Posts By: Jack Baruth

By on October 26, 2016

helicopter (Ted Velas/Facebook]

Remember the good old days? When men were men, women were grateful for that, and drunk drivers weren’t running into aircraft? Well, it’s #THE CURRENT YEAR, as noted pint-sized pansy ass John Oliver reminds America’s idle rich every Sunday night, and those innocent times of yore are long gone, replaced by a world in which even fire ants need a safe space.

But there’s no space in Gallup, New Mexico that is safe from drunk drivers, as 26-year-old Glenn Livingston recently proved.

(Read More…)

By on October 24, 2016


It was called The Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958 and it was sponsored by Almer Stillwell Monroney, the Senator from Oklahoma who preferred the colloquial nickname “Mike” and whose other legislative priority in 1958 was to create the FAA.

We owe Mike Monroney a lot. He was from that long-discredited and long-forgotten breed of old privileged men who believed there was such a thing as the public interest and that they had a genuine duty to act in that public interest. As with Rudolf Diesel, history has paid him the supreme compliment of omitting capitalization — it’s common for “monroney” to be used in correspondence or business as a mere noun denoting the window sticker in a new car.

We take the monroney for granted nowadays. There are few of us left alive who can remember the days when a car did not have its price and equipment fully and forthrightly glued to the inside of its rear passenger window. In fact, very few of us take the window sticker at all seriously. Everybody knows that in the modern car market the dealer invoice is the “real” sticker, unless you’re talking about a Ferrari or something where the MSRP is just a starting point for further discussions based on one’s history with the marque, the dealership, and/or Goldman Sachs. But the protection and information offered by that label in the window is real, it is meaningful, and it is absolutely critical to any remotely ethical business transaction between the dealer and the consumer. (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2016

Ethanol Plant In South Dakota.

Arthur C. Clarke is perhaps best-known as the fellow who wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey”, but he is notorious among science-and-engineering types for having once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This statement is, of course, entirely relative. The vast majority of human beings in this or any other era can be easily confused by everything from a torque wrench to the weight difference between a pound of bricks and a pound of feathers.

The news that came out of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory last week, however, is going to blur the science/magic boundary for most of us. A group of scientists there discovered a way to turn water that has been saturated with CO2 into ethanol using nano-spike catalysts. At room temperature. It’s (not quite) as simple as this: You apply a lot of electricity to the water in the presence of this material, and it turns into ethanol.

This is going to cause a lot of problems.

(Read More…)

By on October 17, 2016

Chrysler 300 SRT-8

Friends and roamin’ countrymen, lend me your ears! The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is on the way. It might not be in dealer order books quite yet, but it’s been spotted all over the place. As a business proposition, you can’t beat it; the first Grand Cherokee SRT-8 was a very satisfying automobile, and the current one is even better. Sure, every SRT Grand Cherokee ever built is a kind of ironic statement on the idiocy of the modern consumer, who is willing to pay extra money to get less room and worse handling as long as he can sit six inches higher than his neighbor, but adding the Hellcat engine to it makes it perfectly ironic. It’s the combination of added-then-removed off-road capability and an engine that is simply too powerful to use fully unless you are willing to go full-sociopath on your fellow motorists. Nothing could be more American, nothing could be more THE_CURRENT_YEAR. I accept the existence of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and urge you to do the same.

But as long as we’re expanding the availability of what is probably the Greatest American V8 in History, shouldn’t we also take a moment to give it a home that is both appropriate and respectful of Chrysler tradition? That’s right: I’m talkin’ ’bout a 300C Hellcat.

(Read More…)

By on October 12, 2016

Ally Contract Marketing Website

I’ve always been suspicious of the word “ally.”

As a child, reading John Toland and William Shirer when most of my classmates were still sounding out words one syllable at a time, I didn’t much care for the Allies. Instead, I rather approved of the Axis powers — minus that treacherous Stalin, mind you. Save your disapproval. The rest of America must have secretly felt the same way or else we wouldn’t have surrendered our vehicle-manufacturing capabilities to Germany and Japan. Indeed, I think that President Bush made a mistake talking about the “Axis Of Evil.” First off, that sounds like a really bad-ass metal band. Second, it implies that the countries involved might eventually create reissues of the Messerschmitt Me262 Sturmvogel, which would be enough to sway any man with functioning testicles to their cause.

But “Ally” is also a euphemism for GMAC, the company that sucked up $17 billion worth of taxpayer money so it could offer 0-percent financing on Chinese-made Buick Envision SUVs. And since the nice people at Ally learned precisely nothing from that bailout, the same way your neighbor’s kid Chadwick learned precisely the wrong lesson from his parents’ decision to replace his 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK 250 with a 2016 Mercedes-Benz SL 550 after Chadwick tripped out on Ecstasy and barrel-rolled said SLK into a kindergarten schoolyard, Ally busies itself offering all sorts of additional financial “products” via direct mail to all sorts of people.

I’m one of those people.

Ally wants to cover my 2014 Accord V6 (did you know I had one?) with a special service contract. Who’s the bigger fool here: Ally, for offering me a contract, or me, for considering it?

(Read More…)

By on October 7, 2016

Why Drive Honda When You Could Drive BMW?, Image: BMW of Sarasota

How ’bout that new Civic sedan? I don’t know about you, but I think it’s the boldest mainstream design I’ve seen from a Japanese manufacturer since Honda got rid of the hidden headlamps on the Accord back in ’92. It’s got a ton of surface texture, a vicious fastback profile with a tiny trunk opening, and big wheel arches like a show car.

There’s only one problem; it’s a clear and present riff on the Audi A7. But as we’ll see, this is a game Honda has played before.

(Read More…)

By on October 4, 2016


If you follow the auto-journo cool kids on Twitter… get a life! Seriously! Go out and learn to fly an airplane! Take your children camping! Volunteer at your local soup kitchen this November and help the homeless make it through Thanksgiving with dignity!

Anyway, there were a few dramatic Tweetstorms and whatnot lately. The first one is partially recapitulated above. Occasional Motor Trend contributor and brand advocate for Castrol and Meguiar’s, Jessi Lang, decided to dig up some old tweet by The Smoking Tire’s Matt Farah. I suspect she did this because Matt’s star is rising while her own personal profile in the business spiked a long time ago. You have to take your opportunities at self-promotion where you can get them. (Read More…)

By on September 29, 2016

Matt's "Black Betty" RX-7

Not every hero gets a statue, and not every brilliant accomplishment gets a plaque. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, and many a spectacular occurrence is forgotten the moment after it happens.

This is the story of a sheetmetal worker who built a car to nearly unimaginable standards of precision and perfection … then decided to walk away from it for reasons that only he can understand.

(Read More…)

By on September 27, 2016


The forecast, to misquote Robert Cray, called for rain — but I saddled up the Anniversary VFR anyway. There’s no lane-splitting in Ohio, but there are still real and tangible benefits to riding a motorcycle on my daily commute to work. The first is time. I save between 10 and 20 round-trip minutes every day that I leave the Accord in the driveway. I can make better pace on the road, particularly downtown. The second benefit is financial: it’s $50 a year to park the bike but it’s between $9 and $18 a day to park a car. The last, and most important, is hassle. It’s an easy three minute walk from my bike to my office. From the nearest available parking garage? Ten minutes if I’m lucky, 20 if that garage is full, plus 10 flights of stairs each way on two legs that ache and crack in any weather below tropical.

Put all of that together, and it’s no wonder that I won’t drive unless there’s heavy standing water or ice on the roads. But I won’t lie; I’d ride even if it cost more. I feel less like a replaceable cog in a massive and directionless corporate cluster-bang when I’m on two wheels. And that’s why I was in a good mood when I heard the BLEAT! of the horn next to me.

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By on September 23, 2016


Hey! Did you know that I, your favorite writer on this or any other forum, with the possible exception of Penthouse Forum, am the proud owner of a Honda Accord EX-L V6 manual transmission coupe? Maybe you didn’t know! But now you know! So in the future there will be no excuse for you not knowing, with the exception of “utter apathy,” which would be a legitimate excuse, should you need one.

Let me give you the name of somebody who didn’t need to be reminded about my Accord ownership; my local Honda dealer. Not the guys who walljobbed me, but the good dealer. The one that actually puts new oil in the car when you pay for an oil change. I like this dealer. Were I to purchase another Honda, I would purchase it from them. Perhaps they know this, because they’ve just sent me an email with a GRRRREAT DEAL! on a new 2017 Accord Coupe. $16,000 and change — and this ain’t just any old Accord coupe, it’s an EX-L V6 manual, just like my current car.

There’s just one little catch.
(Read More…)

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