Wild ride with Lutz was part of a great journey

Rick Kranz is the former product editor of Automotive News.

Friday was my last day after more than 25 years with Automotive News.

It has been a fantastic ride -- driving a wide range of outstanding cars and trucks, meeting incredibly dedicated people and having a laugh or two along the way.

There was the time I rode shotgun with Bob Lutz in a top-down Cadillac XLR convertible some years back. I conducted an interview, yelling questions and Bob yelling back answers as he sped through the Arizona desert at 100 mph.

I laughed with Dieter Zetsche when he confiscated my cassette tape (temporarily) during an interview several years ago on a PT Cruiser trip. "German censorship," Zetsche declared before he returned the tape.

Today's automotive issues differ little from those in 1986. Back then, safety, reliability, fit-and-finish and fuel economy were among the issues on the lips of executives and consumers.

During an interview with General Motors Chairman Roger Smith in 1986, a short time before I joined Automotive News, Smith said boosting mpg was a top priority. GM was studying technology to reduce engine friction and urging tire makers to develop tires with less rolling resistance. Sound familiar?

Over the past 25 years, airbags, stability control and antilock brakes have made driving safer. Reliability and fit and finish have never been better. Huge strides have been made in fuel economy, particularly with hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electrics. Talk of such electrification seemed more like science fiction back in 1986.

I want to thank all those who took the time to read my stories and blogs. Your "hits" often made those blogs and stories top the charts on Automotive News' Web site.

I also wanted to thank Keith Crain -- whose company allowed me to have this dream job -- along with my bosses, Peter Brown and Jason Stein, and my other colleagues at Automotive News, particularly Jack Teahen.

I feel very fortunate to have combined my passion for automobiles with my career. When I was a kid growing up in Park Ridge, Ill., a Chicago suburb, each August I bicycled to the back lots of the dealerships in town, hoping to catch a look at the new models a month or so before introduction.

Over the decades, that curiosity has never wavered. There is still that same degree of excitement when the wraps are taken off that new car or truck, probably to same degree when my personal mode of transportation was a Schwinn bike.

What's my next adventure? I'm not sure. I'm going to take some time off. You can can reach me at my new address, rkranzcars@yahoo.com.

But whatever direction I take, I will bring that same passion along with Automotive News under my arm and on my screen.

To all, thanks for your support, thanks for the kind words.

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