Spy vs. Spy

The finer points of getting stealth shots of new automobiles


Published:

(page 1 of 2)

From James Bond movies and Robert Ludlum thrillers to the doings of controversial WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, we’re enthralled with spies. And lately, newscasts have focused on the United States’ collection of European phone records, including allegations of listening in on the calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Here in Detroit, we’re mad about autos, and scooping the automakers’ next models has been a classic game of cat and mouse. We have a living legend here in Detroit, Jim Dunne. And there’s current spy Brenda Priddy of Chandler, Ariz., who got started in 1992, when she happened upon a 1994 Mustang prototype in an Arizona shopping center. We spoke with Priddy about the current state of the spy game (below) — and also asked former automotive journalist Ed Peabody (who now runs Hour Media’s Custom Publishing division) for his favorite Jim Dunne story (see story on page 2).

Q. Obviously, the legendary Jim Dunne is from the Detroit area. Have you ever had to do battle with him for a spot?

A. Jim Dunne is actually a good friend. We’ve been in the same automobile, shooting the same prototypes — and bickering the entire time. But at the end of the day we’ll share a few beers or a glass of wine and laugh about the adventures of earlier in the day.

Q. What’s the most danger you’ve ever put yourself in to get a shot?

A. Danger? I try to avoid that, but there have been some rock-throwing engineers over the years, and one who pushed my camera into my face and broke my nose. But the worst are the ones who drive on the wrong side of a two-lane mountain road with switchbacks — simply to avoid photos.

Q. You hosted a “spy camp” last July to share some secrets. Are you holding another?

A. Spy Camp was a fun experiment during the 2013 summer test season. Everyone that attended seemed to enjoy the experience. For 2014 I’m debating between another Spy Camp, or possibly — although not in the summer — a People-to-People type excursion to Cuba, focusing on culture, art, and the automobile culture. I just got back from my first trip there, and the experience — still indescribable and overwhelming — was very rewarding.

Q. What’s the most prized shot during your career, at least thus far?

A. I’ve been doing this for more than 22 years now. Sometimes the cars and photos are one big blur — especially when asked what my biggest score was. I tend to get excited about all my photos, from a little Ford Aspire years ago (hey, it was a great shot) to Mustangs, Corvettes, and Ferraris.

Q. Care to share your best and most secret locations?

A. I live in Death Valley (National Park) for four or more months every summer. Verified as the hottest place on the planet, car companies do lots of hot-weather testing right inside the national park. I live in a place that no other spies have access to, and I cover the region — I stay in the area — far longer than other spies.

Q. What sort of “rules” are there when you’re spying?

A. My ethical standards are very high and are not matched by others. Among other things, no laws are ever broken as we do our job on a daily basis. And safety is always number one, so we never engage in any dangerous driving or other activities.

For more details, visit brendapriddyandcompany.com
Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

A Look Inside Bob’s Jukebox Emporium

Morningside resident Bob Welke is the man to call for vintage music machine repairs, restorations, and more

Checking in With Electric Six

With more than 20 years in the business and 14 albums under their collective belts, a cult-favorite band rocks on

4 Years In the Making, Planet Ant's Sci-Fi Rock Opera Takes Off

Meet the costumers, composers, and performers who made it happen

The Gentleman’s Guide to Style

From grooming to shopping, a comprehensive directory for stylish men in metro Detroit

The Greatest (Woman) Of All Time

Flint boxer Claressa Shields may have Olympic gold medals under her belt, but she’s just getting started
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best of Detroit 2018
    Our reader's picks for the Best of Detroit winners in food, drink, leisure, people, and services
  2. Father’s Day Activities for Every Type of Dad
    Celebrate your pop with experiences perfectly fit for him
  3. Detroit’s Ford Fireworks Celebrate 60 Years
    The annual show will light up the riverfront on June 25
  4. How Custom Bikes Are Changing Lives
    Beaumont’s Bike Day program helps special needs children
  5. A Family of ‘Foodies’ Share Their Ramadan Traditions
    What Iftar looks like for the social media savvy Sareinis
  6. An Hour With... Tim Zajaros
    Co-founder, Armory Films
  7. Getting Ready with a Drag Queen
    Emma Sapphire gives a behind-the-scenes look at a pre show beauty routine
  8. The Vegan 'Ice Cream' Even Non-Vegans Will Love
    Allergy conscious and delicious, The Ice Cream Plant is quickly growing fans in metro Detroit
  9. Cocktail Recipe: Strip and Go Naked
    A refreshing tiki classic from Lost River in Detroit
  10. Blown Summer Style Challenge: Be Brave With This Season's Sheer Fabrics
    Billowy silhouettes and scintillating jewelry create an ethereal appeal