Ron Cogan

There are car gurus who specialize in German engineering and Italian sportscars; and then there are the unusual suspects: those automotive experts who fill niches in less likely categories. People like undercover photographer Brenda Priddy, animal and automotive safety specialist Christina Selter, auto show blogger Booth Babe, green car fanatic Ron Cogan and the celebrity-moonlighting-as-a-car-mechanic, Jay Leno.

Brenda Priddy is considered the most notorious automotive spy. With her telephoto lens in tow, she stations herself in the desert in the heat of summer to photograph the latest models being tested on the empty highways of places like Death Valley. In the process, she's started a photo agency, thrilled car enthusiasts with the glimpses of what's to come and irritated car companies that want to keep their products under wraps.

Also keeping the automotive industry on their toes is anonymous blogger Booth Babe, an auto show model who dishes about what goes on behind the scenes at car shows. She makes note of the bothersome, noteworthy and disgusting events that transpire at the shows. She also editorializes about happenings in the industry, such as firings and hypocritical behavior, making her blog a must-read for automotive gossip.

Less threatening to companies is the Pet Safety Lady, Christina Selter, an expert in animal safety when it comes to transportation. She works with safety officials, first responders (which is how her career began) and TSA. "They rely on my experience," says Southern California-based Selter. Her site, BarkBuckleUp.com, publishes reviews about which vehicles are most suitable and safe for pets.

From pet-friendly we go to eco-friendly and the premiere authority on all things green related to vehicles. Ron Cogan has been a car journalist for three decades and lends his sharp knowledge to the site GreenCar.com. The site has a comprehensive listing of green technologies and alternative fuels, articles about the pay-off of green cars and a map of fueling stations.

And finally, a household name known for his late-night talk show, Jay Leno. Leno has a 17,000-square foot garage that has a machine shop with state-of-the-art equipment. Though he employs top-notch mechanics to work on his car collection that spans 100 years (from a 1906 Stanley Steamer to a 2006 Corvette), he still loves to spend time under the hood of his vehicles, proving that even fame doesn't top an automotive occupation.            

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Meg Hemphill is a Los Angeles-based lifestyle writer who covers the good life: style, food, automotive, travel and entertainment. When it comes to cars, it is less about the nuts and bolts and more about the aesthetic, luxury and occasional practicality. A former editor at InStyle, she writes for the Huffington Post and a variety of other publications.

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