RIP Tony Swan

I’m sorry to report that my Tony died September 27, 2018 after almost 10 years fighting a nasty head and neck cancer that kept returning despite numerous surgeries, chemotherapies, two major rounds of radiation, and several clinical trials of various immunotherapies. I’m Tony’s wife, Mary Seelhorst. (Technically I was his wife; I hate the term “widow.”)

Tony always wanted to do more with this site but he was too busy living while dying. He was working (he pitched and sold a story two weeks before he died), racing (he did a Lemons race late June, 2018 and had one planned for October), reading history, following F1 and college football, and generally enjoying whatever he could still do.

My favorite posts of his were “I learned about driving from that.” He wrote several more than the two posted here, with the intention of turning them into a book or a dedicated blog. We never finished that project. I haven’t decided if or when I’ll kill this site, but if you’re reading this it’s still here.

Here’s a link to my short post about him, followed by links to some of the tributes his colleagues wrote, followed by his original “About” page. There were even more articles, but this will keep you as busy as you wanna  be.

My blog post about Tony.

Lawrence Ulrich’s excellent and accurate take on Tony the automotive journalist in The Drive.

Car and Driver’s obit, by Tony’s colleague, our friend and teammate Rich Ceppos.

Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press remembers Tony.

From Motor Trend, where Tony was Editor-In-Chief in the early 1980s.

And our pal Paul Eisenstein writes about Swanny at The Detroit Bureau.

Welcome. I’m Tony Swan.

I suspect you wandered in here because you made a wrong turn somewhere, or you were speeding and ducked in to avoid pursuit.

Be that as it may, I hope you’ll be able to hang here for awhile, and check the chronicle that follows.


It’s about cars—let’s make that vehicles—and the people who love them. The plan is to post new vehicle reviews along with assorted other stuff. How to get into automotive journalism, for example. Well, how I got into automotive journalism, which may not be quite the same thing. Driving now versus driving then, then in my case dating to the 1950s. Classic cars. Hot rods. Motorsports. Concours d’elegance.

Credentials: I’m a Minnesota boy, and went from the University of Minnesota (history and journalism) to the St. Paul Pioneer Press sports staff. I brought sports car racing to the paper’s sports mix, which eventually led to a job with Competition Press and AutoWeek, in California. Comp Press was all motorsports in those days, but it morphed into AutoWeek later and eventually became part of the Crain empire in Detroit.

Long before that happened I’d moved on, first to Better Homes and Gardens, where I wrote travel features, as well as automotive articles, and then to Motor Trend. That was 1975, and it’s been all wheels ever since—Cycle World magazine, then a motorcycle ad agency, a public relations agency working on the Mazda account (good client, but I learned that I’m the wrong guy for p.r.), Motor Trend again, Popular Mechanics (auto editor), Detroit Free Press (auto critic), and most recently with Car and Driver (executive editor, senior editor, contributing editor, Old Boy Racer).


Old Boy Racer is a title I made up for myself, distilled from well over 30 years of racing in amateur and semi-pro events. The resume includes three Sports Car Club of America divisional championships, and participation in 35 24-hour races. They say racing is how you turn money into noise, but since almost all my experience has been in cars that are pretty close to stock I think it expands my internal data base. There’s nothing like a race track for exploring a car’s absolute limits.

That’s my rationale, and I’m stickin’ to it. Still racing after all these years.

To sum it up, I have sustained a love affair with motor vehicles for a long time, long before I started driving, which was long before I was actually licensed to do so. I’ll share some highlights of those halcyon days later. But for now, let’s just say that I’ve been at this for longer than just about anyone in this business—my Car and Driver colleague Tony Quiroga is still convinced that I was present for the press launch of the Ford Model T—and over the decades I’ve seen truly profound changes in motor vehicles and in the industry that produces them.

I’ll get to some of those changes and experiences in future posts. I hope you’ll join me. Share. Subscribe. Comment. So buckle up. And remember: drive fast, take chances.  – Tony Swan


4 Responses to “About”

  1. brad March 3, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    awesome tony! you forgot our other saying: “shiny side up.”


  2. sistah swan March 3, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    you go, dude! nice post. xo


  3. Brian Van Mols January 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    Tony Swan is my friend and favorite automotive journalist!


  4. Fred Gregory February 1, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

    Nice site. Glad to see you are out and about. Send me an email and we’ll catch up.



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