They Say The Darkest Hour Is Right Before The Dawn


Had to make a late-night run through some old stuff at TTAC and I came up this. It seems crazy, but just a little bit less than four years ago, many days at our (not so) little (at the time) car site had image upload panels like this.

As both a professional and an amateur storyteller, I get a little upset sometimes thinking about how many great stories are just lost to humanity because everybody involved is dead, silent, illiterate, or just plain uninterested in sharing the details. The story of Bertel’s Last Days at TTAC has the potential to be a truly memorable tale. It’s got everything — big ears! war crimes! strippers with broken teeth! crazy old dudes attacking other strippers!— but nobody who was there at the time is ready to talk just yet.

I’ve decided that I’m going to save the story, with every last juicy detail, for the day when I leave the auto-journo game, either by choice or by force. On that day, when I can’t earn a buck any more writing about cars, I’m going to open up my Franklin Planner, read all my notes, and share something that isn’t exactly the greatest story ever told — but it’s far from being the worst.

19 Replies to “They Say The Darkest Hour Is Right Before The Dawn”

  1. rambo furum

    I’m usually blind to behind the scenes personality issues and all, but Bertel’s bizarreness was front and center. Hearing that this was just the tip of the iceberg is mind blowing, really. When he was reigned in to his old industry tales, he was quite good, but his untamed cantankerousness and yellow fever oversharing got old very quickly.

  2. Economist

    I also want more TTAC behind-the-scenes stories. Seems like there is a lot to tell. It was always interesting, trying to unpack the inner strife from little comments.

  3. Steve Ulfelder

    Shameless thread-jack here: Jack, are you stopping by Mid-Ohio to see any SCCA Runoffs action? If so, be sure to say hi at the Flatout compound. I’m not there, but company prez Nick Leverone is – running the show and driving in Spec Pinata. We have half a dozen clients there, plus at handful at NASA Nationals at the Glen. Busy week!

  4. Disinterested-Observer

    One of my dad’s friends spent a week behind enemy lines after his platoon was destroyed by the Chinese in Korea. He wrote a book about it. All he said was something like “I wandered around for a week hiding from Chinese patrols. Eventually I found my way back to the American line.” Dude could have really used a ghost writer.

  5. Kevin Jaeger

    I have to say I miss Bertel’s international perspective on the auto industry. He was there when China had some huge growth and became the world’s largest auto market, which I certainly found more interesting than the regular updates on who’s winning the monthly RAV4/CR-V sales race.

    Even the racy pics of the booth babes were a little touch of nostalgia. Our auto shows used to be like that.

    I’m looking forward to hearing about how it all came crashing down, though.

    • Economist

      I found almost all of the China stuff tedious and repetitive. There were a few good insights in there, though. To be fair, I skip most of the “Sales figures this month” stuff too.

      • jz78817

        yeah, Bertel’s bag of tricks was really shallow:

        1) Chinese business deals
        2) VW will take over the world because MQB (LOL)
        3) catty gossip.

  6. arbuckle

    Well, the Farago era ran stuff like this (slightly NSFW):

    So it isn’t like Bertel was the end of innocence or anything.

    That said, I still contend that Robert was the best editor TTAC ever had. Since he’s left we’ve had one crazy dictator (Bertel), one “No Rules Cool Uncle” (Jack), and several young guys that just see TTAC as a launching pad for bigger things so they don’t rock the boat much.

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Robert was absolutely the best editor the site had. After all, it was his site. My goal as EIC was to restore our relationship with the commenters and get the traffic back up. I accomplished both of those things but VerticalScope was very clear that I was never going to be given enough time to do more than that… hell, their initial pitch to me was a 90 day term!

    • Don Curton

      Farago’s new site – TTAG – used to have some racy stuff too. But he got called out on it by the commentary and cut back. However, the pop-up ads and click bait are uncontrolled and make TTAG hardly worth reading. Too much effort.

  7. Acd

    Only three more years until most of the statute of limitations expire so you should be free to tell all then without putting anyone in jeopardy. Put me in the camp that enjoys the curtain pulled back to see the stories behind the stories. Transparency is good.

    I got hooked on TTAC back in the Farago death watch days, stuck around because of Jack during the dark years and keep going there now because two Baruths are more entertaining than one.


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