When Joni Mitchell finally agreed to release a Hits album, she did so with the stipulation that the label also release a Misses album full of music that she was happy to have made even if the critics and buyers didn’t dig it.
So. What follows is five bona-fide, hit-counter-spinning hits, and five how-dare-you-turn-your-nose-up-at-my-talent misses. Let the second-guessing begin!
Avoidable Contact: How Fake Luxury Conquered The World I’d written this for Speed:Sport:Life a few years previous, but I dusted it off and brought it to TTAC in order to test our august founder Robert Farago’s theory that “content longer than 800 words dies on the web.” We got a lot of inbound links and traffic on this one. Some people thought I was trying to dump on GM again but my real purpose was to examine consumer behavior and indulge in some authentic nostalgia for Seventies B-Bodies.
Avoidable Contact: Color my world, the case for front wheel drive. Everybody knows that the best Autobahn machines are steel-grey machines with black trim and exclusive drive to the rear axles, right? I made the case for automotive peacocking and high-speed stability with a push, not a pull. A lot of 17-year-olds with extensive experience borrowing their parents’ 328i automatic sedans told the Internet I was a n00b and a loser based on this column, which warmed my heart.
Avoidable Contact: The end, and the beginning, of great Japanese cars. This was a nostalgia piece mixed with criticism, much like the “Fake Luxury” piece, only discussing the way Japanese cars had become reflections of their customers’ worst qualities. An extended 1200-word digression into Orson Scott Card’s Speaker For The Dead and the “Descolada” was snipped in a half-hearted nod towards brevity.
How GM Could Save The Cadillac ATS From Its Otherwise Inevitable Fate of Complete Marketplace Failure This one was so globally popular that it was translated into German. It turns out that the Cadillac ATS is actually doing okay, in the sense that it has cannibalized CTS sales. Any chance at greatness, however, was engineered out during the product-planning phase.
Two Minutes Hate: David Sirota Is Ashamed Of His Inauthentic Masculinity My master plan to do a series of “Two Minutes Hate” articles, in which various autojournos and enemies of motoring would be eviscerated sans mercy, ground to a halt when Jalopnik appropriated the idea and ran it into the ground with a vengeance. Week after week, Hardigree and company went after various journalistic misdemeanors often enough to make the dish stale. After ten or so Gawker features about THIS IS THE AUTOMOTOTOTIVE JOURNOMALIST WHO BLAH WHILE BLAHING I felt like Peter Green being forced to watch a Nickelback stadium concert. Perhaps we’ll revive the feature in 2013, but I doubt it.
Now, for the Misses!
Hype and Hypertrophy: How Lamborghini Lost Its Man Card. Strictly speaking, this wasn’t a “miss”. It set a TTAC record for Facebook shares and was recommended and linked everywhere from “The Car Lounge” to a webforum for currently-serving Navy Seals. I wrote it at the end of a long work day, in about 75 minutes, and published it without even checking for typos. It was definitely my favorite article of the year, however. Sometimes the music comes to one’s fingertips, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Fiction: The little death. Written to memorialize a drunken three days in Destin and ignored by the readers with the same disdain they typically show for last week’s news. The readers who did comment thought that the protagonist was a horrifying person. I finally understood how Updike must have felt when the reviews for “Rabbit, Run” came through.
Fiction: The Dangling (Sponsored) Conversation Based on a date-that-wasn’t I had about six years ago with a girl from a VW owners forum, stirred together with the concerns I have about “sponsored conversations” in car (and other) web forums. For the record, the actual “TDIRiotGrrl” was quite fit and a solid twelve years younger than me, and we parted company after drinks.
Trackday Diaries: Consider Phlebas Meeting the mighty Panamera Turbo as a driving instructor, and trying to address the question everybody asks us on Mondays: why do you risk your car on a racetrack?
Never Mind The Shuffle Steering: Let’s Take The Falcon To Hyperspace This should have been hugely popular, right? I flew all the way to Los Angeles to help Hooniverse editor “Mad Science” kick some ass around a racetrack in a 1964 Ford Falcon — and he did kick ass, and we all learned a few things about trackdays that are applicable no matter what you drive — and it just landed with a thud. I’m still bitter about that.
All of these hits and misses, plus many more besides, are available at my author page at TTAC. I’d like to thank all off you for making 2012 a truly great year for me at TTAC. I’ve scaled my contributions to the site back a bit for the new year, and I’ve been involved in some new and different automotive adventures elsewhere about which I can’t wait to tell you, but I continue to believe that there is no group of “car people” out there as consistently knowledgeable, interesting, and worthwhile as The Best and Brightest. See you all again soon!