John Rettie

Cars, Cameras, Computers.........


JOHN RETTIE was born in London, England in July 1949. He grew up in Orpington, Kent, and attended Beckenham & Penge Grammar School.

After high school he studied Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds. While there he began his career as a photographer by photographing rock groups, car rallies and models for the university newspaper. He was lucky enough to photograph many well-known rock and roll bands between 1969 and 1971. As the university newspaper photographer he was one of only two photographers to cover The Who "Live at Leeds" concert, which became one of the most popular live LPs in history.

In 1969, John made his first visit to the U.S. where he worked in Newark, NJ for seven weeks before embarking on a one-month Greyhound bus trip around the States. He returned the following year to California and started photographing auto races as a professional, covering TransAm and CanAm races in California as well as the Baja 1000.

In 1971 John began his career with Safer Motoring, the VW enthusiast magazine in Cirencester, Glos., UK. Following a two year stint as assistant editor he became a freelance writer and photographer. He traveled the world extensively between 1973 and 1985 covering auto races, car launches and numerous other aspects of the auto industry.

John also ran three small businesses during this period. In England, he formed JGR Plastics in order to make cowls for the rear deck lid (boot) of a VW Beetle. He ran this mail-order and wholesale business between 1973 and 1985. While traveling back and forth between California and the UK, he was often asked to find parts for British cars so he started Carzanpartz to import cars and parts into California -- mainly for Mini Cooper and Lotus enthusiasts.

John helped found and was president of Deitrich, Ober and Rettie, Inc., a small six-person public relations and advertising agency (Gardena, CA), between 1976 and 1986 with several clients in the auto industry, including BFGoodrich, Cosworth, British School of Motor Racing and Chevrolet. During that period he also worked as technical editor on Hot VWs magazine (Costa Mesa, CA) between 1977 and 1979 and was editor of Import Auto Parts and Accessories magazine from 1981 until 1984.

In 1985 John started working for Ward's Communications (Detroit, MI) as west coast bureau chief. For three years he covered various aspects of the auto industry, from dealerships to factories to heavy-duty trucks, for the numerous Ward's publications. He joined J. D. Power and Associates as senior editor of three newsletters in 1988. In 1990 he was promoted to Editorial Director. During the next seven years he ran the publications department and was in charge of four employees.

John instigated and managed the launch of J. D. Power and Associates' initial website and the JDPowerGuide to Automobiles CD-ROM, which was J. D. Power's first ever consumer publication. He also helped launch PowerGram, a daily news fax and was a key figure in starting a joint venture in Britain with the BBC, which resulted in the launch of the annual customer satisfaction study in that country.

During his tenure at J. D. Power, John was involved in consultancy work and provided analysis on several projects. He was regularly interviewed by magazines, newspapers, radio and television for his opinions on specific subjects within the auto and computer industries. He continued to keep his hand in as a freelance auto writer with articles appearing in magazines all over the world. Between 1990 and 1993 he also wrote a weekly road test column for the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group.

After nine years at J. D. Power and Associates John returned to working as a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, and analyst in October, 1997. In 2000 he was briefly a dot-comer working as a content director for JDPowerClubs before the site ran out of cash and, like many others, John became a dot-goner!

Since 1995 he has penned a monthly column on digital photography for Rangefinder, a well-regarded magazine for professional photographers. In 2007 he started writing a column on web technologies for a new magazine After Capture which, as its name suggests, covers the needs of photographers and graphic artists after they've captured a picture. In 2006 he was appointed technical editor of these two publications as an independent contractor.

Aside from his work as technical editor, John has contributed to many magazines and websites during the past decade. Recently he has been a regular contributor to Road & Track, Auto Express (UK) and New Car Test Drive. He has been providing used car profiles for since 1998 and is now a correspondent as the top-rated site expands its editorial coverage.

He was a member of the jury for the North American Car and Truck of the Year Award from its instigation until 2005. And he was one of only 13 U.S. members of the 135-strong international jury for the Car of the Century contest, held in 1999. Currently he is a jury member for the International Car of the Year and the World Car of the Year awards.

John was president of the Motor Press Guild, based in Los Angeles in 1992, 2004 and 2005. While president in 2005 he started the highly regarded Automotive PR Survey sponsored by MPG.

Nowadays, John continues to use his knowledge gained in four decades of covering all aspects of the auto industry, plus his two-decades of experience in modern technology, to provide his services to a wide range of clients and publishers.