years as a news reporter, designer and editor. Ten of those in our nation———s auto epicenter and the six before now in digital news.
Oh, and that MGB? Immune to neither Lucas——— comic electrical problems nor——— tickets.
My dad took me to my first auto show when I was three, at the legendary Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He didn't know if I would like cars, but he certainly hoped I would. It turns out I did -- and it quickly became a passion.
I went from knowing what cars all of my teachers drove in elementary school (I remember when my fourth-grade teacher traded her Chevrolet Monza for a Volvo), to trying to figure out what car I wanted when I was old enough to drive. My list started short -- Jaguars and 911s -- and the long list now includes many, many more. When I was in junior high, I was the only one of my friends who was reading car magazines (my dad's, of course), and while I was absorbing everything I could about the automotive industry, it was through that reading that I learned about a new car that was coming. It was a Japanese roadster designed in the spirit of British and Italian cars from the 1960s, and from that point on, I paid special attention to any news about that roadster. It was the Miata, and while I didn't get to own one, I tried really hard to convince my parents that it was a good idea for them to help me buy one for my college commute. That didn't fly.
When I was older, my dream was to write for an automotive magazine. I was convinced that the best way to get into the business was to get an internship at a magazine. At the very least, I thought, I could learn how the business operates. I had no luck getting an internship through UCLA (long story), but I got one in a rather unconventional way. I was waiting tables to help pay for tuition, and one day I started talking Jeeps with the guys at one of my tables. They were impressed that I knew about the history of Jeep, and it turned out each of them worked for a different four-wheel-drive enthusiast magazine. The next thing I knew, I had an internship at Four Wheeler magazine. That turned into a full-time job after I graduated college. I went to a few different titles within the automotive industry, learning a lot about Jeeps, pickups, and four-wheel-drive along the way, and eventually moved over to Motor Trend and Truck Trend, and have been thrilled to be here ever since.
These days, my daily driver is a truck, which is great fun. I am truly grateful that I have been part of some fantastic off-road adventures, all over the world. And if/when I ever get the urge to get a project vehicle (I'm considering saving up for a Willys Wagon), I already have the tow vehicle that can bring it home.
Oh, hello! I'm Sheree, not She-ree, but just like the way you pronounce Sherry baby!
I am currently an associate Web producer for Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine. I landed this job part-time back in 2008 when I was attending UCI. I graduated with a B.A. in business economics, but now I'm working full-time for the automotive world. I may not be a car enthusiast like most of these guys here, but I've definitely learned a lot more about cars, and I know enough to spark conversations with guys. And let me tell you, guys love it when a girl like me can speak the car lingo! Can you say "Free drinks?" (Ha ha, jk.)
When I'm not providing awesome car information for Motor Trend and Automobile followers, you can find me Yelping, pinning and Instagramming! I also love eating and trying different restaurants and taking photos of beautiful things and places.
Father. Husband. Sci-fi fan. Rocket scientist. Car guy. Taco enthusiast. Lover of all things mechanical. Galaxy hitchhiker. All-around good-guy and master of writing in the third person. He is associate editor Michael Febbo.
You can't imagine my excitement when asked to write a bio about myself. I considered writing it in the style of a car review, but then I remembered that I tend to be a little overcritical, especially when it comes to curb weight and a lack of cupholders. But let's start at the beginning. I was born. This is widely viewed as a good first step.
My first memories involve Hot Wheels on kitchen linoleum, riding in the family wood-clad station wagon, and seeing "Star Wars" in the theater. Han shot first! All of these things have stuck with me to this day, but honestly, my progress being a professional car guy has gone better than becoming a Jedi Master. I took the natural progression through Tinker Toys, then to Legos and eventually to radio-controlled cars. If you are building your own car guy at home, nothing works better than toys that go.
My dad is a car guy and so is my brother. My sister is a car fan, but is far too practical to devote enough of her time, money, and emotion to let four-wheeled time-wasters control her life. She has owned a variety of interesting European vehicles, so the apple still doesn't fall far. My mom is a car guy too. I am continually in awe of going to car get-togethers and car shows, ogling a classic piece of American iron, and my Dad saying, "Mine was a lot like this but blue," looking at my mom to give her the why-didn't-he-keep-it-for-me look, and her remarking, "Mine was red."
My interest in radio-controlled cars faltered as soon as I got my first full-scale, a 1991 VW Passat. The Passat was quickly modified and found itself being thrown around racetracks. Sadly, college was a major distraction from my racing. While in school for mechanical engineering, my first real gig was doing materials science research for NASA. Being able to say, "Why yes, as a matter of fact I am a rocket scientist" for the rest of your life is extremely appealing. I still found my way back to cars. Shelby American had opened a local manufacturing facility and after promising to slave away in an un-air-conditioned shop during the summer in Vegas for little pay, I had a job with a legend. I started unloading trucks, and then was a machinist and fabricator, and eventually part of the engineering team.
Once things went downhill at Shelby -- anyone remember the Series 1? -- I burned out on the whole car thing and tried to find myself. Hours upon hours spent contemplating the meaning of life from behind an espresso bar lead me to the same conclusion as every other young person with a dream: Head to California! My girlfriend at the time (now wife) and I saved a pile of money and moved from the middle of the desert to just a half-mile from the Pacific Ocean. Once here, we set that pile of money on fire trying to find that dream. We moved down here with my MK2 GTI, my wife's Turbo Beetle, and my trusty 911SC. The GTI was the first economic casualty. Someday at a car show, my son will look at my wife with the why-didn't-he-save-that-for-me look.
My automotive dreams were put on hold when I found a job in finance, where money falls from the sky. I hated getting up in the mornings. The same can be said about selling cars. Working at tuning shops was only marginally better. I decided I needed to get back in the business of either working for an OE or journalism. I took a job with what could at best be called minimal pay just to get my foot in the door. A foot in the door in journalism equates to sitting behind a computer eight hours a day, typing captions and creating names for each of the images a magazine has accrued over decades of existence.
My first actual position in journalism was as engineering editor at European Car magazine. That lasted a few years until an economic downturn turned me into a freelancer. After another few years of "freelancing," or more accurately, random episodes of unemployment, I decided that although it's pretty cool to write off your mobile phone, I wanted a stable income. That led to the position at Motor Trend, and unless I am the first to accomplish Midi-chlorian doping, I hope I will be here for a long while to come.
I grew up in Thurso, Scotland, the most northerly town in Great Britain, and studied graphic design in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. My first taste of professional design work was a short internship at Tayburn Design Agency in Edinburgh, designing promotional literature for the Gleneagles golf course resort. At Haymarket Publishing in London I worked on all sorts of magazines covering everything from horticulture to soccer to automotive interests. Haymarket's acquisition of Racer Magazine in 2001 took me Stateside and I began my automotive adventure.
In 2007 I joined what was then Primedia as group art director, working on SuperStreet, Hot Rod, 5.0 Mustang, European Car, and Project Car to name just a few. I joined Motor Trend as creative director in 2011. I love being part of the MT team and striving to keep the Motor Trend brand, including Truck Trend and Motor Trend Classic, at the leading edge of automotive excellence. It's a really good feeling to stand next to someone at the newsstand who's reading Motor Trend.
As a teenager in the U.K. the only car I drooled over was the Ford Capri 2.8 Injection Special -- for me that was automotive exotica. When I started my career back in 1989, one of the directors of Haymarket Publishing had a Lotus Carlton, at the time the fastest production car in the world. I would sneak out to the parking lot and have a peek, thinking, "Now, that car has got balls." And it's still on my automotive wish list.
I've always felt at home anywhere near the ocean, and I'm lucky enough to live close to the beach in Southern California, where I enjoy cycling and surfing.
I used to go kick tires with my dad at local car dealerships. I was the kid quizzing the sales guys on horsepower and 0-60 times, while Dad wandered around undisturbed. When the salesmen finally cornered him, I'd grab as much of the glossy product literature as I could carry. One that still stands out to this day: the beautiful booklet on the Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX that favorably compared it to the Porsches of the era.
I would pore over the prose, pictures, specs, trim levels, even the fine print, never once thinking that I might someday be responsible for the asterisked figures "*as tested by Motor Trend magazine."
My parents, immigrants from Hong Kong, worked their way from St. Louis, Missouri (where I was born) to sunny Camarillo, California, in the early 1970s. Along the way, Dad managed to get us into some interesting, iconic family vehicles, including a 1973 Super Beetle (first year of the curved windshield!), 1976 Volvo 240, the 1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic station wagon, and 1984 VW Vanagon.
Dad imbued a love of sports cars and fast sedans as well. I remember sitting on the package shelf of his 1981 Mazda RX-7, listening to him explain to my Mom - for nth time - what made the rotary engine so special. I remember bracing myself for the laggy whoosh of his turbo diesel Mercedes-Benz 300D, and later, his '87 Porsche Turbo.
We were a Toyota family in my coming-of-age years. At 15 years and 6 months, I scored 100 percent on my driving license test, behind the wheel of Mom's 1991 Toyota Previa. As a reward, I was handed the keys to my brother's 1986 Celica GT-S. Six months and three speeding tickets later, I was booted off the family insurance policy and into a 1983 Toyota 4x4 (Hilux, baby). It took me through the rest of college and most of my time at USC, where I worked for the Daily Trojan newspaper and graduated with a biology degree and business minor.
Cars took a back seat during my stint as a science teacher for Teach for America. I considered a third year of teaching high school science, coaching volleyball, and helping out with the newspaper and yearbook, but after two years of telling teenagers to follow their dreams, when I wasn't following mine, I decided to pursue a career in freelance photography.
After starving for 6 months, I was picked up by a tiny tuning magazine in Orange County that was covering "The Fast and the Furious" subculture years before it went mainstream. I went from photographer-for-hire to editor-in-chief in three years, and rewarded myself with a clapped-out 1989 Nissan 240SX. I subsequently picked up a 1985 Toyota Land Cruiser (FJ60) to haul parts and camera gear.
Both vehicles took me to a more mainstream car magazine, where I first sipped from the firehose of press cars. Soon after, the Land Cruiser was abandoned. After a short stint there, I became editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Sport Compact Car just after turning 30. My editorial director at the time was some long-haired dude with a funny accent named Angus MacKenzie.
After 18 months learning from the best, Angus asked me to join Motor Trend as senior editor. That was in 2007, and I've loved every second ever since.
There's a photograph, creased and faded, of a handsome man standing proudly in front of a red truck. Next to him is a kid, his head barely as high as the man's waist. He's smiling. He's proud to be in this photograph of his grandfather and the old Chevy, with its step-side bed lined with wood.
I'm that kid, and I like to imagine that my enthusiasm for cars started in the moment captured in that photograph. Although it also might've been during the long drives in my dad's Porsche 911, which he used as perhaps the least efficient means to lullaby a baby to sleep that the world has seen.
I grew up surrounded not only by cars, but by people who were passionate about them. This left a lasting impression and cultivated an obsession, ultimately driving me to seek a career where these surroundings would remain consistent. On the path, I dragged home miscellaneous car parts and at least one front-clip, and tore them all apart in the garage to dubious success. I devoured magazines, forums, textbooks -- everything I could find to learn more. I did amateur track days. I broke and crashed more things than I successfully fixed or built. But I learned, and my enthusiasm grew.
I still have the photograph. It's hanging in my kitchen next to the Chevy's license plate -- "MIJITO1" (roughly, little friend). It's a reminder that it's not the cars themselves, but the passion they instill in all of us. The lives they help us build, and the bonds they create between grandfather and grandson.
It was while spinning off a public road, backwards, at 100 mph that I learned an important life lesson. When you go over a bump at that kind of speed while descending a hill, you need to briefly lift off the brakes or you'll lock the wheels and lose it. That '66 E-Type Jaguar Roadster was a heck of a car to drive to high school, though.
Actually, it had been my dad's car, but after he'd spun it, he thought it wise to give it to me, what with my already knowing all about British sports car stuff from driving my '64 MGB. That was largely true. In fact, I'd been practicing double-clutch shifting in it right up through becoming eligible for a driver's license. Perhaps because our family had come to California from Detroit (we're weak stock who couldn't take the winters), and that my dad had produced zillions of "Bott's Dot" lane markers at his injection molding business, spinning cars wasn't really that big of a deal.
None of this dissuaded Road & Track magazine when I applied there for an internship in 1982 after an erratic study of engineering, but a life-molding involvement with sweep rowing at UC Irvine. R&T represented a nice rebound after losing my first automotive-related job at the Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum in Costa Mesa, California.
"Mr. C's" museum curator, John Burgess, might have noticed the rowing muscles (now long gone) and decided to hire me to come in every day to polish their 100 or so cars, working from one end to the other, and then doing it all over again. "You start next week," Mr. Burgess said. Fabulous! Understand that within those four walls were a Bugatti Type 41 Royale, Fangio's Maserati 250F, Dan Gurney's Belgium GP-winning Eagle, and Mr. C's own "Le Monster" - a hard car to describe. Cadillac-powered, the "Le" part of its name had to do with its destination: Le Mans. And the "Monster" part, well, you can figure out from its pictures. Anyhow, when I arrived on Monday morning to begin, Mr. Burgess - a great figure himself in American dirt track history and a darn fine painter of automotive art - didn't recognize me at all. He stared at me, bewildered, saying he'd thought he's hired somebody else. Sometime later he died of Alzheimer's, poor man.
Anyway, in no time at all I was at R&T, full-tilt into trying to comprehend Tapley Meters, reading heat-sensitive paper printouts of track test results, and drawing acceleration traces with French curves and triangles on big sheets of graph paper. Thus began 18 years or so (I'm never quite sure) of labors at that title. And very soon I became eternally grateful to my pal and mentor, Dennis Simanaitis, for having a well-timed heart attack that suddenly made me the Road Test Editor for 10 years. (Dennis is fine - check out his wonderfully eclectic blog Simanaitis Says for confirmation). Highlights? A big one was editor John Dinkel's historically wise judgment to say 'Do it, I'll cover for you' when Burt Rutan's Voyager Aircraft team called to ask if I could help them gather all-important acceleration data with our fifth wheel.
This meant being at Mojave airport (sometimes Edwards Air Force Base) two or three days a week for 6 months in 1986, getting up at 2:30 a.m. to make it there for daybreak test flights. My role was to help provide acceleration data so Rutan and company could figure out exactly how much gas could be carried in the spindly craft and still eventually get off the ground (if only barely) at the end of Edwards' 12,000-foot runway. One particular morning, our fifth wheel test equipment was attached to the back of a Corvette for a paced acceleration test. Engineer Glen Maben was driving while I was riding shotgun and pushing buttons. (It was a test where the plane might actually take off, making a dangling fifth wheel inconvenient.) Somehow, Voyager got going just fast enough to be neither able to assuredly take-off or stop. Glen and I heard co-pilot Jenna Yeager yell from our walkie-talkie "Too fast -- can't stop!" The planned emergency response to this situation was that a powerful truck in our formation would gun past us to get ahead of the airplane and then brake. Its doorless bed would then shear off the front propeller and landing gear, whereupon the plane's nose would collapse into the bed and the truck would stop it. Yes, that passed for a sane plan. To my horror, the truck thundered around us and began positioning itself. Glen, absolutely desperate now, gunned the Corvette next to the plane's right rudder, and with all of us doing 70 mph, and the plane's brakes smoking, rolled his the window down and grabbed the tail's leading edge with his left hand - while grazing the Corvette's brakes. It was pure instinct at work. A few feet ahead of us, the gas-laden carbon-fiber right wing was waving up and down, sloshing a zillion gallons of gas around. I could just see the tumbling fireball. Eventually the craft screeched to halt, literally at the last few feet of the runway. With smoke boiling off its nearly burning brakes, the pilots climbed out and ran for it. Bullet missed. If you Google it, you'll find that the next year, 1987, Burt's Voyager achieved what's considered the last great achievement in flight: traveling non-stop around the world on a single tank of gas without refueling. The two unbelievably courageous pilots were Rutan and Yeager. Am I'm looking forward to saying a quiet 'hi' to the old airplane sometime soon at the Smithsonian.
Other memorables during that time? Riding with Bill Milliken, America's greatest vehicle dynamist, in the profoundly important 4WD Miller racing car at the Milwaukee Mile. Another was having lunch with racing history's cleverest team manager, John Wier, and lunch again with Alex Tremulis, who designed the Tucker and put the side pipes on Gordon Buehrig's seminal Cord 810. (The pipes briefly enraged E.L.; now they're the epitome of classic.) And, happily, being Innes Ireland's Boy Friday during a (Formula 1) Long Beach GP weekend. His reputation for booze and skirt-chasing were spectacularly accurate. Oh yes, there was shaking hands with Ayrton Senna, too.
It still pains me that my experiences with Tremulis and Phil Hill happened too early in my life to properly appreciate them. These days I could almost cry at the thought of Tremulis sitting across from me but it being too early in my awareness of the Cord 810 to riddle him with questions. (I'll have one of those cars before I die, I promise you.) Tremulis led such an amazing life. I remember him recalling that he once fell asleep late at night while driving a Model J Duesenberg in the 1930's and flipping it in a cornfield - landing it on its wheels, no harm done. Later I learned that Phil was a world-class collector of piano rolls and had restored player pianos. These days, I have a vintage grand piano of minor pedigree that I'd love to have Phil's opinion of.
But the Phil moment that's most seared in my mind happened at Fiorano, Ferrari's test track. He, John Lamm and I were there to test whatever the latest red car was at that time, but Ferrari had us waiting (a time-honored tradition) so Phil and I whiled away the time in Enzo's old office in the farmhouse. Eventually Phil noticed a bookcase, and, upon opening it realized that it contained all of the race-by-race handwritten notes of his one-time team manager, including his star-crossed 1961 championship year. He'd never seen this before. In case you don't know, Phil clinched America's first World Driving Championship when his Ferrari teammate (and friend) Wolfgang "Taffy" Von Trips was killed while trying to recover from a botched start at the Italian Grand Prix. Phil began to read the 30-year-old scrawl out loud, and as he progressed, completely forgot I was in the room. "Why didn't you tell me that?" he's ask the old pages; "Gosh, I had no idea that's why you did it," he shook his head, responding to something about Trips. Phil was conversing through time with the principal players in his life's peak accomplishment, still trying to unravel the episode's details 30 years later. Decades and deaths had vanished; he was talking through time. Only I saw this.
Eventually, R&T began to feel like a wonderful old phonograph record with a bad scratch, endlessly skipped back to the same repeated melody, when my old boss, John Dinkel, called and offered me a job at the automotive dot.com startup Driving.com. It was 1999. Most people used dial-up then, and in a year and a half later the Internet bubble burst and our lights went off. (I actually unscrewed the server from the wall and put it in my trunk before they came to lock the doors.) When I left R&T, my colleagues thought I was nuts. "You've got a job for life here," they'd argue. "That's the problem," I'd reply. Conventional wisdom had it that magazines were eternal; the Internet, a strange fad. I felt differently. In fact, I'm still puzzled these days when people peg me as "magazine guy." I quit a print career to put a bet on the Web when it was truly risky.
What did we do at Driving.com? My contribution was a feature we called "Real Tests for Real People," that is, a complete reinvention of road-testing (a patent was even applied for), and the results were reenacted with Flash animation. This was 1999, remember. And sadly, none of it was ever seen by the public. Arrogantly, we used to scoff at Edmunds.com's crude early website - slow-loading pictures and clunky text. "We'll blow them out of the water!" The last laugh was on us. The man behind our site's technical fireworks was Bob Lash, co-creator of Webchat.com, and one of the original members of the Homebrew Computer Club, which had included a couple of guys named Jobs and Wozniak. A real brain, Bob Lash. And a cute moment of our site's freefall financial collapse was when its founder, Dave Morse (who had previously co-created the Amiga computer company) had to sell his prized Porsche 917-30 Can-Am car (ex-Mark Donohue backup car, I think) to cover payroll. Bad choice! Those "Road Tests for Real People" are unfinished business of mine.
After a stint doing independent instrumented testing, Kevin Smith kindly hired me at Motor Trend, and I'll always appreciate him for it. But meanwhile, we all were learning about GPS. I remember my pal, Kurt Borman, calling a few years earlier to say "Ya know, I think I might be able to measure car's performance with GPS." Kurt had a considerable background in Formula One instrumentation, so I tried not to laugh. The evolution in how we test cars today compared is absolutely extraordinary: fifth wheels gave way to radar guns, and now GPS-based systems are often accurate to a hundredth of a mph. And oh, fifth wheels...they were sort of the clown stage of road testing. Once, I had one attached to the door of a Ruf Porsche at Monza and watched, to my horror, as it slowly drifted away from the car, spinning merrily at speed - its axle had snapped! The drop in sensor and data logger costs is allowing us to now see things in vehicle performance that were simply unimaginable when I began.
And that's not at all unrelated to the progress of the electric car, something I feel strongly about. I've been lucky to have a front-row seat to this story's unfolding: riding in Alan Cocconi's Honda Civic EV-conversion; sitting next to Alec Brooks as he drove me around in the GM Impact (prototype for the EV1); actually pushing an out-of-juice production EV1 down a street; offering suggestions to both Cocconi and Brooks at a skidpad about the handling traits of their AC Propulsion tZero EV sports car. Later, Elon Musk drove one of those cars and decided to build his own (better) version - the Tesla Roadster. Like you, probably, I've read plenty of commentary from some quarters who are roaring that the EV is now failing. And yes, almost all of these cars will fail. But there was the same finger-pointing about the Internet in 2001. EVs are inevitable. It's just a matter of time.
But I don't think we'll need much patience to see the full flowering of the autonomous car - an inflection point in transportation history that'll completely tear up our conception of personal movement. Like 'em or hate 'em, autonomous driving is the Inevitable Next Step, and, as with EVs, grumbling against them is simply foolish, technological sentimentality. (Ask steam train fans how that diesel-electric locomotive thing came out.) A few years ago I watched the Darpa Urban Challenge autonomous vehicle race. And just stood there, slack-jawed. "This is it," I realized.
My only real question is, how are we going to test them? Well, I've got a few ideas about that...
I had been working in Petersen Publishing Company in the Production Department for two years and gotten to know the folks across the hall at Motor Trend. In 1980, I learned they were seeking a copy editor for the revival of Petersen's Sports Car Graphic. I auditioned and got the job.
SCG covered lots of motorsport, classic vehicles, and auto-related personalities, kind of like today's Motor Trend Classic, but not as high-line. I loved this job and was at it for two years when Motor Trend's copy editor resigned and they repositioned me to fill that vacancy. Consumer-oriented, sheetmetal-heavy MT was vastly different from and not as interesting as Sports Car Graphic. I had no idea I'd be at this magazine 33 years!
(I served a short stint as managing editor for our Custom Pubs group, but was pulled back when MT's managing editor decided to leave.)
In my time here, I've had 10 publishers, nine editors, and nine art directors, have been located in three separate areas of town, and have been through more design changes than you want to know. It's often hard going, as the fortunes of our magazine rise and fall with the economy and times. But my high times here have been unreal. It's been the best job I could ever imagine -- even if no one here believes me.
I've owned four cars in my life: a 1967 Mustang; a 1973 VW Bug, which is still sitting in my driveway awaiting a restoration; an 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, which had belonged to my mom; and my current, adorable and adored Miata MX-5. I sing with a couple of choirs and other groups, am studying violin (a long, agonizing effort), and live with my Yorkie Wylie and calico cat Lucy (who actually own me).
One of my earliest memories is of my mom helping to unstick my dad and his blue Volkswagen Karmann Ghia from our driveway Twin Falls, Idaho, driveway one snowy night so he could check on a patient. That '60s Karmann Ghia and a '76 Fiat X1/9 later transported our family, including 4-year-old me, to our new California home, which provided parking for an wide swath of vehicles, from a decommissioned school bus (I don't know what dad was thinking either), to a MG TD, to a Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, with plenty of others along the way.
My first car was a $100 1971 Porsche 914 that never did run and was ultimately removed (stolen? towed by the county?) from its impromptu parking spot in an empty lot a mile or so from home. My parents, perhaps knowing where such purchases would lead, forbade me the car - the lot was the only place I could stash it. Shortly after high school, I began autocrossing in the daily driver I borrowed from my parents, a 1989 Honda Accord LX (with a five-speed manual!) and won my first event. (The only other car in my class was a poorly driven Audi 4000 S Quattro.) Then I bought my own '76 Fiat X1/9 (same year and color as my dad's), followed by an '88 Alfa Romeo Milano, a '71 Porsche 911 T, and a '91 Mazda Miata. To support my sickness, I worked in restaurants and moonlighted at a Fiat/Lancia parts distributor in Santa Cruz, California.
After an on-again-off-again relationship with college that ran from the Monterey Bay to Southern California, I finally decided I wanted to write about cars. I completed my journalism coursework at Cal State Fullerton and applied for a position at Automotive.com that landed me on the back end of our Web division. That turned into a gig writing news articles for MotorTrend.com and ultimately heading a team of writers for MT.com's WOT news section. A few years on the news side brought me to my current position as associate editor of Motor Trend, where I drive, review, live, and breathe cars. There's no place I'd rather be. This profession has put me in the driver's seat of a Ferrari 458 on California's Pacific Coast Highway, carried me to the Mulsanne Straight at a night-light 24 Hours of Le Mans, and stood me alongside Emerson Fittipaldi at the 100th running of the Indy 500.
On the rare occasion that I'm not doing something related to cars, I'm probably golfing, road cycling, or reading a book that was written long before I was born.
My earliest automotive-related memory is being in an auto parts store with my grandpa. I can't remember how old I was, but I was definitely younger than 10. I didn't grow up lusting over fast, sexy cars, but I have always wanted to know how things work. Few activities get me more excited than dissections and analyses, even if the object of my attention is deemed inconsequential to the bigger picture. I fantasize often about my perfect garage -- not so much about what cars I'd stick in there, but more so the equipment and tooling possibilities. A formula car would be a must, though.
Perspective is my anchor in this job. I prefer anonymity while driving but can understand the allure of flashy metal. I enjoy alternative propulsion (hybrids, electric cars, the more the merrier) because of the multifaceted challenges these vehicles attempt to tackle, but I also appreciate the efforts of the hardworking, high-performance development teams. I believe in patience and sharing the road with others, because learning to ride a motorcycle was one of the most eye-opening experiences I've ever had. The motorcycle stays mostly parked nowadays, and I'm not in the auto parts store as often as I should be, but the memories keep coming.
I don't really like cars, but I heard there were free tacos at Car of the Year, so I figured, why not...
Just kidding. Like much of the staff, by the end of elementary school I was identifying cars on the nighttime highway by the shape of their taillights. After high school I was invited to work at a local Nissan dealership when the manager saw I knew more about their product than the sales staff. My friends once "kidnapped" me from work so I wouldn't go home to play more Gran Turismo.
Eventually I left the dealership to study my second love, film, because I was concerned no matter how much you enjoy something, work can still become work and I didn't want to risk my first love growing mundane. I also thought if I sold a screenplay for a billion dollars I could buy all the cars I want. While I was in school I took an automotive photography class and the teacher informed us his acquaintance at Motor Trend was looking for an intern. As under-qualified as I was, when a door opens at one of the biggest automotive entities in the world, you claw your way in kicking and screaming until they agree to let you stay.
Since starting here in June of 2010, I've accomplished more than I ever could have fit on a bucket list. Cross-country road trip in a 662-horsepower Shelby GT500? Check. Chase test mules around the Nurburgring? Check. Take a BRZ up Mt. Fuji? Check. Thrash the editor-in-chief's GT-R on a SoCal canyon road? Quadruple check. Drive a Ferrari? Oh my God, check.
So has my first love started to grow mundane? Quite the contrary -- I'm in love more now than ever.
Like many others, my fascination with vehicles started with Hot Wheels and Tonka Trucks. It wasn't until my step dad took me to my first NASCAR race at Riverside Raceway, one of the greatest tracks ever, that my passion for all things cars really started to develop.
It was a different time back then. We were able to freely walk through the pits, talking and taking pictures with the legends of NASCAR: Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby and Davey Allison, Cale Yarborough, to name a few. All of whom were more than happy to chat with us and pose for photos. It wasn't at all like the circus it is today. In addition to Riverside I was fortunate to attend a race at Ontario Motor Speedway, another of the greatest tracks ever. Unfortunately, both were torn down to accommodate new housing and strip malls.
NASCAR led to NHRA; living in SoCal we had it all. The Pomona Drag strip wasn't far from our home, and experiencing a Top Fuel car launch and fly by at 300 mph can't be put into words. It's something you have to see, hear, feel, and taste for yourself to truly appreciate what these cars do. It just added to my passion.
In college I discovered I was never going to be a race car driver, but that there were other areas that would keep me near what I really loved to do: be around, talk about, and write about cars. And school is the reason I'm here today. A class project connected me with then-senior editor Scott Mead. One thing led to another, and I was offered an internship, after which I was hired as an editorial assistant, and eventually became the road test editor. Lots happened in between to get me to that position, but I will spare you the details.
So here I sit, having one of the greatest jobs ever. I actually get paid to drive, test, and write about cars -- how cool is that? A car guy couldn't ask for anything more.
I was born into cars. I grew up around classic Volkswagens and fast Fords. I would stay up late to watch my dad and uncles rebuild old Beetle engine blocks, sandblast rust, and give new life to someone's once loved Volkswagen -- all in a makeshift paint booth in the garage.
My love for cars came from my dad. Our backyard always had a few project vehicles sitting around. His pride and joy was a 1969 Mach I Mustang that only came out for car shows and weekend cruises (and when I'd sneak it out of the garage to take to school every once in a while).
While my dad was a Ford and VW guy, my mom was all about Toyota. It's was her 1987 Toyota XtraCab Pickup she bought off the lot brand new and raised me in that would become my first vehicle in high school. I was one of three other girls in my school who drove a mini truck; and it wasn't stock -- my dad lowered it and slapped on a set of alloy wheels. I learned how to drive a manual on this truck. It took a beating and kept on going.
From high school, I dabbled in Hondas for a little while. I had a '89 CRX with a B16 engine swap that did well on the quarter mile. I also had a '91 CRX SI as a daily driver with a few street mods. But I couldn't escape the clutches of being raised around Volkswagens my whole life and, soon found myself in a 2000 Golf 1.8t four-door. It wasn't air-cooled, but it came from a strong heritage. The VW hold hasn't stopped since. I currently have two Mk4 Golfs, a MK5 GTI, and '87 Rabbit project car. But my most beloved vehicle in the stable is my highly modified 2006 Mini Cooper S - the only one that gets the garage.
My resume of hot-hatches is ironic when you consider I'm the Web Editor for Truck Trend magazine (TruckTrend.com). I've been part of the Motor Trend team for nearly if not over a decade with my main focus on trucks and SUVs. I write, take photos, work in production, assist on shoots, drive vehicles, and manage the website. I know trucks. I'm not an expert; I'm constantly learning new things every day. I love trucks. I love how you can throw your gear into the back of a truck and take it places you can't take your car.
I'm a VW fan-girl with vast a knowledge of the truck world.
My fascination with cars began at age 4 -- or at least that's what my parents tell me -- when I used to call out vehicles from the backseat of our Datsun station wagon. According to my mom, I was especially adept at distinguishing between Chevy, Dodge, and Ford full-size vans. Go figure. My dad wasn't a full-on car nut, but he did like cars and appreciated what they had to offer. He often told me stories about his 1957 Ford, '62 Corvette, and '71 911 - each transported him through key stages of life.
My first life transporter was a 1987 Nissan Pathfinder SE V-6 4x4, which I drove for a few years during high school. What a great rig, and one I wish I owned today. I also wish I still owned the '90 Toyota XtraCab V-6 4x4 I drove after the Pathfinder. The last compact Toyota truck to come from Japan, it was probably the most bulletproof vehicle I've ever owned. I have no doubt it's still romping over roads and rocks today. My next few cars - a '92 Honda Civic Si, '98 Nissan Altima SE, and '01 Honda Prelude - got me excited about the sportier side of automobiles, showing me the benefits of a sport-tuned suspension, communicative steering, and a rewarding gearbox.
After working at Microsoft's Carpoint website (now MSN Autos) for about four years, in 2000 I took a job at Car and Driver magazine in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I had lived in Providence, Rhode Island, during college, so I knew about cold, but southern Michigan felt like the Arctic. OK, it wasn't that bad, especially when I was away traveling for work. Some of my most memorable assignments during my tenure at C/D: driving the Land Rover LR3 in Scotland, the Audi TT in France, and the Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG in Germany, and attending the inaugural Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Lime Rock Park and three F1 races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (including Hakkinen's last win).
In 2005 I moved back to Southern California, where I grew up, to take a job at Motor Trend. Not only was it great to be back home, it was also a thrill to work with the best team in the business. Since I've been at MT, never have I worked harder, written more, and had more fun doing it all. Whether it's a new Corvette or Corolla, I still get excited to drive and learn about the captivating products automakers debut every year. It's a constantly changing business that never gets old, and I hope to get old doing it.
Like most of the Motor Trend staff, I too had an interest in cars from a very early age. It was probably inspired by my dad's stories of himself and his cousin as young men building hot rods in the garage and racing at now long-gone tracks or cruising down Whittier Boulevard in the mid '60s. You name a car, and my dad had it! Visiting car shows with him can be a little depressing as he rattles off: " I had one of those, and one of those. Oh, and my old '54 Merc was cool too!" OK, Dad, why didn't you still have one when I was in high school? I could have driven something awesome! Well, life moves on and so do cars. Family comes in and cars have to go.
In addition to cars, growing up, I always had an interest in my creative side. I discovered my dad's set of blue Staedtler drawing pencils, and, thereafter, they never seemed to be out of my hand. Since my father was a mechanic when I was a kid, the garage was well stocked with tools. Power tools, wrenches, saws, you name it.
Having access to all these great tools just allowed my imagination to run wild. Making things with my hands was always fun for me. In junior high I got fairly good at woodworking, art classes, ceramics -- even science class, when I made a papier mache volcano that blew my teacher away. Now as an adult, I've discovered the lost art of leathercraft and do that as a hobby to unwind from the day (shameless plug: www.facebook.com/blackthornleather).
In my sophomore year, I joined the high school yearbook staff; and, by senior year, I was editor-in-chief. Working on the yearbook made me realize what I wanted to do in life: graphic design. I became accustomed to deadlines early on, and it set me up for a career in magazines. I pursued art and design in college. Obtaining a BFA in graphic design from Cal State Fullerton (go Titans!).
Before graduating, I landed a job at my first magazine. I became the art director for Xtreme RC Cars magazine, and stayed there for several years. Eventually, I got shanghaied by Sport Truck magazine, and now a few years later at home here at Motor Trend. It seems by pure luck (or coincidence) my two areas of interest have collided. Cars and magazines. I couldn't be happier!
I was born and raised a true hippie child in Northern California, surrounded by tree-huggers and computer programmers alike. By the age of 10, I had formed my own Save the Earth club, and vowed I would never own a car until they were all solar-powered. In the meantime, I would ride a horse everywhere. Oh, how things have changed.
My interest in photography began in my teens after moving to Colorado, where I began shooting flowers, trees, and high school football games with my trusty Pentax K1000. Cars were a secondary interest, as I was influenced by stories of my mother rebuilding her own VW Bug engine, and my father taking me to many classic car shows over the years. The fact that my high school sweetheart was a gear-head might have rubbed off on me, too.
After working at a couple newspapers in Texas, I eagerly returned to California (driving my sweet little '69 Karmann Ghia) to earn my degree from Brooks Institute of Photography. During school, I obtained my motorcycle license and traded the Ghia for a Ducati Monster, which I ride (albeit occasionally) to this day. Not long after graduation, I began working for Motor Trend, where I am currently photo editor.
When I am not waiting for the light to get just right at dusk or dawn, hanging out the back end of a minivan to shoot car-to-car, or traipsing around some foreign country on a road trip, I enjoy hiking, camping, gardening, motorcycling, yoga, and playing the piano from time to time. I'm still waiting for my solar-powered car.
My love of cars has been a life-long passion. As a kid, I would play with Hot-Wheels and page through car magazines and coffee-table books dreaming about all the beautiful old cars and the exciting new ones. During freshman year of high school, I took a job at car-guy heaven. The building in Port Townsend, Washington, where Bergstrom's Antique Autos is located has been a garage since 1917. The exposed concrete is seasoned with the scent of almost 100 years of oil and gas, and it was there I gained knowledge and had my passion for everything automotive even further engrained. I cleaned, sorted, and sold parts, cars, and memorabilia of everything automotive. One of my favorite jobs was to sort, price, and check the condition of old car magazines. I have no hesitation in saying I have probably looked through every Motor Trend, Hot Rod, Sports Car Graphic, and Car and Driver since the late 1940s.
Around the same time as my job at Bergstroms, I started getting into photography. Naturally, to the dismay of my high school photography teacher, almost every photo taken, developed, and printed had a car as its subject. I would walk the parking lots of the school, and go to every car show looking for something cool to shoot. "If you want to be a photographer professionally, you will have to shoot something other than just cars" -- words I now enjoyably remind my high school photography teacher of from time to time.
After graduation, I attended Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, and continued to shoot as many cars as possible. Brooks has one of the premier photography programs in the country, and although I learned how to light, position, and shoot almost any type of subject, the reason I went there was for their automotive photography class. After three years, and thousands in weekend rental cars to shoot, I received my Bachelor's degree in Professional Photography.
I first came to Motor Trend as a photography intern. Having spent almost a year as an intern with Edmunds.com and another year working as a salesman at a local photography store, I was eager to get behind the camera again. After six months of interning and a few years of freelancing thereafter, I joined the team full time in late 2010 as a member of the art department.
Art direction was never a field I focused on, but is something I have grown into and learned to love. The process of molding the photography and story into a cohesive product has made me a better photographer and has opened my eyes to a side of the business not everyone gets a chance to experience. I continue to be passionate about photography, and I break away from my desk as much as possible to shoot. If you are interested in seeing my work please follow me on Instagram and Twitter @Mt_DubDub.
I began my journalism career at age eight when I announced to my parents and their friends the death of Elvis Presley, which had just been announced on television while I was watching "The Brady Bunch" or some nonsense.
After a few dormant years of breaking news, I began my journalism career in earnest when I began work at The Eastern Progress (the pride of Eastern Kentucky University). There, I learned many things including: To be a good reporter you have to be nosy. I'd be working a lot of late nights, and I wasn't a nosy person. Realizing I'd probably be a subpar reporter, I changed course and became a visual journalist: creating charts, graphs, maps, and tiny people getting blown up -- all to help tell whatever story we were publishing.
This made sense because, aside from news, my other passion was design and art.
A few internships in Kentucky, Ohio, and Wisconsin prepared me for my first full-time job at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in Indiana, where I began my career as a staff graphic artist. Three and a half years later, I packed up and moved to Cincinnati to work for my beloved hometown paper, The Cincinnati Enquirer. After eight years creating all the murder maps, census charts, and Olympic torch routes, I was ready for a change. That came when I signed on to help launch The Enquirer's new entertainment weekly as a page designer. The CiN Weekly staff was small, so I was exposed to a lot more of the assigning, planning, and execution of making a weekly. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun.
After a few vacations to the Golden State, I realized California was the place for me; and when the opportunity arose, I made the leap to Los Angeles. I started work at Motor Trend in 2006 as an assistant art director, and through intimidation and blackmail (shoutout to my man Sun Tzu!), I moved to the position of art director and now managing art director, which means I try to make people feel guilty for not getting stories and images into the production department in a timely manner.
Despite my occasional grumpy demeanor, working at a magazine of this caliber has been a dream come true; and I'm proud to be a part of this bad-ass publication -- even if I prefer automatic transmissions over manuals.
For me it's all about the hunt -- the search to find the perfect scene in which to photograph our amazing test car subjects. Whether it's a secret remote road a hundred miles from nowhere or an abandoned oil refinery just a few miles from our headquarters in El Segundo, the objective is to use these places to make our photography stand out from everything and everyone else. Motor Trend is known for its award-winning photography and that's a direct result of the blood, sweat, and tears we pour into every photo production. The light, the location, the composition, the movement of the car, and the sharpness of the image -- all of these things must be perfect every time we open the shutter.
Cars, trucks, and motorcycles are as much a muse as they are a passion. Their keys jingle in my pocket, tempting me to go farther on that meandering lane that becomes our lives. Their engines often are coughing or wheezing, but always cajoling me around the next bend. "Go," they say. "The road smooths out just around the bend. It's gonna be fun." They are always right, though never that metaphorical.
That $200 1965 Plymouth Belvedere with its slant-six 225 and three-speed on the tree carrying me and five friends at any time through my senior year of high school.
My 1985 Toyota 4x4: I bought my first new vehicle ever with a down payment from my $5,000 bonus to join the Army, where I jumped out of airplanes for a living.
A 1988 Honda V65 Magna (and later a Shadow VT600CD) provided great parking at UCLA and took me from city reporter assignments in South Florida to an editor's job in Elmira, N.Y., to Darmstadt, Germany, where I learned to love armored Humvees, Strykers and Bradley Fighting Vehicles while covering wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq as Stars and Stripes Middle East Bureau Chief.
Then came the 2000 Dodge Stratus that brought me to Detroit eight years ago to get married and become a respectable assistant business editor at The Detroit News. But if you live in Motor City, the cars never stop calling, and you quickly learn the business end of sports car has two meanings. So I traded an editor's desk for a reporter's notepad (and the Stratus for a spectacular grille), hoping to do more. With a bit of moxie and a lot of luck, I landed the auto critic's position at The News less than a year after starting there.
When I was offered the chance to work at Motor Trend, I knew I couldn't say no. It's humbling.
Inside the auto world, the learning curve never ends, and that's one of the many things I love about my work. There's always more to discover, find, and appreciate, from the beauty of mechanical precision to the people who create the machines that make our lives today possible.
I don't have to bleed oil to understand and love the vehicles around me. I know how well they've carried me so far and the impact they've made on my life. And I have the foggiest idea where they'll take me -- I just know it's gonna be fun.
I was born in the self-proclaimed Lowrider Capital of the World (Espanola, NM), and as a kid I would correct restaurant menus in red pen and hand them back to the waitstaff -- so you could say I was destined for automotive copy editing. I learned to shift when I was 10 from my dad, also a magazine editor, who owned a racing green Triumph Spitfire. He taught me to listen for the revs and shift with my left hand from the passenger seat. Unfortunately, he sold the car a week before I got my driver's license, so I never got to shift it correctly and legally. My first car was a blue Datsun B-210, manual transmission of course. The odometer had been messed with and ran backward, which made it tricky to keep track of my mileage as a law firm courier in high school. But I loved that car, and the freedom it represented.
After majoring in magazine journalism at Indiana University (trading the Datsun for red 1989 Toyota Tercel, manual), I briefly worked at my hometown newspaper before heading to the Motor City. At the Detroit Free Press I copy-edited features and business stories, including auto coverage, and met and married an editor who can't drive a stick. (He told me not to write that, preferring that I say he "can't drive one very well." I had a manual Toyota Corolla for a decade and he never once drove it, so I rest my case.) I left the Freep after 12 years to write direct marketing copy for Mercury, but a year and a half later the nameplate was mothballed. I swear it wasn't my fault. I began freelance copy editing for Motor Trend online, and became copy chief -- it's spelled Cheif in our internal email directory, which cracks me up -- in 2010.
I love working here, and shifting BRZs, Mustangs, and Mazda2s -- pretty much anything with a shift knob. I love the guys I work with, even when they tease me about my obsession with chocolate, shoes, and glitter nail polish. When I'm not reading magazine copy at work I can be found at dance class, hiking Griffith Park, or reading the 18 magazines to which I subscribe. And while I don't own a lowrider, I do have a '53 Chevy hot rod, painted yellow with flames.