Former Motor Trend Editor-in-Chief Tony Swan Dies at 78


Tony Swan, veteran automotive journalist and former Motor Trend editor-in-chief, has passed away at age 78.

Born in Minnesota, Swan began his career in journalism as a writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, bringing auto racing to the paper’s sports coverage. He joined Motor Trend in 1975, serving as features editor and later as international editor and executive editor. It wouldn’t be long until he rose the ranks to editor-in-chief, a role he held through 1985. During his career, he also wrote articles for the Detroit Free Press, Autoweek, Cycle World, Popular Mechanics, the New York Times, and most recently Car and Driver, serving as executive editor there through 2006.

He was a founding member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards, serving on the jury for around 25 years. In 2004, he won the Ken Purdy award from the International Motor Press Association, which is considered one of the highest achievements in automotive journalism.

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Swan was not only a very talented writer, but also an avid race car driver. For decades, he competed in amateur and semi-professional races, holding a Sports Car Club of America National Competition license. He won three SCCA Divisional championships and participated in 35 24-hour races.

The self-proclaimed “Old Boy Racer” will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with the Swan family during this difficult time.

Here are a few anecdotes about Tony from our staff:

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