When Jean Jennings, Automobile's fast-driving, hat-crazy editor-in-chief, first met the chairman of the magazine's parent company, Source Interlink, he complained, "My wife says we don't do anything for women to read." Source runs 60-plus magazines and websites for "enthusiast audiences." Their enthusiasms run from the common to the super-niche -- from cars and tattoos to ATVs and home theaters -- but all fall in the "prized" male 18- to 34-year-old demographic, according to the company's website.
"Do you know any women who write about cars?" he asked.
As it happens, Jennings has been writing about cars for more than 30 years. A teenage cab driver turned Chrysler mechanic, she snagged her first writing job at Car and Driver in 1980 on the basis of her award-winning union newsletter. In the mid-eighties, she was part of a group of editors who defected from Car and Driver to form Automobile ("with Rupert Murdoch's money," as she likes to say), and where she continues to write a monthly column,