Let’s take a moment to be honest with ourselves. Is the kind of lazy, sloppy, corrupt writing that plagues automotive journalism really a problem? When MotorTrend reviewed the current Viper, Lieberman ranted that “luxury and driveability have been sacrificed” and that “driving the manual is hard” and that the Viper is “hot inside”.
None of that is even remotely true. I’m not even sure Jonny is stupid enough to believe the lines they’re having him read. I think the “creative” team at MT understands that videos like this get a lot of YouTube clicks. A click from someone who hates you pays the same as a click from somebody who likes you. That’s the business.
So what? So what if MotorTrend slanders the Viper? In the immortal words of our next President, what difference does it make?
It probably made some difference to the Viper, which is being canceled in 2017. I believe that negative reviews had quite a bit to do with that, and that uninformed reviews had even more to do with it. Viper reviews typically fall into one of two categories:
* the Lieberman-style review above, where some pansy who lives in California and uses skin moisturizer complains that the Viper doesn’t match the Flying Spur Mulliner for interior luxury features and is therefore exactly like driving a Hemi Dart with a stripped interior;
* the TopGear-style review where they praise the car’s raw speed and power but state that “This car should stay on the track and only make the briefest forays onto public roads… It’s loud, it’s harsh, it’s super fast, it’s a massive amount of fun. But it would be a miserable thing to commute in”
I think the second kind of review does more harm than the first, because it perpetuates ideas about the car that are simply incorrect. Many of us could commute in a Viper without any difficulty. I’ve put about 9,000 commuting miles on my 1975 CB550. I assure you that the Viper ACR is absolutely up to the task of matching a ’75 Honda as a commuting device. But it would also be fine for any commute that doesn’t involve a lot of seriously broken pavement and/or steep parking garages. If you could do a particular commute in a C7 Vette or a BMW Z4, you could almost certainly do it in a Viper ACR.
So how many people simply took the Viper off their lists because they were certain that it would burn, deafen, or rattle them? I bet you that the answer is “enough to make the difference between switching the line off and keeping it going.” And that is also the answer to the question of whether or not incompetent and lazy automotive journalism does anybody any harm. In this case, it’s going to put every worker on the Conner Avenue factory line out of work. It’s also going to deprive a lot of people of a chance to buy the greatest trackday car ever built. It won’t affect Lieberman or Pat Devereaux; they’re still going to be flying first-class around the world to drive $300,000 cars and stay in five-star hotels. It only affects the men who build these cars and the men who are capable of driving them to their limits.
Alright, enough bitterness. This comment also popped up on the same article, and I’ll leave it here because it cheered me up a bit at a time when I could use some cheering up.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I’m a fan of old-school auto writing and I try very hard to bring some of it to all of you. Thanks for reading.