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Peter Egan (columnist)

Peter Egan is an American writer specializing in automotive and motorcycle journalism — widely known for his monthly car-related column, Side Glances, in Road & Track magazine as well as his monthly motorcycle-related column, Leanings, in Cycle World magazine — as well as road tests and occasional features in both magazines.

Egan's columns are chiefly autobiographical and anecdotal. He has written extensively about road trips, including detailed accounts of the failings of the vehicles, interactions with the people he travels with and those he meets.

Egan was described in a 2010 New York Times book review as one of America's "standout auto writers."[1]

Early lifeEdit

Egan was born in Elroy, Wisconsin in 1948. He first became acquainted with sports cars from photographs of celebrities and their cars in his sister Barbara's glamour magazines. He would later watch sports car racing at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

When he dropped out of college, Egan was drafted into the US Army, entering basic training in March 1969,[2] and eventually serving in Vietnam. Characteristically, he later described a Jeep he had that the Viet Cong hit with a mortar shell as "the only non-English vehicle I ever drove that exploded."[3] After his tour of duty, he visited Paris, France, from which he and a friend road-tripped on bicycles to Marseille.

Upon his return to Wisconsin, Egan proposed to his girlfriend Barbara and started working as a mechanic at Foreign Car Specialists, a repair shop in Madison owned by Chris Beebe, who is frequently mentioned in Side Glances and is now a neighbor and close friend.

Motor journalism careerEdit

In the early 1980s, Egan wrote a freelance article about a motorcycling trip with his wife, which he submitted to Cycle World. When the article was published, editor Allan Girdler offered him a position as a staff writer. Egan accepted and he and Barb relocated to southern California.

While writing for Cycle World, Egan also wrote for the automotive magazine Road & Track, part of the same organization, and had its headquarters in the same building in Newport Beach. His writing style fit well with, and may have been influenced by, those of his contemporaries at Road & Track, including Henry N. Manney III, Rob Walker, Innes Ireland, and Dennis Simanaitis.

Apart from writing road tests and reports on motor races and car shows, Egan wrote about the perils and pitfalls of repairs, restoration, and racing, illustrating his points with first-hand anecdotes. His experience of working on and his love for English cars has led him to exaggerate their faults and idiosyncrasies, though he makes it clear he prefers to work on and drive them. He has also expressed a particular interest in old English and Italian motorcycles.

Egan has since retired from the regular staff of both magazines, although he still contributes monthly columns to both and also writes features as an Editor-at-Large.[4][citation needed] Egan and his wife returned to Wisconsin in the summer of 1990, moving to a farm near Cooksville where they still live.[5]


Egan won both the 2008 Motor Press Guild Dean Batchelor Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism,[6] and the 2008 International Motor Press Association Ken Purdy Award[7] for an article published in April and May editions of Road & Track. He was a finalist for the Dean Batchelor Award again in 2012.[8]

Road tripsEdit

Peter Egan has documented several road trips, mostly in North America. These trips include:

  • riding a '64 Honda C100 from Madison, WI to Pikes Peak State Park, IA and back. In his book Leanings, Egan said of the 1978 303-mile trip, "In 15 years of riding and touring on all kinds of bikes, this was my favorite trip. It was a microcosm tour, measured in time rather than distance."
  • riding a bicycle from Paris to Marseilles in the early 1970s
  • 2006 ride to Gaspe Peninsula in Canada with Barb on a BMW RT1200 to recreate a late 1960's Gaspe effort with riding pal on small displacement Hondas*
  • driving with Chris Beebe from Wisconsin to Los Angeles in a Ford Model A, after he and Beebe restored the car ("Model A Odyssey, Parts I and II")
  • several trips from Wisconsin to the SCCA Runoffs at Road Atlanta and back
  • driving a BMW Isetta from Wisconsin to Memphis, Tennessee, after realizing that he would not be able to make it to Road Atlanta in time for the Runoffs[9]
  • driving a Caterham 7 with his wife around New England[10]
  • driving a Jaguar E-Type with his wife as far north as the map indicated the existence of pavement
  • driving a Mini in a rally across Texas[11]
  • driving a '63 Cadillac down into the Mississippi Delta Blues Country


  • Peter Egan at Large, 1996, ISBN 9781855203488
  • Side Glances, Volume 1: 1983-1992 (2001) [12]
  • Side Glances, Volume 2: 1992-1997 (2001) [13]
  • Side Glances: The Best from America's Most Popular Automotive Writer (2006) [14]
  • Leanings: The Best of Peter Egan from Cycle World Magazine (2009) [15]
  • Leanings 2: Great Stories by America's Favorite Motorcycle Writer (2010) [16]
  • Leanings 3: On the Road and in the Garage with Cycle World's Peter Egan (2010) [17]


  1. ^ CHARLES McEWEN, LINDSAY BROOKE, ROB SASS, CLIFFORD GHETTI, FRED HEILER, BOB AUSTIN and JERRY GARRETT (December 10, 2010), "The Weather Is Perfect for Driving an Armchair (book review)", The New York Times, retrieved 2014-03-09, Most of the pieces are highly engaging, insightful and often witty, as might be expected from the standout auto writers included here. The list is impressive — Ken Purdy, Tom McCahill, David E. Davis Jr., Brock Yates, Patrick Bedard, Peter Egan, Jean Lindamood Jennings, Jeremy Clarkson and L. J. K. Setright, among others.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Egan, Peter (July 1994). "Side Glances: The olive not-so-drab Dodge Charger". Road & Track. Vol. 45 no. 11. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 36–39.
  3. ^ Egan, Peter (December 1990). "Side Glances: Garages of Ill Repute". Road & Track. Vol. 42 no. 4. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 24–28.
  4. ^ Bryant, Thos L. (July 1990). "Miscellaneous Ramblings". Road & Track. Vol. 41 no. 11. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. p. 41.
  5. ^ Egan, Peter (July 1990). "Side Glances: Escape to Wisconsin". Road & Track. Vol. 41 no. 11. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 18–22.
  6. ^ The Dean Batchelor Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, Motor Press Guild, 2013, retrieved 2014-03-07
  7. ^ Previous Ken Purdy Award recipients, International Motor Press Association, April 10, 2009, retrieved 2014-03-07
  8. ^ Edmund Jenks (December 12, 2012), 2012 Dean Batchelor Award Is Snagged By "Porsche - Origin of the Species", Technorati, archived from the original on March 8, 2014, retrieved 2014-03-07
  9. ^ Egan, Peter (March 1993). "In Search of the Blues". Road & Track. Vol. 44 no. 7. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 92–101.
  10. ^ Egan, Peter (March 1991). "New England & Seven". Road & Track. Vol. 42 no. 7. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 88–92.
  11. ^ Egan, Peter (June 2001). "Lone Star Mini". Road & Track. Vol. 52 no. 10. Hachette Filipacci Magazines. pp. 118–127.
  12. ^ Clarke, R.M (2001-10-04), Side Glances, Volume 1, ISBN 9781855205666, retrieved 2016-11-22
  13. ^ Clarke, R.M (2001-10-04), Side Glances, Volume 2, ISBN 9781855205673, retrieved 2016-11-22
  14. ^ Egan, Peter (2006-11-01), Side Glances, ISBN 9781855207288, retrieved 2016-11-22
  15. ^ Egan, Peter (2009-05-05), Leanings, ISBN 9780760336571, retrieved 2016-11-22
  16. ^ Egan, Peter (2010-01-11), Leanings 2, ISBN 9780760337165, retrieved 2016-11-22
  17. ^ Egan, Peter (September 2014), Leanings 3, ISBN 9780760346426, retrieved 2016-11-22