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Auto writer Jerry Flint: Goodbye to an icon

by Bill Cawthon on

Jerry Flint, 79, died yesterday after suffering a stroke. Jerry was one of America’s best-known auto writers and industry gadflys who once opened a speech to GM engineers and designers by saying, “You are poorly led.”

I corresponded with Jerry for several years and, though we didn’t always agree, I was always impressed by his insight and common sense. Detroit would be in better shape today had the automakers headquartered there followed at least some of his advice.

Jerry was born in Detroit in 1931. His journalistic career spanned 52 years; he continued writing for Forbes long after he retired in the late 1990s: in fact, his last new column appeared on Forbes.com today. After graduating from Wayne State University in 1953 and doing a 3-year stint in the Army, he became a journalist. He covered lots of beats for some of the nation’s preeminent publications.

He was considered by many to be the dean of automotive journalists and had an untarnished reputation for calling ’em as he saw ’em, a trait that did not endear him to a lot of corporate executives. However, it did make him a lot of friends among auto enthusiasts.

Jerry wrote his own bio not long before he died. It’s a short read and a good one.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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