Once upon a time, there was a newspaper that I received at my house on a weekly basis. It was called The Sporting News, and it contained thousands of glorious, beautifully written words, mostly about the game of baseball. I eagerly anticipated Thursdays, because on Thursdays I knew that the mailman would be delivering the latest issue of TSN to my mailbox, and upon retrieving the paper from said mailbox, I would spend hours diving into every article.
The eloquent prose used by these writers, as well as those at Sports Illustrated, brought an elevated sense of intellectualism and intelligence to the game. But more than that, writers like Frank Deford and Rick Reilly communicated their love and passion for sport. Despite being impartial about the winners and losers of the games, it was clear that these men adored the institutions of baseball and college football with an unmatched intensity. They believed that sport was an integral thread in the American fabric and they treated it with the appropriate seriousness and reverence. Sports writing was seen as a noble endeavor, one in which writers like Hunter S. Thompson, John Updike, and Norman Mailer frequently indulged.
As I grew older, a combination of nagging injury and a frustrating lack of elite talent kept me from pursuing sports professionally. But, thanks to the written word, I maintained my interest and passion for sport. And as my children now compete at the top amateur levels of their chosen sports, I find myself again interested in the written word when it comes to the sporting world—only this time, it’s as an author. In fact, you may find my words on the pages of a rather popular sporting website near you in the near future.
However, the real reason that I’ve written this excessively long introduction is to complain about this miserable generation of auto writers. I can almost forgive this group of Under 35s for being poor dressers, generally slovenly, ugly, out of shape, and just generally, well, poor.
But I cannot forgive them for their apathy toward their profession and their subject. Unlike the aforementioned sports writers, they don’t love their subject. In fact, they hate it.
They complain about the environmental impact of cars. They say that “nobody needs a car this fast.” They actively dislike new car consumers. They wage class warfare under the poorly constructed guise of complaining about the price of new cars. They insert every possible mainstream political subtext into their miserable attempts at reviewing vehicles, presenting themselves as some sort as social commentator. They are almost indistinguishable from each other—they write the same tired tropes about the same tired subjects, but as long as there is an identifiable undercurrent of ORANGE MAN BAD, they congratulate each other for writing “brilliant words.”
This doesn’t even take into account the utter lack of qualification required to write a new car review in the year 2020. The majority of people writing reviews for major outlets do not even own a car. They’ve never turned a single lap in anger on a racetrack—the entirety of their track experience has come with an OEM-provided nanny in the passenger seat keeping them under 100 miles per hour and forcing them to brake hundreds of feet early. They’ve never stayed up all night to put a differential in a car so it can pass tech the next morning. They’ve never driven 3 hours each way to get to a NAPA right before it closes, just to get an 89 cent part that will get the car back on track. They’ve never had the courage to put their name next to a time on a racetrack.
But their understanding of the actual cars, engineering, and driving dynamics, while undeniably poor, is downright brilliant in comparison to their understanding of the retail and financial side of the automotive industry. One particularly stupid “writer” complained recently that Lamborghini had shipped a record number of cars in August, applying the hashtag #eattherich to her tweet. She failed to mention, of course, that Mitsubishi also shipped a record number of vehicles in that same month. Completely unironically, this particular woman wears a fake Rolex in every one of her “modeling” shoots.
These same idiots are being paid to give car buying advice. If you don’t understand the dynamics of the inventory shortage this year, and how nearly every single car dealer has had five record months in a row in 2020, then you should not be permitted near a keyboard.
Shouldn’t an auto writer, I don’t know…like cars?
I can’t even convince myself to write about cars in this context any more. I love cars, and I love the car business. But I am downright embarrassed to have my name appear on websites next to the third-rate social commentary that poses as automotive journalism. When a review of the Audi R8 mentions “climate guilt” as the first way that the car “falls short,” I think we can all agree that automotive journalism is, in fact, what is falling short.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to write about cars. And I’m going to do it right here. If somebody else wants me to do it for a website that manages to focus on excellence in automotive journalism instead of out woke-ing everybody else, maybe I’ll do it there, too. But as of this day forward, I refuse to give a single click to or write a single word for any website that employs social justice warriors.
Maybe I’ll never make another dime writing about cars. Maybe this website will be the only place you’ll be able to read anything I write. I can live with that. I’ve seen people asking for somewhere that was like the old Spinelli-era Jalopnik, or the Farago-era TTAC. I think we can do that here. I welcome your questions about the retail or OEM side of the business, or I’ll come review your car for you if you’re within a few hours’ drive or a cheap Frontier flight away.
I probably won’t get a press car or an invite to a new car launch, and that’s fine. But at least I won’t be a sycophantic, mouth-breathing, 46 Short Executive Cut, greasy, incel auto writer who hates the internal combustion engine and literally pulls off the track when lead/follows get too scary. I’ll just be Mark Baruth.
Hope that works for you.
Bingo. Freaking bingo.
I can honestly say the biggest surprise of my late adult life–I’m 84–was the realization that not all car folks were center- to solidly right politically. I think the leftish bent has occurred in the last quarter-century or so as the kids have been deliberately miseducated in public (and way too many) private schools. my original feelings in this area were certainly bolstered by being immersed in the sportscar culture of late ’50s/early ’60s nashville, Tennessee, where one of the founders of the Tennessee region of the scca was Nashville mayor briley, fondly referred to as ‘fuzzlip’ for his mustache. he had a blown mgtc. how long do you think the actual transition took, from the Peter Egan/denise mccluggage/William jeanes/brock Yates epoch to today’s ninnies? (and what criminals got to brock-the-younger’s brain, by the way)? I guess they were on their way ‘up’ as comparative youngsters who slipped easily into the void created by the departure of the folks I’ve mentioned, and of course quite a few others. a late friend of mine kept an issue of car and driver–I think–from the mid-’60s, in which the editor stated something to the effect that the american people wouldn’t put up with the government actually telling Detroit how to build cars! I did debate internally about your point that today’s reviewers don’t actually like cars; you’re right as usual. my one little point: in my youth you could show up with your mg with a seatbelt and a helmet, take a simple flag-recognition test, and go out on track in the novice race on Saturday morning. later you needed some kind of rollbar which was passed by the tech guy on the site: I raced both a ’66 427 vette and my ’67 Miura by just showing pix of the cutaways of the roof structure and having tech consider them relative to a single hoop with one brace in ‘prepared’ cars. so the analysts of today never got to take a borgward Isabella coupe or a tr3 out on an airport circuit…in ’59 almost everybody and his wife/girlfriend had run their cars, or borrowed cars, in that novice 5 lap race. they ALL could consider themselves, to some degree, ‘racing drivers,’ scrubbing those pathetic dunlop gold seals halfway through their tread in a few minutes. how I could go on! merry Christmas to all, and happy new year.
It really is amazing that so many people who hate capitalist pig businesses and polluting cars, and wonder what kind of idiot wastes gas and rubber driving fast in circles or needs 400+ hp vehicle when the speed limit is no more than 80, end up as automotive “journalists”. On the other hand, I almost never see any of this new breed of woke automotive or business journalist take a skeptical look at the dirty business of EV battery manufacturing or “recycling”, or the environmental impact of the vast expansion of electricity generation capacity and the grid that will be required to charge up large fleets of EVs, or much hard hitting criticism of dismal Tesla build quality despite having the world’s most simplified option list to keep build variation to a minimum.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well.
Denise McCluggage was the definition of a great broad. It was a treat to know her.
I’m in. You’re welcome to come to Portland to review my 2018 Nissan Leaf.
Frontier has direct flights from Cincy to San Diego each summer (Louisville’s route usually stops in Denver a la Southwest). I’d cover your airfare to review my not-yet-wornout G35 you’re so obviously jealous of.
Ha! It’s a deal. I love SD.
Reach me at firstname at lawler dot io and we can set something up in Q2 2021 when these danged travel restrictions cool down. 🤝
It’s worth the trip for a Voodoo Doughnut!
I’m not sure if these guys are joking, but I’m not… I’m building a 2015 Mustang GT/PP into a NASA Time Trial car. No chopped up race car here… the goal a clean, well-thought out build that’s reliable, comfortable, and has real on-track pace.
I ran a test day at VIR in May on stock suspension and 30+ heat cycle slicks… the car was already close to competitive TT3 lap times, and I’ve since added suspension and aero.
I’ll need some more test days to sort everything out, but I’m getting close. Orlando is the destination, which is a Frontier hub. Disney for your families while dad goes to Daytona or Sebring for a track eval…
You guys have my email, I can send some pictures and a brief summary of the car if it sounds like something you’re interested in… I’d love to see a write-up here.
I am IN.
I have no doubt that the problem of auto writers not liking cars in general has gotten much worse. To me though even the older fellows would have dropped their own car writing in an instant if Rolling Stone magazine called to ask them to be a Kerouac style Nixon hater.
I also look forward to reading your reviews here and though it would be a cheap Allegiant flight to Savannah instead of Frontier, you would be welcome to test my 2018 V90 T5 Inscription.
So if I subscribe to Woke & Track at the $975 Lifestyle Level and attend one of their events I’m likely to be told abusing tires is a climate crime?
Getting to hang out while Mark or Jack showed us what our cars are capable of does sound like quite the “Lifestyle” event. I may even have souvenir whiskey glasses made just like Woke and Track.
I would be honored!
Hey Bark, does this mean you might find the time to write a piece on how the car dealers finance all the inventory? The floor-plan loan is the term for it, I believe. Maybe not as exciting as an Genesis review, but still interesting and *on topic*.
At any rate, looking forward to whatever you publish here.
Ha. Yes, I’ll write about floorplans. They aren’t as interesting as you’d think, and are almost irrelevant in the current inventory environment. But I’ll write about them!
Current TTAC doesn’t seem to be too SJW on the rare occasions when I stop by, it is just not very good, or interesting, and has sold out to the manufacturers, and no longer has any insiders such as yourself. Hell I know Jack didn’t like him but I really enjoyed the sleazy auction/BHPH guy’s articles for pulling back some of the curtain. I have not looked at Jalop in years and if I see a headline that intrigues me I will go out of my way to avoid it if the link turns out to be a Jalop article. I know next to nothing about any other automotive “writers” or outlets because without exception they are dreck.
From my occasional visits to TTAC the “articles” haven’t gone off the social justice deep end as to do so would mean they wouldn’t get invited to all the press introductions and get the test cars, but the few commenters who remain seem to be 90% Leftist/Woke. Have all the Right leaning commenters been banned (as I was for making a mildly critical comment about Greta Thunberg)?
Au contraire. The more social justicey you are, the more invites you get.
So the more you hate cars (especially the large/powerful profitable ones) and capitalism the more invites you get from automakers? I know corporate HR departments have gone Communist, but I didn’t think the PR/marketing departments had also.
Everything Steve Lang wrote was a lie. That’s why it was so interesting. I can write fiction, too!
LOL, fake but inaccurate?
So are you saying it is less sleazy than he portrayed it? Because the things he casually admitted to would make an oligarch blush. Or are you saying it was just as sleazy, but in a different way?
All of his self-congratulatory BS about helping families and looking after his customers was just as unlikely as it sounded.
Well those are two different things, aren’t they? I may be credulous, but I would not buy a car from that guy. When he says that he tried to work with some poor bastard to keep him in a working car so that the guy can get to his job I might be skeptical. When he says he illegally gamed an auction I might think “yeah, that jibes with my experiences at auctions.”
Let me put it another way: you can go back in his stories, see him drafting things, and see the story changing as he readies it for publication.
He made himself out to be a friend, but when I asked him to publicly defend me and correct some lies being said, it was apparently too much to ask. A while back he tried calling me on WhatsApp and I just let it ring.
Oh, that guy. He liked bugging me to proof-read and edit his articles for free until I cut him loose. He did this with another auto writer I knew. One day said auto writer declined to do it, and said flipper fiction auction dude went totally nuclear on his facebook page. F him and F this and F everything, et al.
It was hilarious.
Is the shift in auto writing from enthusiast to merely another form of the lifestyle genre because publishers found the latter to be a larger audience?
Social trends as a virus infecting auto journalism, understood; but what about the host made it vulnerable/receptive?
“but what about the host made it vulnerable/receptive?”
Gatekeeping mostly. Getting access to press cars (or classic cars) requires some level of reputation to back up the request and almost everything with that kind of name recognition is owned by a newspaper or media conglomerate these days. So if the tone at the top wants its “automotive” section or asset to be about climate change, wealth inequality or fancy underpants then that’s what you get. There are very few places where you can get independent automotive writing. Even for the independent people out there, making a YouTube channel gives a higher probability of success versus making a car review substack or blog or something
It’s for the same reason that teachers are so likely to be liberal—they don’t live in the real world. They make less money than any of the customers for whom they write, and they resent the hell out of them for it. They won’t accept the real reason that they’re poor—which is that they don’t have any marketable skills—so they blame it on “luck.”
But it gets even worse. They live million-dollar lifestyles on $40,000 salaries, so they think that nobody else who flies first class and stays in suites at EPIC deserves that lifestyle either. They have no idea what it takes to be able to afford a $38,000 car, the sacrifices that one has to make, the life choices, etc.
In other words, the system is creating bolsheviks daily. The only people who should be allowed to write about cars are the people who don’t have to.
Most auto writers don’t want to be auto writers. About 50% just want to be shills, 20% want to write for Jacobin or DailyKos and 10% want to write for Travel+Leisure. That leaves like 20% that actually want to do it and then an even smaller percentage has the talent to make it worthwhile.
Same goes for today’s Sportwriters. The writer in question is assigned the sports desk even though “shim’s” goal is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, not to become a reporter of facts. They hate sports but are pigeonholed and once they receive that most important “byline” status their goal can finally be realized. In every article they write.
Amen! At this point here and Hagerty are the only two sites I read for car info anymore, and I’d consider myself a full fledged enthusiast. Ive long since blocked Jalopnik et al – the gagging from every time I read their “woke” BS and assinine orange man bad, “climate change” groupthink stupidity was doing a number on my esophagus. They can enjoy their ride share google pods in their disgusting crime riddled cities. I’ll be here (or at the racetrack) with you guys. Thanks for taking up the torch Bark.
Your announcement Bark makes what was looking to be a dreary 2021 look a little brighter, which is just the Christmas present I need – Thank you and I look forward to seeing your reviews and commentary. Sadly your criticism of the current dominance of woke automotive “journalism” also applies to sports “journalism”. I used to follow the NFL, NBA, and college sports with some enthusiasm, but all the BLM support, George Floyd “tributes”, and Trump/cop bashing from millionaire players and the woke or cowardly coaches and owners and “journalists” who support it have made me stop watching and following and frankly I don’t miss it at all. I might respect their right to voice their opinions if they weren’t bashing the USA while bending over to kiss China’s ass, but their willingness to overlook slave labor and unfair trade practices clearly shows that their protests are about money in their pocket and not true concern for the downtrodden.
How hard can it be for car and sports outlets and networks to hire people who actually like cars and sports? Its not like these woke “journalists” are great writers, and if the outlets can find enthusiasts with some relevant knowledge and experience so much the better, but I suspect the problem is partly related to putting more weight on hiring “diversity” that is entirely based on skin color and gender rather than weighting based on talent, enthusiasm, and experience.
It does. It does work for me.
Bark, since you requested some questions I have a couple based on some recent car searches to help some friends/family.
1) Compared to years ago, it seems there are more “new” vehicles listed by franchise dealers that are 1 or 2 model years old that have very few miles of them, and sometimes they are sold as new and sometimes used (with remainder of factory warranty), and sometimes certified used. Why don’t dealers clear out the old inventory liked they used to before the new model year versions arrive – can a dealer make money on a car that sits on the lot over a year and/or by having a large fleet of “new” courtesy vehicles?
2) It seems that a disproportionate share of the “new” cars that are old inventory (noted in Q1 above) are hybrids and non-Tesla electrics. Obviously the manufacturers are being forced to build electrified vehicles and most have proven to be less popular with the buying public than hoped, what do dealers think about these “green” vehicles – do they make any money selling/leasing them, what will be the impact of EVs their service and used car revenues?
1) New car inventory is so incredibly limited right now that the old phrase “There’s an ass for every seat” actually applies for once. The courtesy vehicles thing is somewhat interesting—BMW just got a hefty fine for booking those cars twice. Once when they put them in the loaner fleet and once when they retail them. MB is notorious for doing this, as well. In fact, the MB courtesy car situation is deserving of its own article, but I probably can’t write about it without violating some sort of IP agreement.
2) Dealers fucking hate hybrids/electrics and want nothing to do with them. The further you get from a major metro market, the truer this becomes. I have a large Honda store as a client, and they have sold exactly one Insight and zero Claritys in the last two model years. Dealer principals are largely conservative and resent being forced to hold any sort of alternative fuel vehicle on their floorplan.
That’s actually interesting, and could explain why I see a lot of hybrid cars for sale on websites.
That is something I have not seen anything about in the media or automotive journalism other than the recent buyout of many Cadillac dealers who didn’t want to electrify their dealers. Governments and tree-huggers around the world are mandating/subsidizing/pushing electric vehicles and automakers are rushing out dozens of new models, but as is sometimes noted the main customer of automakers are their franchised dealers, and if the dealers don’t like electrics then the goals for electrification of vehicle fleets are going to be slowed considerably, unless automakers can figure out a way to get around franchise laws and sell direct to the consumer as Tesla does. Of course dealers would love electrics if customers wanted them and they made good money on them, but I am assuming their hatred for them is based on lots of EV investments and little or no EV sale and profits.
I know automakers and dealers often complain that car enthusiasts aren’t very profitable customers, but it seems that tree-huggers who generally hate cars are worse.
Pssst i wrote this one
“No one will hire me. So screw them, I refuse to be hired.”
Most of the good auto journalism is on YouTube these days. I have no idea the politics of Mark at SavageGeese, the EveryDay Driver guys, or the Engineering Explained dude and I am better for it. Matt Farrah is okay on TST but lets his misinformed liberal self out a little too much on his podcast.
You should see his social media. Or maybe you shouldn’t.
That’s five minutes I could have spent bettering myself instead. Matt Farah has always struck me as someone who still thinks his mom was telling him the truth about the exceptionalism of his first potty-mounted bowel movements. Now I know.
Maybe he thinks his family’s wealth won’t be on the redistribution list. When he recently anounced his “first Ferrari” on FB, I asked him if the money wouldn’t have been better spent being donated to BLM.
It is rather obnoxious. I rather like Farrah. He’s a talented reviewer (to my extremely uneducated, at least in that particular respect) eyes, and his podcast is one of the very few automotive ones that are not just absurdly cringe-y or “MIATA IS ALWAYS THE ANSWER STICK SHIFT WAGON BRO”-esque that so populates modern automotive media.
People are allowed to be rich. It’s fine. Its how society is currently setup and I don’t begrudge anyone that. It’s just feels super tone deaf to on one hand brag about the incredibly expensive building and $500k (or more) worth of cars you personally own while also pretending to be a plebe like me. It tries to play to all crowds while, in fact, doing the exact opposite of that.
I never liked Farrah, he always came across as arrogant and a name dropper…..
I had seen his Insta account which is 95% car related. This post inspired me to go read his Twitter (I generally stay away from Twitter) and I was less than impressed. I find Instagram about the only social media I can stomach these days, my feed is full of car pictures and friends’ kids and yeah foodie BS and (whisper it) the occasional internet thot. And that’s the way I like it.
Oh man, I used to think he was so cool (and I think he was at least then) but now he’s just a caricature of the ‘coastal Jew who knows better than everyone else’ stereotype..
They don’t just hate cars, they hate their lives, and it shows in their writing.
Full steam ahead.
As a genuine Populist, it makes my teeth grit every time I hear some middle class woke milksop whine about the west.
While we do have genuine issues in the country, filthy trotskyists (which is what these soyboys are) do not have the answers.
I enjoy and love your writing, Bark, and even when I disagree, I can understand where you’re coming from.
I am brand new to cars but absolutely love it, and always found your articles valuable (especially the one regarding your driving that Chevy Malibu all night)
This is great news! I love this site already and now I’m going to love it even more. I had a couple of great cars in my youth, but have had pickups for the last twenty years.
My son just got a pickup, which freed me to get a new Mustang GT with the performance pack. Holy f**k, what a car!
Merry Christmas to all!
Congrats on the new pony!
I could not agree more; I’ve covered a few press intros for the BMW Car Club magazine Roundel, and I’ve noticed the massive differences in automotive writers/writing from 2001 to today. Today’s hand-wringing bed wetters nauseate me.
In fact, you may find my words on the pages of a rather popular sporting website near you in the near future.
Outkick or Barstool?
Cool!! Whitlock is the man. I think he takes pride in being despised by the left.
I like Whitlock’s writings. I don’t care much for his interview or podcast style. Its too bland and he’s not a great speaker. I do like Clay but he’s a little over the top sometimes.
46 Short Executive Cut
“Executive” is what used to be called Portly, and as someone who grew up in the husky part of the boyswear department I have to say that not every short, chubby automotive writer is a SJW with daddy issues.
whaddaya think of a mag that contributes to the s.p.l.c.?
I have complete and utter contempt for the SPLC, so…
Before or after they cry poor mouth about their business? But, hey, your supporters can do self reach-arounds when they post comments.
What’s this comment in response to
Dejal is talking about the reason I stopped reading Grassroots Motorsports and pulled my car out of their UTCC. They were begging loyal readership for donations as though the magazine was days away from folding, then a month later made a very public donation to SPLC “in the name of justice” and basically told the same readership they weren’t welcome if they didn’t agree with their views on justice…
Oh yeah. That was possibly the most embarrassing thing I’ve seen in automotive publishing, and I’m privy to details on all the Motor Trend crashes.
Did you see that Nicholas Harris’ family sold Catalinbread to a couple of guys who identify as “progressively-minded gear aficionados”? I guess that’s to be expected in Portland.
JHS has a banner on their site about donations they’re making to local organizations fighting racism. At least the recipients aren’t overt lefties.
I was watching a fairly popular YouTube guitar channel and the guy disparaged Fulltone, no doubt because their founder initially refused to bend a knee to “social justice”, as if this guy has done anywhere near as much for the guitar community and industry as Mike Fuller.
I, too, have felt quite cynical about the automotive industry, yet I’m feeling it for different reasons. “Shouldn’t an auto writer, I don’t know…like cars?” I wish I could respond to that question with a resounding yes, yet people like us with the level of interest in the auto industry that we have represent a minuscule fraction of the new car buying public. I don’t know why exactly this is, but that reality has never hit me harder than it has recently. I’ve put myself through 3.5 years of a mechanical engineering degree basically entirely because I knew I loved cars, yet now more than ever, I struggle to think that I’d enjoy working inside the auto industry as a car enthusiast. It’s just not about what people like us think or want to see. It’s about what everyday consumers want to see since that’s what makes automakers money. And sure, you can make the argument that that’s always been the case, yet I struggle to think of a different time when that’s ever been more true. Especially nowadays, with Tesla being the popular kid of the auto industry that everyone now just wants to copy because they think it’ll make them look cool. (It doesn’t to this guy). I honestly have such a hard time in seeing car enthusiasts as relevant now, and believe me, it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to say that. I just have a hard time seeing what value our passion brings to the world. Anyway those are just some of my random ramblings somewhat on this topic.
I “retired” from the corporate auto world where I worked in a then-fledgling (now squashed) enthusiast/motorsport division at a well known OEM. There are genuine car guys/girls at automakers, especially in engineering and product planning, and occasionally in PR and Marketing. But sadly my experience followed your sentiments – the resources are ALWAYS allocated to what sells, and what sells is not the stuff that’s most exciting to talk about (sports cars/GT cars). I guess people can be passionate about their new Volvo or Kia, but the stuff that can be raced or driven manually for pure fun occupies less headspace of executives than ever. I’m still in the industry running a independent dealer now, much less corporate, and it’s nice to see enthusiasts still exist but I’ve never been more depressed about the relevance of cars I grew up loving. They just don’t seem to matter at all anymore.
For a lot of people the aspiration of owning a fun car ends up being more exciting than actual ownership. Thank god for track days, which remind me why I still love it.
A follow up thought that has recurred lately is that the significance of sports cars has been reduced because there are so many more types of aspirational vehicles (high-po trucks, 500+ hp sedans and wagons, lux conversion vans, restored Broncos or Wagoneers, etc) and less reasons to own a sports car. A GTI or WRX is a do-it-all sports car and commuter car… obviously compromised but good at everything. Owning a Lotus just doesn’t seem practical when you can get one car that checks all the boxes. A proper GT car or sports car really just isn’t as relevant today as something to strive for as they used to be, so manual trans RWD lightweight cars have been disappearing in favor of lots of other great options. But the other options are not as exciting or involving to drive, most don’t know what they are missing anyway or couldn’t appreciate it if they tried, and we’re seeing “journalism” evolve away from the passion and excitement that used to be found in the exclusive domain of sports cars and their pilots, and it has become more boring and commonplace as a result.
Speaking as the owner of a Focus RS, it certainly does not check all of the boxes. It barely checks any, to be honest. It is slower than a pony car, yet gets worse gas mileage, has a worse interior, and is only marginally more functional, if at all. It is far less comfortable to drive for distances—of the four cars currently in my stable, the Focus gets driven the least.
I get ads for a Lotus Evora GT lease daily, and I think about it. Daily.
I wonder how many people admitted those things you did about your RS before they bought one as their DD. On paper the RS looks like a perfect do everything car. In reality it’s a pretty one dimensional weapon and proper sports car. It just doesn’t look like a proper sports car 😉 A track machine used to be light, RWD, overpowered, and manual. Today there are lots of capable track cars that are none of those things, which is why I think that “classic” sports segment is nearly dead.
The 370Z is a perfect example – raw, fast, fun, pure. Nobody buys it because it’s a terrible DD, and if you can afford it as a 2nd car, not a DD, you could prob afford a Porsche or a Vette instead… much better. The attainable DD sports car is a hot hatch now. Oh and what about Miatas? Typically a second car, rarely a DD. It’s the cheapest fun 2nd car you can get and thus, popular.
Bark, you should buy my Lotus!
Bark, if you have the motivation and ability (respecting NDAs, etc.), it would be great to get more in-depth articles on the business of selling cars. I’ve really enjoyed the “pull back the curtain” feel of Ethan Gaines’ Game is Sold series and some of Jack’s work, and it would be very interesting to read something along those lines drawn from your experience with the more “corporate” side of things. In case it’s relevant to Riverside Green’s strategic planning, I will note that I subscribe to a number of paid newsletters/podcasts and have room for more.
Also, for the record, as one of the (few?) leftists who read this site, I am not particularly bothered by the carbon impact of driving an Audi R8 2,500 miles a year. Seems low on the list of socio-economic problems to worry about.
“I am not particularly bothered by the carbon impact of driving an Audi R8 2,500 miles a year”
Thanks for saying this. Writers turning the gun on car enthusiasts who do not contribute in any statistically significant way to negative externalities from emissions is a poor way to virtue signal.
Also, reasoned debate isn’t limited to one side of the political spectrum and I’m sure your contributions will be valued here.
Out of curiosity what part of “the business of selling cars” is most interesting to you? Inventory acquisition? Marketing? Consumer behavior? New or used?
Marketing and consumer behavior seems like a deep well. How do auto companies conceive of the “average” buyer of their products (and subgroups/segments)? What motivates non-enthusiasts to buy new cars when their current ones are no longer completely worn out in 10 years?
Also always interested in the divide between manufacturers and dealers. Jack and Bark have both written about that dynamic and it’s really fascinating to me. It would seem, based on some manufacturers’ marketing versus what dealers actually stock, that dealers might have a different understanding of their customers than manufacturers do. Do dealers try to differentiate their own brands or do they view themselves as commodities? How much does all of that vary with the prestige of the car brand?
I think we need an article on Dealer Meetings – where dealer principles and corporate big wigs converge, usually in Vegas… hilarity ensues.
Edit: *Dealer Principals*
20 group meetings are the best.
“I think we need an article on Dealer Meetings – where dealer principles and corporate big wigs converge,”
I could tell some stories. I’ll preface that in decades past, corporate used to pay the way for the chosen dealer staff and their wife/partner/guest, but in the name of saving money the guest ticket was eliminated on “reward” trips. Precisely no one lamented this change at all.
Jcain – thanks for sharing. I’m not a leftist but I believe in diversity (i.e. differing opinions) and inclusion (accepting others not like me). Seems many on both sides profess it but don’t actually practice it. I for one am glad we are both here – i am genuinely interested in how being a leftist and a car enthusiast can “make sense”, because for me it feels like anyone with a D is anti car at this point. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and rationale should you feel so inclined!
Thanks – I also like to gain exposure to different perspectives and it’s one of the reasons I read this site.
I will say that I am more enthusiastic about cars than most left-leaning people (or people in general, really) that I know. My two-person household has four cars, including a 911 and a V8 Vantage. I do think that “anti car” describes some people on the left, but the more common attitude among liberal or otherwise left-leaning people (though not necessarily media personalities…) is not that cars are bad per se, but that our transportation infrastructure is too reliant on them.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, as a car enthusiast I would like there to be better alternatives to individual car usage than exist today in most parts of the country. I live in Los Angeles, the ur-example of urban car dependency, and the congestion here has gotten to a point where a lot of car travel is a pretty unpleasant experience. I commuted via subway/walking when I lived in Manhattan and much preferred that to my (pre-COVID) car commute, which at ~6 miles is even fairly short by LA standards. Cars’ impact on air quality around here is noticeable too. While it’s way better than it was in the 80s/90s, I was shocked at how much clearer the skies were back in March when few people were driving.
Aside from lifestyle aspects, I also see needing to own a car as putting a significant economic burden on lower-income people, almost like a regressive tax. For me, office parking, insurance, and gas added up to something like $500/month, and that’s BEFORE maintenance and lease payments or depreciation expenses. I’m fortunate enough that that’s not a big chunk of my household income, but there are plenty of working people who can’t say the same. Not to mention that housing within a half-hour’s driving distance (i.e. single-digit miles) of LA’s big business centers is getting more and more expensive people place a premium on a short commute. Don’t get me started on California housing policy, though. Car-dependency isn’t the only thing wrong with that, for sure.
Anyway, while I haven’t done any substantive analysis on this, I suspect that a shift toward better public transportation and/or people being able to live closer to their jobs could actually help car enthusiasm. Fewer miles traveled out of necessity should mean less traffic congestion and better road conditions. Potholes are pretty nasty to low-profile performance tires – ask me how I know.
That all said, I do realize that integrating public transit into LA’s geography and sprawl is a challenging problem for which I don’t have any brilliant ideas on how to solve. I think the current path is unsustainable, though, and for avoidance of doubt am fully willing to put my money where my mouth is and pay whatever additional taxes are necessary to build alternative infrastructure.
Some folks have left LA because of just some of the issues you discussed. It’s amazing that LA doesn’t have better public transportation.
I do get tired of the pro urban pro public transportation folks, even in the city of 150k where I live, believe that cars are the devil and public transportation is the only way, not taking into account the current suburban sprawl and that 50 thousand people work on a military base that would never allow public transportation on base.
Don’t get me started on California housing policy, though. Car-dependency isn’t the only thing wrong with that, for sure.
Yet, as someone who self identifies as a leftist you will likely continue to vote for the party that is responsible for most of the things that are dysfunctional in California.
You do realize that the end goal of leftisms is no Porsches or Aston Martins for anyone but the nomenklatura, don’t you? Or do you realize it and believe you will be one of the privileged few?
I think the tax system and zoning problems to which I was referring are very deep-rooted and stem from both “right-wing” and “left-wing” policy efforts spanning decades. I don’t often see people on the ballot who’d push for the major changes I’d like and am not opposed to withholding my vote when I don’t like the options.
To answer your question, I don’t think an actual collectivist economic system would produce Porsches and Aston Martins and I certainly wouldn’t expect to be in the privileged few that have them if it did. I describe myself as “leftist” in a slightly-tongue-in-cheek American context, not the traditional one. I support single-payer healthcare and a broader social safety net but I don’t want to get rid of capitalism.
“Also, for the record, as one of the (few?) leftists who read this site, I am not particularly bothered by the carbon impact of driving an Audi R8 2,500 miles a year. Seems low on the list of socio-economic problems to worry about”
Sorry if I’m not ready to sing kumbaya around our little campfire here… Your tribe has has turned American society into Rachael Maddow meets Airstrip One. By “socio-economic problems”, do you mean violent left-wing extremists seizing control of urban areas, ransacking police stations, and establishing “autonomous zones” while leftist politicians and media pretend it’s all completely innocuous?
Yes, I’m an asshole picking a fight. But can you even remotely understand how frustrating it is to hear a self-styled ‘leftist” come here and dip your toes in the common sense pool by declaring, “yeah this whole ‘climate guilt’ thing is just a bit too far!”? Imagine what it’s like enduring that same bullshit in every facet of American society because you people can’t just shut the fuck up for one second while normal people try to enjoy a normal life..
Easy there, killer. Lefties are welcome here, too. Our founder voted for Clinton, let’s not forget.
…and I voted for Gary Johnson in 2016. But like myself, our founder understands the complexities and undercurrents of modern American society, and has reconciled the causes of our country’s deterioration with whatever political brands he may have been aligned with previously…
Are self-proclaimed “leftists” welcome here? Sure… in direct contrast to the platforms leftists control (notice Stingray was banned from another site for criticizing Greta Thunberg), I don’t think the Baruths would ban them for wrong-think… but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to be challenged, either.
…so by all means, leftists… explain how you internally reconcile your passion for the automobile with your allegiance to the ideology of ceaseless class warfare, racial grievance, and perpetual climate crisis.
You really don’t get to throw down the gauntlets here, sir.
Fair enough… it’s your platform, and I respect that.
But you asked a relevant question: shouldn’t an auto writer like cars? My point is, what if someone likes cars, but votes like they hate cars?
Well, in all fairness, the ones I’ve read about they only love electric automobiles, and that’s how they vote.
I’m happy to talk about things I can talk about. 🙂
I think we have quite a few left-leaning readers, but they tend to be out on the populist end of the horseshoe where they meet up with populist right-wingers.
Bark noted that I was a Clinton voter in 1992… I’m probably in a “I didn’t cross the border, the border crossed me” situation politically. In particular, I’m not completely against a little of what Daniel Moynihan called the ol’ tax-and-spend, if it’s done with compassion, charity, and clarity. I would also cheerfully vote for any candidate who promised to nationalize the banks and do some trust-busting.
Yeah, I also got the impression that the leftys that are here aren’t exactly party-line Democrats. Personally, I voted and volunteered for Sanders and was not, uh, overjoyed with the D nominee. Really thought we had something going there after Nevada…
Yeah, but ultimately, in the general election you voted for Biden and you’re probably okay with him taking office despite the obvious election fraud, because Republicans are Nazis or something like that. You’re getting the California you voted and continue to vote for, good and hard. Don’t complain when they don’t use Astroglide. Please excuse me if I don’t want that for the rest of the country.
I think you simply misunderstand what a “party line” Democrat is. Biden has brought back all of Obama’s people, who were all proteges of Bill Clinton’s people and spent the Bush years making real money at Citicorp, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs. Letting moneyed elites run the economy has its own set of issues, as Jack frequently writes about. But “communism” isn’t what’s going on here.
The caricature of Democrats as “communist tankies” who want to nationalize industry is a social media creation, not related to actual policy. In the *real* world, the difference between “party line” Democrats and Trumpworld was a 20% MPG difference in CAFE standards. Automakers have said for many years that they could get 2 MPG just out a single rule change, allowing cameras to substitute for the aerodynamically-disastrous side rearview mirrors. They didn’t get that rule change out of Trump. They actually *might* get that rule change out of Biden’s NHTSA – I’ve heard that firsthand.
The California state mandate that no gas-powered cars be sold in the state by 2035 *is* closer to the caricature, but again, that’s very much out of step with national “party line” Democrats, and as a Californian, I don’t think it’s really going to happen. But, hey, I’m also a Californian with a side business trading in used cars – I’m pretty sure it would create a supply/demand imbalance that would represent a robust interstate trading opportunity for me.
Yeah that’s true. Been a reader for a very long time, and would most likely self-describe as a leftist. My personal philosophies lean (though differ from in some significant ways) more towards Murray Bookchin or Nestor Makhno than they do pretty much any contemporary Democrat. The end result is me agreeing with you about a large amount of societies current ills, though for different reasons and with a broadly different line of thought as to how they could be alleviated.
At any rate, I’m happy to continue to read more from either Baruth. There are like 5 auto writers that I find interesting enough on their own merits to seek out what they’ve written, and the two of them make up about 40% of that number.
I work on the dealer side of the industry, though as a vendor and not specifically for any dealer, and it’s quite interesting to see how it works at closer level than from just reading about it. Definitely excited to see more about that.
And as an ending note to what is already too long of a comment, Mark if you ever want a review an APR tuned MK 7.5 Golf R, I live very close to NJMP and would be happy to hand over the keys for a bit.
I voted for Jimmy Carter (deeply regretted) once and I believe I voted for Bill Clinton twice, though today I’d probably have to personally know a Democrat before I’d vote for one. The party leadership is either in thrall to or afraid of their hard left and they tolerate America haters, neo-racists, and Jew-haters.
My politics haven’t changed that much since I was a teen, though I’ve become more skeptical of politicians and political parties in general. A necessary evil, perhaps. Today I’m considered to be on the right but I’ve always considered myself to be a classical liberal. I believe in individual rights, and as a Jew I’m suspicious of identity politics because there be monsters.
While trust busting is fine with me, nothing good has ever come out of nationalizing industries. You want the banking system to become like British Leyland?
One thing I’ve picked up on is that seemingly ALL the people involved in conceptualizing, designing, building and legalizing the Brave New World of Sustainable, E-Mobility Personal Transportation Solutions seem not to actually LIKE cars. In fact, they seem to hate them. Ever notice that?
I have enormous difficulty believing that among the hordes of futurists and urban solutions experts, there’s a single gearhead – and I mean people who’re into any kind of vehicle period. I can’t believe that this crowd contains even one guy who’s into cars, motorcycles, speedboats, ATVs, planes or helicopters.
When I look at the Italdesign Pop Up (Google THAT…and be appalled), I refuse to believe that a gearhead drew those lines, or was even on board with the concept. There’s no way that anybody with a passion for vehicles has anything to do with designing these amorphous radio-control taxi pods the elite keep trying to foist on us.
I think they’re all obnoxious, self-righteous geeks, nerds & dorks, programmers heavy in knowledge of computers but light in wisdom. They seem to think that the number one problem in the world today is Allowing Human Beings To Make Their Own Decisions, so their vehicle designs reflect this ironclad conviction.
It all fits into a pet theory I’ve been working on for a while: That the electronic computer and its associated technologies were (and are) developed by misanthropic nerds who’re consumed by their hatred of the common man. Automating truck drivers and assembly line workers out of their jobs – and becoming rich in the process – is their way of getting back at the normals who rejected them in high school.
Notice how in all their grand visions and pronouncements of The Future, there’s no place for the common man doing once-common things like fixing cars, building refrigerators or driving taxis? That all that stuff’s automated now? That in their Star Trek utopia, there’re no manly men doing manly physical things like fighting fires and building Harleys and playing football?
The ideal world for urban planners and their elite supporters is the former USSR where the party leaders rode in the back of their ZIL limos through empty streets on their way to important meetings for the next 5 year plan. Progress is impeded when the common man clogs up the streets with his Ladas and Trabants, and socialism’s big benefit to the elite is that the most common men were too poor to own a car. Urban planners now have another obstacle to their visions of empty streets, as Covid has terrified citizens and keeps them away from public transit and the systems are collapsing from lack of revenues as union protected public sector workers drive around empty buses and trains.
Is that anything like someone in an affluent two-family home having access to four cars, including a luxury brand and an ultra-luxury brand, advocating more public transportation for the masses?
“Is that anything like someone in an affluent two-family home having access to four cars, including a luxury brand and an ultra-luxury brand, advocating more public transportation for the masses?”
This thread is probably collecting dust at this point, but I had to say thank you for calling this out…
“One thing I’ve picked up on is that seemingly ALL the people involved in conceptualizing, designing, building and legalizing the Brave New World of Sustainable, E-Mobility Personal Transportation Solutions seem not to actually LIKE cars. In fact, they seem to hate them. Ever notice that?”
I am a credentialed enthusiast that works at for an OEM and I often have to remind myself that most of the people doing the day to day work in the company, depending on department, simply see going to work as a job. For many of them, it was simply a matter of timing between getting the job they have now and ending up as some schmo working in at a box manufacturer.
It’s the nature of the beast when thousands of bodies are needed to bring something so complex to market.
Luckily I am not alone. There are many enthusiasts that have genuine pull in decision making, and can effectively sell their ideas to C level management who otherwise might be managing a box factory themselves.
Did the editor in chief at TTAC give you the axe because you wanted his job?
Neither Bark nor I “got the axe” from TTAC; he’s still welcome to contribute, and I tossed in the occasional piece until I had a non-compete that prevented it.
I don’t think either of us could feed our kids on what that job pays. When I ran TTAC, my total budget — for everyone and everything — was just under twelve grand a month.
No. That job, while fine for some, would not come close to paying my bills. Tim Healey and I get along fine, and I am still welcome to contribute there.
I looked into contributing there and the full time gig turning out 8 pieces per day wouldn’t have even covered my mortgage.
I second that. I have a good working relationship with Tim and he publishes my stuff when I contribute it. Just this week VerticalScope sent me their updated contributors’ agreement. It’s nice to have TTAC as an outlet for topics that might be too controversial for Hagerty, but the bottom line is indeed the bottom line. I get paid more for a feature piece at Hagerty than I do at TTAC, so the bulk of my output is going to Hagerty.
I think it would be a mistake to use track driving as a litmus test for auto enthusiasts. There are many ways to express one’s love for cars: road tripping, cruising, racing, off-road, restoration/vintage, appreciating the odd stuff, etc. Some people even love trucks! As a guy who has a Boxster S 6-speed, a Bolt EV, a neon endurance road racer and two turbocharged Subarus in the household, I would argue that there’s room for (gasp) some diversity of views among auto enthusiasts. The way that I like car stuff is not the only way to do it.
One nice thing about having a budget like what I have at Hagerty is that I can pick the right person to review a particular car. We can use experienced off-roaders for Jeeps, racers for sports cars, and owners of various hobby-style vehicles for their modern analogues.
It is a bit of a problem, however, that so many of today’s cars have pretensions to racetrack/backroad speed. If you can’t drive it well enough to get a sense, however fleeting, of how the car behaves, you get the “it’s on rails” review that Dan Neil and others always turn in.
Maybe the standard should be that if you can’t tell the difference between the way a car drives and rides on true winter tires vs the way it drives and rides on performance summer tires, perhaps you shouldn’t be evaluating how cars drive and ride.
I’m not saying they shouldn’t write car reviews, just that they should, ahem, stay in their lanes. There’s a lot more to a car (a lot more boxes to check, so to speak) than just how it drives. Someone needs to count the cupholders, too.
I’ve honestly never met a car enthusiast or truck enthusiast who only likes to look at their collection. Learning how to use your machine safely up to its limits is a huge appeal of the hobby. You may never get the chance to pound down Baja in a Raptor or barely lift on the downhill at Lime Rock, but I’ll be damned if pushing the envelope isn’t really the reason for liking sports cars and performance vehicles and the sensations they bring. I would wager the more hard core the enthusiast, the closer they get to motorsport.
And yeah, some people like wrenching, I get that. It’s satisfying to get something running right. But when it’s working well you are now a driver, not a mechanic, and have to again ask why you like that car in the first place? Usually it comes back to performance. And road tripping, man who doesn’t love that? But it is an overlap hobby, where you get to use your car for travel (travel being the primary motivator)… sure there are vehicles well suited to that but I don’t hear much at all about road trip enthusiasts. The most die hard road trippers don’t do it in cars anyway, they buy RVs.
At 63 I’ve had the opportunity to experience a wide variety of automotive pursuits. Everything from rebuilding Quadrajet and SU carburetors to running the ALCAN Winter Rally and Arizona 1000 with Satch Carlson. I’ve participated in concours events, autocrosses, and HPDEs. I’ve drag raced in a modded ’70s Monte Carlo as well as an E63 AMG. I got to drive a B7 press loaner from my home in Kentucky to Fort Worth to lap Motorsport Ranch. I’ve also driven/instructed at HPDEs all over the US. I’ve been unbelievably fortunate, but I can see the allure of almost any expression of automotive enthusiasm.
The only thing I can’t abide-detest, actually-are those ho keep a car in a climate controlled cocoon and only drive it when the RH is below 25%- the guys who pee their pants at the thought of their car being left outside when a heavy dew is forecast.
I’d much rather read car reviews that watch youtube reviews. Sadly most of the rags don’t have any good reviewers anymore. Jalopnik has been a political rag seemingly forever. Half of them don’t own cars. The other half tell us what we should buy to save the planet. And of course orange man bad. TTAC is starting to get to political too.
I’m tired of talking heads telling me that my Mazda 6 and CX5 in turbo charged form are excessive gas hogs, and I shouldn’t buy mazda since they aren’t investing in hybrids or electric. That a Prius or electric is the only way to go.
At this point I’ll read reviews at Car and Driver on occasion, but I typically watch reviews from Alex on Autos and Redline reviews. Straight reviews without the political nonsense. I’d much rather read reviews though.
In regards to the cost of cars, it seems to me that young and old generation complain, while I point out that many models are actually cheaper and significantly better in terms of inflation.
The more you learn about how the sausage is made the harder it is to avoid politics in this industry. Decisions about what to produce and where to produce it and how many to build are invariably tied to compliance decisions (read: compliance costs vs potential profits). Every vehicle introduced to the market has to make it through NHTSA and the heavy FMVSS regulations, IIHS (not a fed agency but still considered important), the EPA, internal legal controls, plus local and state politics for every factory built, and then unions that want to control the factory.
Asking to only read about the product is fine, but that’s not knowing about the business. And most complaints people have about the vehicles OEMs make can in some way be tracked back to a decision made in a board room where politics were considered. The more you know…
It’s the nature of living in a fascist country. Everything is political.
There’s probably a sweet spot that gives enthusiasm, technology, and the political context of the industry in appropriate proportions, in an entertaining, engaging manner.
It is funny to see Leftist “journalists” and Leftist commenters often complaining about “politics” getting into automotive journalism whenever some rare article or comment points out how crazy Democrat policies will hurt domestic automakers, or create energy poverty among the poor, or cost taxpayers billions with very little or no environmental benefit, but then in the same breath express support for government programs to support the EV industry or giving the EPA more power to raise CAFE standards to eliminate pickups, SUVs, and powerful sports cars that they don’t think people should be allowed to buy. Its almost as if Leftists only like political discussions when all sides agree that more government and less personal freedom are the solution to all problems.
someone would prefer a socialist country? of 2 bad things fascism is the least
It seems to me that right wing dictatorships generally have a better record at peacefully transistioning to democratic or republican forms of governments than left wing dictatorshps have.
I’m aware of only 1 Right Wing dictatorship in history and that is Pinochet in Chile who brought in Milton Friedman economics and turned around a country collapsing because of Leftism and made it into the most economically successful country in South/Central America and then peacefully transitioned to a Democracy that is unfortunately moving ever Leftward and ruining all the success of the past 40 years. You won’t find any Left Wing dictatorships or “People’s Republics” with anything close to the Pinochet record – including a very low death count and political prisoner population.
“So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to write about cars. And I’m going to do it right here. If somebody else wants me to do it for a website that manages to focus on excellence in automotive journalism instead of out woke-ing everybody else, maybe I’ll do it there, too. But as of this day forward, I refuse to give a single click to or write a single word for any website that employs social justice warriors.”
Sounds good to me. I stopped visiting those other websites long ago. They’ve become parades of articles written by know-nothing idiots for know-nothing idiots. Few of the readers/commenters are interested in any actual insight, just the same spoon fed confirmation-bias bullshit that they visit every day for.
I really enjoy the inside perspective from others across the industry and sometimes sharing that with others willing to listen and know more about the industry, so please keep it up and post regularly. I’ll read and post my experience when I can.
Man, I’m quite late to the party on the comments here. I appreciate your commitment to not lend credence to the incredulous.
If you’re ever in the Flint area you’re more than welcome to review whatever I’ve got in my driveway (it changes annually, right now it’s a Challenger and a Durango). You can sample the water while you’re here as well! That’s one thing I like about this town, so many ways to catch lead poisoning (basically varying levels of viscosity and velocity).
Late to the party, but glad to hear it. It is always good to see “the talent” move away from SJW platforms.
I don’t have an OEM/Retailer question, but I do have an “Ask Bark” regarding an upcoming car purchase. Will you and Jack still take those here?
I’m late to the party Bark, but if you want to come to Cleveland (once it is above 50 Degrees) I have a 2017 Camaro SS 1LE you could try.
when I’m done with you babies, we’ll all be wearing golden underwear!