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Csaba Csere '75

Love of fast cars drove his career

For some 15 years, auto enthusiasts looked regularly to writings and webcasts by Csaba Csere, who served as editor in chief of Car and Driver magazine from 1993 until his retirement at the end of 2008. The mechanical engineer cum writer has shared technical opinions on fine machines from Audis to Volvos and pondered everything from the effects of tire pressure on gas mileage to the state of American automakers.

From Csere’s vantage point, U.S. auto manufacturers’ recent troubles are no surprise. “Their number one failure is that for decades, they built mediocre vehicles while foreign competitors produced absolutely superior cars,” he says. “They’ve suffered from a thousand nicks to their market share as a result.”
Csere, whose Hungarian name is roughly pronounced Chabuh Cheduh, has been a car lover all his life. By 1978, he was happily ensconced as an engineer in the Ford Motor Company’s advanced engineering department after a stint as a design engineer at Data General. In 1980, he was offered the job of technical editor with Car and Driver. The magazine promised travel to Europe, plus ready access to fast cars. He couldn’t resist.

This story is part of the May/June 2009 Issue of the MIT News magazine
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“I took the job at a 25 percent pay cut,” Csere says. The payoff was in the experience itself. One of his favorite tasks has been testing such beauties as the Bugatti Veyron, which can reach 253 miles per hour.

Csere’s MIT career began with the class of ‘73, but it wasn’t until Ford requested the degree, in 1975, that he felt inspired to turn in his senior thesis. “I’ve always enjoyed working more than going to school,” he says with a laugh.

When he isn’t gunning motors, Csere enjoys jogging with his Hungarian vizsla, Miki. “He’s my personal trainer,” he says of the dog. “Miki drags me out on days when I’m feeling lazy.” Csere also enjoys spending time with his wife, Mary, and 15-year-old daughter, Madeline, at home in Ann Arbor, MI.

In retirement, Csere will continue his decades-long role interviewing prospective students. “Whatever else I do next, I’ll continue working with MIT’s Educational Council,” he says. “An MIT alumnus was instrumental in my admission to the Institute. I want to return that favor.”

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