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Somebody's Gotta Do It!

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EMPLOYEE: Tony Leopardo

OFFICIAL Title: Car Journalist/Tester

UNOFFICIAL Title: "Santa’s Chosen One"

EMPLOYER: Self-employed

ANNUAL SALARY: $0… well, sort of…

SOMEBODY’S GOTTA DO IT! – San Francisco: PREAMBLE - The jobs we typically focus on in this column tend to be rich in filth, stench and monotony. They are, by appearance and description, the dreary jobs of the American workforce. They often involve human waste, danger and the occasional animal carcass.

But for the sake of focusing on an occupation as fresh as the morning dew and to give fairness to the other categories of jobs that someone must do, let’s reach into the "Holy Crap That’s a Sweet Job/Somebody’s Gotta Do It" file.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW - To say that Tony "The Car Guy" Leopardo simply loves automobiles would be a gross understatement. The man lives and breathes car fumes. And the brass in Detroit need a man like Tony.

Imagine coming home after a hard day at the office and a brand new, fully-loaded Yellow Chrome Hummer H2 is sitting in your driveway. This mammoth car was neither purchased by you, nor is it a rental. It came from the heavens for you and you alone to drive. Next week, an $80,000 Audi A8 will arrive; and the week after, say a modest $12,000 Kia Spectra will be sitting in your driveway. If you’re Tony, every week is Christmas and Santa doesn’t drive a sleigh, he commandeers an auto trailer.

All that’s required of you in return for these shiny, speedy gifts is that you write an unbiased report, praising or dogging the features of said cars. Not a bad deal.

WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT - Tony is one of approximately 1,000 journalists around the country who make up the elite auto press fleet. These men and women not only know their cars, but are treated as royalty in the car industry. In return for their words of good or bad, they receive one of the 800 latest make and models that are produced in the United States each year. They keep each car for seven days, just until a new one arrives and the old one is shuffled to the next journalist in waiting.

In a single year, Tony will pilot more than 70 cars. In his 20-year career in the press fleet, he’s tested nearly 1,400 cars! Think about it, Tony Leopardo has never had to buy a new car and his neighbors continue to gaze upon his driveway with great envy.

NO LEMONS IN HIS FRONT LAWN - "There are no bad cars. We’re in 2003. They don’t make bad cars any more," adds Leopardo as he sits in his Burlingame warehouse, which is chock full of his personal stable of classic cars, ranging from a pristine, yellow ’61 Corvette to his emerald green Baracuda (he currently owns 20 classics). "These days the cars that are made have quirks and glitches, but they’re all modern day, quality specimens."

THE INCOME - "I don’t make anything from driving the cars, not one penny," says Leopardo. The real money comes from the articles the veteran writer, editor and publisher makes from selling his opinions to local papers and on his website,

THE DO’S AND DON’TS - Never smoke, never drink and don’t get tickets. That’s the motto of Leopardo and the words he agrees to and signs off on when the cars arrive. Everything else he chooses to do to and with the cars is considered research.

He will drive to the bank, head to the grocery store and even take the occasional trip to Southern California. The cars are to be driven in a way to learn the most you can in a short time.

But there are boundaries which have been tested over the years, like the journalist who put 3,300 miles on a car in their seven days together… or the writer who banged up a Hummer… and the guy who had a few too many cocktails and rolled a Z-28. Tony is not one of those people. He is as professional as they come.

YOU TOO CAN BE LIKE TONY… If you happen to have the luck of a lottery winner. Being a member of the auto press fleet is a fraternity that’s hard to crack. It takes years of being a car journalist to get on the list. Working for an accredited publication as an auto writer is just the start.

Vacancies in this car club don’t come up very often. If you’re one of the elite 1,000 in the press corps, why would you give up a gig like this?

It may not involve picking up poo or dead animals and it doesn’t involve being covered in grime or being bowled over by fumes in a sewer tunnel. No, siree, being a test driver is about getting treated like a king and getting to take part in Christmas once a week. It’s utopia for a car freak, but, the old adage still applies: Somebody’s Gotta Do It! By Jimmy Christopher The Wave Magazine - San Francisco

Wave Home Page

Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Topic:  Celebrating the Bay Area's Underappreciated Jobs
Word Count:   911
Photo Caption:  Tony Leopardo & the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Photo Credits:  Jon Ross @ The Wave Magazine
Series #:   2003 - 20

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2003 SOMEBODY'S GOTTA DO IT!

Download the original image file here:  2003 Tony and Rubicon 16k









Publisher - Editor:   Tony Leopardo
Division Name:   AutoWire.Net
Company Name:    Leopard Publishing Co.
Postal Address:    P.O. Box 1011
City, State, Zip:    San Mateo, California 94403
Phone Number:    650-340-8669
Fax Number:    650-340-9473

Join the AutoWire.Net Directory, send your Name, Affiliation & E-mail address to: AutoWire

Send Comments & Questions to: AutoWire

For Additional Photos, go direct to: Wieck Photo
2003 - AutoWire.Net - All Rights Reserved Web Editor - Tony Leopardo

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