(Last) Weekly Roundup: Riding High In Thailand Edition

This past week, about a hundred of my best Malaysian pals and I drove 2,877 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur to Hua Hin and back. Our vehicles ranged from the prosaic (an RHD NC1 MX-5 which has the same “4×4” ride height as its American sibling) to the unbelievable (a pair of Kevlar-bodied Bufori Genevas, about which more later). In the weeks to come, I will be bringing you all sorts of pictures, stories, and analysis pieces from this trip.

This was a true vacation for me in the sense that I hardly worked during the trip. So this Roundup will be a light one, but I do have two full-length print pieces which have just made their way on the Web.


For R&T, I reviewed the reanimated Skip Barber Racing School and put you behind the wheel of three new-school luxury vehicles.

For Zoom-Zoom I took the new CX-9 to a pair of Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Western Pennsylvania.

Brother Bark taught an autocross school and drove a Daewoo.

I’ll be back in the States after just 27 short hours in the air. See you then!

26 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: Riding High In Thailand Edition”

  1. John C.

    On the luxury car comparison. One thing the disparate luxury vehicles had in common was a fewer cylinder turbo under the hood than what one might expect. We are not losing speed and perhaps gaining a few mpg. The engineering involved to make small displacement but turbocharged engines match an engine inherently suited for luxury use is a hard task..

    When Bentley tried it in the still bespoke Arnage around the turn of the century they luckily could still bring back their ancient big block V8. I wonder if an NA 6.9 in the MB, a 460 V8 in the Navigator and a 4.0 V8 in the cover band Lexus would have their customers line up. I think so.

    Reply
  2. rwb

    Not to totally gloss over your trip (which looks very interesting,) but I was very curious reading the Skip Barber article whether there was anything you felt their school was doing better than LevelUp, or vice-versa, or if there were any other differences in their purpose that may not be obvious.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The curriculum is basically identical, so I’d choose the school that’s closer to you.

      Also, if you want to race Spec Miata afterwards I’d go with LevelUp because they have Miatas where the new Skippy school has Mustangs.

      Reply
  3. Martin

    I know you probably don’t care that much about Malaysian politics, but the recent election there is fascinating. I followed it closely, since my wife is from there and has family there. A corrupt government is toppled by a coalition comprised of the former prime minister and the man that he himself sent to prison on sodomy charges; a connection between the crooked 1MDB capital investment fund and Leonard DiCaprio’s Wolf of Wall Street; literal bags of currency found stashed at residences all over KL. It’s almost too crazy to be true.

    Reply
    • Nicholas Gomez

      They’ll make a movie out of it someday. No one in Hollywood coulda written something as barmy as all that.

      Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Oh yeah it’s all that anybody was talking about. Utterly crazy… and everybody’s worried about the taxes that might be coming down the pike.

      It actually stopped me from buying a watch that wouldn’t be delivered until January, because for all anybody knows there will be major taxes on luxury goods.

      Reply
  4. Lucas

    On the subject of the Daewoo, although I do like the Encore quite a bit, as a man the only car in this segment I wouldn’t feel self-conscious driving would be the Jeep Renegade. It’s probably also 99% female demographic, but at least it looks the part enough.

    Reply
    • john marks

      Please make your point clearly.

      If you are talking about the Fallingwater restoration, from what I know (I have read professional articles about it), the structural engineering to determine how safely to lift the sagging cantilevers was a group effort; furthermore, the engineers created a private web page so that their work could be checked by structural engineers worldwide.

      FLW suffered immense tragedy, but he was at best a crusty character who was a legend in his own mind. Had the (IIRC) general contractor not intervened, Fallingwater would have all-fall-down’ed as soon as the forms were struck off. FLW’s self-devised support scheme was totally inadequate. The fix by whoever it was who fixed the plans lasted about 50 years before the sag got dangerous.

      One authority told me that FLW had his furniture set up inside Fallingwater before the doors were framed in, and the doorways when installed were too small to let the furniture out. What a nebbishy little control freak he could be.

      john marks

      Reply
      • Felis Concolor

        That’s just one aspect of Mr. Silman’s work for which FLW fans should be eternally grateful. His quiet, humble and collaborative approach stands as the inverse of FLW’s “do you f’ing know who I am?!” behavior when confronted with the shortcomings of his designs. Without Robert Silman, many more of FLW’s works would only be remembered in photographs, instead of open for tours, having been saved from themselves.

        The ability to create solutions which are both invisible to the viewer, faithful to the original designer’s intent, and readily reversible should an improved solution present itself in the future is especially important for the preservation of these artifacts as inspiration, lesson, and warning. I find the tours-only status especially appropriate for Fallingwater, as its location and construction render it so toxic to be unfit for habitation.

        I also found use of the term “radical” to be hyperbolic, as Mr. Silman himself stated the post-tensioning solution was not only unobtrusive but correct for the time period, since the benefits of such technologies had been known from the late 19th century, and were already coming into use by then. I can imagine poor Mendel Glickman suggesting the use of post-tensioning to counteract the negative reinforcement and the fit he’d be on the receiving end of.

        It’s sad to read of Robert Silman’s passing last month, and realize most fans of restored 20th century icons will never know to whom they owe an especially deep debt of gratitude.

        Reply
  5. Patrick

    What a coincidence, in the fall of 2017, I led a group of 12 Miatas from the Niagara Peninsula Miata Club to Southwest Pennsylvania to visit those 2 houses and we stayed at the Summit Inn. Wonderful roads in that area. On the way down we rook “The Devil’s Highway” PA666 through the Allegheny National Forest, a great run.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      It’s the most enjoyable-to-operate member of a despicable brood IMO. There is no possible question on earth for which a 7-seat unibody crossover is the best answer.

      Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          The Flex is a wagon, plain and simple. When I bought mine in 2009 I drove it back to back with a Taurus and a Taurus X. The seating position was virtually identical in all three, with the Taurus X being a little higher.

          Not that the Flex is a miracle of space utilization, to put it mildly — but compared to the Enclave class of unibody big rigs it’s a Transit 350 high roof as far as usable space.

          Reply
  6. Paul Alexander

    Jack, I apologize for using your blog as an informal Complaints Department for publications you are nominally associated with, but I just got to know: How close is R&T to folding up operations? The only names I see on the site now are Sorokanich and Petrany without even an Okulski anymore, and the only updates are usually some lightly edited promo copy or the results of a random five minute Google search. In the magazine, it seems to be The Sam Smith Show and a loose assemblage of contributors. It’s not like I have a great attachment to the magazine itself, rather it’s just another cultural touchstone tied to a ‘legacy industry’and we get to watch the slow death of both. Fuck, I really miss getting magazines I anxiously anticipated every month. The internet really sucks. Like a vacuum.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Both the magazine and website are standalone profitable, which is a minor miracle in The Current Year ™.

      There is definitely some thinning-out going on. I’ve been told that they have room for me in the future, as far as they’ve planned it anyway.

      Sam is a full-timer so he is going to have first call on a lot of things. Many of the other writers are really lifestyle writers slumming in press-trip autojournalism. It’s actually a wonder that I get any work from them at all; unlike most of the names in the book I don’t bring a cozy relationship with Manufacturers P,B, and M in the package.

      Reply
      • Lucas Zaffuto

        Jack, do they have a way to buy the entire archives in a digital format like some other mags do? I’d pay good money to be able to read all the old reviews and comparison tests from the 70s-90s.

        Reply
      • Paul Alexander

        Thanks for the reply Jack, appreciate the update. Not always easy to tell what’s going on behind the scenes from this vantage point. Great to hear that the mag is making money and that they can continue to afford your work. I have noticed a lot of the names in R&T popping up in other, as you put it, lifestyle journals. I really hope they don’t thin out too much more, there isn’t much flesh left on the bone as it is.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          The sad truth is that your humble author is now considered “too hot to handle” almost across the board.

          Look at TTAC and you’ll see that the people reviewing cars now are important parts of the press associations that TTAC used to ridicule on a weekly basis.

          Look at R&T and you’ll see that the majority of contributors are also writing for places like Vanity Fair.

          As Bruce Dickinson would say, it’s two minutes to midnight when it comes to unbiased, qualified automotive journalism.

          Reply
  7. Doug Houli

    Looking forward to the Malaysia articles. Was just in Singapore, KL and Mersing. My favorite places to eat…

    Reply

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