(Last) Weekly Roundup: Failure To Proceed Edition

It was a bit of a heartbreaking weekend. We had everything we needed to take two wins at NCM Motorsports Park: the fastest car, the strongest driver lineup, a cadre of volunteers who could do everything from lift a fuel jug one-handed to swap a water pump in minutes. Sure enough, we were in first place by nearly ninety seconds at the 7-hour mark of Saturday’s 9-hour race. Then the overheating problems began — and they persisted through Sunday. By 5:30 that afternoon, all we could do was send Danger Girl out for the checkered flag, knowing that we’d barely managed enough completed laps to avoid being classified as a DNF.

On the positive side, we made some great friends and enjoyed some good times to go with the bad. I also had a chance to qualify a competitor’s car, which has to be one of the odder things I’ve ever done in racing. (The fact that I qualified the car ahead of ours was just the icing on the proverbial cake.) Marilyn the MX-5 Cup Car and her friends will be back in October for the AER event in Mid-Ohio. There’s a lot of work to be done, and a lot of money to be spent, between now and then.


For Hagerty I drove a 220-horsepower, K20-powered Fiat X1/9 and interviewed the people who made it.

At R&T, I told you the story of the only 1983 Corvette.

The comment-meter at TTAC went into the danger zone when I had the audacity to suggest that American cars could cut the mustard in overseas markets.

This week I’ll be sharing a few interesting race cars with you and maybe telling the story of how we came to lose that race in more detail…

45 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: Failure To Proceed Edition”

  1. Will

    TTAC has the same clowns commenting who really have hurt the site. They never bring anything new to the table, are always offended by anything that doesn’t fit into their veiwpoint and are often not living in the US complaining about American politics. Or they’re deranged like BigTrucks or Deadweight. Good riddance to that site.

    Reply
  2. Dave L

    Not sure why the comments went nuclear so quickly. There is something awry in the leftist’s brain that prevents them from developing constructive arguments to support their positions. I wonder what they’d think about a Derbyshire or Sailer piece?

    Reply
    • Will

      Happens on the right too, but I never understand how writing about how American cars can succeed in Europe somehow turns into an argument about socialsm, 2nd amendment and racism.

      Reply
  3. RTR

    Deadweight leaves a black cloud over at TTAC. I read itand have read it every days since the Farago days. Content has gone downhill, car reviews are puff pieces and even then there are too few. I agree with the guys above, the comments section has been polluted to the extent that it is nearly toxic. Maybe we need a TTAC deathwatch?

    Reply
      • Shortest Circuit

        He also appears to be ‘on the spectrum’… like not reading through the article, but latching onto a controversial part. What was put forth in that piece is valid regardless of your choice of political beliefs. Even if I don’t count the research that went into that piece, it is absolutely true that Europe or China is not opposed to driving American iron, an Ecoboost F-150 is every bit of a truck as a Mitsu L-200 is, but by the time the Ford gets shipped over the Atlantic, it somehow costs 50% more, than the competition. (Same goes for the ATS-V, if only it was competitively priced with the 3-Series. Or the Corvette. etc…) The Chicken tax was intended to curtail the influx of European and Japanese light trucks to the US, as if a T2 Doka with 45HP and 1200lb carrying capacity and a cargo ‘floor’ at chest level would threaten even the most basic C10’s sales, but the UAW lobbied (threatened) to have that tariff. This was a classic double-edged sword with unintended consequences like the Subaru BRAT, or the US warehouses where Mercedes and Ford people carriers were turned back to panel vans, literally shredding the rear seats and trim. Combine it with CAFE and you get light trucks like… a PT Cruiser. Make it go away, level the playing field, let’s see if people would rather drive a triple-turbocharged BMW that expires the day after the warranty ends or a ZR1 ‘vette or Coyote Mustang. I know what I would like to buy.

        Reply
    • Tom KlockauTom Klockau

      Maybe a CC Deathwatch too. It vaporized for several days after the Fourth. And from my spies I’ve heard they’re running way too many conflicting scripts. Throw in lame one-picture-with-a-paragraph posts and ripped-off Car and Driver/Road & Track articles from 1978, and I’d say things are headed that way.

      Reply
      • DougD

        The blackout was interesting and kind of humorous if you were copied on the emails. CC will end someday, but not just yet.

        Cheers Tom!

        Reply
  4. DeadWeight

    I visit this site to see and the echo chamber of Breitbart-Richard Spencer thoughts reduced to writing, as entertainment.

    It never fails to live up to that low standard.

    Unlike most, I’m a true independent, despising the oligopoly of corporate-whore Republicans & corporate-whore Democrats equally and with immense passion (they have, together, co-opted and corrupted the republican form of democracy that those who founded this nation’s laws and constitutional framework established, through political PACs (buying politicians) and regulatory capture (by utilizing those whore politicians).

    If any of you honestly believe that there’s a legitimate difference in who establishment Democrats OR establishment Republicans work for, OR that Donald J. Trump and his merry gaggle of completely dirty sycophants is not only not as dirtier than the establishment, OR that Donald J. Trump is genuinely, truly interested in helping the “forgotten man/woman” or “middle class,” then you are a genuine jackass of monumental proportions.

    Will, get that sand out of your weeping vagina, stat (ask to borrow Mark Baruth’s vaginal cleaning kit, if need be).

    Jack, you are a textbook definition of a hypocrite for not buying a Ford pickup (or a RAM), which contain far more domestic-made parts and components than that Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors Silverado POS, after preaching your bullshit about how you do anything and everything in your power to buy American-made whenever a d wherever you can, price be damned (but that ship has sailed along with the nearly half of the $$$ that you paid for your Shiterado supporting the foreign companies that made the parts that reside in your Guangzhou Motors Shiterado).

    And that’s a wrap.

    Reply
    • Will

      Here we go.

      “I visit this site to see and the echo chamber of Breitbart-Richard Spencer thoughts reduced to writing, as entertainment.”

      I have never read one word of Breitbart and don’t care for Richard Spencer. Some of us have a healthy outlook on life and have actually read books that give us clues to how economics and politics works without the absence of left/right political bias. I suggest the Road to Serfdom as a starting point for you, but I’m sure you’ll find something wrong with it and claim that he’s a globalist or some shit like that.

      I had no idea I had a weeping Vagina, I feel like there’s profit to be made here. How dare you insult a man with a vagina! You transphobe!

      You’re insane bud, you’re angry over things you can’t control. Not everything is a conspiracy and in this country, conspiracies are usually published and made public. You need a hobby. BTW Oswald killed Kennedy. Just. One. Guy.

      Reply
  5. DeadWeight

    p.s. – That’s right, just like with Kim-Jong Un, is just playing 980 Dimensional Chess, and only those who aren’t stable geniuses like the Baruth-Breitbart Bros, can’t see this simple strategy (and how it’s working).

    LMFAO.

    Reply
  6. DeadWeight

    Scotten – you need to find a confirmation bias echo chamber that will reinforce your pre-existing (dumbass) opinions and assumption, like Infowars, or Breitbart, or WMD.

    Then, your vagina won’t be so sore.

    Jack, you should cold-call the maker of Pamprin to advertise on Riverside Cabrini Green.

    Reply
  7. tyates

    I just don’t understand why Trump can’t be reasonable like other Republicans. You know, the ones that advocate for a strong military that protects Americans and their foreign interests, for a free trade policy that lets American corporations outsource American jobs to the lowest bidder, and for an immigration policy that let’s anyone who wants become an American and live in America.

    Those all sound like very reasonable positions to me, as long as I don’t think about them too closely or one after the other, and instead just focus on how many times the word America is repeated.

    Reply
  8. Athos

    I read the TTAC piece, couldn’t be bothered with the comments. American cars do indeed cut the mustard overseas, but unlike up to around maybe the 50’s-60’s, it is specific models. Those that you can point and say straight away this is American. Those are my 2 cents.

    The best examples I can find are: the Mustang, Wrangler, Grand Cherokee. In these 3 cases, the cars were adapted to be sold overseas. The Jeeps are offered with diesel engines, the 3 of them can be purchased from the factory in RHD configuration. The Mustang has been selling like hot cakes overseas.

    Full size pick ups now stand a chance with the wave of diesels being fitted to them. Again, the OEMs need to be willing to homologate to UNECE standards and please, PLEASE, offer factory RHD.

    Corvette, Camaro, Challenger, to some degree the Charger, Explorer, Tahoe, Escalade, Navigator, Aviator are cars that could easily be sold outside the US.

    In markets where there is plenty of money, cheap petrol or a mix of both, like some of the gulf states, they are indeed popular.

    There are other things I could add, but those are better left to PMs.

    Reply
      • Rock36

        I’ll tell you what, here where I am in Germany, I see Teslas everyday.

        My brother-in-law is waiting for his Model 3 in fact…patiently.

        Reply
    • Shortest Circuit

      One desirable consequence nobody seems to think about: selling US cars in the EU markets would probably make the life of the troops over there easier. If you listen to AFN Eagle Stuttgart, on some days every other spot between music is how to travel and conduct yourself safely in public: don’t have an American flag on your vehicle, don’t display POW/MIA stickers, etc. They all but avoid saying you’ll stick out like a sore thumb driving a Shelby GT500 next to the horde of black-grey Mercedes/Audis.

      Reply
      • Rock36

        Yeah but that is largely self-imposed by the military on the military during the hey day of the global war on terrorism, and it has just continued on since. You can also tell the American spec cars by the red turn signals. Americans have lived amongst Germans in Germany for a long time now obviously. They know the cars, they know the communities and housing areas.

        I also sold my 2005 Mustang GT to a German mechanic way back in 2011. It didnt take any time to sell it, and that was an American spec model… now that Mustangs are on a worldwode platform I see them all the time now too, and I can tell by the license plates they arent Americans stationed here.

        Another barrier to owning an American car like say a Corvette is the dealership and service support. Even if the purchase proces were better, driving 100km to the nearest place that can do scheduled maintenance isnt always an appealing proposition.

        Reply
      • hank chinaski

        Me three.

        I always liked the look of the x19. I always thought that the k20 was hard to source. Wouldn’t it be easier to get 80% of the power for a third the price with a more pedestrian choice? (spitballing, no real knowledge of honda swaps).

        I saw more big American pickups than expected recently in Iceland.

        Reply
        • yamahog

          The K20 isn’t that hard to source. Honda engine codes work this way:

          Letter – this is the ‘type’ of the engine, it’s been this way since the 1980s
          Two digit displacement – 2.0 = 2 liters, 2.4 = 2.4 liters, etc.
          Descriptors at the end – these seem to come out sequentially and aren’t self explanatory.

          What makes the Honda K series interesting is that that either block is more or less interchangeable with the heads (which are optimized either for fuel economy or performance). The blocks are extraordinarily common (the CRV and Accord used the K series for at least 10 years albeit with fuel economy heads), but the performance heads are more rare. The performance heads are found on things like Civic Sis / Acura RSX type-Ss.

          The K20 isn’t as easy to source as the K24, but it’s not prohibitively hard to source either – though you might have to ship it from Japan or Europe. It’s a pretty cool engine though, stock 2.0 liter engines push ~200 horsepower (NA) and have 8k redlines.

          If the K20 were hard to source, the next best thing would be to source a K20 high power head and put it on a K24 block. You might need to change some parts in the bottom end to support sustained high rpm operation, but it’s a good way to get a fast motor.

          Reply
  9. BaxterGill

    Jack,
    Medium-time listener, first time caller. I’m a huge fan of your work.
    I loved your Fiat X1/9 article in Hagerty- I’ve been on the prowl for one for the last few years, but everything I’ve found has either been a heap, or too nice to leave rotting outside.
    I’m stunned you called the interior spacious- the ones I’ve sat in felt quite small (especially with the original, large diameter steering wheel.)
    Aren’t you over 6′ tall?

    Reply
  10. Don Curton

    (The fact that I qualified the car ahead of ours was just the icing on the proverbial cake.)

    Years back I was a cub scout leader. Every year we’d have a pine wood car derby. Kids would work with adults to build slot cars out of a block of wood and some plastic wheels. And every year I’d make several extra cars myself, since some kids didn’t have adult help, some kids would drop or break their cars, etc. That way they could at least compete in the event with one of my hand-out cars. Everyone got to participate.

    Anyway, one year my son took second place with his own homemade car. He was so proud. The winner? Well, that was a kid who used one of my hand-out cars. So basically my car beat his car, or rather he would have been first place if not for me. My son never found out, but my wife did. She was furious. That was one long, cold, silent ride home after the derby. Icing on the cake, indeed.

    Reply
    • Rick T.

      Good for you, though. I am over five decades past my pinewood derby days. I still remember them, although I never came close to winning one. I am sure that kid will remembering winning it the rest of his lfe and treasure that memory. So take solace in that.

      Reply
    • yamahog

      Kinda unfortunate your wife got so angry – obviously you weren’t building extra cars to make it harder for your son. But at least she probably just wanted what’s best for your son and I can’t fault a mom for feeling that way.

      15 years ago, I was the counterparty. My dad wasn’t really around growing up but I was in scouts. I almost hid the pinewood derby from my mom – I was too embarrassed to show up without a car and there was no way my mom and I could build a car ourselves. Luckily, she found out. Unluckily, she tried using my dad’s sawzall and we didn’t cut the wood on the pinewood derby car, but we did cut my skin when she turned the sawzall on and the blade went flying into me. Everyone survived and she approached the scoutmaster who had a spare car and he loaned it to me for the big race day. I was eliminated almost right away, but to this day I’m grateful for the charity and thankful that I was able to participate, it meant a lot to me. I’m sure it meant to those kids you helped too.

      Reply
    • Felis Concolor

      For several years in the mid 70s, a friend’s carefully crafted derby racer was the continual winner in all the YMCA/Indian Guides competitions held out at Camp Mokule’ia: he simply pared his blank down to a very short wheelbase, made certain the wood screws were perfectly aligned as axles for the wheels, and then made max weight by placing a lead sphere amidships. Painted medium green with a big smiley face on the center weight, it became known as “The Green Cockroach” by everyone who saw it scoot down the ramp.

      I recall that particular racer – and its construction – was banned after the kids grew up and retired their evergreen champion.

      Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      When my son was in Cub Scouts, we built a Pinewood Derby car together. He and I had assembled and painted some plastic model kits so when his scout troop put on a Derby we were well situated.. He sketched out a wedge design that I cut on my radial arm saw. He painted it and we put it together per hot tips for making a fast car, like polishing axles and canting wheels so they have small contact points. Pinewood is about minimum friction and maximum allowable weight. We also drilled a large hole in the bottom and filled it with plumber’s lead and used my Ohaus balance to weigh it so we could get weight right up to the exact limit.

      Mo’s car came in second. His best friend made a crude little car and literally hung household hardware on it to make it heavy. The scout troup was using some cheap spring postal scale to check weight. There was no way the winning car was legal but with the crappy scale they were using, they weren’t going to find out.

      When my kids got unfairly treated in a competitions, I commiserated with them, took their sides, and ultimately told them to suck it up because the needed to learn that sometimes life isn’t completely fair.

      Reply
  11. safe as milk

    i kinda wish i hadn’t heard about the k20 x1/9. i’ve loved that design since it came out. my father was considering it in ‘74 but decided that it wasn’t safe enough and the 124 was more practical. lol!

    i think jack made some excellent observations in the ttac article . still, i don’t see that mich opportunity for american autos, other than as niche products. our stuff is just too big both physically and displacement wise.

    as to politics, i have discovered that there is a term that describes my overall category. i’m a #justwalkaway progressive. the democratic party has lost it’s mind but not everyone on the left is nuts. you may think single payer healthcare is beyond our means but i would counter that the $80 billion increase that we just gave the military would have been better spent on medcare for all. unfortunately, the political climate prevents any form of reasonable compromise. until it does, i say don’t feed the trolls.

    Reply
    • Felis Concolor

      Now that you mention alternative chassis, I can imagine a K20 127/128 being an excellent variation on that theme.

      You can #walkaway any time you like, but you can never leave the camera shop.

      Reply
  12. ScottS

    Jack,

    I wish I had known you were racing at NCM MP last weekend. I would have modified my schedule to be there on Saturday. As it was I visited the NCM on Friday morning and checked out the track before driving down to Nashville to see my Dad.

    BTW, I am in total agreement about a smaller Corvette with a four-cylinder engine. Make mine a V4, more or less half of an LS7 or LT1. The packaging and weight distribution would be superb and it would sound better than an I4.

    Reply
      • Dr Ribs Revere

        I was just thinking about the Motus for other reasons. A supercharged or turbo version would be incredible in an entry level Corvette.

        On a side-note. I totally understand Jack’s current motorcycle lineup but wonder if it would make sense to unload some of the fleet and consolidate to a single Motus, checks the box for American made. Factory pick up and road trip eventually home would make for a great story. Plus could get it painted in any shade of green he desires!

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          I’ve had more than a few conversations with Motus. It won’t happen this year or next, but it might happen.

          Reply
        • Felis Concolor

          Motus was the 1st name I thought of when I read Jack’s article regarding American Iron selling overseas. Position it right at the pinnacle of the marketplace and watch them move as many as they can ship. The exhaust note alone would become one of the great attention-getters when visiting Monaco or Biarritz, or perhaps just hopping into Geneva to catch the latest Vollenweider concert.

          I’ve considered a nice “RV plus 2 wheels” combination to be a restomod/updated GMC motorcoach with Motus for use at one’s destination; considering the former still holds world records for fastest full size RV, it’s a good complementary pairing.

          Reply
  13. Panzer

    I’ve read the comments for Jack’s 4th July article, they must’ve been cleaned before I got to read them, because I didn’t see anything particularly flamey apart from DW’s inevitable contribution..

    That said, I feel like defending the honour of my German built Focus, she makes odd sounds sometimes, but she does me right 😉👍
    (and nothing feels cheap inside either)

    Reply
    • Felis Concolor

      Considering how long they’ve had factories there, Ford’s been a German automaker longer than Audi, Porsche or Volkswagen.

      Reply

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