Bringing in the Heat

Huge news, Dear Readers! As a bookend to the six guys we hired in the first half of 2011, whose average age was 22.2 years, we are welcoming two seasoned pros whose combined age doesn't quite equal that of all six boyos. But almost.

Our new executive editor, Todd Lassa, has been Motor Trend's Detroit editor for twelve years. Before that, he served hard time as a cop reporter, a schools reporter, a film critic, and a political reporter in D.C., before eventually landing a four-year stint at Autoweek on his way to Motor Trend. "Detroit is to the global auto industry what Washington is to national politics," Lassa says. "It's easily more fascinating and as frustrating to cover as a journalist, and the commute is far more interesting."

As Motor City Blogman, Lassa dug deeply into the domestic industry's business and frequently broke cover on future model info. His opinion is valued, and he is always his own man. A Google search will let you read Lassa's infamous online retort to Rush Limbaugh on the worth of the Chevy Volt. Lassa wins. "I can be just as passionate about politics, movies, and art... and the Green Bay Packers, of which I'm a shareholder," he says. Still, he insists that Formula 1 is his favorite sport.

Lassa will continue following the business at Automobile Magazine. "With autonomous cars on the horizon, we face the greatest threat to our enthusiasm since the malaise and oil embargoes of the 1970s. I'm thrilled to become part of this team, and I look forward to helping place the cars and the way we drive them in context." We don't usually talk about family business, but Motor Trend is one of the several dozen automotive titles owned by our parent company, Source Interlink Media. It was most gracious of MT editor Ed Loh to let his prolific industry essayist and seasoned reviewer accept this worthy promotion from a sister publication with best wishes instead of a swift kick in the keister.

At the same time, we are trumpeting the return of our original West Coast editor, Michael Jordan, who left six years ago for some ill-advised (read: $$) reason or another. I was bound and determined to bring him home, and home he has come. I could just weep. We go back thirty-two years, when I joined Car and Driver and he was the West Coast editor who talked me down off the cliff where I was regularly driven by the testosterone-laced atmosphere rampant in the day. Jordan started at C/D out of Yale in 1976, and when David E. Davis, Jr., moved the magazine from New York to Ann Arbor, Jordan returned home to Southern California and his boogie board to serve as C/D's West Coast editor. It took me a few months to coax him to our new venture, but he joined Automobile in 1986 and wrote some of our most important and most memorable stories over its first two decades. "Our" Michael Jordan, I used to call him, back when the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons were headliners.

Jordan has a big brain, is a riveting storyteller, and has led a life worth reading about. "I've talked Corvettes with Zora Arkus-Duntov, met pre-WWII Mercedes GP driver Hermann Lang, driven cars beside Ferdinand Piech and Bob Lutz, listened to wild racing stories from Dan Gurney, and had chief executives from every car company on the planet ask me what I think. In that time, I've almost never met anyone who was in the car business just for the money."

Jordan agrees that digital media gives a thrilling immediacy to our experiences but thinks magazines are the place where they're the richest. "You're committed, and there are fewer distractions to keep you from the depth of the experience, both words and pictures. There is a kind of surprise to a magazine. You find stuff you didn't know you were looking for. It's the difference between playing your own music over and over and a really great radio station that is like a new friend."

Automobile is about context. It's about storytelling. With Lassa and Jordan rounding out our talent, you won't want to miss an issue with your new friends.

For more Jean, go to JeanKnowsCars.com.

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