Posts By: Jack Baruth

By on February 3, 2016

Keep both hands inside the car at all times.

One coupe flies, two coupes die.

By the time that Akio Toyoda was standing on that Detroit stage crowing about the triumph of the LC500, the nails were already being hammered into Scion’s coffin. The Scion tC, perhaps the best combination of practicality, style, and durability available for under twenty-five grand in the United States, will be taken out back and unceremoniously shot. The FR-S … your guess is as good as mine, but I’d be surprised if Toyota brought it over as the Celica, no matter how personally gratified I would be by such a move.

The story of Toyota’s American sub-marques could not be more different. Lexus has gone from strength to strength, effortlessly assuming a position as the thinking man’s luxury car with the LS460 while also flooding the market with Camry-platform high-profit product. Scion, on the other hand, has struggled from its first day with customer perception, dealer-satisfaction issues, and schizophrenic product planning.

Yet it’s easy to show that Lexus has been just as poorly managed as Scion; take a look at the Lexus lineup over the past 27 years and tell me that you can’t spot quite a few duffers and misfires. So why is the Official Toyota Brand of McMansion Owners soaring while the Official Toyota Brand of Dubstep Aficionados crashes? The answer, naturally, is: Barack Obama.

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By on February 2, 2016

Chicago PD Ford Explorer Interceptor

Qui custodiet ipsos custodes? When it comes to police and their dashcams, the answer appears to be “nobody, due to suspicious technical problems.”

Last Friday, the Washington Post released a scathing indictment of the Chicago Police Department and its officers’ intentional sabotage of their dashcam equipment.

The same department is already under siege from all quarters. Homicides are soaring by 75 percent year-over-year in 2016, senior officials are leaving in droves, and a recent report has shown that a minor group of “untouchable” policemen is responsible for over $34M in settlements since 2009.

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By on January 29, 2016

2015-chevrolet-suburban-texas-edition-badge

Last week I offered you, the man or woman in the street, a chance to own a “TEXAS EDITION” badge at my expense. I asked you to tell me what you’d do with such a badge. After an exhaustive selection process consisting of me having a couple shots of Ketel One Citroen and picking shit at random, I’ve come up with the “winners.” I’ll be contacting each one of you via email in the next week. If the email address associated with your username is no longer valid, now would be a good time to update it or to contact us via the various links to the right of this page.

I’d like to thank all of you who came up with ideas. Unfortunately for you, some of those ideas sucked and frankly I’m insulted that you’d even think that I’d give you a $2.87 badge for something as stupid as that. You must think I’m rich enough not to care just because I own four PRS Private Stock guitars and a bunch of motorcycles and rare books and stuff, when in fact those are the very reasons that I am not rich enough to not care.

Enough about the losers. As they say, winners aren’t losers. So let’s get to the winners.

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By on January 28, 2016

IMG_8428

It was a pain in the ass — literally. “I spent two years training my ass,” Carl Reese tells me via phone, shortly after his announcement of YACCR (Yet Another Cross Country Record). “I was serious about my fitness. I even sat on my seat (a Sargent aftermarket replacement, with backrest) while I was on my computer doing my job. But by the time I got into Pennsylvania, I was in so much pain that it was affecting everything else. I was hitting the kill switch on the bike instead of the turn signal because my senses were overwhelmed. I was glad to see that New York skyline.”

As a devoted, even bigoted, owner and rider of Honda motorcycles, I was tempted to make a comment about BMW riders and their proclivity for “training their asses.” Instead, I let Carl Reese, already familiar to TTAC readers from the Tesla cross-country electric-vehicle record with Alex Roy late last year, keep talking about how, and why, he rode his BMW K1600GT across the country in a shade over thirty-eight hours, ass pain and all.

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By on January 26, 2016

Who has two thumbs and loves the ’79 Eldorado? This guy. I’ve spent more time writing about it than I’ve spent writing about Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Maseratis … combined. What made the ’79 Eldorado great? Everything. It was styled with a crispness and strength of purpose never again seen on a Cadillac. It had a […]

By on January 21, 2016

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If loving Texas is Rong, I don’t want to be right. I’m referring, of course, to my pal Blake Z. Rong, who currently lives in, and sort of loves, the Lone Star State.

One of the best (or worst) parts of living in Texas is the unhealthy codependency between the people who live there and the trucks they can barely afford and never use for trucky things but insist on owning anyway. The bond between Texans and their ridiculously-appointed Cowboy Cadillacs is so strong that all of the full-size purveyors offer a Texas-focused variant that slathers bling and chrome on an otherwise affordable half-ton.

We’re talking RAM BigHorn, Nissan Texas Titan, GMC Sierra Texas Value SLE, Tundra Texas Edition, and, of course, the Chevrolet Silverado Texas Edition. If you are in Texas, and your Silverado is not a Texas Edition … well, I don’t know what to say other than that you clearly have no sense of decency. But fear not. Thanks to the aforementioned Mr. Rong, I’m here to make it right. Ten lucky TTAC readers are going to have a chance to upgrade their rides to a TEXAS EDITION, at my cost. Is there a catch? Of course there is!

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By on January 20, 2016

Once more into the breach, dear friends / Or close up the segment with our heavily-rebated dead. This is the third time I’ve encountered this generation of Ford Focus SE, having enjoyed the car on its press preview and suffered through an overheated PowerShift sedan in Florida traffic a year later. Now I return once […]

By on January 14, 2016

Der neue Volkswagen Phaeton

Supposedly, there’s a Powerball ticket somewhere in this house. It’s Wednesday night as I write this, a few hours before the drawing. By the time you read this, you will know that I did not win the Powerball, and neither did you. I feel mathematically justified in believing that not a single TTAC reader is in any danger of actually winning the Powerball. Statistically speaking, about sixty of our readers this month are probably going to die behind the wheel at some point in their lives, but none of them are going to win the Powerball. Depressing, huh? Not that any of us are prepared for the life-destroying effect of being suddenly and publicly minted as a billionaire. Just imagine all of your friends disappearing and being replaced by a million times as many people who all despise you to the core of their souls.

It’s a shame that I’m not going to win the Powerball, because I’d probably spend a million dollars or so on buying, and restoring, a fleet of Volkswagen Phaetons. Instead of being known as “the idiot who had two new Phaetons,” I would be known as “the idiot who has twenty Phaetons in tip-top shape.” I’d be most interested in W12-powered examples with the four-seater package, but I’d have at least one of every major configuration. I’d lend them out, the way Matt Farah lent me his Million Mile Lexus this past January. I’d drive them myself. And I would once again be able to enjoy that singular feature of the VW Phaeton, the one thing that it did better than any other car in the world, even ones that cost much more.

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By on January 12, 2016

Twenty-three months ago, your humble author did what virtually nobody in this auto-journo game does — I went out and paid my own money for a thoroughly mass-market, middle-of-the-road vehicle. In just seven months, my 2014 Accord V6 Coupe 6MT and I made it to twelve thousand miles. Starting this spring, the pace at which […]

By on January 7, 2016

fakesvt

Last week, I told you the tale of my friend Rodney’s grandmother who got taken to the cleaners recently by a Cleveland-area Buick dealer. That story’s not quite finished — apparently there have been a few conversations and trips back and forth to dealer, and at one point the “lost paperwork” excuse came into play — so I’ll update all of you once everything shudders to a final halt.

As can be expected from the always-contrarian B&B, not all of you were on the side of the elderly lady in the case. One particularly interesting comment went something like this: “It’s ironic that Jack and Rodney are complaining about the dealer making money off Grandma while at the same time smirking to themselves knowing how often they did that back in the day.”

Well, I cannot say that I ever charged anyone over sticker price for any new car, ever. Not even during the week that the first Ford Expeditions started arriving at dealerships and customers were doing everything but using lethal force to get their hands on one.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t see some people get “grossed” in the most hardcore method imaginable. So, without further ado, here are a few tales of outrageous dealer-profit fortune, including one in which your humble author played the villain.

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  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Doug DeMuro, United States
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
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