David Zenlea

Senior Editor
David Zenlea

Vanity would have me believe you’re reading this because you’re a devoted fan of my writing. In that case, you may want to know that I also edit the magazine’s Ignition section, read lots of Kurt Vonnegut, and would eat sushi at every meal if it were socially acceptable. Reality tells me you just want to know how I landed this amazing job. Fine. Based on my experience, here’s some advice.

1) Major in journalism. Most of us here aren’t racecar drivers -- we’re writers and reporters. It probably helps if you’ve attended journalism school, as I did at the University of Maryland, or worked for some periodical. That said, deputy editor Joe DeMatio now claims he was more intrigued by my second degree in Jewish studies, even though he’s never once asked me to write about the exploits of Simon bar Kochba.
2) Know how to operate a manual transmission. Seems obvious, but I actually did not upon being hired. I taught myself during my first month on the job by visiting six Ann Arbor dealerships to test drive stick-shift economy cars. My sincere apologies to whoever ended up buying that Ford Focus.
3) Learn everything you can about cars. I grew up pouring over car magazines and memorizing zero-to-sixty times as if they were catechism. People have been asking me for car-buying advice since before I could drive.
4) Realize you actually know nothing about cars. A brief conversation with design editor Robert Cumberford, editor-in-chief Jean Jennings, or any other of the veterans here leaves you humbled and astounded by their wealth of automotive knowledge. It’s truly one of the best parts of working here.
5) Be persistent. I wrote to Automobile’s editors. And called. And wrote them some more.
6) Be lucky. I really have no idea why then deputy editor Joe DeMatio answered my unsolicited voicemail. I hadn’t even pronounced his name correctly (it’s De-MAY-shee-oh, not De-MAH-tee-oh). But he did, and here I am, driving cars and writing about them for my devoted fans.

Research A Vehicle

Select a vehicle to research pricing, see photos, compare similar vehicles and much more.
Research Now

Top Lists

Find Local Car Deals

sponsored links