Posts By: Jack Baruth

By on September 17, 2014

Ah, it’s the sad truth that the only way I’ll ever be on the cover of anything is if I’m wearing a helmet. So it is here, as I drag a loaner-helmet-wearing passenger around the Motown Mile. So. What do you want to know about the Mustang?

By on September 17, 2014

PCOTY 119

Let’s get this straight: when it comes to what the used-car manager at the Ford dealership where I used to work called “pointy-nose cars”, I’m a Viper guy. No street car has ever captured my heart the way the Viper did once they let the thing have six hundred horsepower, a little bit of aero help, and a VVT-extended rev range. So when I found out the lineup for Road&Track‘s PCOTY 2014, my eyes went directly to the line on the sheet that said “Viper TA”. I stole extra time in the Viper, both on track and out in the Hocking Hills. I probably drove it twice as much as anybody else did, and if they’d let me drive it more, I’d have driven it more.

Not that anybody I know cared a single bit about that. To a man (and woman), they had one question: “What’s that 458 Speciale like?”

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By on September 16, 2014

Printing the body of the Local Motors Strati at the rate of up to forty carbon-infused pounds per hour, the BAAM 3-D printer might be the next step in democratizing access to electric cars — or cars of any kind, really.

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By on September 14, 2014

(Clip contains NSFW language)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the famous “mile of cars” quote from Used Cars — but no matter. This weekend, nearly a full mile of cars went racing. The goal? A Guinness World Record.

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By on September 14, 2014

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In a former life, your humble author had a bit of money and liked to buy some expensive cars. Most particularly, I chose the ownership of two Phaetons over one Flying Spur about eight years ago. This bit of contrarian behavior happened after I had a long discussion with my local Bentley dealer. As a consequence, I’m still on the mailing list. Since Bentley is in the business of selling $80,000 Volkswagens for $180,000, they have the kind of profit margin that lets “mailing list” refer to a bunch of people getting Patrick Bateman-quality creamy bond paper mail instead of anonymous HTML spam. So what do we have here? Are you interested? I kind of was, so I opened it.

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By on September 13, 2014

Seven months after taking delivery of my 2014 Accord V6 6MT coupe in “Modern Steel”, we’ve finally hit the 12,000-mile mark. This might seem like a lot of mileage but it’s actually quite a bit less than it could be; I’ve put more than twelve thousand miles on rental cars in the same time period. […]

By on September 7, 2014

PCOTY-BestOf07-lg

You’re never as well-known as you think you are. When I helped the nice people at Road&Track select the C7 Corvette as their 2013 Performance Car Of The Year award, I had the amusing experience of being told that I was “on GM’s payroll” and a “shill for GM” by hundreds of people who were disappointed by our choice. In a perfect world, I could put all those people on a Staten Island ferry, put all the TTAC readers who claim I’m unfairly persecuting GM on another Staten Island ferry, and give each group a trigger that would blow the other boat up. Original idea, huh?

Anyway, it’s time for 2014′s PCOTY which means that I’ll be spending the next four days living my childhood dream of driving brilliant cars for free and possibly getting the magazine to pick up my Ketel One tab at dinner. Click the jump to get the list of all fifteen contenders, along with my early thoughts on each.

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By on September 7, 2014

simpson5

Two and a half years ago, I asked an important question, to wit: “If a guy in a shed can make the Miata pretty, why can’t Mazda do it?” Well, I think Mazda’s finally done it. The new Miata is, at the very least, striking.

Simpson Design hasn’t stood still in the past thirty months, however: my favorite restyling company in the world has now come up with a variety of restyles for the NB second-generation Miata, and although they aren’t cheap, they are lovely.
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By on September 4, 2014

disco

“A little learning”, wrote the crippled poet from his infamous grotto, “is a dangerous thing.” Here’s an example. What effect does the choice of a manual transmission have on resale value? If, like me, you’ve bought and sold cars for more than twenty-five years now, your snap response will be “Manual transmissions sell for more.”

This being 2014, however, some kid with access to secondhand Manheim auction reports will strain his mousing finger with a detailed correction of that assertion, complete with dozens of copy-and-pasted sale records. You cannot argue with his data — it’s right there in black and white. Manual transmission cars are worth less. But you know he’s wrong somehow, because you’ve been in the trenches and you’ve worked deals yourself.

Maybe the problem isn’t with you, or the kid’s data. Maybe it’s a case of simply not understanding what that data means.
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By on August 31, 2014

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Strictly speaking, there was no reason for Ashley to attend old Frank Jacobsen’s retirement party. She’d been part of the department for all of five months and she’d spent most of the time doing the other engineers’ paperwork. It was true what they told her in school: To be a female engineer, particularly in Detroit, you need to be twice as good as the men. Over and over she found mistakes that were childishly stupid; over and over they patted her on the head, praised her in an email, and gave the next important assignment to some charmless nerd.

Frank had been the exception. More than once he’d called her over to his desk, eschewing the usual Sametime or chat bullshit that the young guys liked to do in place of actual work, and asked her for what he called her “professional opinion.”

“Now, Miss McCormick, I was wondering if you would examine this set of drawings and render your professional opinion.” And when she pointed out a way to re-radius something for materials savings or change the spacing for the comfort of a future mechanic, Frank would make the change and then credit her in the next meeting. He was an okay guy, Frank was. And given the way things were going in this business, when was the next chance she’d have to see someone actually retire?
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