By on December 31, 2014

mtevans

Once again, it’s on. Just like I did last year and the year before, I’ve come up with two lists, Joni-Mitchell-style. First, the “hits” that brought the clicks and comments. Last, the “misses” that were near and dear to my heart. As I did for 2013, I’ll include a few articles that I published elsewhere.

The Hits

Town Car’s out, Honda’s in. The fondest wishes of a hundred thousand low-T keyboard warriors were nearly satisfied when I managed to place my Town Car dead sideways on an icy rural road this past January. I kept it on the road without a huge amount of drama and everything seemed okay for a second or two and then I realized that the Sonata heading in my direction wasn’t slowing down. To say that the Lincoln was “totaled” as a result would be like saying that the Titanic “took in some water”. In the eleven and a half months that followed, I managed to lose my day job, lose my long-time roommate (the infamous Vodka McBigbra), lose my position as EIC pro tem, and lose the ability to sleep through the night thanks to some broken vertebrae that just never came back right. On the positive side, my son was unhurt, my passenger has made tremendous strides back to a normal life, and my son continues to show no signs of injury or trauma from the crash. The B&B of TTAC were tremendously helpful in helping me choose the low-key replacement for my refrigerator-white pimp-mobile. They (meaning you) were also a true inspiration in ways I can’t fully describe. The readers who supported me gave me the strength to make it through the difficult early months. The readers who hate my guts inspired me to make sure I didn’t miss the chance to enter, and win, the debut race of the American Endurance Racing series. Thanks to all of you.

PCOTY 2015. This is the second year for R&T‘s Performance Car Of The Year, and the second year I’ve had the privilege of writing up the results for all of you. I believe we’re starting to find our stride with this format and the readers have responded by buying the hell out of this issue. Not everybody gets the idea of it — comparing a 458 Speciale with a VW GTI makes no sense to a generation that has grown up micro-analyzing statistics on the Internet — but I believe we’ve made, and will continue to make, the point that automotive enthusiasm is at home everywhere on the price ladder.

Chevrolet Captiva Review. This was my most-read review of the year. True story: many years ago I spent nearly a whole night tucked in that Indian’s-head sculpture with a fiery-tempered sixteen-year-old brunette. If she’s out there, and she’s reading this: I know now that I was the naive one in that relationship. Miss you. As for the review itself, it’s the magic of TTAC that I can write two Lamborghini and two Ferrari pieces and they don’t do the traffic of a single Captiva review, combined.

Hellcat! I guess not every TTAC reader hates cars, because although this Hellcat review didn’t ring the cash register like the Captiva one, it was still in the top fifty or so articles we did in 2014. The car itself is magnificent, and thoroughly recommended.

No fixed abode: Stick it to ’em. My paean to the resale value of unusual options was widely considered to be a work of genius. It was also considered to be complete and utter idiocy. So, in that regard, it was like a car with lime green paint.

Reader Ride: Subaru WRX. We had a bit of confusion among the readers regarding the “Reader Ride Reviews”, in which a TTAC staffer drove a TTAC reader’s car, and the “Reader Reviews” where the B&B told us about their own cars. We need to do a better job of making it plain which is which. In the meantime, if you have something you’d like me to drive, let us know!

So Why Did The Allman Brothers Pose Nude On Their LP Gatefold, Anyway? This was something I wrote for my own site this past year, almost immediately after the January crash, and it’s proven to be very popular. Warning: contains a Nick Drake reference. You have to be careful about Nick Drake. I met a beautiful girl who loved Nick Drake, and we listened to Nick Drake together, but it turns out that she was thinking about her recently-deceased boyfriend every time she heard the music. Your mileage may vary.

The Misses:

“Ask Jack”. I thought this idea might go somewhere but in this era of Reddit and whatnot it’s hard to get people to send in random questions. I’d like to give it another shot. Come up with questions. They don’t even have to be 100% car-related. Let’s have a dialogue here, damn it all.

Trucks in the right lane? My modest proposal to keep tractor-trailers out of the left lanes, as is the case pretty much, um, everywhere else in the world, was met with frothing fury by America’s big-rig drivers. As soon as they’d finished with their “lot lizards”, truckers everywhere burned up the Pilot station’s free Wi-Fi informing that: a) truck drivers are professionals who can always be trusted to do the safe thing; b) if they were restricted to the right lane they’d form a “wall of steel” and deliberately endanger car drivers, which seems like a mild contradiction of Point A; c) forcing trucks to slow down would result in the collapse of Wal-Mart, the end of America, and significant reduction in the availability of toilet paper. I also was told, repeatedly, that my ass was going to be kicked at the moment I least expected said ass-kicking to occur. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that a Hyundai Sonata had beaten them to the punch.

This Is A Rental Chevrolet Cruze… This one was actually pretty popular, but it struck a nerve with certain members of the B&B who hate it when I mention the Cruze’s Daewoo, excuse me, “GM Korea”, ancestry. Every time I mention that the Cruze is just a Daewoo Laecetti, their jimmies rustle softly. Whenever I bring up the fact that the Cruze was developed in Korea, they get so upset. All I have to do is hint at the Korean design of the all-American Cruze, and they… well, you get the idea, there’s no reason to pile on THE CHEVROLET CRUZE IS A DAEWOO!!!!!!

eHarmony Would Prefer You Didn’t Date A Race Car Driver. It’s true. It will only end in tears, you know.

The Impaladventure!. “I’ve come to a realization about this 1981 Impala, and that realization is like so: There’s absolutely nothing about it that would surprise or confuse the owner of a 1955 Chevrolet sedan. The twenty-six years between the tri-fives and this B-body barely exist.” How much do I love TTAC readers? Enough to drive their Impalas across the country, obviously.

Thank You And Goodbye. It can now be told: the entire last third of my farewell-as-EIC-post was stolen from John Mayer, as seen at 3:18 of this video:

I think one reader picked up on it. I guess you’re not John Mayer fans. Though my sentiments were stolen, I still believe in them. I remain grateful for all of you and for the opportunity I’ve had to write for you. As EIC pro tem of TTAC, I had just one task: rescue the site from its dramatic slide in readership and respectability until the previous administration and then hand it off to Derek so he could make his mark. I’d like to think I succeeded.

I’d also like to think I’ll be around TTAC for some time to come, as a contributor and a curmudgeon and a conscience. As always, thank you for reading, and may your 2015 bring you everything of which you’ve dreamed.

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43 Comments on “My Greatest Hits (And Biggest Misses) of 2014...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Slow clap…

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Thanks, Jack. I missed a couple of these.

    BTW, my ex-wife turned me on to Nick Drake. Her ex-boyfriend jumped off a roof at about the time I met her, so your words struck a chord…

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Thanks for all you did Jack. I was kinda hoping to get a new years wish list from you like you did a year or so ago. That was awesome. Good luck and happy new year.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Also my alter ego Dragophire so hello as well.

  • avatar
    slance66

    TTAC wouldn’t be TTAC without you Jack. Glad to see you bringing to R&T some of what PJ O’Rourke brought to C&D in my more formative years.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Regarding the Allman Brothers photo, I guess you had to be there to really understand. There was a period when it seemed that we (or some of us, at least) could drop all the pretense and truly expose our souls to the world and being communally naked certainly was a way to express that sentiment. It didn’t last long, for an awful lot of reasons. In some respects, I miss that time but I realize that the world is a tough place and, if you take your clothes off, it’s likely that someone will use the opportunity to, as we used to say “put you down”.

    There’s still a part of me that’s an aging hippie. One who is spending the last day of the year home sick with the flu and nothing better to do than binge-watch Rome and comment on the internet.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Well of course we’re not John Mayer fans.

    Very few teen age girls frequenting this site!

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Jack I have not a clue what you are saying when you talk about some of the musicians. Do enjoy your work though and I’m real happy you did not go away (either in the wreck or from TTAC). I spend a lot more time on the red box below (listen/don’t comment) but must say the site would be much less without you.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “So why did the Allman Brothers pose nude on their LP gatefold anyway?”

    I honestly dunno; I’ve had that original LP (I think it was released initially on ATCO as it was before Walden and Wexler got Capricorn off the ground) for years, almost as long as it was in print and I never gave it a second thought; hippy, dippy ’60’s stuff I guess I imagined.

    Thanks for bringing that to light, now I’ll have to ponder it through 2015.

  • avatar

    Jack, I am happy to have had you as one of my editors (and I’ve only had four in my small writing career). More than that, however, is the fact that you, your son and your passenger are still here with us.

    As Neil Young once sang, long may you run. Happy 2015, Jack!

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Jack I know you’re not TTAC per se anymore, but you seem to be the most competent guy around here. Can you get them to do something about all the friggin’ login and disappearing comments?

  • avatar
    mjz

    Hey Jack, I always thought the injured female passenger in your Town Car mishap WAS the infamous Vodka McBigBra. Um, if it wasn’t, is THAT why VMBB is no longer with you? Enquiring minds want to know! Let’s all hope 2015 is a good year for everyone involved with and enjoying TTAC.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Keep up the good work JB! Still not sure if I would want you to drive my car. In some ways it would be great to see what it’s capable of on track… but I honestly don’t think I could afford the therapy required after the experience ;)

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    If anyone thinks that the Cruze is not a Daewoo, they are mistaken. I remember back before the Cruze was introduced seeing Daewoo badged Lancetti Premieres/Cruzes running around Metro Detroit. It was confusing at the time, but it makes sense now.

  • avatar
    ReSa

    Looking forward to reading more of you Jack, either here or elsewhere!

    I remember when Daewoo had more or less settled as a recognized brand in Holland and they started slapping those huge Chevy badges on Korean turd cars like the MATIZ all of a sudden. Can’t say that helped the brand image much…

  • avatar
    charski

    The site wouldn’t be anywhere near what it is today without you, Jack, cudos to you for your getting back up from the Sonata beating, and Bless you and yours.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Keep ’em coming, Jack – I’ll be here to read what you write. I wish you a great 2015!

  • avatar

    Classy, as always. Here’s to an excellent new year, Mister Baruth…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Good work, Jack, and thanks for a job well done!

    Also happy to hear you are sticking around, kind of like those “As seen on TV” ads: “But wait… there’s more!”

    I hope so.

    Now I want to see an article by you taking out your frustrations and pain on a Sonata…

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison

    Jack, your list of “misses” looks a hell of a lot smaller than ten thousand.

    Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Jack – thanks for a year of great writing here, on your blog, and at R&T. Best wishes to you and your family for the new year.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Rest assured Jack, you most decidedly rescued TTAC and handed it over to Derek in good shape. Let’s hope you continue to heal, that your love life evolves with less drama, that you continue to race, and that your relationship with your son remains at the core of your being.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Mount Evans, Colorado, best drive I’ve ever been on.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I was lucky enough to do it in a McLaren 650S, although maybe “unlucky” is a better word as it was 25 degrees F near the top and I had to keep worrying about going off the edge.

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    WTF is a Captiva? Isn’t it that funky little “puzzle” you to complete to prove you’re not a computer?

  • avatar
    MyFriendsCallMeBowser

    Jack, where do you want the “ask Jack?” questions sent? I typed one up a few weeks back but couldn’t find an email address for you. Apologies if I missed the instructions somewhere (very possible).

    I really enjoy your contributions to the site and look forward to another year. Thanks for all you do.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Funny; I didn’t read the Captiva story until now, just to see what drew everyone’s interest.

    Interestingly, at a family meeting this week of 5 siblings and their spouses, 3 of us had car crashes this year. Among their 9 driving children, 1 had a crash. Two of these 4 wrecks were our fault (including mine).

    Fortunately, none had injuries, and the Leaf is back on the road. (There is an interesting EV story related to my Leaf wreck, which I never anticipated before now. The dealer’s outsourced body shop drove the car across town to and from the local dealer, nearly draining the battery twice. Having newbies essentially ‘borrow’ your electric car means they won’t know how to deal with the peculiarities of an EV.)

    I don’t know who John Mayer is.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    My 2015 bring better times and many interesting car reviews etc. here on TTAC from you :-)

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    Big Rigs taking up A specific lane?. Going through Europe, they seemed to be in every lane. On some Freeways and Motorways, they would all of a sudden take up four lanes, The congestion there is frightening, they already have “walls of steel”,restricted to one lane would be hell

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Wow, you really hit a nerve with the trucks (tractor semi-trailers) thing and how their turtle races block traffic on America’s highways. Lots of self-righteous comments under that article!

  • avatar

    I discovered Nick Drake via the local university radio station in the late 90’s, some 25 years after he died.
    Incredible guitar player with the most beautiful baroque string arrangements I have ever heard,but he was a tragic introverted figure who died too soon in madness and obscurity.
    Wonder how he would react knowing he’s more popular today when he couldn’t give his records away when he was alive.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Jack ;

    HAPPY NEW YEAR ! .

    You rock , don’t ever change , keep the great articles and ideas coming ! .

    Jack ;

    You suck please go away .

    There , choose one .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Did you lose your position as EIC or give it up? I was always under the impression you never wanted that job on a permanent basis.

    Anyway, keep the contributions coming. I missed the “Trucks in the Right Lane?” story and just checked it out – the comments are pretty shocking. I thought something like that would have unanimous agreement on a site like R&T.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I didn’t want to be the EIC permanently but I’d have liked to stick through the end of the year because there were a few more things I wanted to do. However, Derek is doing a great job so I can’t complain.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    I really liked the Impala series…

  • avatar

    I was damned relieved when I learned, some months ago, that your passenger was recovering reasonably, and I’m happy your son was unharmed. I hope your back will stop keeping you awake.

    I loved the R&T supercars, did not read the Captiva review.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    For the record, I was the one reader who “John Mayer approved” your farewell. I guess the reference was too Inside Baseball, err, Inside Music, but I got a chuckle.


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