Cars have always piqued Terry Box’s interest. “I can't remember a time when I wasn't fascinated with cars,” the Dallas Morning News reporter says. “As a toddler, I was constantly climbing into any car I could to play in them.” As an adult, he’s been to most of the country’s premiere “car temples,” including the Bonneville Salt Flats, L.A. Roadster's Father's Day Show, Lone Star Round Up and the Goodguys shows. He doesn’t have a favorite car; he has favorites. “I loved the 2005-06 Ford GT,” he says, reminiscing. “I drove one of the first Shelby GT 500s from Dearborn to Dallas, and that was special. I adore Z06 Corvettes and have driven a couple of them. I also have had the good fortune of being in several Dodge Vipers, a couple of Porsche Turbos, two Lamborghinis and numerous good BMWs and AMG Mercedes-Benzes. All left their marks.”
So how did this car nut come to write about his passion for the paper? Persistence.
For about the first 20 years of his newspaper career, Box, a 1974 graduate from the journalism department at UNT, was stuck at the city desk, mostly as a general assignments reporter. “I also served a five-year stint as an assistant city editor,” he says. “And serve is the operative term, as in serving a sentence.” Box knew that “you are only as good as your assignment.” So when he returned to reporting in 1988, he wrote memo after memo, urging management to give him a shot at covering autos if there was an opening. In 1993, those memos paid off.
Now, he writes the Dallas Morning News’ column “Terry’s Garage” and covers the automobile industry for the paper’s Business section. He’s truly living the journalistic dream. Box recalls an English professor, whose name escapes him, asking a young Terry if he’d ever taken any journalism classes. It turned out to be the best advice he’d ever received. “Keith Shelton, Roy Moses, Dick Wells and, of course, the late, great Gene Shuford all had enormous impact on me,” Box says of his UNT journalism professors. “Keith Shelton and Roy Moses were old newspaper guys and prepared us mentally pretty well for what lay ahead. I remember Roy Moses hated leads that started with ‘there’ or anything in direct quotes, dismissing them as lazy writing. Keith Shelton wanted direct sentences with strong verbs. That's pretty good guidance right there.”
And after all these years, Box is clear about where his debts lie. “I owe whatever I have now to North Texas,” Box says. “For me – an indifferent student in search of something – it was the right school at precisely the right time. I doubt I would have discovered journalism without it.”