Posts By: Jack Baruth

By on November 26, 2015


Editor’s note: This article originally ran February 4th, 2015 and will likely be one of the all-time most read TTAC editorials for years to come.

If you’re a fan of automotive personality Matt Farah and/or his show, “The Smoking Tire”, you probably know that Matt recently bought a 1996 Lexus LS400 with 897,000 documented miles on the clock. That’s right. Do not adjust your television. That’s nearly a million.

You might also know that “The Driver”, Alex Roy, and I took the Lexus from Long Beach to Texas and beyond, finally coming to a halt in my hometown of Powell, Ohio. If you’re really up to speed on the adventures of the Million Mile Lexus, you know that it’s currently in the hands of Jalopnik contributor “Tavarish”, who drove it from Upper Arlington, Ohio to New York.

Take a minute and read the above paragraph again. I drove it to Powell; Tavarish drove it from Upper Arlington. And thereby hangs a tale.

(Read More…)

By on November 26, 2015


Editor’s note: The following article originally ran on April 1st, 2015. It’s a complete fabrication, albeit one with a purpose explained here.

Note: A bug in the GPS software inverted the overall and moving averages.

After this paragraph, you’ll have the chance to read nearly 6,300 words about the fastest transcontinental drive in history. Most of the important stuff is near the top; the rest of it is a detail-oriented interview with Alex for the community of fans across the country who live and die for this sort of thing. A personal disclaimer: In my opinion, having the “transcontinental record” is an accomplishment roughly on the same level as having the most awesome fox suit at a furry convention. But TTAC isn’t a charity. It’s a business. And we need those sweet, sweet clicks. Integrity? What’s that? — jb

“I’ve always said I’d never do this again, but as a minor Bond villain put it, never say never.”

So says Alex Roy – the Doctor Evil of illegal long-distance driving events. According to Roy, women want him, and men want to be him. According to actual women, he’s got a great scarf collection, and according to actual men, he’s got…a scarf collection. He’s the same bald, fast-talking New Yorker with a fetish for German police uniforms he’s always been. He’s also former Chairman of The Moth, and winner of the 2005 reality show The Ultimate Playboy. Love him or hate him, respect him or loathe him, the self-proclaimed anti-hero was single-handedly responsible for rekindling interest in the Cannonball Run when, back in 2006, he and co-driver David Maher shattered the 23-year old transcontinental record in 31 hours and 4 minutes. That story was told in Roy’s 2007 book The Driver – which he wrote himself and I reviewed somewhat negatively – and the interviews Roy couldn’t stop giving until…

…used-Lamborghini salesman Ed Bolian and two other dudes strapped their bedpans to a raggedy old CL55 chock-full of leaking gasoline and bombed across the same route in 28 hours and 50 minutes.

For nine years, Roy had sworn that he’d let the record stand or fall as fate decreed — but like his spiritual guide Wotan, Alex was unwilling to let someone else sit upon the porcelain throne of Cannonball Valhalla. So he conceived of Projekt Panzernashorn (Rhinoceros), a cost-no-object plan to set the bar too high for even the most aggressively-catheterized to reach.

Along with a hand-picked group of journalists, hangers-on, and gold-digging New York actress/models, I was permitted to observe Alex as he basically pissed away the kind of money that would let you run for THREE YEARS IN THE TUDOR SERIES WHICH IS A REAL RACE in order to snatch the record back.

This is the story.

(Read More…)

By on November 24, 2015

I was having a conversation with a female friend a few weeks ago and she admitted to having “fooled around” in no fewer than four different brands of minitrucks during the Nineties and Oughties. I suppose in her case that would be the Noughties — but that’s besides the point. I should also mention that the fourth “minitruck” was really a Colorado, and the incident in question happened fairly recently.

“There’s always some kind of stick shift in the way, in those little trucks, you know?” she said.

“Those are the little crosses that empowered young women have to bear,” was my response.

The conversation could have gone in any number of directions from there, but where it actually went was to A Brief Discussion Of Mini-Trucks In America, 1970-2010. I thought it might be a conversation worth having with all of you, as well, because it showcases a rather unique phenomenon in American automotive history. (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2015

I come to bury the old Camaro, not to praise it. In the past few years, I’ve had a chance to drive a variety of the more powerful and competent fifth-gens on and off track, including the mighty Z/28. None of them ever struck me as being more interesting or enjoyable than their Mustang or […]

By on November 17, 2015


Like the song says, I always feel like… somebody’s watching me. But rarely are they as obvious as this old Taurus I spotted north of Columbus, Ohio over the weekend.

What’s going on here, B&B?

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By on November 12, 2015


A few years ago, I wrote an opinion piece about Porsche vandal tuner RWB and the ethical aspects of damaging historically valuable air-cooled 911s. Some of you agreed, some of you disagreed, some of you took it very personally.

This past week the article gained some traction again via a wave of FB shares, which happens often enough that the RWB article is in the all-time top 25 most popular TTAC posts. This time, however, a few of the B&B had a new question to ask: What do you think about the “Porsche 911 Re-Imagined By Singer”?

Good question. As you’d suspect, I have an opinion on the subject. But the most fascinating thing about the Singer cars isn’t what they say about the company or its approach to rebuilding air-cooled Porsches; it’s what the Singer phenomenon says about Porsche itself.

(Read More…)

By on November 10, 2015

Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Editor’s note: With SEMA just wrapped up, there seems to be some renewed interest in Jack’s take on RWB. Here it is for the rest of you who didn’t find it plastered all over Facebook the last couple of days. This article originally ran on November 8, 2011

When Porsche “tuner” Uwe Gemballa was found dead and wrapped in cellophane late last year, everyone in the Porsche community expressed sympathy for his wife and friends. Nobody deserves to be killed the way Gemballa was.

On the other hand, however, at least the guy wasn’t going to ruin any more Porsches. His “Mirage” 911-slant-nose-arossa-droptops were perhaps the most hideous custom supercars ever built, and Gemballa himself never really appeared to develop anything even remotely resembling an aesthetic sense. His goal in life appeared to be to simply create terrible cars, and he was reasonably successful at this. Porsche purists hated the guy. There was only one thing he could have done for us to have hated him more: he could have turned his attentions towards the irreplaceable aircooled cars once again and ruined more of them.

Which is precisely what “RWB” does.

(Read More…)

By on November 10, 2015


Uh-oh, Spaghetti-O’s!

When I first heard about this video a couple of days ago, I had what I’ll call the Typical Car Guy’s Reaction: Those stupid pigs. Why are they harassing a family with a Tesla? What percentage of criminal behavior in the country is perpetrated by people who own Teslas? Is it because the people in the video aren’t lily-white? Is it because the cops were bored? Because they wanted to exercise their authority on yet another hapless family of meek motorists?

Every anti-police cliche ran through my head. It didn’t help to actually watch the video and see the cop order the little kid back into the car like he was El Chapo or something.

(Read More…)

By on November 5, 2015


Welcome back for another installment of “Ask Jack”, the place for you, the man on the street, to ask me, the man on the Internet, any question you like on any topic that makes its way into your mind.

Today’s question seems like a simple one: do you stay in the Matrix or not? In this case, the Matrix is a Toyota Matrix, with the all-too-common manual-transmission failure. But to properly answer the question, we’ll need to consider everything from solo ocean journeys to bad seeds in a magic bus.

(Read More…)

By on November 3, 2015

Yesterday, TTAC’s daily news editor Aaron Cole wrote an editorial calling for a new Ralph Nader to arise and save us from our own refusal to make appropriate safety-related automotive choices. I found the article fascinating, not least because one of my first editorials for TTAC was a skeptical look at the benefits of so-called “advanced driver training”. In that editorial, I argued that the decision to purchase a safe car was far more critical to crash survivability than any amount of special training would be. I then proceeded to prove my own point by selling my Phaetons, buying a Lincoln Town Car, and experiencing an incident (direct, high-speed perpendicular impact to my passenger door) that would have been trivial in said Phaetons but which was crippling in the aforementioned Town Car.

Since then, my thoughts on road safety have primarily centered around the idea of risk reduction. I believe that if you cancel or modify your riskiest trips, you’ll see tangible benefits from doing so. I don’t put my son in the car with me unless I have a specific agenda in mind to minimize risk from that trip. My goal is to reduce his exposure, which means no unnecessary trips, no bad-weather trips, and no trips without a plan.

On the other hand, this past year I put about half of my commuting mileage on motorcycles. That tilts my overall risk profile pretty far away from “safe”. It has, however, allowed me a front-row seat for all sorts of traffic incidents and accidents, playing out in full widescreen all around me.

For those reasons, I’m inclined to disagree with Aaron a little bit when it comes to the role of the government and/or quasi-governmental activists to improve vehicle safety. I’ll explain.

(Read More…)

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  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Bark M., United States
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  • Steven Lang, United States
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