Posts By: Brendan McAleer

By on August 14, 2012

Bribery! While TTAC has a Get Behind Me Satan approach to the buffet-table and the press junket, we’re still mostly susceptible to the kryptonite lure of interesting cars. So when Mazda called me up and asked if I’d like to sample a little of their driving heritage in a blatant PR move, I huffily told […]

By on August 13, 2012

  [Editor's note: TTAC does not review cars, TTAC reviewers do. The reviews can be as different as the reviewers are, and they voice their opinions independently. Due to the high interest the FR-S has received, we put a whole squad of TTAC reviewers into the car, and we are not done yet.] Alex’s initial […]

By on August 3, 2012


Looking at this picture, carefully digitally massaged by my brother, it’s a bit hard to recall why I didn’t dig the 991. What a rich, full colour, shimmering and gleaming like the dowry bangles of an upper-caste Indian bride; love among the marigolds.

Trust me, in person this thing looked like a flicked booger. Put it another way: if the canary turns this colour, get the hell out of the mineshaft. But then, that’s just my opinion – and it sets me to wondering. As we writers are wont to praise or condemn based on the emotional intangibles of a car, how much of the review was due to the hue? (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2012


Eric’s a pretty decent bloke. A retired teacher and UK import, he’s been living on our little block since 1968. Always quick with a wave or a clap on the back, he and his wife were first at our door to welcome us into the neighbourhood, gift-basket in hand. Since then, he’s been the consummate gentleman, nodding attentively when I’m describing my plans for the place, never intrusive, respecting our privacy but always politely interested in how we’re doing. The perfect neighbour: Fred Rogers could take lessons.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t care if he was a semi-reformed axe-murderer with a peacock-sanctuary in the backyard and a penchant for three a.m. amateur bagpipe practice – he’s got a pickup truck. (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2012

The dream is always the same.

The day is ending. Cool evening breezes riffle across the sun-scorched furze and set dried leaves a-rustling in the trees, their sibilant hiss like the restless fluttering of a thousand small birds. Long and dappled shadows stretch flickering fingers across the hot tarmac of the final corner.

There is a crowd and they are silent, expectant and indistinct: faces like the smudged soft-focus colours of an impressionist oil-painting amongst the flapping flags. Insects hop and buzz in the long grasses; gradually, slowly, their hum is blended, enhanced, and finally supplanted by a rising crescendo.

The pack is coming, and Kaida is leading them. (Read More…)

By on July 3, 2012

Imagine it’s 1998 and you’re the successful CEO of a company that makes, oh I don’t know, jewel cases for CDs. Business is booming and your four-year-old 911 Carrera coupe isn’t quite the paradigm you want to project. You’re moving with the times, and there’s a new, modern 911 coming. Keys in hand, you walk […]

By on July 1, 2012

There’s an annual Show and Shine every Canada day here on Saltspring island. The choir sings the forgotten verses to Oh Canada and the band plays the Victory March (the Monty Python theme tune) and the bagpipers skirl and you have a choice of dried-out cheeseburgers or falafel. Like all the best car-shows, it’s a weird, homogenous mix of stuff, and this ’36 GM truck caught my eye right away.

Then I listened to the owner talk about it, and knew I had to share. (Read More…)

By on July 1, 2012

Currently, two of TTAC’s regular writers are lumberjacks dirty communists Canadians: myself and Derek Kreindler. Today we celebrate our country’s one hundred and forty fifth year of being a sort of chillier, politer version of Australia.

I love Canada. It’s really… big. It’s big. Sure we discovered insulin and invented the pacemaker and created that game that’s a bit like hockey except there’s some baskets and a big orange thingy that you bounce around (can’t remember the name, tip of the tongue), but really, all true sons and daughters of the North are proud of one thing above all else: Canada’s the biggest country in the world. Apart from Russia, of course. (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2012

After several hours of slinging a 991 Carrera S around the track (review to follow), I can’t say I was particularly looking forward to relinquishing the keys to the Porker for the keys to the, uh, porker. I was here to drive both cars, and I’d already had plenty of up-close views of the Pano through the windscreen of the 911 as it clogged up turn 3, seeming to flop over on its flank like the wounded Bismark.

Back of the pack out on the grid, I waved several 911s and a heavily-modified Evo ahead out of politeness, not wishing to be the clot in this small, fast group of experienced drivers (with one notable exception). Nice and easy through turn one and two, squeezing on the throttle a bit through the back straight, with an eye to unforgiving concrete barriers and a thought to the coldness of the tires and the track.

Over the hump at turn two, swing wide out to the right and squeeze on the power as I straighten out the wheel, and suddenly I’m thinking: well that’s not right.

Not right at all…. (Read More…)

By on June 17, 2012

It’s an extremely wet June morning and the three men in the above picture are about to go off on a tour of the various car shows that only the most hardy or negligent of owners will have on display. Standing around in the rain looking at cars: what a passel of eejits.

Still, to use one of the less-lovely cattle-based rural Northern Irish expressions that peppered my childhood, my brother and I didn’t lick it off the grass: it’s a family trait.

I can thank my father for this strange fascination with wheeled metal boxes that frequently go *sproing* and break down. I thank him also for teaching me to be self-sufficient, handy with a hammer, patient, kind, and mildly disorganized. As I gaze out along the long, challenging and rewarding path of my own impending fatherhood, it’s with a renewed appreciation of sacrifices made and lessons learned.

To all the fathers out there, whether just starting out, or ensconced in the wisdom of grandfatherhood; adoptive or biological; married, divorced, single-parent, or simply the father-figure to someone who needs one – we salute you.

By on June 15, 2012

You can read Jack Baruth’s extremely thorough track-test of the 2013 Mustang V8 here. All right stop, collaborate and listen: The Mustang’s back in a brand-new edition, Recaros, grab a hold of me tightly – Flow through the corners daily and nightly “Will it ever stop?” Yo, I think so, It’s got grabby pads and […]

By on June 6, 2012

As noted in a triumvirate of TTAC reviews, the Scion iQ is a fun little box that’s hobbled by a somewhat crappy CVT transmission – though, it should be noted, not to the “’Tis but a scratch” extent that the SMART is de-limbed by its godawful gearbox. The above text message was received from my wife after she drove one briefly.

Naturally, after telling her how disappointed I was in her total lack of ethics, I felt rather pleased. When I met Katie, she was a dedicated cyclist and transit-taker who hadn’t bothered to get her driver’s license until her early twenties. With a series of Acura mid-sizers rotating through Dad’s driveway, she regarded the car as either an appliance or a necessary evil.

And then, along come I with my idiotic fervour for the things. Sure, I gave up my first car for the engagement ring, but when we got married I bought a Ford Escort GT with a 5-speed and set out to teach my new wife how to drive it.

It wasn’t easy. There were frustrations and setbacks, tantrums and whining and sometimes I thought the tears would never stop coming.

She wasn’t that thrilled about it either. (Read More…)

By on May 28, 2012

Vancouver’s a funny place when it comes to car culture. One one hand, we’ve got a downtown core that’s switching over to highly affluent residential living, similarly well-heeled Western regions and, carved into the hillsides of West Vancouver, a community that rates its own “Real Housewives Of…” unreality show.

Fuelled by wealth swirling off the Pacific Rim, there’re a lot of high-status automobiles on the streets: throw a rock at random and you’ll likely hit a Supercharged Range Rover, but only after a bounce off two 911s and a Ferrari California. I’ve seen more curbed dubs, beat-up Vantages and hack-job ‘tuner’ M3s than I care to remember. I even recall seeing an RS4 with doilies on the headrests.

Still, to each his own, and for the residents of East Vancouver that means a backlash against conspic-consump buggies and an affinity for hot-rodding. Quick, hand me a ballpoint before somebody notices I don’t have a neck tattoo. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2012

I’d like to lend you a car for the weekend. It’s going to be sunny, and you can head off early before the crowds get out. Take a nice road-trip: maybe, as I just did, blast up the Sea-to-Sky and into the rolling foothills beyond the Pemberton Valley.

Your choice, take anything below.
Car A: 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds
Car B: 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds
Car C: 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds
Car D: 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds
Car E: 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds

So, what did you pick? Click the jump to find out.
(Read More…)

By on May 20, 2012

In the summer of 1989, I was ten going on eleven. The fastest car I had yet ridden in was probably my dad’s 535i, clocked by the CHiP at well over the tonne, a ticket which the patriarch of the family talked himself out of with a “Not bad, right?”

It was hard to say if I really cared about cars yet: obviously they were important to my dad, and I’d already learned to drive our Series III Land Rover at walking pace on the banks of the Fraser River, but there were new Pirate sets coming from Lego, and G.I. Joe had just released a barely-disguised SR-71 Blackbird for the Cobra forces. Sean Connery had joined Harrison Ford in a quest for the Holy Grail. A friend had just gotten the new, side-scrolling Zelda Game.

The world was full of simple distractions for a young man: Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, E.T. and Ewoks, Yop bottles filled with vinegar and baking soda, Thundercats and Space Quest III.

Then, one day, in the basement of a Ladysmith home, I climbed behind the wheel of a 16-bit Porsche 959 and the whole world changed. I was exposed to the founding tenet of automotive enthusiasm.

What? The supercar? Don’t be daft, I’m talking about arguing. (Read More…)

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  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
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