Jaclyn Trop, a freelance journalist and auto writer, combines her passion for world travel with reporting for publications from five continents, and serves as a U.S. juror to the World Car Awards.
There is no getting around the fact that the automotive industry is often seen as a male-dominated empire. But some adventurous women are helping to make a change. Working in the auto testosterone zone has been a career dream come true for award-winning automotive reporter and journalist Jaclyn Trop. With her signature oversized tortoise-shell sunglasses and pearls, 34-year-old Trop more resembles her namesake and fashion icon Jacqueline Kennedy than someone familiar with what’s under the hood of a sports car.
“It may be true I’m in an unconventional career, but I love it and it really works to my advantage,” Trop said. “If I’m facing any stereotyping, I’d like to think that by doing good work I can usually change some minds.” Trop was awarded a Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business and economics reporting from Columbia University, where she also earned a master’s degree in journalism. She really got her automotive writing chops in the Motor City covering the auto industry for the Detroit News and the New York Times.
“To be honest, I started out having no real interest in cars when I went from a general reporter to covering the automotive beat for the Detroit News in 2012,” said Trop, originally from Connecticut. “The automotive beat was a prestigious one, and when I was promoted to it I jumped in and began to love it. It kind of snuck up on me slowly, but now I can say the sound of Lamborghini engines is one of my absolute favorite things.” Her byline has also appeared in the New Yorker, Fortune, Glamour, Marie Claire, Men’s Health and Rolling Stone, among others. Now a freelance journalist based out of California, Trop combines her passion for world travel with reporting for publications like the New York Times, Forbes and Fast Company from five continents, and serves as a U.S. juror to the World Car Awards (she is outnumbered by 80 other males), dividing her time among the car meccas of Los Angeles, Detroit and New York.
Will you be covering the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year?
JT: Oh yes, I do every year. I can’t imagine missing the Detroit auto show; it really kicks off the season of the major auto shows. Then I’ll also cover shows in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Geneva, Frankfurt, Dubai and more. I have an apartment in L.A., but with my travel schedule, I’m only there a day or two a month, but it’s still great to come home to your own bed when you get the chance. I don’t have any living things though — plants or pets don’t work for me.
What’s the most exciting assignment you’ve taken recently?
JT: I sat behind the wheel of Cadillac’s flagship CT6 autonomous driving sedan chatting with Cadillac’s President Johan de Nysschen as the car steered itself down Interstate-10 for a two-day drive from Santa Fe to Los Angeles. It was amazing and not a scary experience like I expected. The CT6 was equipped with a Super Cruise system of cameras, radar and sensors to steer itself on the highway at speeds of up to 85 mph. Because you are still considered the backup driver, it senses if you take your eyes off the road for more than a few seconds and sounds an alarm to refocus your attention. The hands-free trip gives you more time to enjoy the view, and it was actually really relaxing.
I’m also grateful that I get to rub elbows with inspirational women like GM CEO Mary Barra and to take assignments on every continent — all with amazing experiences. I can’t imagine doing anything else, other than working on a novel that’s still on my bucket list.
What trends can we look for in the vehicles rolling out for 2018?
JT: The big buzz is around the exciting new SUVs making statements across the board this year and next. Luxury car companies will be launching their inaugural SUVs such as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and Lamborghini, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lexus and more will offer fully efficient SUV models with every advanced technology.
What make and model car are you driving right now and what is your dream car?
JT: I get to test-drive a different car every week. Currently I’m driving an Aston Martin DB11 V-8. Next I’ll be driving a new Toyota Camry. My favorites change, but right now my dream would be to cruise around L.A. in an orange Lamborghini Huracan because it’s fun to drive and the sound of the engine starting up excites me every time. But for mountain and canyon driving that I do in California, it would have to be a Range Rover Autobiography. It’s way too hard to pick just one!