Author Archive: John Matras

John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others.

John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association.

John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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How capitalism bests socialism: the Volkswagen GTI meets the Trabant

How capitalism bests socialism: the Volkswagen GTI meets the Trabant

What, one might ask, does the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI, the archetypical hot hatch and everyman’s sport compact from capitalist West Germany, have to do with the Trabant, the notorious automotive artifact of the dismal socialist economy of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik? Not much…and everything. The Trabant, for those not familiar with it, was in […]

May 26, 2016 | By | Reply More
Hertz reprises Shelby Mustang rentals with 2016 GT-H, but reserve yours now

Hertz reprises Shelby Mustang rentals with 2016 GT-H, but reserve yours now

Black with gold on Mustang is back at Hertz. The car rental company has announced that it will be leasing the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, reprising the Shelby Mustangs that Hertz rented out in 1966 as the Shelby GT350-H, and again in 2006 as a 40th anniversary celebration of the original Beginning TK, muscle […]

May 26, 2016 | By | Reply More
Bees on cars: It’s the real sting

Bees on cars: It’s the real sting

You know that dog that chases your car? Think it would chase it for two days, even after he caught it once and was taken away once? That didn’t happen to a woman in England, but something close did. According to The Telegraph, that back end of one Carol Howarth’s silver Mitsubishi Outlander was covered […]

May 25, 2016 | By | Reply More
2016 Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang track drive review: Flat-plane geometry and monster brakes

2016 Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang track drive review: Flat-plane geometry and monster brakes

There’s a sort of chicane, and the 2016 Shelby GT350R Mustang tags the curbing on the right and then the left and then there’s a straight ahead. Put the hammer down. There’s a slight rise so the next corner can’t be seen, but it’s a left and the braking points are marked with cones. The […]

May 21, 2016 | By | Reply More
2016 Fiat 500L Urbana Trekking review: Playing the game

2016 Fiat 500L Urbana Trekking review: Playing the game

The coaches at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles studied the Mini playbook and came up with a game plan that crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s—literally—for a return of the Fiat brand to America. To wit: Start with an iconic European brand that’s vaguely familiar to Americans and draw on the brand’s heritage to introduce a […]

May 16, 2016 | By | Reply More
2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L Plus first drive review: If you can make it here…

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L Plus first drive review: If you can make it here…

What can you learn driving the 201 Chrysler Pacifica for 15 minutes at 15 miles an hour? Quite a bit, actually, depending on where those miles are. Especially when that 15 miles per hour is a top speed—much of it standing still—but only if those miles are in Manhattan in the vicinity of the Lincoln […]

May 13, 2016 | By | Reply More
2016 Lexus RX 450h F Sport review: Having it all, luxury, hybrid, and sport

2016 Lexus RX 450h F Sport review: Having it all, luxury, hybrid, and sport

In the beginning, hybrid automobiles were solely about economy, so much so that the original Honda Insight felt crude as an engineering senior project and “Toyota Prius” became the punchline for car enthusiasts’ jokes. Like vegetables, if it’s good for you, it can’t be fun. That’s not completely true anymore. Honda makes the CR-Z, a […]

May 8, 2016 | By | Reply More
1964 Renault 8 Gordini: How to say ‘Shelby’ in French

1964 Renault 8 Gordini: How to say ‘Shelby’ in French

Saying “Gordini” in France is like saying “Shelby” in America. Not only do both names mean automotive performance, but if you don’t stretch the analogy too far, there are similarities between the careers of the men behind the names, Amedee Gordini and Carroll Shelby. Each had begun his career as a race driver, each had […]

May 2, 2016 | By | Reply More
2016 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD Premium review: Looks aren’t everthing

2016 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD Premium review: Looks aren’t everthing

It doesn’t look different. Ah, but it is, just not in what you can see. The Cadillac ATS was introduced in the 2013 model year, and this is 2016. Normally that would mean a mid-generational update, a facelift or something. But here’s the 2016—with no changes to the bumpers, grille, trim or lights for the […]

April 28, 2016 | By | Reply More
2016 Chevrolet Malibu LT review: Growing up

2016 Chevrolet Malibu LT review: Growing up

It’s common, if not universal, for an automobile model to grow over the years, to become longer overall with a longer wheelbase. But not usually like this. The new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu grew itself right into Chevrolet Impala territory. Check the numbers: The wheelbase of the new 2016 Malibu is 111.4 inches.  The wheelbase of […]

April 25, 2016 | By | Reply More
Can a car headrest be used to break a car’s window in an emergency?

Can a car headrest be used to break a car’s window in an emergency?

There’s a meme making its way around Facebook saying that car manufacturers make car seat headrests detachable so they can be used to break window glass in an emergency. Well, let’s take a look at that. First, we’ll posit the primary reason they’re detachable is not because they’re so much “kept detachable” but rather because […]

April 23, 2016 | By | Reply More
Euro car safety group adds dual star rating to include advanced safety features

Euro car safety group adds dual star rating to include advanced safety features

A problem, if you can call it that, for car safety testing is that automakers are going above and beyond governmental safety requirements. While car crash testing has been going on for decades and refined to match real world conditions for more accurate crash test ratings, new safety equipment has been developed and touted by […]

April 20, 2016 | By | Reply More
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