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Joe DeMatio
Joe DeMatio
I landed a job at the then-fledgling Automobile Magazine by answering a blind ad in the Ann Arbor News for an “editorial assistant at a national magazine.” I knew that both Automobile Magazine and Car and Driver were based in Ann Arbor, and I knew the story of how David E. Davis, Jr., had left Car and Driver to found Automobile Magazine with, as he liked to say, “Rupert Murdoch’s money.” So I dearly hoped, as I carefully composed my cover letter and printed it out on 100% cotton stock, that I was applying to one of Ann Arbor’s two automotive enthusiast magazines rather than to Mathematical Reviews magazine, which was also (and still is) based in Ann Arbor. After all, I had barely passed rudimentary calculus at the University of Michigan.

My cover letter was not as carefully composed as I thought, as it contained a typo, so the managing editor at the time threw it into the reject pile. Only after interviewing an assortment of poorly dressed and groomed losers did she, out of desperation, fish my resume out of the pile and call me in for an interview and a battery of quite difficult editing, proofreading, and typing tests. Yes, I took a typing test to get my job at Automobile Magazine, so when people ask me the inevitable question, “How did you get that incredibly cool job?” I can honestly answer, “through a classified ad in the newspaper, and because I took typing in high school.”

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and I’ve had a variety of positions at Automobile Magazine: editorial assistant (in which role I answered Jean Lindamood’s reader mail, including to inmates on death row); copy editor; associate editor; and senior editor. I also was the editor of our annual Buying & Leasing Guide for many years, which allowed me to spout off powertrain specs on virtually every car on the market. Along the way I learned to drive (I mean really drive, not what you learn in drivers training); to write and edit to the high standard that has been Automobile’s raison d’etre since Vol. 1, Issue 1; and to produce a monthly magazine, with all that entails.

And the cars. Yes, the cars. I’ve driven them all, I’ve written about many of them, and I’ve edited others’ writing on the rest. Well, I missed the Ferrari Enzo and the Porsche Carrera GT, but I’ve driven every Lamborghini since the Countach, every mid-engine Ferrari since the 355, and, most recently, the Bugatti Veyron, which was even better than I had hoped. Having access to so much hot metal surely is hazardous to one’s driver’s license, no? Yes, indeed, it is. I’ve spent more than my share of time at the side of the road having conversations with police officers, and I’ve begged and groveled for mercy in front of many traffic court magistrates. Funny thing is, I’ve had more speeding tickets in workaday vehicles like minivans, economy cars, and family sedans than I have had in exotics.

If I had to pinpoint two cars that have meant the most to me during my time at Automobile Magazine, it would be the Porsche 911, in all its series and iterations, partly because a 964-chassis was the first car I ever drove cross-country; and the Mazda Miata, a car that fits me physically and philosophically and which has been around since I stuffed that cover letter and resume into an envelope.
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