Weekly Roundup: Hit The Road, Jack! Edition

Now it can be told: Three times over the past year, Robert Farago and I attempted to buy Thetruthaboutcars.com, also known as TTAC, from its current owners. We had backers, we had writers. We had a man (me) and we had a plan (Robert’s) and if we didn’t have a canal well we at least had Van Halen’s “Panama” on vinyl. Each time we approached VerticalScope/Torstar, they gave us either a California No or a forthright no. Six months ago, things looked encouraging for a brief moment, but negotiations stalled when it was time to talk real numbers.

Their refusal to sell, however, is not why I’ve left TTAC as of 31 August 2018, and it’s not why my final effort for the site was published today.

Just over four years ago, VerticalScope removed me as Editor-In-Chief and installed Derek Kreindler as Managing Editor. The alert among you will notice that Derek was not made E-I-C. The reason for that is simple: starting on that day, AutoGuide’s Colum Wood became the shadow E-I-C of TTAC, directing Derek on a daily basis but keeping his name off the site roster because he did not want to damage the affable relationships he had with the automakers. It was the end of our editorial independence, made worse because we knew that Derek’s job depended on both of us keeping our mouths shut about the true ramifications of the change.

To Derek’s credit, he fought tooth and nail to get some challenging and original work published. The stress of fighting a 360-degree battle against the automakers and his own management led him to eventually seek work outside the industry. Today he’s making real money in the financial biz; if anyone truly deserves their success, Derek does. It should be noted, however, that Derek’s greatest sin in the eyes of his management was in consistently matching the actual readership of AutoGuide with one-tenth of the budget. They had eight full-timers and an eye-watering amount of freelance money; Derek and I ran our side of the show on the average salary of a Columbus, Ohio police officer.

Derek’s successor, Mark Stevenson, was hired with the explicit understanding that he would make TTAC subordinate to, and reflective of, AutoGuide, something that he expressed a few different ways in a much-edited-after-the-fact piece about butter knives. He did this job very well, eliminating both controversy and the lion’s share of reader involvement.

Mark’s successor, Tim Healey, works for the same autowriters’ organization (MAMA) that Derek and I spent years lampooning. So the writing was obviously on the wall for my involvement with TTAC. In February, Tim called me and said that due to “budget concerns” he was cutting my contributions in half. This surprised me since TTAC had been spending money like never before on a brand-new roster of full-time and monthly-retainer employees. At that point I should have told him to fuck off, but since Robert and I were trying to make a deal for the site I thought I’d stay on so there would be continuity in the event that we were able to make the deal.

On the last day of August, Tim called me again, letting me know that those old “budget reasons” had popped up again and he would have to cut me further. I told him to take me off the roster.

The irony of the situation is that being affiliated with TTAC has cost me any number of opportunities over the years, up to and including a gig with Car and Driver about seven years ago. Any time somebody told me to drop TTAC, I gave them a very sanctimonious (and, in retrospect, laughable) lecture about loyalty and decency. In the end, that loyalty proved to be entirely a one-way affair. I will take some satisfaction from knowing that I wrote the majority of the site’s best-known and most-read articles. I’m also proud of the fact that I brought the site back from the dead in 2013 after the “Subaru dykes” controversy that would have sunk most publications for good. We recorded TTAC’s all-time highest traffic numbers, and largest amount of reader involvement, just a few months after our owners were prepared to close the doors.

I owe thanks to many people in connection with this nine-and-a-half-year adventure, and these are some of them:

Jonny Lieberman arranged for me to follow him from AutoGuide to TTAC. It has been a long time since either of us spoke or wrote a civil word to each other, and I would be lying if I said that I do not remain deeply disappointed in the path that Jonny has chosen over the past decade, but the fact remains that I am grateful to him for this favor among others.

It is odd to think that the world won’t remember Robert Farago for being TTAC’s founder. That was simply the opening act in a play that would see him create the most important firearms-related website in the world, a site that overtook TTAC within a year of its founding. Having sold that site for untold riches, Robert is now working on his novel. He was, and remains, a deeply impressive individual. Seven years ago, he charged me with the task of “continuing TTAC’s authentic voice and mission,” a task that I took seriously to the very end. Robert redefined automotive journalism for the better. His voice and purpose continue to resonate, albeit weakly, everywhere from Jalopnik to… well, almost everywhere but at TTAC.

Derek Kreindler came into the business young and he left it wise. If there was ever a writer or editor in this business who was more passionate about truth and authenticity than Derek, then I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him. Derek fought tooth and nail to prevent TTAC from becoming just another run-of-the-mill blog; the ferocity of his effort can be measured by choosing any random week of his stewardship and comparing it to any random week of Mark Stevenson’s tenure. Derek followed the New Testament advice to be “no respecter of persons”; I continue to treasure every furious and/or intentionally unpleasant email I ever got from him. At one point, when he was completely enraged by something that I’d done to divert some opportunities towards a female writer with whom he was reasonably sure I’d been intimate in the past, he sent me a message that “THE ERA OF CASHING OUT BITCHES IS OVER.” I cannot think of a current automotive publication, regardless of size or prominence, that would not be manifestly improved by placing Derek at its head.

Alex Dykes was an early prototype of the modern car reviewer: devoid of pretense and concerned with the little details that make a big difference to real-world customers. Unfortunately his out-and-proud status as a gay man was offensive to some of the management above me and in the long run I was unable to keep him at TTAC past my own tenure. The same was true for Cameron Aubernon who became the first transgender writer in the game under my stewardship but who was given the immediate chop after Derek and I were unable to protect her. The good news is that both of them have achieved success on their own terms after TTAC. I have to laugh sometimes when I read complaints that I’m a “Nazi” or a “bigot”; I hired more LGBTQ writers than almost anybody else, only to see them canned by “tolerant” editors after me. Maybe the problem was that I never consciously hired anybody for purposes of diversity; I found the most interesting voices I could regardless of orientation. A less “bigoted” E-I-C would have hired people because of their sexuality, not irrespective of it.

Sajeev Mehta and “Murilee Martin” have been critical parts of TTAC for a very long time. I never read their work without being both enlightened and entertained.

Ronnie Schreiber was always worth a lot more than we could pay him. There were weeks when the majority of the site’s output came from his hard work. He remains a historian and author without peer in the business. Were there any justice in the world, Ronnie would be the most famous, and the most highly compensated, autowriter in the United States.

My brother Bark Maruth started with TTAC on a whim, at my express invitation. No writer in the site’s history, self included, has ever matched him for average reader and comment counts per article. I expected no less.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank my freelance and volunteer contributors who made it possible for us to repeatedly exceed 3 million reads per month with a budget that wouldn’t staff a single full-time seat at Gawker. TTAC would not have been the same without you and I’m sorry that the site did not retain most of you in the long run. You’re all welcome to contribute here.

If you’re reading this site, there’s a strong chance that you came here from TTAC at one point or another. Thank you for coming. In the months and years to come, Bark and I will work diligently to bring some of that old-school TTAC mojo to these pages. There are some more stories I could tell about TTAC, and I might tell them in the future, but for now I’ll take some advice from Townes: “It don’t pay to think too much / on things you leave behind.” Thank you for reading.

* * *

My final TTAC piece is a review of the C43 AMG.

For R&T, I reviewed the astounding Bufori Geneva.

100 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Hit The Road, Jack! Edition”

  1. Derek Kreindler

    Thank you for the kind words Jack…and the not so kind ones, often spoken in private, with discretion and tact. Something I sorely lacked at 25(!).

    Recalling my impudence leaves me crimson face, but I am still immensely proud of everything that was accomplished by the team during the years I spent there. I owe a huge debt of gratitude for all of the non-automotive lessons that were handed down as well.

    Reply
  2. Edwin

    Jack,

    With you gone from TTAC that leaves Sanjeev and Murilee as the last remaining writers worth reading (I’m assuming Bark will soon be gone too).

    Look forward to seeing you build this site into what TTAC used to be. Any chance of Robert writing a piece or 2?

    Reply
  3. PaulyG

    Well, I can take TTAC off my Feedly feed. Scanning for Mark’s and your bylines in their articles was the last connection I had to a site that I had been reading since the Farago days.

    Sorry that the potential acquisition did not occur. I would have been happy to be a co-investor in a Baruth and Farago production. You are both originals who cannot be replicated.

    I am glad to see Mr. Farago made some coin, he deserved it.

    Unfortunately, TTAC has been asymptotically approaching mediocrity for many years, with only a few of the long-time authors’ contributions temporarily changing the curve’s downward trajectory.

    Just continue to keep us abreast of where your writings are. We are happy to read and debate them.

    Best of luck!

    Paul

    Reply
  4. Fred Lee

    Over the last several years I’ve noticed the quality of content at TTAC ever-decreasing. It’s interesting now to hear some of the backstory, and see the correlation (and likely the cause).

    At this point many of the articles seem to be an excuse for some hack to get a press-fleet car, take a couple crappy pictures, and write some uninspired prose so that he can avoid making a car payment. I really enjoyed the days of the rental car reviews, and the tidbits of “insider” knowledge that a few former writers were able to provide.

    I guess it’s safe to say that this time it’s well and truly dead. And it’s a pretty huge disappointment to hear that it could have been returned to Baruth and Farago. That would have Made TTAC Great Again.

    Reply
    • Fred Lee

      One more thing…

      While no doubt a huge undertaking I imagine there will be enough flight from TTAC that a new website in the vein of the original could have legs…

      Reply
      • everybodyhatesscott

        Unless Farago has some sort of non compete that’s still active 9 years later, I’m surprised he doesn’t just start a new one as well. Nostalgia?

        Reply
      • sgeffe

        I was thinking the same thing.

        TRTAC—“The REAL Truth About Cars.”

        I’ll be stopping by here more, and there less. (I recall you dropped a hint on here a couple months back that a story would be forthcoming, so it didn’t surprise me to see a parting of the ways.) It’ll be WEIRD, because TTAC has been required daily reading for years!

        Keep the updates on your Accord D/D coming occasionally (just got new Michelins on my 2013 Touring yesterday, and what a difference)! And thanks for your contributions at TTAC!

        Reply
  5. Harold Combs

    A sad, but expected day.

    VWVortex, then autoextremist.com, then TTAC became the fuel of my automotive obsession as I came to adulthood, went autocrossing, then got married and watched the industry eat itself over the next 15 years.

    Through it all, you guys were irreverent, and the writing was SO. DAMNED. GOOD.

    FWIW, sorry to hear about the missed C&D opportunity…many of us dreamed of working on Hogback Road someday. Now, it’s a time passed.

    All the best!

    Reply
  6. SixspeedSi

    Damn shame, but could see the writing on the wall for a long while. Now know you and Fargaro’s potential buyout, that would’ve been very exciting and a breath of fresh air to the current auto blog sites.

    I’ve been reading Riverside for a while now and love the content, automotive or not. I’m hoping of big things for this site and your work elsewhere. Best of luck!

    Reply
  7. Shrug

    While I profoundly disagree with the Brothers Baruth on numerous issues, the quality of their writing is what always brought me back. With very rare exception, it’s damn near impossible to find those —especially in the automotive or “lifestyle” scene— that write for something more mature than an 8th grade audience. I really do appreciate your efforts to not treat us the readers like morons.

    With them gone for good, there’s no reason to check in on TTAC. They’ve lost the voice them made them unique and memorable. I’ll be slightly sad now that I have less to read on my lunch break, but if it means this site gets a bump in productivity then all the better. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store.

    Reply
  8. John Marks

    Dear Jack,

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write for TTAC. I think that my piece “Horseshoe Nails, the Rhythm of History, and General Motors” (https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/horseshoe-nails-rhythm-history-general-motors/) was one of the best things I ever wrote, and 152 comments ain’t chopped liver. How often does one get a chance to connect Marina Oswald’s lady parts, the Corvair’s rear end, and the election of George W. Bush?

    Onward!

    john marks

    Reply
  9. Ronnie Schreiber

    Jack,

    Thank you for the kind words. The first piece of writing that I got paid for was at PajamasMedia and it appeared on their site right next to an article by Victor Davis Hanson, someone whose wisdom and writing I had admired for years. That tickled me but it pales by comparison to the honor and shear fun of working side by side with you.

    I will say that some of the emails I received during your tenure as EIC probably make the ones Derek sent you look tame, but you’re the most loyal person that I know and the best automotive writer since Leonard Setright. It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve extended your reach beyond cars. As I’ve told people for 10 years, “Saying that Jack Baruth writes about cars is like saying that Hemmingway wrote about fishing.”

    We should put together some talent and produce a daily or weekly group livestream on YouTube and distribute the audio via other sites.

    Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        Not really. I was invited to write for PJM by Roger Simon so I really wasn’t involved with Johnson. I was an early reader at LGF, before Memogate, but I realized something was wrong when he banned me for some trivial disagreement. I can’t even recall what it was about, I don’t think it was political, maybe it was about vaccines. In any case, I respectfully disagreed and his response was to ban me. The guy was always culturally left wing, a musician and cyclist but for a while he was about free speech. Ultimately I think his turning to the dark side had to do with maintaining regular access to a vagina.

        Reply
        • dejal

          Yeah, LGF was (maybe still is) a freak show.

          You had people who had to prove their loyalty by dumping on someone chosen to be dumped on.
          Then after proving their loyalty, they themselves were dumped on.

          Actually quite fascinating to read the posts, but the amount of abuse the posters took was disturbing.

          I’ll still give LGF credit over George Bush/Dan Rather and the typewriter. Ended Rathers’ career at CBS by a few years even though everyone denies it.

          Reply
          • Ronnie Schreiber

            If I’m not mistaken, LGF amplified what others had done. I don’t think it was Charles that figured out the Microsoft Word angle.

            Perhaps what happened was the Johnson was starting to get some social pushback in his own social circle akin to what we see today on social media, the shaming that anyone notleft can endure for speaking up.

  10. Ronnie Schreiber

    One can only imagine how TTAC circa 2009 would have covered Elon Musk smoking a spliff on Joe Rogan’s show.

    Reply
  11. Nick D

    Damn. TTAC’s been harder and harder to read lately. I greatly enjoyed Trackday Diaries, Avoidable Contact, Rental Car Reviews, and the digs at other autowriters and publications. Some of it helped nudged me to get out on track and start wheel to wheel racing. The ‘censored’ capsule review of the 2005 Hyundai Accent is still hilarious, and what I use to introduce people to your writing.

    Reply
  12. PaulyG

    TTAC: RIP

    From my email archives:

    Robert Farago
    To: PaulyG

    07/28/08 at 5:06 PM
    Thank you for registering with The Truth About Cars. I look forward to
    reading your comments (sad but true; I read them all).

    If you have any problems with the site, or can help us with a news
    tip/link, please do no hesitate to use this, my private email.

    Meanwhile, thanks for putting food on our table.

    RF

    Reply
  13. silentsod

    I had already reduced my TTAC readership to nearly nothing and I suppose this will be the nail in the coffin.

    If I want to read reviewers slobbing the knobs of every press car they get I have plenty of options and TTAC’s quality just isn’t there in terms of raw prose.

    Reply
    • sabotenfighter

      Same here. About a year and a half ago, maybe more, I noticed that the site was really screwing up my computer, like hogging memory in Firefox. Occasionally, the front page would be missing the “Next Page” button and other general poor upkeep, but what really made me stop going was just how crappy/boring the articles have all become. Feels like AutoBlog with clickbait and an increasing number of “ad-icles” .

      Reply
  14. Acd

    Sorry to hear about you leaving TTAC but considering the downward trajectory of that site it’s probably best that you get out and make a clean break. Hopefully you do some of the things here that you had on your roadmap if you and Farago had successfully bought it.

    Oh and keep us posted about how your site traffic compares to theirs just for fun (and a little spite).

    Reply
  15. Dirty Dingus McGee

    I logged in to TTAC today for the first time in ?, hell at least 6 months. Rarely even read anything on the site, certainly don’t bother with the comments when I do. Same chorus of braying jackass’s no matter the article. It grew tiresome to dig thru a mountain of bullshit, to find a small nugget of sanity.

    Best of luck in your future endeavors.

    Reply
  16. rwb

    Your decision to invite the internet to a ChumpCar race on TTAC almost 5 years ago was one I still appreciate to this day.

    It’s unfortunate and inevitable that nice things, like what existed there until somewhat recently, rarely ever last. A car news website that also happens to post high-quality fictional short stories (your “Concours D’Angst” and Tom K’s “Ride of a Lifetime” are particular standouts IMO,) in-depth historical articles and technical deep-dives, none of this squares with the need to produce an anodyne product that cannot possibly confuse an idiot.

    So it goes.

    Reply
    • Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer

      Thanks for the mention

      Sunday Stories was how I knew I was a part of something special at TTAC. They weren’t even something we were paid for, just something fun to do and a good chance to push our limits. When they took those away, they were telling us that they were no longer interested in us as authors and as readers

      Honestly, I was wondering why the hell Jack was still there. His departure is the end of an era.

      Reply
      • rwb

        For what it’s worth, you are actually one of my favorite automotive-adjacent writers working, period. You can tell a real story, as a real person, with a real voice, and that is so much harder and more rare than it sounds like it should be. For as long as you want to do it, people like me will enjoy it.

        Reply
  17. Trucky McTruckface

    Too bad. For TTAC, anyway. I’ve been reading on and off over there for nearly a decade under a couple of different handles, and discovered about a year ago that you post your best shit on here.

    The decline of TTAC has been long and sad. Things were looking up after you took over from that nut Bertel, but it’s been a joke ever since you stepped down. They haven’t had a dedicated reviewer worth a damn since Dykes (whose YouTube reviews are among the best out there) and it’s been a shame to watch guys like Ronnie have their excellent contributions marginalized and replaced by regurgitated press releases and clickbait. And, honestly, as much as I didn’t care for Kreindler’s editorial voice at the time, his passion and dedication were obvious and greatly missed in retrospect.

    I still post over there sometimes, mostly to snark at automakers for making stupid shit, the editors for writing stupid shit and liberal commenters for thinking stupid shit. Sorry to hear that the buyout didn’t pan out, but hopefully maybe you and Farago can execute your plans on a new domain less tainted by years of mediocrity. You’re too talented not to try.

    Also, thanks for reminding me that you once described yourself as “the Lindsey Buckingham of TTAC.” I think I’ll put on Tusk and have a drink in your honor.

    Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      To be clear, I’ve been busy with the Harmonicaster and haven’t really put much effort into my writing so don’t blame current management. Tim’s bought just about everything I’ve pitched. TTAC ran my piece on the 100 pink Cadillacs at Aretha Franklin’s funeral and I even understand why Tim edited out “to everyone who had a complexion darker than that of a brown paper bag” when I discussed bowtie-clad buddies of Calypso Louie handing out copies of The Final Call newspaper.

      The previous managing editor lied to me more than once. He refused to consider me for a fulltime position in which I’d previously performed well (while generating about 1/3rd of the site’s content) while lying about it. He made me start having to pitch stories, expecting detailed pitches (effort that I thought better spent on the, y’know, actual article), then rejecting 70% of them, then having other writers cover the same ground as I’d proposed. Previous TTAC editors going back to Robert Farago, approved nearly 100% of my stories. When I wrote for Hemmings, my editor’s position was that I could write about whatever topic I chose, and use as many words as I deemed necessary. Suddenly I had an editor who thought I had bad judgment about what readers found worthwhile. Even after I put up a post that was the biggest traffic generator in years, he still gave me a hard time about getting stories approved.

      I used to be able to get press cars, including a couple of McLarens, and regular access to Audis, Jaguar/Land Rovers, and FCA cars. I had personally established working relationships with those companies and the fleet management companies, as I had done for other product and book/movie reviews. None of the press cars that I got loaned were ever obtained through TTAC.

      Then I asked for, and received a sample unit of the Waylens dash cam and app. I told the previous managing editor about it, asking if he wanted a review. He freaked out about companies possibly accusing us of double dipping, wanting all review loans to be approved by him. Since I was a freelancer and since he wasn’t ever going to arrange for me to get a press car I thought this was an absurd request.

      The McLaren 570S was the last press car that I’ve been able to get. I can’t say that I have any evidence but I have strong suspicions that a guy who was so good at editing an automotive website that he is now selling cars at a dealer sabotaged my relationship with McLaren and other car companies.

      Considering that I literally (and I wasn’t the only one) worked for free for the site to keep it afloat during one crisis, there was almost no loyalty coming in the other direction.

      It got to the point where I’d almost lost my desire to write. Then I got real busy with the electric harmonica thing.

      As long as Tim keeps buying my stuff, I’ll keep contributing but it’s clear that the old band has been broken up and it isn’t likely to get together under the same brand again.

      Reply
    • Derek Kreindler

      I’m sorry you didn’t care for my writing but I want you and everyone else to know that Jack and I fought for readers like you every single day. I put my heart and soul into maintaining the integrity of the site.

      Reply
      • Trucky McTruckface

        Don’t apologize. You cared and it showed. Take it as a compliment that I remember not caring for you stuff, because that means it was memorable. I can’t say that about your successors. Whether or not I liked it was is irrelevant; You took positions, ran with them, and still defend them to this day. That was the original spirit of TTAC and, in retrospect, you were the last hurrah.

        You were good.

        Reply
  18. John C.

    Interested to hear the fun that was going on behind the scenes. The fact that all of that was banished by all the Canadian men in grey flannel suits killed all the fun of the site, even before the big names were forced out. For example it was fun to finally hear the truth we all suspected about Caroline.

    If some reunion of the old crowd can be put back together, I hope the result won’t be some rehash of the GM death watch with GM again or FCA. It might be better to actually build something like articles explaining how to get Tesla through its ramp up of how to turn around Buick before they get their plug pulled. I suspect the companies would listen and it would be better for everyone’s psyche to build something rather than tearing something down.

    Reply
  19. Cameron Aubernon

    Jack, thank you for the shout-out, and for bringing me aboard for the ride.

    And since I won’t be finishing my series with TTAC (because I haven’t heard back from Mr. Healey, and I’m too busy these days to try to ping his inbox again), here’s how it finally ends:

    I got my license a few months after moving from Kentucky to Virginia; the circumstances behind the move involve a douchebag “kid” turning an art gallery into a music hall, and a woman whose demons will see her join her mother soon enough.

    My first trip back to Kentucky was a drive in a 2018 Nissan Sentra SV, rented from my local Enterprise. I can still hear the hum of the CVT in my ears.

    Should the band be brought back together elsewhere, Jack, I’m ready to go.

    Reply
  20. James2

    Jack,
    Tell your bosses at R&T to make Avoidable Contact easier to find. It seems like whenever you have a piece hot off the presses it’s right there on their homepage, but if not… finding MH370 seems an easier task.
    Thanks for all your efforts at TTAC.

    Reply
    • Dirt Roads

      I just bookmarked Jack Baruth after clicking on the author’s name. They changed the web address a while back and I found myself wondering why Jack hadn’t been writing over there. I’ve since fixed the bookmark. 🙂

      Reply
  21. Steve Lynch

    Thanks to you and Derek (and BS) for letting me be a small part of what I now call, “ The Truth about What Was in Automotive News and Jalopnik Two Hours Ago”…

    Reply
  22. NoID

    I’ve found myself a much less voracious consumer of and furious commentator at TTAC over the last few months, and it’s because for the most part I’m just not as inspired/triggered by the content anymore. Your presence will be missed. I’m encouraged to hear that RF was looking to re-enter this space, and doubly disappointed that the attempt failed.

    Good luck to you, I’ll be reading more of you here and at R&T. I’ll continue giving TTAC my attention, if only to continue to be entertained by their near-fetish attention to FCA’s success or failure.

    Maybe they’ll turn it around.

    Reply
  23. Disinterested-Observer

    Bummer. I like reading about cars but knowing a little about how the Internet is monetized I can’t bring myself to even look at anything owned by Gizmodo.

    Reply
  24. Crancast

    Thank you for the Paul Harvey ‘Rest of the Story’. I would genuinely like to read more behind the scene’s illogical business decisions around TTAC. Kind of like Bark with dealerships, but on the auto-journo click bait side.

    Too bad VerticalScope could not recognize the diamond in the rough they had with TTAC. But FUCK’em and keep killing here.

    I have to know – did you get any back door thank you from VerticalScope? Find it disgusting they could not even put up a lame first post thank you on the your finale.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I did not. Just a statement that they would be happy to consider any story pitches I have in the future. However I know from Ronnie, Bozi, and others that Tim rejects 95% of those pitches in favor of more stuff from his own crowd.

      Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        I can’t say that I have any real complaints other than having to pitch things in the first place. As mentioned above, I haven’t been that active writing of late. Tim’s certainly be more open to myself than the previous managing editor.

        I was comfortable with my role when you were EIC. I had a regular income from the site and a quota of a dozen pieces a month. The way it worked out was usually two or three topical pieces and one long form feature a week.

        Whe the previous managing editor took over I made him a fairly generous offer in terms of X dollars for Y content. That would have helped with both the budget and with content. He wasn’t interested.

        I haven’t solicited any of my paid writing gigs. In every instance I was either approached by the publisher (Roger L. Simon at PJMedia, Farago at TTAC) and was asked to contribute. Hemmings asked me to apply for a position before it was publicly posted. I’m not trying to brag, just pointing out that professionals think I have skills. I don’t think I’m as good as Jack says above, but I do okay in my weight class. Then, suddenly, I’m only 30% good.

        I think it’s a tragedy how the owners have mismanaged the brand. Unlike in On The Waterfront, we really were contenders.

        Reply
  25. ltrftc

    Jack,
    Sorry to see you go from TTAC, like many others there is no reason for me to keep returning to it.

    WRT to Gerry and his Bufori, it all started when he bought a Madison kit car (air cooled VW engine), which he liked so much he and his family bought the rights to start building them. Prior to the Subaru water cooled engine, there was a 3800 powered 4 seater that back in the early 90s had a similar sense of speed as what you described in the Geneva. It’s been nearly 30 years since I visited Gerry in the original Bufori factory in Sydney, and it’s good to see that he’s still a car nut and that the company is still going strong.

    Reply
  26. JustPassinThru

    I can only echo the others’ comments. I stumbled onto TTAC in a terrifying winter when I was between jobs, in an affordable, cozy cabin in the Black Hills. Internet worked, and the roads were sometimes plowed; and my laptop and a stack of books was two-months’ worth of entertainment.

    At the time I was impressed with the straight talk at TTAC; and I saw a lot of literary greatness in Jack’s semi-fiction pathos – in those, his years of VMcBB and of recounting his misspent youth. What fueled those pieces, has been said – and could have been speculated – but I sensed something between Hemmingway and King, about to emerge on an auto blog.

    Instead, what came was a cleaned-up life. Well, in the long run, that’s for everyone’s benefit – even if the more-recent output is more terse, pithy, and measured in tense discipline.

    It is unfortunate what happened to TTAC. It was not ONLY the editorial policies – there was a time when the greatest body was of those commentators who just-hate-cars. Who LOVE regulations on cars. Who want cars to run on peewater and exhaust Chanel No. 5. Who want loudmouth agitators in government to FORCE carmakers to build such vaporware.

    Those are not voices an auto enthusiast goes to read, or interact with.

    Here’s wishing the best of fortunes, in whatever direction you’re now taken. While working at C/D would have been, in years past, fantastic…given where they’ve gone, with uber-liberals who want electric cars, car regulations, car-use restrictions…and where the print media is going, in general…perhaps you’re better off as a free agent.

    Reply
    • CJinSD

      It’s almost like there are creators and providers, and then there are progressives who spend their time infecting existing institutions in order to poison the well. Does anyone think it is a coincidence that progressives invaded the Catholic church and molested little boys; destroying the credibility of an institution that served as a foil to their ambitions? Does anyone think it is a coincidence that the US government is full of progressives who detest the US Constitution and personal freedom? Does anyone think it is a coincidence that our universities are filled with progressives who don’t believe in scientific method, freedom of thought, individual rights, or debate? Is it a coincidence that a progressive US President opened the tap on student loans; inflating college tuitions by 200% and making brown lesbian Marxist the biggest growth profession in the country while their Marxist-run universities built vast real estate empires paid for by said unlimited student loans that the taxpayers will eat? Is it any coincidence that the MSM can’t relate to the world around them?

      The media corporations are bought and paid for by globalists, but the people working there are so deranged that they don’t understand why everyone with a brain hates them. Car and Driver is an interesting case. I guess the progressives recognize the freedom cars grant us, and they felt the need to control how people can share ideas about them nationally. They couldn’t risk having anyone articulate how Obama’s CAFE would impact the durability of cars that makes them available to second hand buyers. They can’t have people talking about how EVs are just another form of socialism. When we run out of other people’s money, all we’ll have are crummy cars that cost more than they can be sold for, crumbling roads, and another trillion in debt from subsidizing an idea that failed on the market a century ago.

      There are people so ill-informed that they don’t want to let go of Obama’s CAFE. How can a policy that is eliminating the most efficient types of passenger vehicles be good for anything? Why isn’t anyone pointing out that $20K sedans are going away because $60K tax-deductible trucks have a lower CAFE bar and a greater margin for appeasing the government through either fines or subsidizing compliance EVs? Who loses? Honest people who don’t want a subsidy and don’t want to commute in a 6,500 lbs+ vehicle because they can take a section 179 depreciation deduction, or because they can’t afford to. You can learn more about the US car market by talking to an accountant than you can by reading everything published by Car and Driver since 2008.

      Reply
  27. Athos

    Yeah, I came here from TTAC… partly. Does SSL counts?

    You need to post here that awesome driving series you wrote for TTAC almost 10 years ago. Yes, the one on which you explained how to drive at speed in public roads.

    Reply
  28. Harry

    Some of the decisions I most regret in my life stem from “loyalty” to a corporation. I hope your wistful feelings concerning a long tenure are tempered by a new sense of freedom.

    TTAC in it’s current firn did not deserve any percentage of your finite energy. Selfishly I hope it is redirected towards projects I enjoy reading, either way it will be better spent now.

    I love reading the inside dirt about the editorial side of TTAC. A side effect of loyalty is schadenfreude after you break free. The funny thing is both the loyalty starts with people, is transferred to a copatation and the vitriol is the opposite.

    Reply
  29. ComfortablyNumb

    I won’t miss TTAC. I actually haven’t read anything for a while, save what you link here on your weekly review. I’m glad I was a reader back in it’s heyday, and I’m honored to have had the opportunity to meet you and Derek in person…doesn’t take much to impress me, I guess 😉

    Reply
  30. Timur Apakidze

    Hey Jack

    As one of the freelancers, thanks for taking a flyer on my saturation dives. Once Derek left, the fight had gone out of TTAC. To be fair to Mark, he did reach out to me for content, but the current bunch of yahoos would not know good content if it bit them in the hiney.

    Cheers
    Timur

    Reply
  31. Kevin Jaeger

    It’s kind of a sad ending but honestly I wondered why you bothered sticking with TTAC for so long. It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything there unless I clicked a link from here.

    It’s unfortunate that your venture with Farago didn’t work out, but really, why couldn’t you just launch it under a different name? You could even launch it with a TTAC death watch as the first article.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      We’ve talked about it. Right now I’m in discussions with another party for a large-scale enthusiast site launch. If it happens then I’ll have Robert on board and all of TTAC’s greatest contributors. Call it a 25% chance, but I’m hopeful.

      Reply
      • Manic

        Tens of owners of badly run (also-ran) websites haven’t already offered their sites to you, now when news are out that there’s guys with the money looking to buy? If so then damn, these people are slow…

        Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        I strongly recommend regularly livestreaming events including the staff on YouTube with subsequent posting of the audio on other sites.

        If you’re not familiar with Comicsgate, check it out. A bunch of fans and creators who are tired of their industry and hobby being taken over by folks who hate the consumers of that industry have gone independent, raising serious money on IndieGoGo. They cultivated a market on YouTube with regular livestreams, interacting with the viewers via chats, making some coin via Superchats, and when they went forward with their own comic books, they had a ready market for their wares.

        YouTube is currently the #2 search engine on the Internet, after Google. At least for the foreseeable future, any kind of venture that doesn’t include YouTube as part of the marketing is going to be at a disadvantage.

        I know you think you have a face for radio, but the podcast you and Bark did with Farah was hilarious.

        Reply
      • Panzer

        If I ever win one of those several hundred million dollar lottery prizes, the first thing I have been planning to do for a while is to give you, your brother, Farrah, Smith and Egan (maybe Harris too) 3 mill each and tell you all to fuck off and not come back until you’ve made me a pilot for the greatest and uniquely American auto show ever 👍

        Reply
  32. Clayton

    Maybe I’m wrong but hiding the fact that AutoGuide was the defacto EIC of TTAC and gate keeper of what was published and not seems to invalidate the whole idea of the site. I liked it better when TTAC had to sneak drives of new cars. Now a days they drop a “XX flew me to the event, put me up in a hotel, and fed me” line and call it a day. That’s fine and dandy but when your articles don’t really throw any shade at the cars then you’re no longer the “truth” and your on the spectrum between journalism and advertising.

    Reply
  33. Clayton

    Also, announcing that TTAC is now a hack and that you’re leaving might have a measurable impact on what Verticle Scope can realistically value the site as worth. So… maybe you and RF should revisit your endeavor after the current TTAC has withered.

    Reply
  34. Philip K

    Have enjoyed TTAC for many years but it’s obviously been on the downhill for a while. Major bummer but hey it’s not about the URL it’s about the content, and commentary that follows from the community afterwards. Keep it up and good luck with your new ventures looking forward to hearing and reading what’s next…

    Reply
  35. CliffG

    At least that explains why TTAC had gotten so spectacularly boring. I did enjoy the whomever that posted that Trump should better watch out if he starts a trade war with Canada, USA can’t imagine the hurt! That was pretty funny, although I’m not quite sure if it was meant to be satire or not. Maybe RF can start that Truth about Cigars I suggested years ago. On a serious note, a Truth about Health Care could be really timely, before America goes too far down the road to understanding rather painfully why the definition of economics is “The Study of Scarcity”. I think y’all are too talented to be held down by the man for too long, so I will be reading whatever you get up to.

    Reply
  36. jz78817

    yeah, TTAC has been pretty stale for a while now. Posts by you and Mark seem to have consistently had 2-4 times the number of comments of most other articles, so I have to believe page views told a similar story.

    whether I agreed or disagreed (however vehemently) with what you posted, I always read the whole thing.

    Reply
    • sgeffe

      Only 63 comments over there as of this post time; “back in the day,” this departure would have generated 150+ comments easily!

      Says something.

      Like I said yesterday: The REAL Truth About Cars! (TRTAC.com!)

      Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        I’m not a lawyer but I own some intellectual property and I wouldn’t invest a lot of money on the possibility that a jury won’t find a likelihood of confusion between those two names.

        Better to come up with an entirely new brand. What established TTAC wasn’t the brand name, though it helped I. It was the fact that Farago was willing to host original voices that weren’t afraid to say what they thought. Robert has a great eye for talent. He has alumni sprinkled throughout the automotive writing and other writing communities, and perhaps an even better sense of what is current. He’s managed to catch lightning in a bottle twice so far with TTAC and TTAG, I wouldn’t bet against him.

        Reply
      • scotten

        I think most of the old guard have moved on from TTAC. I only rarely visit it, since most of the site seems to be auto news that I’ve read elsewhere anyway.

        Reply
        • jz78817

          it’s basically as lightweight as Autoblog any more, but with the occasional bit of “snark” for some reason; I don’t know if it’s just to be edgy or if they think it makes or enhances a point.

          Reply
  37. George Denzinger

    TTAC has been irrelevant for a long time now. I laugh at the idea of the “Best and Brightest” ascribed to the peanut gallery that lives on TTAC. It’s kind of like “Classic Rock” radio, the same 130 songs played over and over again. However, I do like to think I’m Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” in that particular allegory…

    But, FWIW, I do check in on it, especially when at work and am waiting for a process to complete. It’s either stare at the monitor waiting for the numbers to change or stare at the monitor and READ something, just anything.

    Good luck on your future endeavors whatever they may be.

    Reply
  38. scotten

    Wow, I might even pay money to read a rebooted TTAC with Farago (and you, of course). I read the site off and on during his tenure and I think the world needs a strong “off center” voice.

    Reply
  39. Pavel Topol

    I come to TTAC from hearing about it on LLN. LLN is also not the same anymore.

    Just recently I was reminded by a FB that it has been nine years since I’ve had a pleasure of meeting you in person on a video shoot of the original Tesla Roadster. If you’re ever in Toronto, I’d like to meet again.

    I hope that you, along with other writers who’ve made TTAC fun to read in the past, could start another site dedicated to the truth of the auto-industry.

    Sincerely,

    Pavel (whom you said reminded you of Drago).

    Reply
  40. Bryan

    I’ve been a long time lurker on TTAC. I agree with the others that there’s nothing “special” about it anymore. It’s certainly not interesting enough to compel me to visit daily like I used to. You and Bark are/were pretty much the only thing keeping me there anymore. I hope we get to see you and Farago start something new. What a breath of fresh air that would be. Until then, keep doing what you’re doing and I’ll keep reading here!

    Reply
  41. Shortest Circuit

    Keep it up. I remember you called the 991 GT3’s engine issues a full year before customers started complaining of those titanium coated conrods ventilating the titanium sprayed crankcase and making a fairly (fiery?) decent Ferrari lookalike out of the Stuttgart motors.

    Reply
  42. Paul Alexander

    TTAC, along with what was left of any wit and irreverence in the automotive journalism sphere, is dead. What a bummer, I guess I’ll be checking in here more frequently from now on. Glad to see you at least mark the occasion with some heartfelt expressions of gratitude, I’m sure they were greatly appreciated. And to your point about Alex and Cameron, I had no idea until Cameron was let go and this is news to me in regards to Alex.

    BTW, I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s mentioned it but I’d definitely love to hear a podcast with you, Bark and/or whomever else. The only Smoking Tire podcasts I’ve listened too were the ones with you guys on there (still laugh just thinking about your Doug DeMuro impressions).

    Reply
    • Paul Alexander

      Just went to find the podcast I mentioned and in the process discovered that not only does Doug have one successful YouTube channel, he now has a second one creatively titled ‘More Doug DeMuro’ that seems to be doing nearly as well as the first. WTF???????

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        Doug is just smart enough to have realized, and profited handsomely from, something that a lot of really smart people have been unwilling or unable to comprehend: to wit, the fact that the vast majority of people with enough free time to watch a 25 minute video about a car are underage, unemployed, or both.

        When I was in Malaysia I found out that he is hugely popular among ethnic Malays because he never uses any words that would fall outside the pidgin English dialect spoken by the lower classes there. None of those people will ever buy anything advertised to them on YouTube but the geniuses at Google have tactfully neglected to mention this to their advertisers.

        Reply
    • Cameron Aubernon

      Hello Paul!

      Yes, it’s true. I was given the axe in June of 2015 because the powers that be at VerticalScope wanted someone to be the newsbot **and** could drive; I could only do one of those things at the time.

      At least, that’s what I was told.

      I did contribute a few more pieces through the fall of 2016, but it looks like I won’t be able to do so ever again; I haven’t even heard back from the new editor about finishing what I started so long ago.

      I do have my license now, though. All I needed to do was move to another state.

      Reply
      • Paul Alexander

        That’s very unfortunate Cameron, and unfair in my opinion. It seems like the powers-that-be at TTAC are now of the ‘go along to get along’ variety that will milk the gig for it’s perks until it’s inevitable shuttering. Acts of good faith, such as you getting your license, are not things to be rewarded, but merely give more time for the California no (as Jack made mention of above) to become a fait accompli. Hope you’re doing well otherwise

        Reply
  43. Brian

    Jack- when did you start writing for Popular Mechanics? I subscribe to both that and Road & Track, and while I’m a few months behind in my bathroom reading (those darn kids won’t give me any peace!) I haven’t come across any of your work yet…

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      They syndicate my more popular R&T articles online, as does Esquire. Doubt I’ll ever make it to the print side there.

      Reply
  44. monkeydelmagico

    Your writing is great Jack. I am so glad that there are other ways to see your work. Yay for the web. If you and some of these other malcontents and misfits decide to get organized it would be a glorious and entertaining train wreck. Who could turn away?

    Reply
  45. Pat

    Thanks Jack… it was something special, and while I’m not sure if it’s despite or because of the numerous times I yelled “NO, THAT IS WRONG JACK” at my screen, you were perhaps the person who made it most special.

    Reply
  46. Eric L.

    Thank you for your service. I was pretty late to the game, starting reading shortly before your Town Car accident, but no website can crank out high-quality content indefinitely. At least, not consistently.

    I guess this means I’ll never get a reader’s ride review of my G35. “When Eric pulled up in his properly blue Skyline 350GT, I could see that he was tickled about the idea of letting me drive his car. The embarrassingly oversized banner across the windshield stated as much.”

    Reply
  47. Dirt Roads

    The only bookmark I had for TTAC was the one that had Jack as the author. I went directly to those articles, and truly, I read little else. Jack, I actually have some sort of education in writing (from many, many years ago) and although I don’t sell anything on the web or in magazines, I’ve written a ton of stuff for the highly regulated, technical aviation industry. It’s a living… And although I always thought I should be able to write good fiction, I’ve never had the bountiful imagination to do so.
    You do, and other talents in spades. So I read your stuff wherever I can find it. Now I’ll just have to read it elsewhere. Don’t stop putting links in here to stuff you’ve written elsewhere, so I can bookmark you there. I’ll give you clicks for sure.

    Reply

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