Detroit News Auto Critic Doug Guthrie, right, speaks with Rolex DP drivers Burt Frisselle, left, and his brother Brian Frisselle after their run on the go-kart track on Belle Isle in May. (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)
Doug Guthrie, auto critic for The Detroit News, died Wednesday in his Grosse Pointe Woods home, apparently of natural causes.
A longtime courts reporter before becoming The News’ auto critic in 2012, the 60-year-old Guthrie had a love affair with autos that began during adolescence. Colleagues and industry officials said his columns married his zest for cars with a reporter’s attention to detail.
“Doug Guthrie reviewed cars and trucks for The News and our readers never enjoyed a more enthusiastic byline,” said Publisher and Editor Jon Wolman.
“Doug was always a positive, uplifting, steady presence in our newsroom,” he said. “Young reporters sought his advice and he provided calming counsel. The tragedy of his early passing is felt all the more keenly because the Guthries are family — his wife, Kelley Root Guthrie, is one of our editors.”
Guthrie was a reporter for the Grand Rapids Press for many years before joining The News in 2004.
Before switching to autos, he covered some of the region’s best-known trials, including the obstruction of justice case against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
His love and knowledge of autos earned him the critic’s job, where colleagues said he excelled.
“He’s one of those guys who put his heart and his soul into his work,” said Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America. “Brings tears to my eyes, man, it really does. He loved the assignment with auto. The guy just gets it.”
Said Deep, a Ford Motor Co. spokesman, worked with Guthrie for four years at the Grand Rapids Press and shared a mutual love of cars and racing. At the Press, both contributed to an auto section for Booth Newspapers while writing hard-news stories.
Becoming The News’ auto critic was a “dream job,” Deep said.
“I told him when he took the job, ‘You’re in the perfect place. You’re in Detroit doing what you love,’ ” Deep said.
Guthrie is survived by three children and his wife, who is deputy metro editor.
Visitation for Guthrie is 3-9 p.m. Saturday at AH Peters Funeral Home at 20705 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe Woods. The service is 4 p.m. Sunday at AH Peters Funeral Home.