Walt Woron passed away on 2 July 2012, at age 91. With him passed an era. Walt was one of my lifelong idols, a man I greatly admired and respected. I was fortunate enough to know him as a friend. I’ll miss Walt, as should anyone who grew up in that yesteryear of early auto magazines. As a kid, I wanted desperately to work for Motor Trend. It seemed the ideal occupation – to evaluate cars, to learn more about them, meet people in the industry, study the history of automobiles and especially to write about cars. As fate would have it, I did work for Motor Trend – became the magazine’s managing editor for three years, starting in 1962. Dreams do come true.
Walt Woron inspired that dream. He was the man with the ideal job and, at that time, MT seemed to me to be the ideal car magazine. I finally met Walt in 1969, during his second stint with the magazine, but we lost touch until we bumped into each other at the 1975 VW Rabbit press introduction in Palm Springs. By then, Walt was editor of Road Test magazine and I was West Coast editor of Popular Mechanics. We reconnected, enjoyed each other’s company and had lots of fun catching up. But Road Test folded and I got busy with books, so we disconnected again. I kept wondering what had happened to Walt (this was long before Google), but in 1995-96, I made a concerted effort to find him. I didn’t know at that time whether he was even still alive, and I started looking by simply checking phone books at our local library. Sure enough, I found a Walt Woron in Long Beach, California, but it was the wrong one. Can you imagine two people named Walt Woron?
I kept searching, and I finally found the right Walt Woron living in Calimesa, some 75 miles east of Los Angeles. I phoned him, and we re-reconnected.